General Court Martial of Samuel Richard Wilson
[Extract of the General Court Martial whereof Major Edmund EYRE was President, held at Bedford, Long Island between 4 April 1780 -- 5 May 1780.]
Capt. Normand MACLEOD of the 2nd Battalion of New Jersey Volunteers being duly sworn deposed that on the 8th March Lt. WILSON (who was then acting as Adjutant) went up to Major COLDEN and told him that one of the Soldiers who were on the Parade, were laughing at him;
upon which Major COLDEN went with Lt. WILSON towards the Soldier, and spoke to him, and when Lt. WILSON was within a few paces of him accused him a Second time of Laughing at him, upon which he Lt. WILSON struck him with the but end of his Bayonet;
and Major COLDEN desired that he would never Strike a man on the Parade in his presence, and Lt. WILSON then beg'd leave to resign the appointment of Adjutant; upon which Major COLDEN desired him to do his duty, and Lt. WILSON replied that he would not, in consequence of which Major COLDEN ordered him to go to his room.
Q.(by Major COLDEN)-- Did not Lt. WILSON Strike the Soldier, whilst he (Major COLDEN) was speaking to him?
Q. Did he (the Witness) see any provocation given by the Soldier when Major COLDEN was speaking to him, to cause Lt. WILSON to Strike him?
Q.(by Lt. WILSON)-- What distance was he (the Witness) from the Soldier at that time?
Q.(by Major COLDEN)-- Did not he (the Witness) observes from the conversation and behaviour of Lt. WILSON, that he appeared to be discontent with doing the duty of Adjutant, & endeavor to make the rest of the Subaltern Officers so?
Q. Did not Lt. WILSON apply to do the duty of Adjutant?
Q. Did not Lt. WILSON when he applied to do the duty of Adjutant, say that by that means he should get rid of doing the disagreable duty of the Piquet; and be entitled to receive forage?
The Court Adjourned till Tuesday Morning 10 o'Clock.
Tuesday the 25th April 1780
The Court being met pursuant to Adjournment.
Lieut. WILSON being put upon his defence delivered himself in the following manner--
On Major [of] Brigade WALLER saying Officers were sent from the Battalion for Orders, who could neither Read nor Write; I applied to Major ANTILL desiring to do the duty of Adjutant on the 7th of January last; such a report being a disgrace to the Corps, not long after the Soldiers behaviour was such, that I beg'd Major ANTILL would speak to them, which he did; and told them that some of them would suffer capitally for such proceeding, and that he would send the first man to the Provost who was guilty; that they were for some time quiet; but on Major ANTILL's going to New York, the 19th Feby.; the 20th I prosecuted three privates for theft;
that Evening a Letter was wrote threatening my Life, and two more Officers; in consequence of which Major COLDEN gave me leave to resign the duty of Adjutant, when I thought propper, which I declined; being apprehensive it might be imagined I did it through timorousness, and a desire I had to find out the offenders, that on the 21st Lt. DUMONT and I took up three men, which have already appeared before the Court, and the same Evening another Soldier in Major COLDENs Company declared in the Ranks on the Parade that he would back Serjt. NEWTON, and that the whole Regiment would do the same, which he repeated twice; and step'd out of the ranks, upon which I seized him and sent him prisoner & charged him with mutiny; likewise off Parade, I applied to Major COLDEN to send him off immediately, as the only method to stop the Mutiny, which then appeared throughout the whole Battalion;
the Capt. of the day made the same application, but we were both refused, and since I have been in Arrest, that prisoner is released from Confinement; On the 8th March on the Parade there was a Soldier in the front Rank, on the left of the Battalion, who was talking to the Serjt. who was in the rear upon which I called to him to be silent twice or thrice, and the Serjeant likewise spoke to him, and he answered the Sejeant by saying "you may kiss my arse," and upon my calling to him again, he laughed at me. Major COLDEN being then on the Parade, I acquainted him of the Soldiers behavior, who went with me to the Soldier and on my Showing him to Major COLDEN he (the Soldier) laughed; upon which I struck him with my Bayonet on the arm, and Major COLDEN then turned round to me, and repeated twice that he would not suffer me to Strike a Soldier in his presence.
I was then so struck with Major COLDEN’s rebuke that I for sometime did not know what answer to make, but when I answered, I took off my Hat, and beg'd leave to resign the duty of Adjutant, (knowing the danger I had been in before, and the proceedings on the Parade, laid me open to every insult from men who had acted in a mutinous manner for some time past) Major COLDENs answer was "you shall do the duty," and I answered that I would do it then but no longer; looking upon it as an unlawful Order, and a danger to myself in doing it, after the Treatment I had received on the Parade.
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