Napoleon Series Archive 2015

Re: court martial
In Response To: Re: court martial ()

I can only speculate that, as Admiral Caracciolo was not subject to British military law, Nelson was applying a form of inquiry and trial by Caracciolo's Neopolitan and Sicilian peers that would satisfy both 'justice' and contemporary scrutiny. From your brief details, the original Board of Officers was formed after Caracciolo had been formally charged. By whom was this charge raised? Whose 'prisoner' was he? That Board of Neopolitan officers was to determine whether evidence existed that supported a case, and that the case might be proved in law. Nelson undoubtedly wished also to assess the gravity of the offence. The report about the commensurate punishment, if the case was proven, would determine his direction to form a 'court' of correct jurisdiction and sufficient seniority to hear the trial. It seems that the Neopolitan Board of Officers reported it to be a capital offence, Nelson then sought the jurisdiction of His Sicilian Majesty. The form of their tribunal or court would appear to have been a Board of Naval Officers. Was this because in trying this offence in wartime, or in circumstances where there was no Sicilian Judge Advocate available to advise the panel? Nelson would have been alive to local sensitivities. A Royal Navy Court Martial of a Neopolitan Admiral could have been at best interpreted as vindictive and at worst inflamatory? It would have been diplomatically and legally correct to allow a form of trial acceptable to the accused, but also to the nation, officers and men for whom the example / retribution of Caracciolo's acquittal or punishment was most instructive. GD

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