The Navy used to require their officers to foot their
expenses out of pocket and to file a request for reimbursement at their
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
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
or supply him with railroad tickets or transportation via naval vessel.
The reply came from the Chief of Bureau of Navigation:
Lieutenant Commander J. P. Fyffe In reply to your letter of the 18th:
request is contrary to Navy regulations. Carry out your Orders. The
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,
walked out of New London and headed westward for San Francisco. By
he reached East Haddam where he sent the following telegram to the
25 August - Compliance Orders number 1998. LCDR Fyffe
en route New
London to San Francisco on foot. This telegram to keep Bureau informed
whereabouts. Made good 22 miles this date. Spending evening in hayloft
Mount Parnassus. Very respectfully, Fyffe. Every evening for the next
days he sent a telegram.
26 August - En route on foot. Made good 31 miles this
gracious consent, Mayor of Bristol, am spending night Mayor's stables.
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
three years ago. Tomorrow I enter New York State.
29 August - En route on foot. Made 28 miles this date
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,
given me best cell in jail for overnight.
30 August - En route on foot. Arrived Albany. Request
Officer be authorized to issue me new shoes. Boots fell apart noon
Entered Albany barefooted. Will remain Seward Hotel two days awaiting
answer. Earning my keep as bartender. Local rum far superior than served
Navy. Am sending sample.
Very respectfully, Fyffe.
31 August - Fyffe received the following message;
"I strike my colors. Secretary of the Navy authorized Recruiting
Albany issue you boots and provide quickest transportation from Albany