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Andrew Geddes Court-Martial: 1879

Geddes, Not Orleman, Is Court-martialed

The next day, wrote Geddes, Lillie told him that her father "had been having sexual intercourse with her for the past five years … and that he had placed a loaded revolver to her head, threatening that he would blow out her brains if she did not consent to his horrible desires. Miss Orleman begged me repeatedly and implored me on bended knee to save her and take her from this terrible life of shame." Afterwards, Geddes told Orleman that he knew of his relationship with Lillie and was prepared to take her away "either to her home in Austin, or to my wife." Geddes concluded by saying he was not alone in suspicions of Orleman, and he claimed to have other witnesses who had seen Orleman behave improperly toward his daughter.

Ord, who had complete discretion over how to proceed with the case, chose not to prosecute Orleman, but instead to court-martial Geddes on Orleman's charge that Geddes had libeled him with a false accusation of incest as part of a plot to seduce and abduct Lillie Orleman. Geddes was charged with two counts of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. According to the first charge, Geddes, "a married man, did by persuasion, advice, threats and other means, endeavor to corrupt Miss Lillie Orleman to his own illicit purposes." The second charge claimed that Geddes willfully and falsely accused "Lt. Orleman of the heinous crime of incestuous intercourse with the said Orleman's daughter… and by threatening to make the same public attempt to force and coerce said Lt. Orleman into giving his consent to the departure of his daughter."

Geddes pled not guilty to all charges. The trial would last for the exceptionally long time of three months. The prosecutor's immediate task was to impeach Geddes's character and portray him as a libertine and a liar. The prosecutor introduced evidence that Geddes had been court-martialed once before on charges of attempting to cash one month's pay in two different places. He had been found guilty, but the judge advocate general recommended leniency in light of his otherwise spotless record. It also quickly came out that Geddes, who lived apart from his wife (whom he had been compelled to marry in a shotgun wedding) was a notorious womanizer who had had several affairs, including one with his commanding officer's wife, who bore him a child.

Lillie Orleman was the prosecutor's first witness. She traced the development of her relationship with Geddes from their meeting at a post dance where he "squeezed her hand meaningfully," and she told of his many visits to her quarters while her father was away and his attempts to take liberties with her. Yet, she confessed, she continued meeting him, claiming that she believed, "Captain Geddes to be a gentleman. I inferred from all his actions that he would get a divorce and make me his wife." She testified that the night Geddes allegedly discovered the incest, she had gone to bed at nine and slept through the night. She also said she had closed the bedroom windows and drawn the curtains, making it impossible for Geddes to see in the window. She also testified that she and her father had had a disagreement earlier in the evening, and that her father had come into the bedroom and told her to stop seeing Geddes or he would turn her out of the house. She then claimed that Geddes told her the next day that "your father is not treating you right." She said she had thought that he referred to Orleman's reprimand over her meetings with Geddes, and she agreed her father treated her "cruelly and meanly, which is really not so. I told him that to enlist his sympathy in order to take me home." She then testified that Geddes told her father that he would not expose him if Orleman let Lillie leave with him on the evening stage. She firmly denied that any incest had taken place.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1833 to 1882Andrew Geddes Court-Martial: 1879 - Geddes, Not Orleman, Is Court-martialed, Conflicting "expert" Testimony