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General Court Martial of John Bayard
Part 3 of 3

Proceedings of a General Court Martial held at New York, on Monday March 23d 1778, By Warrant from his Excellency the Honorable Sir William Howe Commander in Chief &c &c &c

The Court met according to Adjournment.

Robert BOOTH private Soldier in the same Regt. Duly Sworn deposeth. That on March the 10th in the Evening between 8 & 9 o’Clock, one Mr. RALL hearing a noise ordered the Deponent to go out, on which he went out, and saw Col. BAYARD, Capt: COFFIN and Lieut: BIRD quarreling; and making a terrible noise, that he heard Lieut: BIRD call Col: BAYARD several times Rascal, and saw him strike Col. BAYARD with a Stick several times very violently. Col. BAYARD Stept back as the deponent thought, to skreen another blow, when he heard Lieut: BIRD call out, he was hurt very much, and Capt. COFFIN took him by the Arm and led him to the Doctor’s room and further deposeth not.

        Q. from the Court— Did you hear any thing else that passed, besides the words made use of by Lieut: BIRD?

        A. Nothing more that he could make any thing of.

        Q. Did you see Lieut. Col. BAYARD strike Lieut: BIRD?

        A. No.

        Q. If Lieut. Col. BAYARD had struck Lieut: BIRD cou’d you have seen it?

        A. If he had struck him, he wou’d have seen it, because he stood within seven yards of him.

        Q. Did you observe whether Lieut: BIRD had a Sword by his Side or in his hand?

        A. Cou’d not certainly tell whether he had a Sword at his Side or in his hand.

        Q.  Had Capt: COFFIN a Sword on?

        A. He might, but did not see it.

        Q.  Did Capt: COFFIN endeavor to seperate Lieut. Col. BAYARD and Lieut: BIRD, or what part he appeared to Act?

        A. He took hold of Lieut: BIRD and try’d to part them.

        Q.  What sort of Light was it at that time?

        A. Such a sort of light as enabled one to see Seven or eight Yards.

        Q.  Did you suppose from the conversations you heard pass, that Lieut. Col. BAYARD had struck Lieut: BIRD before you came up to the parties?

        A. He had no reason to suppose so.

Captain James BRACE of the same Regt. Duly Sworn deposeth.

        Q.  Do you know the Evidence Robert BOOTH, what is his general Character?

        A. He has done duty some time in the Deponent’s Company, his general Character is Sober, decent and regular, rather a humane man.

Captain BURGES already Sworn.

        Q.  Was you in the Coffee house with the Prisoner when he ordered Lieut. BIRD to join the Regt.

        A. I was.

        Q.  What past at the Coffee house in consequence of Prisoner’s giving said Order?

        A. Some time in January last, the Deponent went with Lieut: Col: BAYARD to the Coffee house, there met with Mr. BIRD, Col. BAYARD said to him, Mr. BIRD you must immediately join the Regt. Mr. BIRD’s answer was I’ll be damned if I do. Col. BAYARD reply’d, pray Sir, what kind of language is this that you make use of? if you do not immediately join the Regiment I shall do a thing that will be very disagreeable to you as well as myself, what is that said Mr. BIRD? I will send you up with a file of men. Mr. BIRD reply’d I have got the Surgeon General’s Certificate in my pocket, and I will not go up for any body, so went out of the Coffee house and left them.

Lt. Colonel Alexander INNIS Inspector General of the Provincial Forces duly Sworn, deposeth. That he did not know Mr. BIRD personally, tho’ he knew him to be an Officer in Col. Bayard’s Corps, and always understood he was brought into the Corps by Col. BAYARD, who seem’d to be very urgent always to further him in said Corps, and took a very active part for his promotion and Interest, Recommending him for a Lieutenancy in the last promotions which were sent to Sir William HOWE.

