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Andrew Geddes Court-Martial: 1879

Conflicting "expert" Testimony

The prosecution's most valuable witness was Dr. M. K. Taylor, who examined Lillie to determine whether or not she was a virgin. He testified that in his opinion "she had never had sexual intercourse." The defense called its own expert witnesses to refute Taylor's conclusion, but as they had not been permitted to examine Lillie, their testimony was largely ineffective. The prosecution meant to prove that if there had been no sex there could have been no incest, and that therefore Geddes was guilty as charged.

Geddes took the stand on August 4, and he told the same story that he had written in his letter to Ord. He denied making any improper overtures to Lillie, or visiting her except on one occasion, and he portrayed himself as her rescuer. He told how he had grown suspicious of Orleman when he had seen him fondle his daughter's breast in an ambulance on the way to Fort Davis. Another witness, Joseph Friedlander, testified that Orleman had reached under her clothes, taken hold of her leg, and told a smutty story on the same trip.

The defense called several witnesses to corroborate Geddes's testimony. Michael Houston, the driver of a stage in which Lillie and Louis Orleman had traveled alone, told a story remarkably similar to Geddes's of what he had overheard while driving the stage. He said that Orleman had accused his daughter of having sexual relations with Geddes and other officers as well as with Orleman. Another witness, Corporal George A. Hartford, testified that in 1877 he too had witnessed an intimate scene between father and daughter.

When the defense tried to call Lillie as a rebuttal witness she was pronounced too ill to testify. Her illness was attributed to the strain of her previous testimony. On August 21 the court announced its verdict of guilty on all counts, except abduction. Geddes was sentenced to three years in prison and a dishonorable discharge. The sentence was reviewed by the judge advocate general, William M. Dunn, who submitted his review to the secretary of war and President Rutherford B. Hayes. Dunn concluded that the verdict was a miscarriage of justice and recommended overturning the conviction and the sentence. The president concurred, and Geddes was returned to his unit.

This was not the end of Geddes's difficulties. William T. Sherman, general of the army, intervened to have Geddes investigated and retried. An extensive investigation concluded that Geddes was a notorious womanizer, but that prosecuting him for any related infractions would be damaging to the reputations of other officers and their wives. Ultimately, in 1880, Geddes was court-martialed for the third time, found guilty of drunkenness on duty, and dismissed from the army. This time the Judge Advocate General's office allowed the sentence to stand.

Carol Willcox Afelton

Suggestions for Further Reading

Barnett, Louise. Ungentlemanly Acts: The Army's Notorious IncestTrial. New York: Hill and Wang, 2000.

Cresap, Bernard. Appomattox Warrior: The Story of Genera/E. 0. C. Ord. New York: A. S. Barnes, 1981.

Williams, Clayton W. Texas' Last Frontier: Fort Stockton and the Trans-Pecos 1861-1895. College Station, Tex.: Texas A & M University Press, 1982.

Additional topics

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