Court of Inquiry into the Conduct of Lieutenant Commander James S. Thornton

On 1 September 1862, centuries of tradition came to an end when the Navy was ordered by Congress to end the daily tot of whiskey and all vessels were ordered to go dry except for liquor kept for medicinal purposes. James Thornton appears to have been a victim of this new law since delirium tremens is caused by alcohol withdrawal.

Thornton's Navy biography mentions he commanded the Winona for a mere two months and nothing more about it. After this Court of Inquiry was concluded, and despite Thornton trying to build a case that he was just sea sick, Farragut sent Thornton north with regrets of having to do so, but as Farragut put it in his letter to SECNAV Welles "...a man who cannot govern himself is not fit to govern others..."

Thornton would later redeem himself as the XO of the Kearsarge during her celebrated battle against the privateer Alabama.

Proceedings of a Court of Inquiry convened on board the US Flag Ship Hartford by order of Rear Admiral D. G. Farragut.

Wednesday, October 1st, 1862

At 10:15 AM, the Court met pursuant to the annexed order, marked A.

Commodore H. H. Bell
Captain R. B. Hitchcock
Captain Jas. S. Palmer
Ed. C. Gabaudan (rear admiral's secretary), Recorder
Lieut. Comd'r J. S. Thornton, the accused.

The Recording having read the order convening the Court, asked the accused if he had any objection to any member named therein, to which he replied that, "He had none"

The Court was then duly sworn by the Recorder, and the Recorder was duly sworn by the presiding officer of the Court, in the presence of the accused.

The instructions to the Court (marked B) and the reports of Lieut. W. S. Schley and Ass't Surgeon A. Matthewson (marked C and D respectively) and the order of Comd'r J. Alden (copy marked E) all annexed to this record, were then read in the presence of the accused.

The accused stated that he desired to employ Paymaster Geo. Punkett, US Navy, as his Counsel, and requested time to confer with him, and also requested a copy of the reports annexed to this Record and marked C and D.

These points were considered by the Court and the requests of the accused granted.

At 11:15, the Court adjourned subject to the verbal order of the Presiding Officer.

At 12:55 the Court reassembled pursuant to the verbal order of the Presiding Officer.

Commodore H. H. Bell
Captain R. B. Hitchcock
Captain Jas. S. Palmer
Ed. C. Gabaudan (rear admiral's secretary), Recorder
Lieut. Comd'r J. S. Thornton, the accused,
Paymaster Geo. Plunkett, Counsel for accused.

