Murder Most Foul

The photograph below came from a photo album which I believe to have once been the property of Private Thomas Franklin Fleming of “C” Company, 32nd United States Volunteer Infantry (USVI) and identifies the two members of the 32nd as Private William Kilpatrick of Tahlequah, Indian Territory (left) and Private Pasquale Tuazzo. The label also states rather matter-of-factly that Kilpatrick was shot and killed by Tuazzo on October 7, 1900, at Balanga, Bataan in the Philippines. Naturally, this type of image simply screams out for further research and is exactly the type of image that I collect. Although faded by time the history lurking within this image is simply too much to pass up.

Kilpatrick with Revolver

My first cursory investigation into the ill-fated Private Kilpatrick only turned up a burial record dated March 1, 1901, which states that he was buried at the Presidio in San Francisco. Unfortunately no next of kin, birth date or place are listed on the card. This leaves very few additional avenues open to me in finding out more about him – at this time.

A bit more has turned up on Private Pasquale Tuozzo (according to all official records I have found this is the correct spelling of his name.) was born in Salerno, Italy and served with the 3rd Connecticut Volunteer Infantry as a baker with the brigade bakeries in Summerville, South Carolina prior to joining the 32nd USVI and shipping out to the Philippines.

Kilpatrick with Group

Above: Members of Company C, 32nd Infantry, United States Volunteers pose prior to their departure to the Philippines. The doomed Private William Kilpatrick stands at far right, c. 1900, 

Although the exact circumstances of the crime that left Private Kilpatrick dead are still yet to be uncovered, another typed label in the same photo album next to a second photo of Tuozzo states that he was dishonorably discharged from the army after and general court martial on December 10, 1900 and sentenced to 99 years at the Military Prison on Alcatraz Island.

There are several additional sources that I plan on looking into and I may attempt to get copies of Kilpatrick’s service records from the National Archives. I also plan on trying to find a source for old military prison records in order to find out if Tuozzo actually served his whole 99-year sentence. Much of this story is yet to be uncovered.

Since my initial investigation in the murder of Private Kilpatrick I may have identified his family in the 1900 Census for Township 17, Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory (today’s Oklahoma). He appears to have been one of seven children of Thomas and Rhoda Kilpatrick and born in Indiana around 1876. The census lists his occupation as “U.S. Soldier”. Kilpatrick was already overseas by the time the 1900 Census was taken and the enumerator probably listed all members of the household whether present or not. Kilpatrick also appears in the 1900 Census for military and naval personnel at Balanga, Bataan, Philippine Islands. Interestingly, his fellow soldier and future killer Pasquale Tuozzo is enumerated on the same census page.

I have also located copies of Tuozzo’s service records at the National Archives in Washington D.C. and acquired copies with the hope that some light might be shed regarding the particulars of the crime in question as well as some details of Tuozzo’s background. His service papers state that he was the of son of  one Angelo Tuozzo, and was born at Salerno, Italy around 1872. He was relatively tall for his time standing 5 feet 8 inches tall and was a baker by trade prior to enlistment with “C” Company, 32nd USVI on July 27, 1899.

Tuozzo Group

Above: Private Pasquale Tuozzo (at left) with fellow members of Company C, 32nd Infantry, United States Volunteers. Luzon, Philippine Islands, c. 1900.

While the majority of the paperwork included in Tuozzo’s service records relate to his court martial for the murder of Private Kilpatrick very little in the way of detail of the crime is mentioned. It seems that the army was more interested in whether the crime was committed and less as to the how’s and whys.

The specifications of the crime and charges against Tuozzo were outlined in General Order No. 29, Headquarters Department of northern Luzon dated December 6, 1900:

“In that Private Pasquale Tuozzo, Company C, 32nd Infantry, U, S. Volunteers, did, in time of insurrection, with malice of aforethought, willfully and feloniously murder and kill on William Kilpatrick, Private, Company C, 32d Infantry, U.S. Volunteers, then and there being, by shooting with a certain revolver, then and there held in the hand of the said Pasquale Tuozzo, and thereby causing the death of said Kilpatrick. This at Balanga, Bataan, Luzon, P. I, on the 7th day on October, 1900.”

The trail was a short one. A total of twelve witnesses were called and Tuozzo was found guilty to the charges and specifications against him on December 9. He was stripped of rank, dishonorably discharged and sentenced to 99 years at hard labor. The sentence was to be served at Bilibid Military Prison in Manila. At some point, Tuozzo was transferred to the U.S. military prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay. He disappears from the records after this. Did he die in prison? Was he paroled at some point? Perhaps the answer to those question will be found one day.

Tuozzo Clpping

Above: A newspaper clipping from the January 22, 1901, issue of the Wilkes-Barre Semi-Weekly Record (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) mentioning the conviction of Pasquale Tuozzo for the murder of William Kilpatrick.

