[Riverside, Ca. and several other locales. 1954-1957]. pp. typed documents and pp. manuscript, together with a later journal of pp. and a booklet (iv,26pp.) entitled “Going Back to Civilian Life.” Mostly folio sheets. Some creasing and light wear, minor soiling. Very good. Item #567
Archive of documents surrounding the court martial of Corporal Peter G. Haskell of the 47th Artillery, 551st Missile Battery stationed at Fort MacArthur in southern California during the Korean War. Corp. Haskell was charged with “Violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 92”; more specifically, he was court martialed for failing to enforce the rule that no gasoline was to be used as a primer to start heating stoves, after the stove exploded resulting in substantial damage to government property. He pleaded, and was found, not guilty, and the present documents comprise the official summary of his case, along with related affidavits and testimony. Also present are Haskell’s manuscript notes regarding his personal defense testimony and account of the incident, and later correspondence as he worked to absolve himself of the debt incurred for the loss of property.
In his own words, Haskell defends his actions: “I am Corporal Peter G. Haskell… With Reference to the Report of Survey, attempting to hold me pecuniarily responsible for the loss of Government property as the result of the fire and explosion which occurred on or about 12 September 1954 at Mt. Gleason (California) Site 04, I wish to take exception to same for the following reasons: [Upon arrival...we] were called together and advised by SFC Joe E Wade, Section Chief, that PFC Frederick R Morrell...was to be second in command and we were to do as he said, not give him any trouble and feel as though he were a sergeant first class. This order was never rescinded. At the time of the fire, I was in the same building and I saw PFC Morrell put the gasoline in the stove. I did not, however, in any way attempt to prevent him from doing this, or order him not to do it. For three months I had been subordinate to PFC Morrell...I do not see why or how I could be expected to change in this instance…. I was acquitted by special court-martial of ‘dereliction of duty,’ since I did not have a duty to perform.”
The rest of the documents revolve around the case, and around Haskell endeavoring to relieve himself of the damage charges -- some $12,509.77. Numerous others testify on Haskell’s behalf that Wade was in command, and therefore Haskell should not be held in any way accountable.
Interestingly, also included here is a partial notebook containing a later “letter” (appearing to have been written as a form of therapy), in which Haskell discusses his sexuality and interactions with girls throughout his life. He discreetly discusses masturbation, his lack of passion when kissing girls, his discomfort around women despite trying to date, and his mother’s constant criticism of anyone he brought home. He also discusses his feelings of inadequacy, including during his time in the military. The “letter” is pp. in length, and written after his discharge from the military. An obituary we locate for the man we presume to be Corp. Haskell mentions that he is survived by both his sister and a long-time friend named Gil. The present manuscript provides, therefore, an interesting insight into the psyche of a gay man in the military long before such things were socially acceptable.