W. Scott Schley called into Court and sworn, stated. "At the time specified, was attached to the US Steamer Winona as Lieutenant and Executive Officer. The circumstances which induced my report were that Cap't Thornton was laboring under what I thought to be "delirium tremens", on or about the 19th of September until the 25th, inclusive. The circumstances which first attracted my attention was Cap't Thornton's complaining of sea-sickness, which I thought to be all right. This occurred on the Sunday night after we sailed from this Port, a week ago last Sunday. We were off this Port, having returned in order to discharge our Pilot as we had taken him to sea on the Saturday night previous. After having discharged the Pilot, I asked Cap't Thornton if we should enter this port or go to Mobile. He told me to go to Mobile. I accordingly shaped the course for that place, arriving there at two o'clock that Sunday afternoon. Cap't Thornton directed me to go on board of the Richmond, and report our arrival to Cap't Alden, as he was too unwell to do so himself, but in consequences of a very heavy sea, I was compelled to hail the Richmond and ask what station I should take for the night. Cap't Alden directed me to proceed to the Swash Channel and relieve the Cayuga; which I did, and anchored near the Kennebec, which was guarding the Passes about three quarters of a mile ahead, riding to the Eastward. It came on to blow rather fresh and I asked Capt Thornton if I should move out a little further; he said yes, and I did so. Cap't Thornton was at this time in his cot below. After taking our position by Capt Thornton's order, I gave the Engineer the usual instructions, and ordered him to keep up steam enough to work up to our anchors. These directions were the last rational ones about, that I received from Cap't Thornton. He was rational up to that time. About half past eleven or twelve o'clock Sunday night Cap't Thornton sent for me and told me that he wished me to investigate the conduct of his boy Robert, whom he suspected of having poisoned him. Some time during the night he sent for me again and asked if I had investigated the conduct of his boy. I told him that I would do it the next morning. The next morning however, I found him so much deranged and his conversation so incoherent, that I concluded his sickness to be more than sea-sickness and of course did not investigate the conduct of his boy. From this time until the day that I reported him (on or about the 24th Sept) he became gradually worse, until he finally was beyond control; so much so that I was obliged to place a watch over him to keep him from jumping overboard or destroying himself in some way. I was induced to place a watch over him from the representations, made to me by the Officer of the Deck, of his having attempted to get overboard, one or twice being taken out of the port after he had got half way over. To the best of my recollection, Messrs Burdett, Beers and Staig reported this to me. The next morning, while at breakfast, the Officer of the Deck sent for me saying that the Captain's Boy had come up from the cabin and said that the Captain had his razors and was about to cut his (meaning Cap't Thornton's) throat. The razors were easily taken from him by his boy or the Officer of the Deck before I went to him. I found the razors had been placed in my room. After this, I got underway, ran down to the Richmond and made the report which was sent to the Admiral. After having made this report, I was ordered by Comd'r Alden to assume command of the vessel and place Cap't Thornton under such restraint as would render him incapable of injuring himself or others. This I did, and ordered his gig's crew to keep watch over him below, and gave directions to the Officer of the Deck not to allow him to come on deck under any consideration whatever. Before placing this restriction upon him, I instituted a search, took from him every thing with which he might be likely to injure himself and took the precaution to see that he had nothing near him to drink. I found a demijohn nearly full of spirituous liquor of some sort, which I gave to the Paymaster and ordered him to place it in the spirit room. About twenty-four hours after I made the report, Cap't Thornton began to show signs of returning reason. He remained irrational until last Saturday evening when I set out to return to this Port. About the 27th Sept, I perceived the first signs of returning reason.

Question by the Court: Were you aware that Lieut Comd'r Thornton had been drinking any ardent spirits, since leaving the port of Pensacola to produce such a state of delirium similar to the one you speak of?

Answer: No sir, I was not.

Question: Do you swear upon oath that the statements made in this report are true?

The witness was here shown the report annexed to this Record (marked C) and recognized it as in his writing, and stated it to be true. He was also shown the Order annexed to this Record (marked E) and recognized it as a true copy of the order received by him from Cmd'r Jas. Alden.

Cross-examined by the Accused.

Question: What was the condition of the weather on the 20, 21 and 22 days of September?

Answer: Fresh Easterly weather, tolerably heavy sea and rainy.

Question: Was there much motion of the vessel?

Answer: There was a great deal of rolling motion.

Question: Did not Cap't Thornton have the usual symptoms of sea-sickeness?

Answer: At first he did. On the SUnday which we left he did, and I supposed him to be sea-sick until other symptoms made their apperance.

Question: Have you see a case of Delirium Tremens?

Answer: I have seen two cases before.

Question: Had not the storm abated and was not the sea smooth, when he showed signs of returning reason?

Answer: No. As near as I can recollect it was just about the commencement of the heaviest part of the gale.

Question by the Court: Was Cap't Thornton confined by sickness to his cabin during the period referred to in your testimony?

Answer: A portion of the time, until he became so irrational, when he came on deck about as he chose, until I confined him by order of Cap't Alden.

Question: You have stated the time of Lieut. Comd'r Thornton's first illness as being about Sunday one week ago from last Sunday. Can you state the month and day of the month thereabouts?