As for the unfortunate Private Kilpatrick, he also returned to the United States and was buried at San Francisco National Cemetery at the Presidio. Ironically Kilpatrick’s grave offers a view of the distant Alcatraz Island.


To the Moon on a Spoon

Very little documentation can be found regarding the origins of this curious memento from the early days of science fiction. This is what I have uncovered.

It is a small sterling silver collector’s spoon that commemorates Jules Verne’s 1865 novel De la terre à la lune (From the Earth to the Moon) in which a group of stalwart adventurers travel to the Moon after being launched into space by a monstrous buried cannon.

Jules Verne Spoon Horz

Verne’s choice of launch site – Tampa, Florida – has always piqued people’s interest because of its relative proximity to Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center from which the first actual manned moon mission was launched just over a century later. I suppose they did not call Jules Verne a visionary for nothing.

The spoon itself is rather diminutive measuring only about 3 7/8 inches (10cm) long with the bowl being about 7/8 of an inch (2.1cm) wide. Made as previously stated of sterling silver, it bears the patent date of 1891 on the handles reverse side and a tiny hallmark that appears to be a striding griffin with its front paw on a round cartouche with a “W” inside. This hallmark belongs to the silver smithing firm Whiting Company of New York (which was later absorbed by the Gorham Company).

Jules Verne Spoon Vert

The front side of the spoon bears the real interesting stuff. The bowl depicts the violent muzzle blast for the buried cannon and also has “JULES VERNE” spelled out is relief. Curiously, though not all that surprising are the tiny, actually minute figures of people scurrying away from the canon’s erupting muzzle. These figures are so small as to be almost invisible except under magnification.

Jules Verne Spoon Bowl

The shaft of the spoon’s handle bears the inscription “LUNA VIA TAMPA •FLA•”. The upper portion of the handle shows the projectile/capsule hurtling towards the Moon which is appropriately adorned with a man-in-the-moon face.

Jules Verne Spoon Handle

Interestingly this spoon also appears to have been used as basis for other silver firm’s creative efforts as evidenced by the candy or nut spoon shown below.

Jules Verne Leonardi Spoon

Issued by S. B. Leonardi & Company sometime after the 1891 patent date, the original Whiting spoon’s bowl was removed by Leonardi and replaced with the larger pierced bowl characteristic of a nut or candy spoon. It still bears the original Whiting cartouche and patent date but is also counter stamped by the Leonardi firm.

The fully restored version of Georges Méliès 1902 film Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon) which was much inspired by Verne’s novel. The film is presented here in its original frame by frame hand applied color and a new musical soundtrack.  

Using Water Guns at Gallipoli

Gallipoli was one of the many unmitigated Allied disasters of World War One. An attempt to knock the Ottoman Turks out of the war in 1915, the campaign suffered from ill planning and a serious miss-judging of the fighting spirit and abilities of the Turks when defending their homeland. While the campaign was indeed a bloody fiasco – it in part cost Winston Churchill his post as First Lord of the Admiralty – there was no shortage of valour or even ingenuity amongst the British, Australian and New Zealand troops who took part in the effort. Lance Corporal William Charles Scurry of the 7th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force was a remarkable case in point.


Above: William Charles Scurry after his appointment to Temporary Captain. Photo: Australian War Memorial.

Born on 30 October 1895 at Melbourne, Scurry was an architectural modeler by trade and was serving as a 2nd lieutenant in the 58th Infantry (Essendon Rifles) before the war. Eager to get into action, he resigned his commission and enlisted as a private in the 7th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force. He arrived at Gallipoli not long before the Allied command had decided to cut their losses and begin an evacuation of the front.

Any retreat in the face of a determined and capable foe in fraught with the highest risks but the Allied withdrawal was probably the most successful part of the campaign and a rather remarkable invention by William Scurry contributed greatly to that success.


Above: One of Lance Corporal Scurry’s so-called drip guns which bought much needed time during the Allied withdrawal at Gallipoli. With a mechanism similar to ancient water clock, modified SMLE rifles like this example fooled the Turks into thinking the allied lines were still occupied. Photo: Australian War Memorial.

Below is an interesting and well produced animation recounting Scurry’s “Drip Gun” and its use in covering the final ANZAC evacuation from Gallipoli.

Below: A documentary produced by ABC Australia on the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign highlighting William Scurry’s invention.

They also served. Rifles with no attending riflemen would not have fooled to Turks, A key element in Scurry’s ruse were the dummies made to help complete the illusion of fully manned positions.

Gallipoli Dummies

Above: Some Scurry’s decoy dummies. History is silent as to their eventual – and probably grim – fate in Turkish hands. Photo: Australian War Memorial.