Major Francis de Vere, 36, of the Royal Engineers was inspecting his men at Brompton Barracks in Chatham, Kent, on August 11th, 1865, when a shot rang out. The major fell to the ground and died 11 days later of his injury.
The sniper was 19-year-old Sapper John Currie, who had fired at the major from his barrack-room window. Limerick-born Major de Vere, it seems, was a deeply religious Catholic and Currie, a Protestant, resented having a Catholic as his superior officer.
At his Old Bailey trial the following month the soldier said he now deeply regretted the murder. It took the jury seven minutes to find him guilty and he was hanged on Thursday, October 12th, 1865, outside Maidstone Prison.
The execution, according to a contemporary account, was another botched Victorian job resulting in Currie dying only after a severe struggle at the end of the rope. The report added that there was a disappointingly low turnout for the public hanging due in part to all soldiers in the town being confined to barracks.