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General Court Martial of
Thomas Stephens & Caleb Jones
Part 2 of 3

[Proceedings of a General Court Martial held by Order of Major General John CAMPBELL commanding His Majestys Forces in West Florida; by Virtue of a Warrant from His Excellency Sir Henry CLINTON Knight of the Most Honorable Order of the Bath, General and Commander in Chief of all His Majestys Forces within the Colonies laying on the Atlantic Ocean from Nova Scotia to West Florida inclusive &c. &c. &c.]

Saturday 8th July 1780 Court met according to Adjournment; President and Members as before.

Captain Thomas STEPHENS being put on his Defence, produced it in Writing which being read is as follows—

Mr. President

It is with the utmost Regert and Concern that I am obliged to appear before a second Court Martial, and for the same Crime, that of Disobedience of Orders.

By the first I was most honorably acquitted, as I hope to be by the present: being conscious that if I have been guilty of the Crime it did not proceed directly or indirectly either from Intention or Inclination, but from some, but what, Cause or Mistake I know not,

had I thought myself in the least degree Guilty I should have most anxiously exerted every Means in my Power to have given Colonel ALLEN such satisfaction as my Offence required;

it would have been my Duty so to do, and I should chearfully have done it;

I never had an Idea of disobeying of Orders from the time I first entered into his Majesty’s Service, to the present;

indeed I have ever most industriously avoided any Imputation of the Kind although I have unfortunately been twice accused of it.

I shall now Sir, trouble you and this Court with the Circumstances which happened on Monday last: according to the best of my Remembrance;

about three o’Clock that Day, Colonel ALLEN informed me that my Company was to be under Arms on the Parade at Six o’Clock:

we dined together and passed our Time very happily; the News of the Day contributed to our Mirth and Festivity.

I have ever made it a Rule to be punctual and was on the Parade half an Hour before the Time appointed, and there met Captain JONES: the Colonel and the rest of the Officers came soon after.

The Men being ordered to fall in, the Colonel desired me to take Post, on my advancing to the Right, my usual Post, I there saw Captain KEARNEY, a Gentleman who had been invalided on the 26th December last by General CAMPBELL;

for which reason, and considering myself the eldest Captain in the Regiment being the first and only one who had complied with his Warrant;

having, as it is well known, raised Sixty seven Men in twenty Days after I had received mine, and having been in the Service of my King and Country for eighteen Years past, I returned to the Colonel and in a low and respectful Manner told him that I hoped to have the Post of Honor I had ever enjoyed since my Appointment by General CAMPBELL to the Command of the first Light Infantry Company:

he replied, Captain KEARNEY had asked it, and desired me not to fall in, as there were six other Captains on the Parade;

and that I had his Leave of Absence, I returned him Thanks and wished him a good Night;

Major DELANEY my late Prosecutor, having as I believe heard some part of the Conversation between the Colonel and myself, immediately went up to and advised the Colonel to put me under an Arrest.

I had walked about thirty Yards on my Way to Town when the Coll. called for me, I instantly returned through the Bushes and was within ten Paces of the Colonel when he addressed me as follows; will you be so obliging as to go to your Room with Captain JONES;

I bowed and obeyed.

I now Sir solemnly and upon my Honor (than which nothing can be more sacred to a Gentleman and Soldier) declare that I have to the best of my Recollection and belief given the whole and true Particulars of every thing which passed on Monday Evening last between the Colonel and myself without any Addition or Suppression of any Matter for or against me.

The Colonel having with what View I shall leave to this Court to Judge also accused me of having opposed him in every thing he proposed for the Good of the Regiment I am under the Necessity of saying that I never opposed any thing which was for the Good of the Regiment, although I have differed in opinion with him in some Respects and in some Instances made Complaints concerning the Regiment and which have not been redressed the Particulars of which I am ready to produce and support by the Testimony of many Evidences if this Court shall think it necessary.

The Colonel having suggested that it was a Matter preconcerted by Captns. JONES and myself to disobey his Orders from what I have already said you will be satisfied to the Contrary.

However justifiable I may think myself from various causes in recriminating I shall avoid it, and shall beg the Indulgence of this Court in being permitted to cross examine the Witnesses on Behalf of the Prosecution and afterwards with that of examining others in my Defence, from the Evidence which will then be before you and from what I have already declared;

I cannot but flatter myself with the pleasing hopes of an honorable Acquittal by this Court, which is a Court both of Honor and Equity and will from the Circumstances of my Case judge if I have erred, whether it was Intentionally or not.