The witness by reference to a calendar, said that it was on Sunday evening SEptember 21st and Monday September 22d that he first discovered the symptoms referred to in his testimony.

Arthur Mathewson being called into Court and sworn stated:

"I am attached to the US Steamer Winona as an Assistant Surgeon. Having been sick, I have no particular knowledge of Cap't Thornton's condition until Sunday evening., September 21st. At that time, Cap't Thornton sent for me saying that he had been distressed by nausea and vomiting during the day and wished me to give him something to relieve him. I administered an opiate. At that time I noticed some muscular tremors; he appeared quite rational except in the belief that his boy had poisoned him. I saw him last about ten o'clock that (Sunday) night; as I was sea-sick, I did not see him until the next morning. On Monday, the nausea and vomiting continued and his mental hallucination increased; Opiates and stimulants in the form of ale were given to him during the day. He remained sleepless on Monday night; on Tuesday his condition was worse, his ideas more confused, and on Tuesday night he obtained no sleep, his condition becoming worse. On Wednesday, September 24th I went on board of the sloop-of-war Richmond and there had a consultation with Surgeon Henderson, by whose advice I increased the dose of opium and the stimulants to two ounces of whiskey and fifty drops of laudanum every two hours commencing on Wednesday about midday. This was continued until Thursday morning when he first obtained sleep. Thursday forenoon he obtained a nap of an hour or two. Thursday afternoon he also slept two or three hours and Thursday night he slept, and appeared much better in the morning, his mind regaining its balance.

Question by the Court: Do you consider Lieut Comd'r Thornton's illness a case of delirium tremens, produced by the too few use of spirituous liquors?

Answer: I think it was a case of Delirium Tremens. Delirium Tremens is usually produced by the too few use of spirituous liquors. I do not know whether it was so in this case or not, as I did not see any liquor used.

Question: Can delirium tremens ensure from any other cause than the excessive use of spirituous liquors?

Answer: I have seen stated in medical works that it would originate from the excessive use of tobacco.

Question: What has been the extent of your experience in cases of delirium tremens?

Answer: I have seen repeated cases in hospitals. I had two or three in the New York Naval Hospital a year ago.

Question: Have you any reason to suppose that Lieut Comd'r Thornton's cause of delirium tremens arose from excessive use of spirituous liquors?

Answer: I have, because it seldom originates from any other cause.

Question by the Recorder: Do you recognize this report (marked D) as your own, and do you swear upon oath that its contents are true?

Answer: I do; but would state that the clause referring to the too few use of spirituous liquors was inserted by me because I had never known in the course of my experiences delirium tremens to arise from any other cause.

Cross-examined by the accused.

Question: When did you first see Cap't Thornton after leaving this port on the 20 day of September?

Answer: The first recollection I have of seeing him was on Sunday night September 21st.

Question: When Cap't Thornton first sent for you, did he not exhibit the usual symptoms of sea-sickness?

Answer: He did.

Question: Did he not then state that he had been unable to sleep the night before (Saturday night)?

Answer: I do not recollect.

Question: On the 22, 23 and 24th of September, was not the motion of the vessel so great that a person afflicted with nausea and vomiting could not sleep?

Answer: On the 22nd perhaps but not after. Nausea and vomiting might possibly by themselves prevent sleep.

Question: From your own observations and knowledge of Cap't Thornton have you any reason to believe that this so called delirium tremens arose from excessive use of intoxicating liquors?

Answer: I have never seen Cap't Thornton drink to excess?

Question: Did you ever see Cap't Thornton intoxicated?

Answer: I never have.

Question: Is not delirium tremens produced by mental excitement and physical prostration independent of the use of spirituous liquors?

Answer: Not the disease known as delirium tremens, except as in the case I stated before, by the too few use of tobacco.

Question: Would not loss of sleep and great physical prostration produce an aberration or temporary alienation of the mind?

Answer: It might.

Question: At what time did Cap't Thornton complain to you of his boy having poisoned him?

