General Court Martial of Charles Colbourn
[Extract of the General Court Martial whereof Lieutenant Colonel McPHERSON was President, held at New York between 4 September and 4 October 1780.]
Saturday the 16th Septembr. 1780.
The Court being Met pursuant to Adjournment On Account of the Indisposition of one of the Members, The Court adjourned till Monday Morning 10 o’Clock.
Monday the 18th Septr. 1780.
The Court being Met pursuant to Adjournment On Account of the Indisposition of one of the Members, The Court adjourned till Tuesday the 19th Septr. 1780.
Tuesday the 19th Septembr. 1780.
On Account of the Indisposition of Capt. LINDSAY of the 22d Regimt.— Capt. Thos. COLDEN of the Pensylvania Loyalists was Sworn in as a Member instead of Capt. LINDSAY.
The Members and Judge Advocate being duly Sworn— The Members took their Seats as follows—
The former Proceedings of the Tryal of Lieut. and Quartr. Master Chas. COLBOURN of the Loyal Americans being in due form read to the Court.
The Prisoner Lieut. & Qr. Master Chas. COLBOURN being put upon his defence delivered himself to the Court in the following Manner.
Gentlemen of this Honourable Court, I now stand before you to Answer the several Charges brought against me, which I shall endeavour to do with as much truth and perspicuity as I am capable of, and tho’ I have no positive Proofs to offer, I shall lay before you such Circumstantial Evidence, as I make no doubt will eradicate from the breasts of this Court, every imputation of Fraud, and fully satisfy them of my Innocence and Integrity.
1st. I lay before you Copies of the several Returns given in to the Barrack Master for Wood due to the Loyl. American Regt. the last Winter, signed by Lt. Col. ROBINSON; also an Exact state of the Settlement with Capt. SYMES the Asst. Barrack Master— I also lay before you my Account of Cash recd. for the Regt. since the 24th March 1779, when we had the last Settlemt.
After those Circumstances I beg leave to observe to the Court, that when I was called upon by Major BARCLAY for my Account, I understood that he meant only to Acct. for the Rum stopp’d from the Sick, and Cash paid by me for Sundries for the Regimt. as appears Pr. Acct. produced you.
I was the more induced to think so, as I told Major BARCLAY that by the 24th August we shou’d have Mr. MARCHINTON’s Bill, as it would be an Account for Six Months; and we then would have a final Settlemt.; he replyed that does not signify he wanted to see how the Rum Account was, as the Lt. Col. was afraid of losing some of the Reports.
The next day I attended at Major BARCLAY’s Quarters, and saw the Reports examined and produced the Acct. as before and did not see nor hear of any other; the next Morning being at Major BARCLAY’s Quarters, Col. ROBINSON came in, and Major BARCLAY gave him the Account; after looking over it, he asked me if I had Accts. for all the Money I had in hands. I replied No; He then asked me what other Money I had. I told him One hundred and fifty two Pounds, I had received for deficiency of Wood last Winter, so that Col. ROBINSONs Conversation ended with me nearly the same, as the Col. delivered on Evidence.
I now beg leave to inform the Court, that I was indebted to Mr. MARCHINTON on Acct. of the Regt. nearly the Sum I had in hand, and as I had often heard many of the Officers say they would never part with such Money again; I acquainted Lt. Col. ROBINSON, I had settled all Accts. with the Barrack Office, and agreeable to his request, I had paid Mr. MARCHINTON £ 100. 16. of the Money.
I intended as soon as I had finally settled with Mr. MARCHINTON to have delivered all his Accts. together with all the Regimts. Accounts to Lt. Col. ROBINSON, and inform him of the Balance, and if he thought proper I would speak to the Gentlemn. of the Regt. and discharge the Debt but I had not the most distant thought of acquainting Lt. Col. ROBINSON with the particulars of my settlement at the Barrack Office, as he had never before requested it;
Whenever I informed him I had settled the Regts. Accts. with any of the Departments which I always made a point to do immediately after settling. As to my denying I had any money of the Regimts. in my Hands it might be as I did not wish to break the Sum, more than possibly could be helped, before I had Lt. Col. ROBINSONS Opinion of it and finding £ 49. 10. already Advanced.
It cannot appear to the Unprejudiced, that it was possible for me to conceal such a Sum of Money and Consider it as my property, there being Legal Returns signed by the Commanding Officer of the Regt. given in to a Public Office, and Receipts signed by me for the Settlement of those Returns; Copies of all together with my Account of Cash received, I entered in my book, that was at all times liable to be over halled.
About One hour after I was in Arrest Lt. Col. ROBINSON sent the Adjutant to demand the Sum of £ 152; as I could not leave my Room I informed him in two hours he should have it, as I did not keep that Sum of Money with me in Town; He acquainted the Lt. Col. who sent him back immediately to have the Money, or an Order to receive it; I paid him £ 100 desiring him to acquaint Lt. Col. ROBINSON he should have the remainder the next day, if he would send a proper person to receive it. I heard no more about it.
Before I close my defence I beg leave to inform the Court that the Regimental Money has always remained in my Hands; and the Debts of the Regt. was Contracted and discharged by me, and that the Debt due Mr. MARCHINTON was to have been paid when we had finished Purchasing our Summer’s Cloathing for the Regt.
I knew of no other way of discharging the said Debt, but from the Money aforesaid, for which reason I was the more loath to break the Sum. I did not acquaint the Gentlemen of the Regiment with the Particulars as I had no right to think they would let it lay for that purpose.
The Court will please to consider that notwithstanding this Sum was received for Wood, the Men had their full allowance; and more, this deficiency arose from the Gentlemen living many together, and using little Wood, and some of them never drew any.
The other Charges against me, I hope appears to the Court Frivolous, and I shall only say that it is the same kind of Quart, as I found with the Regimt. when I became Quartr. Master, and I never heard any Complaint.
I shall therefore close my defence relying on the Justice of this honourable Court who I make no doubt will acquit me from the most distant thought or Intention of fraud.
Ensign John ROBINSON of the Loyl. American Regimt. being duly Sworn was Examined.
Q:(by Lt. COLBOURN)— Did he the Witness ever hear Doctr. WEBSTER (late Surgeon to the Regt.) say, any thing in regard to the deficient Wood Money?
Q:(by Major BARCLAY)— Did Doctr. WEBSTER observe that Lt. COLBOURN had informed him of his having received the deficient Wood Money, previous to his being put in Arrest?
Q: Did Doctor WEBSTER mention particularly the deficient Wood Money, or was the Conversation in General about receiving the Wood Money?
The Regiments Books being produced in Court and Examined— Major BARCLAY begs leave to inform the Court that he asked Lt. COLBOURN a few Moments before he was put in Arrest— Whether he had entered the Sum of £ 152 Currcy. for the deficient Wood Money in his Acct. Book, and he (Lt. COLBOURN) answered that he had not; and upon the Examination of Lt. COLBOURNs Accounts it appears that the Sum has been entered.
The Court having Consider’d the Evidence for and against the Prisoner, Lieut. & Quarter Master Charles COULBOURN, together with what he had to offer in his defence; Is of Opinion that he is not Guilty of the Crimes laid to his Charge and doth therefore Acquit him.
Dun. McPHERSON 42d Regt.
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