1 minute read

Andrew Geddes Court-Martial: 1879

Geddes, Not Orleman, Is Court-martialed, Conflicting "expert" Testimony

Defendant: Andrew Geddes
Crimes Charged: Libel, seduction, attempted abduction
Chief Defense Lawyer: George W. Paschal
Chief Prosecutor: John Clous
Judges: Officers from the army's Texas Division
Place: San Antonio, Texas
Date of Trial: June 14-August 21, 1879
Verdict: Guilty of all charges except abduction
Sentence: Three years in prison and dishonorable discharge; Geddes conviction was overturned by President Rutherford B. Hayes

SIGNIFICANCE: This case demonstrated the extreme discomfort of Victorian society in accepting the possibility of incest, and the difficulties inherent in proving it.

In April 1879, a letter arrived in San Antonio, Texas, addressed to General E. 0. C. Ord, commander of the Department of Texas. It contained a sworn statement from Captain Andrew Geddes of the Twenty-fifth U.S. Infantry accusing another officer, Lieutenant Louis H. Orleman, of having an incestuous relationship with his 18-year-old daughter Lillie. Both men were stationed at Fort Stockton in a remote section of west Texas. Geddes told Ord that he was forced to reveal this shocking state of affairs because he had learned that Orleman planned to file charges against him. In order to defend himself, Geddes claimed, he had to expose the relationship of "criminal intimacy" that he had discovered between the 38-year-old Orleman and his daughter.

Geddes's story was a grim one. On March 2, 1879, he said, "I heard from the adjoining quarters … a voice which I recognized to be that of Miss Lillie Orleman, saying, 'Papa, please don't. I'll call Major Geddes, if you don't quit' and … in a most piteous and pleading tone, 'Oh Papa, for God's sake don't. Major Geddes is Officer of the Day and will hear us.' I went to the window of said room and looked in, and there saw Lt. Orleman in bed with his said daughter, having criminal intercourse with her."

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1833 to 1882