Answer: On the evening of Sunday, September 21st.

Question by the Court: What were the symptoms exhibited by Lieut Comd'r Thornton which lead you to pronounce his case delirium tremens?

Answer: The muscular tremor and delirium which usually accompany the disease and which give it its name. The delirium include all the manifestation of mental aberration.

Question: What signs of mental aberration did Lieut Comd'r Thornton exhibit at the time referred to?

Answer: He imagined at times that he was surrounded by rattlesnakes which were attempting to bite him, he imagined himself the object of conspiracies against his life, and thought that he was a prisoner. These were the chief points.

Question: How long have you been a shipmate of Lieut Comd'r Thornton?

Answer: As near as I can recollect about one month.

The Court adjourned at 3:05 PM to meet at 10 AM tomorrow (October 2d 1862)

Thursday October 2d 1862

At 10 o'clock AM the Court met pursuant to adjournment.

Commodore H. H. Bell
Captain R. B. Hitchcock
Captain Jas. S. Palmer
Ed. C. Gabaudan (rear admiral's secretary), Recorder
Lieut. Comd'r J. S. Thornton, the accused,
Paymaster Geo. Plunkett, Counsel for accused.

The proceedings of yesterday were read over.

J. M. Foltz was called and sworn, stated, I am Fleet Surgeon of the Western Gulf Blockading Squadron.

Question by Recorder: What name would you give to the illness of a person now compros mentis who represented himself as being surrounded by rattlesnakes, complained of being poisoned and if at the same time you should perceive nervous tremors in the afflicted person's frame?

The following written objection was then made by accused.

The question is objected to.

1st Because it has not been proved that Dr. Foltz saw the accused during the period referred to in the reports, the basis of this inquiry or at any other time.

2. the answer to this question can contain nothing by an expression of opinion

3. This Court is limited to the investigation of facts alone, and has no authority to ask for or investigate opinions, or to render an opinion in this case.

4. The form of the oath effectively precludes this question or any question of like nature.

The Court was now cleared to consider the objection, and overruled the question in the form presented.

The accused and his counsel were again introduced and at the request of the Recorder, Doctor Foltz was recalled as an expert.

The accused then put the following written objection before the Court.

"Doctor Foltz's testimony is objected to.

1. His testimony as an expert will be nothing but expression of opinions founded of course on his own knowledge or experience, but having no connection with the charges preferred against Mr. Thornton.

2. The objections raised against the last question are hereby renewed.

This objection was overruled by the Court.

By the Recorder: What are the symptoms of delirium tremens?

Answer: Raving, nervous tremors, want of sleep, and usually the patient is surrounded by demons or horrid objects; snakes are of very common occurrence.

Question: What would cause these symptoms?

Answer: Habitual use of ardent spirits.

Question: Would over-exertion and loss of rest, unaccompanied by the use of spiritous liquors produce these symptons?

Answer: It would produce delirium but not all the symptoms.

Question: Would it produce nervous tremors?

Answer: It would

Question: Would delirium and nervous tremors be produced by the excessive use of tobacco?

Answer: I have never known it to do so.

Frank H. Beers, called into court and sworn, stated: "I am an Acting Master's Mate attached to the US Steamer Winona."

Question by the Recorder: Did Lieut Comd'r Thornton send for you any time during the interval occurring between September 19th and 25th?

Answer: He did sir.

Question: Did Lieut Comd'r Thorton's conversation and manner at that time appear to be irrational. If so in what respect?

Answer: He appeared to be out of his head from the effects of liquor. He sent for me and requested me to have the Lieutenant informed of his state, he said he suspected his boy and steward of trying to poison him, and wished to have the Lieutenant informed of it. He had been taking medicine from the Doctor, which he said had helped him, that day however what he had been taking appeared to have disagreed with him, and made it seem to him as though he had been poisoned.

Question: On what day did this occur?