                                                Thos. STEPHENS

        Q: From the Prisr. Captn. STEPHENS to Lieut. Coll. ALLEN— Upon being Ordered to take Post on the Left of the Regiment on Monday Evening last, what was the Excuse I made, was it delivered in a low and respectful Manner or otherwise: was it admitted, and Leave of Absence given me, according to the best of your Knowledge, Information and Belief?

        A: It was delivered in a sufficiently low and respectful Manner, I then told you you need not fall in.

        Q: From Prisoner Captn. STEPHENS to Lieut. Coll. ALLEN— From the Time of my Appointment to the Command of the first Light Infantry Company by General CAMPBELL, have I not always taken Post on the Right, except on Monday Evening last?

        A: On the 3rd of July the Battallion fell in differently from what it ever had done since the forming of the three Light Companys; the best dressed Men in the whole Battallion fell in indiscriminately, without Respect to Companys, the best dressed Men being by my Order put in Front, in Order to make a good Appearance, consequently the eldest Officer had the Right of the Battallion.
             As the Light Companies, when the Men of different Companies were not intermixed, were always on the Right of the Parade, Captain STEPHENS as the oldest Light Infantry Captain took his Post on the Right of the Light Infantry, and consequently of the Parade.

        Q: from Captn. STEPHENS to Captn. KEY— After Captain JONES was Ordered into Arrest, and Colonel ALLEN called out to me, at what Distance do you think I was from him?

        A: About Six or Eight Yards.

        Q: from Capt. STEPHENS to Adjt. STERLING of the Regt. of Waldeck— After Captain JONES was Ordered into Arrest and Colonel ALLEN called out to me, at what Distance do you think I was from him?

        A: To the best of my Knowledge about four Yards.

        Q: From Capt. STEPHENS to Lieut. CURRIE— When Captain JONES was ordered into Arrest and Colonel ALLEN called out to me, at what Distance do you think I was from him?

        A: About Five or Six Yards.

        Q: from Captn. STEPHENS to Ensn. TODD— When Captain JONES was Ordered into Arrest and Colonel ALLEN called out to me, at what Distance do you think I was from him?

        A: About Four or Five Yards.

Evidence—     William STAFFORD Surgeon’s Mate in the United Corps of Pensylvania and Maryland Loyalists being duly Sworn deposeth that on the Evening of Monday the 3rd July the Battallion being paraded, Captn. STEPHENS, Captn. JONES with several Gentlemen and himself were standing on the Left of the Battallion a little advanced in Front;

Captain STEPHENS was called upon by Lieut. Colonel ALLEN: Lieut. Coll. ALLEN was standing a little to the Right of the Center;

Captain STEPHENS advanced to Lieutenant Coll. ALLEN but what passed at that time he does not know.

After the Conversation of a few Seconds he saw Captain STEPHENS bow very respectfully to Colonel ALLEN, pull off his Sash, and advance between twenty & thirty Paces towards the Town;

Captain JONES was then called by Lieut. CURRIE in the following Manner, Colonel ALLEN’s Compliments and will be obliged to you if you will take Post on the Left;

Lieut. CURRIE in delivering this Request to Captain JONES had advanced half way between where Colonel ALLEN & Captn. JONES stood;

he did not hear Captain JONES say any thing, but he immediately advanced towards Colonel ALLEN, who advanced a few Paces to meet Captain JONES;

what passed between them was in such a low Voice, that he could not hear.

In a little time Colo. ALLEN turned from Captain JONES towards Captn. STEPHENS and called on Captn. STEPHENS in the following Manner, Captain STEPHENS, will you be so obliging as to take Post on the Left.

Captain STEPHENS immediately returned towards Colo. ALLEN:

he (the Evidence) did not observe Captain STEPHENS speak a word to Colonel ALLEN:

when Captn. STEPHENS was within a few Paces of Colonel ALLEN he heard the Colo. order him into Arrest.

        Q: from Capt. STEVENS to Mr. STAFFORD— At what Distance was I from Colo. ALLEN when he called to me the second time.

        A: Between Twenty and thirty Paces.

        Q: to the same— Did I immediately return back or continue on?

        A: You returned back to the Colonel after he had called you twice.

        Q: to the same— Do you think at the Distance, I then was, that I could hear any particular Orders given me?