Mr. Nathaniel THOMAS duly Sworn Deposeth. That Mr. BIRD came one Evening to the Deponent’s Lodgings, and appeared to be very angry, being ask’d the cause by a Mr. WHITE who was also there, he reply’d, he had quarreled with Col. BAYARD, and that Col. BAYARD was a damn’d Rascal and had treated him very ill, for that he had the Surgeon’s Certificate in his Pocket, which he produced to Col: BAYARD, but he still insisted on his joining the Regt., which he refused, that he would not join it for Col. BAYARD nor any man. He also said the next time Col. BAYARD insulted him, he would take a Cane in one hand and his Sword in the other, and Cane Col. BAYARD at the point of his Sword and then he would be forced to fight him.

        Q.  Did you know of any Cause of dispute between the partys, prior to this conversation.

        A. I did not.

Captain BURGESS called in again.

        Q.  Did Mr. BIRD produce or shew any Certificate to Col. BAYARD in the Coffee house, when he ordered him to join the Regt.?

        A. He said he had a Certificate, but did not produce any, neither did Col. BAYARD ask him to shew it.

Frederick PHILIPSE Esqr. Duly Sworn.

        Q.  What did Lieut. BIRD relate at your house to the prejudice of the Prisoner, and what reasons did he assign for it?

        A. Some time last month Mr. BIRD came to the deponents house and after some previous discourse, which he does not recollect, Mr. BIRD, to the best of his remembrance said, he had repeatedly Challenged Col. BAYARD, but never could get him to give him satisfaction, and that he was determined to Cane Col. BAYARD, and oblige him to fight. That he had repeatedly heard Mr. BIRD speak very unfavorably of Col. BAYARD before that.

Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Court,
     It is now Submitted to your Candid breasts to determine from the Evidence laid before you, whether I am Guilty of the least premeditated design or malice. If I am so far happy as to be Acquitted in this Predicament, tho’ it saves my honor and restores peace of mind to my anxious connections; Let me assure you, I am apprehensive your mildest indulgence will never restore my own. I ever must consider myself as an Unhappy Man.

The Court Adjourned to Saturday at 12 o’Clock.

Saturday March 28th 1778.

The Court met according to Adjournment & having compared the fair Proceedings with the foul Copy, and considered the Evidences, the following Questions were put by the Judge Advocate.

First Question on the fact.

        Is the Prisoner Guilty of the fact laid to his Charge Vizt. Wounding Lieut. BIRD of which wound he died?

        The Court is of opinion on the above Question. The Prisoner Lieut. Col. BAYARD is Guilty of wounding Lieut. BIRD of which wound he died.

Second Question.

        Is he Guilty of Murder or Manslaughter?

        The Court is of opinion, the Prisoner Is Guilty of Manslaughter only.

Third Question.

        As the Law makes a distinction in Manslaughter, Viz. Voluntary Manslaughter in heat of Passion, and Manslaughter Se defendendo. Under which of these Predicaments does he fall?

        The Court is of Opinion the Prisoner Lieut. Col. Jno. BAYARD is Guilty of Voluntary Manslaughter in heat of Passion. Therefore do Adjudge the Prisoner Lieut. Col. Jno. BAYARD to be suspended for three Months.

                                       John VAUGHAN
                                       M: Genl. President

   Dep. Judge Advocate

                       To be revised
                            W HOWE

New York Tuesday April 28th

The Court met according to Order to revise their Proceedings—Adjourn’d at three o’Clock to the following day.

Wednesday April 29th 1778.

The Court met according to Adjournment and having duly revised the Sentence they had given, are of opinion that according to Circumstances, the distinction of the Law being thoroughly considered, they could not have acted otherwise. Yet laying those distinctions aside, and acting entirely as a Military Court; they are of opinion the Prisoner Lieut. Col. BAYARD, is Guilty of wounding Lieut. Col. BIRD, of which wound He died. And do therefore Sentence him to be Cashier’d as Lieut. Colonel of the Orange Rangers.

                                       John VAUGHAN
                                       M: Genl. President

Click here for ---> Bayard Court Martial, Part 1

                               Bayard Court Martial, Part 2

Great Britain, Public Record Office, War Office, Class 71, Volume 54, pages 155-174.

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