Answer: This was on or about the 20th day of September.

Question by the Court: Did you know of Lieut. Comd'r Thornton's drinking any liquors about the time referred to viz: between the 19th and 25th September?

Answer: I do not.

The Court was now cleared by order of the President to consider the following question.

By a member: What reason had you for suspecting Lieut Comdr Thornton be under the effects of liquor?

This question was objected to by the Court.

The accused and his Counsel were then recalled.

H. D. Burdett, was called into Court and sworn, stated: I am an Acting Master's Mate attached to the US Steamer Winona.

Question by the Recorder: Relate any peculiar circumstance or circumstances that came under your notice in reference to Lieut. Comdr Thornton's conduct or condition between the 19th and 25th day of September 1862.

Answer: I can not state the date but it was between those dates that Lieut. Comd'r Thornton came up on deck and walked around a little. He said nothing to me whatever but seemed to be incoherent in his language. I was walking the deck and did not pay much attention to him as the Quarter Master was on the lookout aft. When I looked next I saw him evidently trying to get out of the Starboard after port. The Quarter Master on watch stopped him by taking hold of him. He then tried a few minutes after to get over the taffrail aft. The Quarter Master again stopped him, requested him not to go over the side and brought him to set down in a chair near the wheel. He asked me for a drink of water and I gave it to him. He sat there fifteen or twenty minutes evidently laboring under an aberration of the mind, then went below to his state-room. I saw nothing of him after this during that night.

At the request of the Recorder, the Court was cleared to consider whether the testimony of the negro servant of Lieut. Comdr Thornton, cited to appear by the Recorder, would be admitted.

The Court decided to admit the testimony.

The accused and his Counsel were then recalled.

Robert Jones (colored) was called into Court

The accused submitted the following written objections.

"Testimony of Robert Jones (n) objected to on the ground that the witness is a negro and a fugitive slave. That such persons have no rights that white men are bound to respect.

That the edition before the Court of "Dehart on Court Martial" was published before the rendition of the opinion in the case of Dred Scott, and that the case therein cited are of no authority since the decision in that case.

That by the laws of Florida and well of many other Southern States the testimony of a negro is of no avail as against a white man."

The testimony of the Witness was then proceeded with in accordance with the previous decision of the Court.

Robert Jones (colored), aged 15, Cap't Thornton's servant.

Question by the Recorder: Do you know what an oath is?

Answer: Yes

Question by the Recorder: Do you know what would be the consequence of you telling a lie?

Answer: I would be punished.

Answer: Who would punish you?

Answer: God

Question: Do you know who or what God is?

Answer: He is a Spirit.

Question: Have you ever taken an oath before?

Answer: No sir.

The Court being satisfied by these questions, of the competency of the witness to bear testimony he was accordingly sworn.

Question by the Recorder: When Cap't Thornton was sick did you notice that he acted in any way curious?

Answer: No sir, he was out of his head a little while.

Question: What did he do when he was out of his head that you recollect?

Answer: I saw nothing wrong in him?

Question: Do you recollect telling the Officer of the Deck about Cap't Thornton having his razor in his hand?

Answer: No sir, I do not.

The question being repeated the witness said "One day Cap't Thornton wanted to shave and asked me where his razor box was. I asked the Doctor in the presence of the First Lieutenant if I should give him his razor box. The First Lieutenant told me no and told me to put it in his (the first lieutenant's) room, which I did.

Question by the Court: Why did you ask the Doctor whether Capt Thornton should have his razor box?

Answer: Because the day before I saw the Doctor and First Lieutenant take the pistols and swords from his room and they told me not to give him any thing any ways sharp.

Question by the Recorder: Did you see Capt Thornton use any whiskey from the Saturday you left here until the Friday before you started to return.

Answer: He used a little.

Question: Was it all given to him by the Doctor or did he take some from a demijohn of his own?

