General Court Martial of Anthony Allaire
At a General Court Martial held at Charles Town in the Province of South Carolina on Wednesday the 28th day of March 1781 and continued by Adjournment, to Saturday the 31st day of March 1781, by Virtue of a Warrant bearing date the 24th day of March 1781 from His Excellency Sir Henry Clinton Knight of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, General & Commander in Chief of All His Majesty's Forces within the Colonies laying upon the Atlantic Ocean from Nova Scotia to West Florida inclusive &c. &c. &c.
Thursday March 29th 1781
Lieut. James McDONALD of the Prince of Wales's American Regiment was called before the Court, and being duly Sworn deposed that last Wednesday Sevennight about Ten or Eleven o'Clock in the forenoon he was sent by the Deceased Ensign KEATING to Lieut. ALLAIR's Quarters with Mr. KEATING's Compliments to him, and that he would be glad to meet him the next Morning at York's Tavern at 8 o'Clock, with his Friend with him: That Lieut.
ALLAIR said he would, but that it was necessary he should have a Certificate from the Commandant, shewing he was no Prisoner before he could think of entering upon any serious matter with Ensign KEATING. That he (the Dept.) again Asked him if he meant to meet him, and Lieut. ALLAIR said no 'till he had got a Certificate from the Commandant, and when that was procured; he would meet him--
That the above Answer he delivered to the Deceased.
Q.(By the Court) Do you know if Mr. KEATING procured a Certificate from the Commandant?
Q.(By Do.) Do you know if Lieut. ALLAIR did got to York's Tavern to meet the deceased?
Q.(By Do.) When you delivered Lieut. ALLAIR's Answer to the Deceased, what remarks did he make upon it?
Q.(By the Court) Do you know if any Message was sent from the Deceased to Lieut. ALLAIR by any other Person or Persons?
Q.(By the Prisr.) Do you recollect that I told you a Certificate from the Commandant or any other Commanding Officer; for that I thought it necessary for you to have a Certificate to indemnify me from the Censure of a Court Martial?
The Court Adjourned 'till next Morning at 11 o'Clock.
Doctor HAYES Physician to the General Hospital was called before the Court and being duly Sworn deposed that on the 24th of March 1781, he received a Message that Ensign KEATING had received a Wound and lay dangerously Ill.
That he immediately went to the Quarters of the Deceased, and upon Examination found that he had received a Wound on the right side of the Belly in an Oblique direction about Two Inches from the Navel, which penetrated the Cavity, that he immediately in Order to find if the Intestines were Wounded, ordered him something that might go thro' him; which had not effect that he called again [in] the Evening and found him a Dying, occasioned from the Wound, that the next day he opened the Body, and found the Wound was made by a Ball.
The Prisoner being called upon for his Defence, delivered the following Address to the Court, Vizt.
Mr. President and Members of the Court Martial,
It being now incumbent on me to make my defence I must Crave your patience Gentlemen for a few Moments and I make not the least doubt, I shall be able to convince you all that the Issue of this unhappy Affair has been unavoidable on my part, and that I could not have Acted otherwise without I was lost to all the feelings of Honour and Reputation, nay at last my Life itself was at Stake, and what I did on Saturday the 24th was in defence of my Life; as I only wish for every circumstance to appear in it's true Colour, I would beg leave to relate whatever has happened from the commencement of this unhappy dispute, which was on Saturday the 17th--
I was asked by Mr. OHARA (Merchant in this City) to dine with him at Mr. York's Tavern which I assented to, part of the Afternoon was spent with great Festivity and Sociability, and I believe to the Satisfaction of the Company, about 5 o'Clock a Piper belonging to Lord Rawdons Regiment came into the Room which occasioned several disputes, this put me on my Guard and cautioned me against drinking barely to avoid offending the Company, least some Accidents might happen;
between 9 & 10 o'Clock we agreed to Retire, take the Piper with us and serenade some Ladies, we went below and call'd for the Bill, while the Bill was settling I saw the Piper going out of the Room I followed him to the Door and told him he had promis'd to go with the gentlemen, I was endeavouring to get him into the Room again, when Mr. KEATING came to the Door and immediately addressed himself to me in Words to this Effect, Pray Sir are you inveigling the Piper away alone; Mr. KEATING then attempted to strike the man, I interfer'd and told Mr. KEATING the Man was in Liquor and thought it a pitty to beat him.
Mr. KEATING then said he thought it very ungenerous in me to attempt to take the Man away as we had agreed to go Serenading, on which I asked him if he could conceive me to be such a Rascal or Scoundrel as to be guilty of a thing of the kind; from circumstances that had passed in the Afternoon he said he had reason to think I would, I then told him I valued him not, nor any Man that would entertain such low opinions, on which he struck me with his Cane, several blows passed when I threw away my Cane and got hold of him, threw him down, and gave him several blows in return for his insult, the Company being apprised of our Scuffle came out and separated us, soon after which Mr. KEATING reach'd over one of the Gentlemens Heads and gave me a very severe blow, Mr. OHARA standing near me took me by the Arm and urged me to go to my Quarters which I did.
