Correspondence Between a Naval Officer and His Superiors in 1870-Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
This is alleged to be a series of communications between a naval commander and the office of the Secretary of the Navy regarding the commander’s reassignment from New London, Connecticut to San Francisco in 1870.
We’ve found no evidence that this email is authentic. Some of the facts are wrong such as the commander’s reported duty station of New London, Connecticut. The eRumor claims that these events took place in 1870 but according to U.S. Navy records, the first pier at New London was not built until 1872.
The Navy used to require their officers to foot their total moving
expenses out of pocket and to file a request for reimbursement at their new
duty station and they might
be reimbursed several months later.
In Aug. of 1870, LCDR J. P. Fyffe had orders to be C.O. of a frigate
out of San Francisco. His current duty station was in New London,
Connecticut. He did not think it right that his moving expenses should be
out of pocket.
The following is what transpired. LCDR J.P. Fyffe sent a message to
the Secretary of the Navy requesting that the Navy either lay out the money
or supply him with railroad tickets or transportation via naval vessel.
The reply came from the Chief of Bureau of Navigation: To:
Lieutenant Commander J. P. Fyffe In reply to your letter of the 18th: Your
request is contrary to Navy regulations. Carry out your Orders. The Orders
also stated: While carrying out these Orders, you will keep the Bureau
informed of your whereabouts.
There was nothing which stated when he was supposed to arrive in San
Francisco or by what means. So LCDR Fyffe donned his best uniform and
strapped his sword to his small travel kit and at sunrise on the 25th, he
walked out of New London and headed westward for San Francisco. By sundown
he reached East Haddam where he sent the following telegram to the Chief:
25 August – Compliance Orders number 1998. LCDR Fyffe en route New
London to San Francisco on foot. This telegram to keep Bureau informed my
whereabouts. Made good 22 miles this date. Spending evening in hayloft in
Mount Parnassus. Very respectfully, Fyffe. Every evening for the next few
days he sent a telegram.
26 August – En route on foot. Made good 31 miles this date. By
gracious consent, Mayor of Bristol, am spending night Mayor’s stables. Have
noticed he has hybrid mules specially bred for tropics. Suggest Navy
27 August – En route on foot. Made good only 1 1/2 miles this date.
Rained all day. Staying overnight at Litchfield with my father’s friend,
General R.G.Holmes, JR. I find standard boot worn by naval officer
inadequate for prolonged walking. Suggest Surgeon General investigate.
28 August – Spending night Lakeville. Lovely country. Expect to buy
home here as soon as I get reimbursed travel voucher submitted by me to Navy
three years ago. Tomorrow I enter New York State.
29 August – En route on foot. Made 28 miles this date despite badly
worn boots. People not familiar Navy uniforms this area. Great crowd
walked part way with me. I sang them sea chantries. Populace thinks it a
great sign of democracy for commanding officer of his ship to walk 3000
miles to new station. Police Chief W.D. O’Sullivan, Hudson, New York, has
given me best cell in jail for overnight.
30 August – En route on foot. Arrived Albany. Request Recruiting
Officer be authorized to issue me new shoes. Boots fell apart noon today.
Entered Albany barefooted. Will remain Seward Hotel two days awaiting
answer. Earning my keep as bartender. Local rum far superior than served in
Navy. Am sending sample.
Very respectfully, Fyffe.
31 August – Fyffe received the following message;
“I strike my colors. Secretary of the Navy authorized Recruiting Officer,
Albany issue you boots and provide quickest transportation from Albany to San