Answer: The Doctor gave him some and he took some from a demijohn of his own.

Question: You said you thought Capt Thornton was out of his head a little while; what made you think so?

Answer: Form the way he talked and went on.

Question: What do you mean by went on? What did he do?

Answer: He acted so funny; he saw things he never saw before; he acted as I have seen people act before.

Question: What did he see?

Answer: He imagined he saw snakes and wild geese.

Question: Did you notice that he shook like as if he had the bone fever?

Answer: He did not shake any as I noticed.

Question by the Court: Do you know about what day of the month this was on?

Answer: No sir, I did not pay attention.

Question: Do you know about how long ago this was?

Answer: No sir, I can not recollect

Answer: Did this occur between the time you last went away from here and your return?

Answer: It did.

Samuel F. Train was called into Court and sworn, stated: I am an Acting Assistant Paymaster, attached to the US Steamer Winona.

Question by the Recorder: Do you know anything relative to the condition of Lieut Comd'r Thornton between the 19th and 25th days of September 1862, both dates inclusive?

Answer: I know that he was ill and confined below between those dates.

Question: Do you know anything about the circumstances narrated in these reports? (The witness was here shown the reports annexed to this record marked C and D respectively).

Answer: On the evening of the 20th Capt Thornton was very talkative and as I considered it entertaining relative to some new guns we had taken on board and was expecting to have a good change to use them off Mobile. This was a general conversation and I saw nothing of the way in it. I knew nothing of the delirium tremens until I heard the Doctor and Mr. Schley remark that he (Capt Thornton) had delirium tremens. He was on deck once or twice during that time and apparently out of his head, talking away very irrationally. As the Doctor was sick one evening, he requested me to give the Captain his medicine which I did.

Question: Did Lieut. Shley on or about the 24th day of September give into your care to be put in the Spirit Room, a demijohn with spirits in it, purporting to belong to Lieut. Comd'r Thornton?

Answer: About the time specified, Mr. Schley handed me a demijohn containing I should think half a gallon of whiskey, remarking "I wish you would take care of that," which I did by putting it in the spirit room.

Question: How near full was the demijohn?

Answer: About one-third full.

Question: Where was Lieut Comd'r Thornton during the conversation of the 20th September referred to in your testimony?

Answer: On the Quarter Deck.

Question: On or about what date did you administer the medicine referred to, to Lieut Comd'r Thornton?

Answer: It was at 8 PM on the 25th or 26th of September.

Question: Do you recollect any one reporting anything to Lieut. Schley regarding Cap't Thornton and his razors?

Answer: I do not, but know that the razors and shaving apparatus were brought up out of the cabin.

Question: Were in you in the Ward Room proper of the Winona on the 22d, 23d and 24th September while Lieut. Schley was taking his breakfast?

Answer: My impression is that I was.

The Recorder having announced that all the witnesses had been examined, the Court adjourned until ten o'clock AM tomorrow, October 3d, 1862.

Friday, October 3d, 1862.

At ten o'clock AM the Court met pursuant to adjournment.

Commodore H. H. Bell
Captain R. B. Hitchcock
Captain Jas. S. Palmer
Ed. C. Gabaudan (rear admiral's secretary), Recorder

The reports, precept and (marked ABCD and E) annexed to this record were read for the instruction of the Court.

The proceedings of yesterday were read over and after mature deliberation, the Court presented the following Report:

"Having fully examined and weighed the evidence adduced, the Court would present the following statement of the facts, in relation to the condition of Lieut. Comd'r Jas. S. Thornton, between the 19th and 25th days of September 1862.

The testimony elicits the facts that: Lieut. Comd'r Jas. S. Thornton, between the 19th and 25th days of September, was incapacitated from duty by a fit of Delirium Tremens, and attempted self-destruction. Also that spirituous liquor, as well as his side-arms were taken from his room, and that the Executive Officer necessarily placed a watch over him for his own (Lt Comd'r Thornton's) safety as well as that of others.