Next Morning being conscious it was the effect of liquor that bred the dispute I with Mr. OHARA waited on Mr. KEATING with an intention to settle the matter, after some conversation Mr. KEATING seem'd perfectly disposed to have the matter go no farther, but as Mr. OHARA was the only one of the Company present, he wish'd I would call again, when he would have two Gentlemen, agreeable to his request, I waited on him on Monday Morning alone, and found nobody with him but Mrs. KEATING, after setting down and conversing sometime on the Subject, we both seem'd perfectly satisfied, and Mr. KEATING only wished that as Mr. OHARA was there; he might see every thing amicably settled, Monday Evening I again waited on Mr. KEATING with Mr. OHARA and found at his house Lieut. LINDSEY Mr. DUNWORTH, Doctor CARTER, and a Gentleman whom I was not acquainted with, I soon found that those Gentlemen had met on the occasion, after setting for a few minutes Mr. KEATING and I were desired to relate the circumstances of our dispute, which we did, and then by their desire retired to the Piazza, in a few Minutes Mr. DUNWORTH came and inform'd me it was the Opinion of the Gentlemen present, that I could do nothing less than ask Mr. KEATINGs Pardon.
I told Mr. DUNWORTH that I could not conceive them to be a legal Court of Enquiry, neither did I think I was obliged to abide by their Opinion and that I should never do any thing contrary to my own Feelings if I could avoid it, and as it was my Opinion that the fault was equal on both sides, I could never think of asking his Pardon singularly; This I'll agree to that as Mr. KEATING and I have both been in the wrong we'll ask Pardon (reciprocally) Mr. DUNWORTH then said they would have nothing more to do with it, I then took leave of the Gentlemen and retired to my Quarters;--
To the best of my recollection on Wednesday Morning this Verbal Message was brought me (by Mr. McDONALD) Mr. KEATING wishes to see you with your Friend tomorrow Morning at Eight o'Clock at York's Tavern, I sent word back that Mr. KEATING being a Prisoner of War, and not allowed to carry Arms of any sort I should be liable to very great censure should any Accident befall Mr. KEATING in his present situation, still if he would make it appear from any Officer that a Gentleman in his Situation had the same right to call on another as at other times, I should then give him every satisfaction that a Gentleman could ask.
I heard no more from Mr. KEATING till Saturday when standing in Mr. HICKS's Store about One o'Clock Mr. KEATING came into Mr. HICKS's Store and immediately upon entering the Door gave me one or two violent blows with a very large Cane, I pressed forward to seize him but was prevented by Mr. AMBROS's interfering and seizing me by the Arms.
Mr. KEATING immediately retired backward out of the Door and gave me two or three most violent Blows on my Head which nearly brought me to the Ground, and called for a Sword, I freed myself from Mr. AMBROSE and was so close upon him that prevented his getting his Sword as soon as he wished, the moment I step't into the Street Mr. KEATING seized my Cane with one hand and with the other gave me several severe blows over the Head, which must have knocked me down had it not been for my Hatt and Feathers which stopped the force of the blows.
Mr. KEATING then turned to a Soldier who gave him a small Sword drawn, with which he made several Lunges at me, two of which must undoubtedly have gone thro' my Body, had I not parried them off with my Cane, during this Scuffle Mr. KEATING made use of very reproachfull Language; Call'd me a Damned Cowardly Rascal, I told Mr. KEATING my Sword was not equal to his neither did I think myself equal to him with a small Sword, I would give him any other satisfaction that a Gentleman could desire, he then made towards me again and made several more Lunges at me, by this time several Gentlemen interfered and prevented his effecting his intentions, Mr. KEATING then walked up the Street with his drawn Sword in his hand;--
I then immediately went to Mr. HEDDENs Quarters sent my Servant for my Pistols, loaded them, and guarded them, and asked Mr. HEDDEN if he would go with me (as my friend) to see Mr. KEATING, to which he assented We walked to Mr. KEATINGs Quarters in Linches Alley, we were then going to Major CARDENs Quarters, and met Mr. KEATING and Mr. AMBROSE in the Street; I immediately went up to Mr. KEATING, and told him I was now convinced he was no longer a Prisoner of War would presume to wear a Sword in the public Streets and insult another as he had done me that day, and demanded immediate satisfaction for the insult he had gave me, he then said, "You are now convinced I am not a Prisoner." I told him his Conduct was sufficient to convince the World; Mr. KEATING then said he had reported me to the Town Major, and that I was to be reported to my Regiment as a Cowardly Rascal;--
I again repeated my demand, and told him no Gentleman could put up with so gross an Insult and that he must give me immediate satisfaction, Mr. KEATING then said, "you don't mean here in the Streets" to which I answered by no means Sir, as I don't suppose you have proper Arms, wherever you please but immediately,
When Mr. KEATING got nearly opposite his Quarters he said, "I shall have nothing more to do with you" then said I, Sir I must have something to do with you, at these words he struck me over the head with his Cane, I threw away the Cane I had in my hand and put both my Hands to my Pockets to get out my Pistols in Order to give him one of them, in the hurry one of the Pistols fell on the ground, I stepped back several paces and desired him to stand off he followed me and still persisted in making use of his Cane, I then unguarded the Pistol and cocked it, I told him again twice or thrice to stand off or I would blow his Brains out, Mr. KEATING then made a Grasp at the Pistol and with one hand endeavoured to wrest it from me, while with the other he was strikeing me over the Head with his Cane, I stepped back and told Mr. KEATING to stand off, he made another stroke at me, at the instant I discharged the Pistol.--
Mr. AMBROSE the moment the Pistol was discharged drew and made a Lunge at me with his broad Sword, I kept out of his reach till I had time to draw, and then fac'd him and defended myself till Captn. LIVINGSTON step't in between us and ordered us to our Rooms.
Allaire Court Martial, Part 4
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