        A: I cannot say.

Evidence—     Lieut. TOWNSHEND of the United Corps of Pensylvania & Maryland Loyalists being duly Sworn deposeth that on the Evening of the 3rd Instant he was standing on the Parade between Fifteen and twenty Paces from Lieut. Colonel ALLEN, and heard the Colonel call to Captain STEPHENS, upon which he (Captain STEPHENS) walked up to Colonel ALLEN:

they each took off their Hats, and seemed to have some Conversation together, uttered in a low Voice, and so indistinct that he could not hear what it was.

Captain STEPHENS left Colonel ALLEN and walked off in Front of the Parade.

Mr. CURRIE or Colonel ALLEN, does not recollect which, called to Captain JONES and asked him if he would take the Left of the Battallion,

on which Captn. JONES went up to Colo. ALLEN and after a short Conversation turned round, and the Colonel called to Captain STEPHENS a Second time,

and as Captain STEPHENS was stepping towards Colonel ALLEN, he heard the Colonel ask Captain STEPHENS if he and Captain JONES would be so obliging as to go to their Rooms, on which they both left the Parade.

        Q: from Captn. STEPHENS to Lt. TOWNSHEND— At what Distance do you suppose I was from the Colonel, when he called to me a second time?

        A: About Fifteen Paces.

Evidence—     Ensign McMICHAEL of the United Corps of Pensylvania and Maryland Loyalists being duly Sworn deposeth that on the Evening of the 3rd Instant, he was standing on the left of the Regiment when it was under Arms, and was in Conversation with Lieut. TOWNSHEND when he perceived Captain STEPHENS go up to Colonel ALLEN and take off his Hat:

the Colo. also took off his Hat:

the Colonel was between Fifteen or Eighteen Paces from where he (the Evidence) stood:

immediately after they had taken off their Hats a Conversation ensued which he could not hear.

After Captain STEPHENS had been with the Colonel for about a Minute, he seemed to be going towards the Town; at about Twenty or thirty Yards from the Regiment Captain STEPHENS turned to the Right and appeared to take off his Sash;

then Colonel ALLEN called Captn. JONES, who came up to him in the same Manner as Captain STEPHENS had done, and a Conversation ensued which he could not hear.

After some time Captain JONES left Colonel ALLEN and the Colonel seemed to be displeased, then Colo. ALLEN called to Captain STEPHENS and Captain JONES;

they came towards the Colonel who said to them, Gentlemen will you be pleased to go to your Rooms; upon which they left the Parade.

Evidence—     Nehemiah HEYMAN Soldier in the United Corps of Pensylvania and Maryland Loyalists being duly Sworn deposeth that he saw Colo. ALLEN and Captn. STEPHENS take off their Hats, and heard nothing of the Conversation between Colonel ALLEN and Captn. STEPHENS but on the Colonel’s calling Capt. STEPHENS a second Time, heard him tell Captn. STEPHENS to be pleased to go to his Room.

        Q: from Court to N: HAYMAN— Upon the Second Time of Captn. STEPHENS’s coming to Colonel ALLEN, might a Conversation have passed between them without your hearing it?

        A: There might but I did not hear it.

        Q: from Court to the same— At what Distance was you from Colonel ALLEN and Captain STEPHENS?

        A: About three or four Yards.

Evidence—     Henry WHITE Soldier in the United Corps of Pensylvania and Maryland Loyalists being duly sworn deposeth that on the 3rd of July he saw Colonel ALLEN and Captain STEPHENS walking and in Conversation, but could not hear what they said, and observed Captain STEPHENS walk to the Left about fifteen Yards and took off his Sash;

the Colonel afterwards called to Captain JONES;

some time after he (the Colonel) called to Captn. STEVENS again a Conversation ensued which he could not hear, but afterwards heard the Colonel say to Capt. STEPHENS, Sir will you be pleased to go to your Room.

Sentence—     The Court having maturely considered the Evidence against the Prisoner Captain Thomas STEPHENS, together with his Defence, is of Opinion that he is guilty of the Crime laid to his Charge, which being a Breach of the fifth Article of the second Section of the Articles of War, he is thereby cashiered.

W. STIELL Lt. Colo.
3rd Batt. 60th Foot


Click here for ---> United Corps Court Martial, Part 1

                               United Corps Court Martial, Part 3

Great Britain, Public Record Office, War Office, Class 71, Volume 92, Pages 188-206.

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