There being no further business before them, at 11:45 AM, the court adjourned sine die.

H. H. Bell
Senior Member of the Court

Ed. C. Gabaudan
Rear Admiral's Secretary and Recorder


Flag Ship Hartford
Pensacola Bay, Sept 29, 1862

By virtue of the authority contained in article 23d of the Act of Congress "for the better government of the Navy of the United States," approved July 17, 1862, a Court of Inquiry is hereby ordered to convene on board the US Ship Hartford at 10 AM on the 30th day of September, 1862, or as soon thereafter as practicable, for the investigation of the enclosed charges preferred against Lieut. Comd'r J. S. Thornton.

The Court will be composed of the following Officers:

Commodore H. H. Bell
Captain R. B. Hitchcock
Captain Jas. S. Palmer
and Ed. C. Gabaudan (rear admiral's secretary) will act as Recorder

Very respectfully
Your obedient Servant
D. G. Farragut
Rear Admiral
Commanding W. G. Bl'g Squad.


Flag Ship Hartford
Pensacola Bay, Sept 29 1862


You will proceed to investigate the facts contained in the reports of Lieut. W. S. Schley, Executive Officer of the Gun Boat Winona and Arthur Mathewson Ass't Surgeon of same vessel, in relation to the condition of Lieut Comd'r Jas. S. Thornton between the nineteenth and twenty-fifth days of the present month, upon which reports Comd'r James Alden deemed it necessary to place Lieut. Schley in command of the vessel as shown by the enclosed report of the case dated off Mobile, Sept 25. 1862. You will refer the matter to me.

Very respectfully
Your Obedient Servant
D. G. Farragut
Rear Admiral
Commding W. G. Bl'g Sqdn.

Commodore H. H. Bell
Captain R. B. Hitchcock
Captain J. S. Palmer


USS Richmond
Off Mobile, Sept 24, 1862

In compliance with your request I respectfully submit the following statement of the case of Lieut. Commander James S. Thornton, commanding US Gunboat Winona.

The Winona left Pensacola on the evening of Saturday, Sept 20th. On the evening of Sunday, the following day Capt. Thornton sent for me, saying that he had been very seasick, and wish me to give him something to relieve him - an opiate with some aromatic tinctures and a few drops of chloroform was administered with the effect of relieving his nausea for a time. At this time nervous tremors were noticeable, but he appeared quite rational except in the belief that his boy had been attempting to poison him. He slept little or none during the night and his nausea and vomiting continued through the next day (Monday 22d). Opiates were administered freely but without the effect of allaying his restlessness or producing sleep. Tuesday Sept 23rd he became more and more restless and irrational, complaining of being bitten by rattlesnakes and exhibiting all the usual symptoms of Delirium Tremens.

Fifty drops of Laudanum have been administered every two hours, and half a glass of ale at intervals of three hours, he was not so much troubled by nausea and vomiting on Thursday as on the days previous - up to this time Wednesday Sept 24th he has remained sleepless, restless and irrational.

His case seems to be one simple delirium tremens originating from the too few use of alcoholic liquors.

Very Respectfully
Your Obedient Servant
Arthur Mathewson
Asst. Surgeon USN

Commander James Alden
Commanding USS Richmond
and Senior Officer of the US Naval Forces
Blockading off Mobile


US Steamer Richmond
Off Mobile, Sept 24, 1862

From your report as well as that of Asst. Surgeon Mathewson, it is clearly established that your Commanding Officer, Lt. Comdr Thornton is laboring under a fit of delirium tremens and is thereby rendered unfit for duty. You will therefore assume command of the Winona, and place him under such restraint, as may be found necessary, to prevent his injuring himself or others.

Your Obedient Servant
James Alden
Commander and
Senior Officer Present

Lt. W. Scott Schley
Lt and Ex Officer
US Gun Boat Winona

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