More "Practical Joking" Among Officers
The Public Ledger, St. John's Newfoundland, 29 May 1855
Canterbury, April 23.—This morning, at our Guildhall, a charge was preferred before the magistrates against Cornets Edward Baumgarten and John Evans, both of the 6th Inniskillin Dragoons, for meeting to fight a duel. The hostile rencontre, thus fortunately prevented, arose out of a series of scandalous indignities to which, it is stated, the former officer (a quiet inoffensive young man) has been for some time subjected at the hands of his brother officers. According to reports current in the regiment some of these "jokes" have proceeded beyond the limits of common decency, and prohibit specific allusion. The following may be mentioned;— Cornet Baumgarten's sword was broken to pieces and the plume of his helmet destroyed. Two buckets of water thrown into his bed, and his clothes placed in the bath, while the chest containing his clean linen was filled with water. Six panes of glass in his window, and his looking glass smashed. The chamber utensils broken and placed in his bed, the door fastened, as well as the window, while he was in his room. His horse (which cost 80 guineas) has been deprived of its tail and topped. In consequence of this treatment Cornet Baumgarten sent Cornet Evans a challenge, as he imagined that he was the ringleader in the affair; and Saturday last was fixed for carrying it into execution. The parties met at the time appointed, accompanied by Adjutant Webster of the Depot, a surgeon of the town, and other gentlemen. It appeared however, that Sergeant Brodie, of the 1st Royal Dragoons, having suspicions of what was going on, had reached the spot before the officers, and on their arrival intimated to them that he should put a stop to what was proposed to take place. Adjutant Webster immediately ordered him to leave the ground, and to consider himself a prisoner. The adjutant then went off to the barracks for a file of the guard to arrest Sergeant Brodie. While he was gone the sergeant went up to Mr. Baumgarten, and said, "You shall not fight this Duel, sir; you shall shoot me first." Mr. Baumgarten tried to get away, but Brodie procured the assistance of some men working in an adjoining field, and ultimately Mr. Baumgarten was detained and taken into a farmhouse. The sergeant was returning to the barracks, when Adjutant Webster and Mr. Harloop came up with a file of men. The Adjutant told them to arrest the sergeant, and to "knock him down with the butt end of their carbines if he made any resistance." the sergeant was then taken away to the barracks. The above facts having been deposed to, and Mr. Austin solicitor, having addressed the bench for the defendants.
The mayor and magistrates, having consulted for a few moments, ordered the two defendants to enter into their own bonds of £100 each, and two sureties in £50 to keep the peace towards each other. The required bail was quickly found, and the officers left with their friends.
A memorandum has been issued from the Horse Guards in reference to a case of practical joking, in which reference was made in the Daily News of last week, and in which Ensigns Sanders and Neville, of the 30th Regiment, were the aggressors, and Ensign Falkner, 50th Regiment, the officer insulted. The memorandum, after giving a summary of the facts of the case, reprimands Brevet-Major Campbell, 30th Regiment, and Capt. Tilbrook, 50th Regiment, commanding depot companies of the respective regiments, for having unjustifiably, injudiciously, and irregularly compromised the affair by agreeing to accept an apology from the two ensigns, instead of making known the complain of Ensign Falkner of Colonel Passy, their commanding officer. Ensign Sanders and Neville, it is stated, may think themselves fortunate that by the "mistaken leniency" in question they have escaped the inevitable consequences of their ungentlemanlike conduct. A very severe admonition is then given to Ensign Neville, who, after apologizing to Ensign Falkner, had again insulted that officer. This opinion, expressing the "severest displeasure" of the Commander-in-Chief, is ordered to be read in the presence of all the officers of the depot battalion at Fermoy, with an assurance that on the recurrence of similar misconduct on the part of Ensign Neville, Viscount Hardinge will consider it his duty to recommend to the Queen that that officer's name should be erased from the list of the army. The conduct of Ensign Falkner is highly commendable for having reported, as he did, the unmerited insulted offered to him by Ensigns Sanders and Neville; and had he not done so, in accordance with the orders of the army, Viscount Hardinge would have deemed it imperative upon him to submit his name to her Majesty for removal.