General Court Martial of John Tuck
Proceedings of a General Court Martial held at Camden in South Carolina June the Sixth 1780, 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 Majesty’s Forces within the Colonies laying on the Atlantic Ocean from Nova Scotia to West Florida, inclusive &ca &ca &ca.
The Court being duly Sworn, the D. Judge Advocate being also sworn & prosecuting in His Majesty’s name.
Crime Quarter Master John TUCK of the British Legion Confined by Order of Lieut. General Earl CORNWALLIS for the Murder of Samuel WILEY late Inhabitant of this Province.
Evidence Andrew URQHURT private Soldier in the British Legion being duly Sworn upon the holy Evangelist deposeth, that on or about the first of this Inst. month of June, a little before sun Sett as he was returning from grazing some Horses near the Town, he saw a dead body laying by the side of the road dressed in white;
but does not know by what means it came to be there; nor any thing more of the affair, he adds he perceived a little Blood on the body which was the only mark of violence he saw.
2nd Evidence Corporal John TURNU of the 17th Regiment of Light Dragoons being duly sworn deposeth that about the first of this month, he went out with a party of Dragoons upon duty under the Command of Qr. Master TUCK.
That the Evidence and the Dragoons stopped on the road to water their Horses, & the Qr. Master galloped on towards a house that was near, when a man dressed in white, with a pistol in his hand, came out of the wood to the road side, and snapped his Pistol at Qr. Master TUCK, which flashing in the pan & not going off, he Struck Mr. TUCK with the Pistol.
That he the Evidence seeing Mr. TUCK bleeding immediately ordered the Dragoons to draw their Swords, and charge after the man, who had fled upon Striking Mr. TUCK.
That when they had caught him, the Evidence was going to cut him down, but was prevented by Qr. Master TUCK, who said he would have Satisfaction himself, and ordered two Dragoons to bring him up, and that he Qr. Master TUCK did then cut him down.
Q. (by the Court)— Did Qr. Mr. TUCK draw his Sword before he was attacked by this man?
Q. (by the Court)— Did you hear any altercation between Mr. TUCK and the deceased?
Q. (by the Court)— Could you have heard it, if there was any?
Q. (by the Court)— Did you hear the deceased say any thing after he was taken, before he was cut down?
Q. (by the Court)— Do you think that the Deceased when he attacked Qr. Mr. TUCK, could see the Dragoons who were watering their Horses?
Q. (by the Court)— What space of time was there between the deceased’s snapping his pistol at Mr. TUCK & Striking him with it, and his being cut down?
3rd Evidence Joseph GAMBLE private Dragoon in the 17th Regiment of Light Dragoons, being duly Sworn, Corroborates in the fullest manner the Testimony given by the last Evidence (Corpl. TURNER) and answers all the questions proposed by the Court to the Corporal, exactly in the same manner he had done.
The Evidence further adds that he found the deceased’s Pistol after he was cut down, that it was loaded but had no priming and that he produced the Pistol the next day to a Court of enquiry, held upon Qr. Mr. TUCKs Conduct in this affair the 2nd June.
The Evidence deposes that he saw the Pistol flash in the Pan, when snapped by the deceased at Qr. Mr. TUCK, but did not see the Stroke given as Mr. TUCK’s back was towards him.
4th Evidence William MORAN private Dragoon in the British Legion being duly Sworn, corroborates in every particular the Testimonies of Corporal TURNER & Joseph GAMBLE, and answers all the Questions proposed to them by the Court, exactly as they had answered them, & being further questioned by the Court—Whither there were any Inhabitants of the Country present at the Affair? Says there were not any present.
The Evidence on the part of the Prosecution being closed the Prisoner proceeded on his Defence Alledging that being ordered out upon duty with a Corporal and three Dragoons, on the first day of this month of June and riding at some distance in front of the Party, he was attacked by a man dressed in white, who came out of the Wood, with a Pistol in his hand.
That he snapped it at him and immediately after struck him with [the] Butt of it, and made his nose & mouth gush out Blood, on which the Prisoner drew his Sword and made a blow at him, which cut him in the arm, that the man then ran away, and was pursued by the Dragoons from the rear, and brought back by them when the Prisoner cut him down.
1st Evidence Lieut. Colonel Banester TARLTON being duly Sworn deposeth, that being directed by Lieut. Genl. Earl CORNWALLIS to send a party to secure some Stores in the neighbourhood, He ordered Qr. Mr. TUCK with a Corporal and party of Dragoons to go upon that duty on the first day of this month of June.
The Prisoner does not wish to give the Court any further trouble by calling any more Evidences, but rests his Defence entirely upon the face of the Proceedings.
The Court after weighing the Evidence for and against the Prisoner, together with all the circumstances attending the affair, is of Opinion that the Prisoner John TUCK Quarter Master of the British Legion is Not Guilty of the Murder of Samuel WYLEY as laid to his Charge, and doth therefore Acquit him of the Same.
Great Britain, Public Record Office, War Office, Class 71, Volume 92, Pages 111–114.
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