In 1864, the Pensacola Navy Yard had local instructions that no one was allowed to leave the yard in uniform. A sailor really wanted some booze, but all the clothing he had was his blues. So Seaman Hawksworth paid a yardbird to borrow his clothes so he (Hawksworth) could leave the yard to obtain the object of desire, and, well his bright idea nearly landed him in a lot of hot water...
Later on 10 November 1864, Hawksworth would actually desert from the Kennebec per her muster rolls.
Proceedings of a Naval General Court Martial convened on board the USS Richmond by the order Rear Admiral D. G. Farragut for the trial of Joe Welsh, seaman, USS Kennebec and such others as may be brought before it.
US Steamer Richmond Mobile Blockade 10 AM July 9th 1864
The Court met pursuant to adjournment of the 8th instant, there being present: Captain T. A. Jenkins Commander T. H. Stevens Lieut. Comd Edward Levy Lieut. C. S. Cotton Lieut. E. H. Kellogg Ensign P. H. Cooper, Judge Advocate
The trial of Jas. Welsh, seaman , USS Kennebec having been completed, William Hawksworth, seaman USS Kennebec was brought before the Court. The order convening the court which is appended to the case of Jas. Welsh, seaman, USS Kennebec, was then read.
Question: Have you objection to any member present?
Question: Are you ready for trial?
Question: Do you requite counsel?
Answer: I would like counsel but don't know who to select, so would like to have the Judge Advocate sustain me.
The President of the Court then swore the Judge Advocate in accordance with an Act of Congress and the Judge Advocate swore the members of the Court in accordance with the same act in presence of the accused.
The charge and specification herewith to appended marked A were then read.
Question: You have heard the charge and specification, what say you, guilty or not guilty?
Answer: Not Guilty
Acting Volunteer Lieut. Edward Baker of the Kennebec, a witness on the part of the prosecution was brought before the court and duly sworn. The specification of the charge was read to him.
Question: State what you know in relation to the case.
Answer: There was general permission given for the men after supper to go on shore in the Navy Yard to bathe or wash clothes with positive orders to be back before sunset. On the evening specified the accused went on shore carrying a bucket of clothes, he was absent from the ship at quarters. He had not returned at noon of the next day or about then, at which time I went on shore and offered a reward of thirty dollars for the apprehension of the accused. On the same evening a Marine came on board saying that two men had been found in the Yard. I sent an officer on shore who returned bringing the accused. The accused when he was brought on board was dressed in drab greyish clothes, pantaloons and vest, checked shirt, black felt hat and white undershirt. He left the vessel perfectly sober and returned in the same condition.
Question: Were any of the clothes which accused took with him brought back?
Answer: They were not, I asked the accused why he had changed his uniform and he said that he had sold it for liquor or else had exchanged it for the citizen's suit. I do not remember his exact words but his reply left that impression in my mind.
The Court and Accused having no more questions to ask, the evidence of the witness was read and being correct, he retired.
Acting Ensign H. C. Pinkham of the Kennebec, a witness on the part of the prosecution was brought before the court and duly sworn. The specification was read to him.
Question: State what you know in relation to the case.
Answer: On June 27th, while the Kennebec was lying in the basin at the Navy Yard, Pensacola, I was Officer of the Deck from 6 to 8 PM. I gave permission to the accused to go on shore with positive orders to return to evening muster or at sundown. After we had piped down from muster, the Exec. Officer informed me that the accused was out of the ship. On the 28th, I saw accused on the berth deck in irons in citizen's clothes.
Question: How long was it from the time you gave permission to go on shore until you saw the accused on the berth deck in citizen's clothes?
Answer: About twenty five hours.
Question: Had you, or had you not the Captain's authority to allow the men to go on shore?
Answer: I had not the Captain's authority but that of the Executive Officer Mr. Baker.
Question: Did the permission prescribe any time limits or space within which the accused should keep?
Answer: The permission limited the accused to the Yard, he was allowed to walk around it.
Question: State how the accused was dressed when he left the vessel with your permission.
Answer: He was dressed in blue clothes.
Question: Did he take anything with him?
Answer: Yes, a bucket of clothes, blue clothes.
Question: With what purpose?
Answer: I suppose to wash the clothes.
Question by Accused: Did you see me take that bucket?
Answer: I saw him with a bucket in his hand when he went on shore.
Question by Accused: Where did I take it from?
Answer: I saw the accused go over the starboard pivot port to the wharf.
The Court and Accused having no more questions to ask, the evidence was read to the witness and being found correct, he retired.
Acting Master's Mate H. C. Nields of the Kennebec, a witness on the part of the prosecution was brought before the Court and duly sworn.
The specification of the charge was read to him.
Question: State what you know in regard to the case.
Answer: On the evening of the 27t June while mustering the crew at quarters, I found that the accused belonging to the 3rd Division was absent. I reported his absence to the executive officer. The accused was not on board at 8 o'clock that night. On the evening of the 28th, I was sent on shore by the Exec. Off. to identify the person sad to have been arrested. I went to the Marine Barrack of the Navy Yard, Pensacola and there I saw the accused, William Hawksworth. He was dressed in grey pants, crimson checked shirt, grey vest and dark colored slouch hat. He was given into my charge by the Sergt. of Marines and brought down to the boat by me. I saw the accused off to the Kennebec and delivered him to the Exec. Off. who was then in charge of the deck.
