BLAST FROM THE PAST

IT TOOK NEARLY 140 YEARS FOR NAVY TO REVERSE
UNJUST COURT-MARTIAL CONVICTION OF LT MADE
SCAPEGOAT FOR LOSS OF U.S. FRIGATE IN WAR OF
1812 - WILLIAM COX FALSELY ACCUSED BY FELLOW
OFFICER OF "COWARDICE IN THE FACE OF THE
ENEMY" - PRESIDENT HARRY TRUMAN CLEARED
COX'S NAME AND RESTORED HIS RANK IN 1952

© 2013 MilitaryCorruption.com

It was 200 years ago, that one of the U.S. Navy's most humiliating defeats resulted in the unfair court-martial of an innocent officer made scapegoat for the loss of his ship by top brass and an angry public.

The USS Chesapeake was captured at sea off Boston on June 1, 1813 after a fierce 15-minute battle with a British frigate, in which 252 men were killed or wounded on both sides.

Skipper of the American warship, CAPT James Lawrence, uttered those immortal words "Don't give up the ship!" as he lay mortally wounded on the deck of his shattered frigate.

The HMS Shannon had clearly won the battle of cannonade, and a boarding party led by the British captain, had succeeded in scoring a tremendous victory for the Royal Navy in the War of 1812.

HEAVY LOSSES ON BOTH SIDES

Almost every officer aboard the Chesapeake was killed or severely wounded. Only LTs William Cox and George Budd survived the bloody battle.

The joyous Brits sailed the captured Chesapeake to Halifax, Canada and put the American survivors in chains.

In 1814, with Cox and Budd back in friendly hands, a court-martial was convened when the warship's senior lieutenant accused his subordinate of "cowardice in the face of the enemy."

The proceedings were grossly unfair, with the court taking the word of one officer against the other, lacking any corroborating witnesses.

The truth was, Cox went to the deck when his gun crew below abandoned their posts. The lieutenant carried the bleeding body of his captain to cover. Budd claimed his fellow officer had fled the fight.

FINALLY, JUSTICE PREVAILS

Cox was convicted of "dereliction of duty" for allegedly "abandoning his position" while under enemy fire. He was discharged from the Navy in disgrace.

It took nearly 140 years for justice to prevail, far too late for the unfortunate LT Cox. But for his descendants, they could at least take solace in the fact Congress passed a resolution in 1952 in support of Cox.

President Harry Truman, a combat veteran himself in World War I, signed the papers clearing Cox's name and restoring him to his rank.

Truth finally won out when lawmakers realized Budd, lacking any witnesses to his specious charges against his colleague, stood to be blamed for loss of the ship if he couldn't pin the rap on his fellow officer.

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