Question: How long was it from the time you found the accused absent until you brought him on board the vessel?
Answer: About or very nearly twenty hour hours.
The Court and Accused having no more questions to ask, the evidence of the witness was read and being found correct, he retired.
There being no more witnesses on the part of the prosecution; the prosecution was brought to a close.
William Egan, Seaman of the USS Richmond, a witness on the part of the defense was introduced and duly sworn.
Question by Accused: Do you know me and if so how long have you known me?
Answer: I do know the accused and have known him for ten years.
Question by Accused: What has been my general character so long as you have known me?
Answer: His character has been good as long as I have known him, obeying orders on board ship, &c.
Question by Accused: Had we any conversation together on board the North Carolina and the Union on the subject of vessels as to which would be the best one to get on, and if yes what?
Answer: Yes, he asked one which would be the best vessel for him to serve his time out on board of. I told him I didn't know as I had never been on this Blockade before.
Question by Court: Where have you known the accused before you meet him on board the North Carolina?
Answer: In Liverpool.
Question by Court: What was he doing there?
Answer: He was boarding with my father and mother.
Question by Court: Is that the only time that you ever knew him?
Answer: We went to school together.
Question by Court: Have you ever been to sea together?
Answer: Yes, in the Kitty Cordes, for four months and fifteen days. That is the only time.
Question by Court: What is your age?
Answer: Twenty years.
The Court and Accused having no more questions to ask, the evidence of the witness was read over and being found correct, he retired.
The accused having no more witnesses, the case closed.
The Court now took a recess to enable the Judge Advocate to make a defense for the accused.
At 1:30 the Court reconvened, the defense of the accused was read in his presence, whereupon the Court was closed. The whole proceedings were read over and the Court proceeded to the finding and sentence.
And after mature deliberation the Court finds that the specification is not proven and that William Hawksworth, seaman, US Steamer Kennebec is not guilty of the charge of desertion.
Captain Thorton A. Jenkins Commander T. H. Stevens Lieut. Comd Edward Levy Lieut. C. S. Cotton Lieut. E. H. Kellogg
Ensign P. H. Cooper, Judge Advocate
Approved, D. G. Farragut, Rear Admiral
Where upon the Court adjourned to meet on board this ship on Monday the 11th instant at 10 o'clock AM
Flag Ship Hartford Off Mobile July 7, 1864
Charge and Specification of Charge preferred by Rear Admiral D. G. Farragut, commanding W. G. B. Squadron against William Hawksworth, seaman, serving on board the US Gun Boat Kennebec.
Specification: In this that on or about the twenty-seventh day of June, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-four, the said William Hawksworth, seaman of the USS Kennebec, did desert from the said vessel while she was lying off the Navy Yard Pensacola and was found the next day by three marines concealed under a pile of granite in the said Navy Yard, dressed in citizen's clothes.
D. G. Farragut Rear Admiral Commanding W. G. B. Squadron
Witnesses A. V. Lt. Edward Baker, Kennebec A. Ensign H. E. Tinkham, Kennebec A. M. Mate H. C. Nields, Kennebec
A defense of Accused
There is a rule at the Pensacola Navy Yard that no one can pass out of the gate without a pass unless he is dressed in citizen's clothes. On the afternoon of the day specified at about half past three o'clock before the men were allowed to go to wash clothes and to bathe, a store was to be sent on shore, I with others was told to go with it and we were allowed to have a swim before we returned. I got a bucket and with some blue clothes in it, went on shore with the store. After leaving the store at the blacksmith's shop, I met some men whom I knew belonging to the Oneida, they had come down with me in the Union. They asked me if I knew where to get some liquor. I told them that there was none in the Yard that I knew of, but could arrange a plan to get some. So I went to a carpenter or mechanic belonging to the yard and ask him if he would lend me a shirt and a pair of pants for about an hour when I would return them. He said that he would for two dollars and a half and that I must give him two and a half more for security, which he would return when I returned the clothes. So I gave him five dollars and got a light pair of pants, a checked shirt, a light vest and a black hat. I went though the gate, got my liquor and came back. I then went to the stone pile to change my clothes again, having left my uniform there when I shifted, but found that my uniform was gone. Then I went down to the Kennebec to go on board, it being then about 9 o'clock, but I found that there were sentries which I could not pass. Then I returned to the granite pile, took a few more drinks and lied down where I slept until almost 3 AM, when I went to the Kennebec again but the sentries were still on post. Then I decided to walk around the Yard until the men would be allowed to come on shore, thinking I could get a suit of blue from one of my shipmates. While going to the basin at about 4 o'clock somewhere I saw three of our men. I was arrested and taken to the Marine Barracks. I told them I belonged to the Kennebec. Mr. Nields found me there at about 6 o'clock.
I would respectfully state to the Court that there was no intention to desert on my part, but merely a desire to obtain liquor and that in a manner which I had seen practiced only a few days before by men on board the Kennebec.
William Hawksworth Seaman, USS KennebecTweet