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General Court Martial of Samuel Richard Wilson
Part 1 of 3

[Extract of the General Court Martial whereof Major Edmund EYRE was President, held at Bedford, Long Island between 4 April 1780 -- 5 May 1780.]

Lieut. Samuel Richard WILSON of the 2nd Battalion of New Jersey Volunteers came Prisoner before the Court, accused of Disobedience of Orders and disrespectful behaviour on the Parade, to the Officer Commanding.

2nd Major John COLDEN of the 2nd Battalion of New Jersey Volunteers, being duly Sworn deposed that some time in November or December, that a requisition was sent from the Adjutant General's Office to the Commanding Officer of the Regiment, that Ensign and Adjutant LEGRANGE of the said Regiment might have leave of absence to attend the Theatre at New York;

that after the leave was granted the Duty of Adjutant was done alternately by the Subalterns of the Regiment, and Lieut. WILSON was very discontent with that duty, and endeavored to make the other Subaltern Officers so;

that upon the Regiment being ordered to Jerico, a Piquet was ordered; and Lieut. WILSON conceiving that the duty of Adjutant was easier than taking his turn of Duty, he applied to Major ANTILL (Commanding the 2d Battn. New Jersey Volunteers) to do the duty of Adjutant constantly, in consequence of which he was appointed to do that duty, untill further Orders;

that Lieut. WILSON continued doing duty as Adjutant till the 8th March, when on that day as the regiment was under arms on the Parade, Lieut. WILSON complained to him (the Witness) that a Soldier in the ranks had turned up his nose at him, and he (the Witness) told him that he was very sorry for it, and desired him to point out the man, as he would have him punished; upon which Lieut. WILSON pointed out a man, and whilst he (the Witness) was speaking to the man, Lieut. WILSON hit him a violent blow with the but end of a Bayonet that he had in his hand;

upon which he (the Witness) told Lieut. WILSON of the impropriety of striking him in that way, and especially as he (the Witness) was speaking to him; after which Lieut. WILSON went a little distance from him and came back to him (the Witness) and told him, that he resigned the appointment of Adjutant, and would do it no more; and he (the Witness) told him to do his duty to which he replied that he would not, upon which he (the Witness) was obliged to put him in Arrest.

The Witness further says that at the time that Lieut. WILSON struck the man there was not the least provocation, or cause.

        Q.(By the Court)-- Does he know what was the reason of Lieut. WILSONs discontent, and endeavoring to make the other Subaltem Officers so?

        A. Because Ensign & Adjutant LEGRANGE was absent from the Regiment, and Lieut. WILSON went with the other Subaltern Officers in a Body; and desired that he (the Witness) would write to the Adjutant General, and order him up.

        Q. Was it before or after Lt. WILSONs appointment to do the duty of Adjutant?

        A. He cannot positively say but thinks it was after.

        Q.(by Lt. WILSON)-- On the 8th March when he (the Witness) Ordered him to do his duty, did not he say that he would do it then, but no longer?

        A. Previous to his desiring Lt. WILSON to do his duty, he said that he would dismiss the Parade, and would do the duty no longer, in a loud tone of Voice.

        Q. When the Subaltern Officers went to Major ANTILL in a Body; did not he (the Witness who being down Stairs in the same house) say that he would carry up any message to Major ANTILL; and what was the purport of it?

        A. Yes but it was upon some other regl. business entirely foreign to the point in question.

        Q. Did not the Captain of the day on Sunday the 5th March tell him (the Witness) that the Subalterns of the Regiment had been to his Quarters and desired that he the Witness would order up the Adjutant of the Regiment, as they were tired of doing this duty?

        A. The Captain of the day went to him (the Witness) with a message from the Subalterns of the regiment, to desire that he would order up the Adjutant; which he said he would do, but upon afterwards recollecting that it was a requisition from the Commander in Chief, he (the Witness) did not chuse to do it.

        Q.(by Lt. WILSON)-- Did not he (Lt. WILSON) desire thro Major ANTILL that the affair might be made up, and that Major COLDEN should appoint three Officers to settle it, as he would do any thing they thought proper?

        A. Major ANTILL mentioned it to him (the Witness) not officially, as a ridiculous proposition of Lt. WILSON but did not say, that he (Major COLDEN) should appoint three Officers.

        Q. Did not Lt. LAMBERT or some other Officers inform him (the Witness) that the Brigade Major had said that some Officers of the Regiment, went sometimes for orders that could neither read or write?

        A. Lt. LAMBERT or some other Officer told him Major WALLER said that an Officer had been to him for orders that could not write, but he (the Witness) knows it to be an unjust reflection.

        Q. What is the Character of the Soldier that he (Lt. WILSON) struck on the Parade?

        A. He the Witness has been informed that he has been often punished for Stealing; but never knew or heard of his being guilty of insolence.

Capt. Lt. John DeMENERES being duly Sworn was examined.

        Q.(by Major COLDEN)-- Does not he know that Ensign and Adjutant LEGRANGE, was absent from the Regiment by a requisition from the Commander in Chief?

        A. Yes.

        Q. Does not he know that Lt. WILSON was very discontent at doing the duty of Adjutant, at the latter end of November or beginning of December; and from his conversation endeavor to make the rest of the Subaltern Officers so?

        A. He does not recollect, at that time.

        Q. Has not he heard Lt. WILSON say that it was a grievance that the duty of Adjutant should be imposed upon the Subalterns of the Regiment; whilst Ensign LEGRANGE (the Adjutant) was amusing himself at New York; and say that that [sic] they or he would Memorial the Commander in Chief?

        A. He has often heard him say so within these two months, and has heard some of the Subalterns say that they (the Subalterns) ought to Memorial the Commander in Chief.

        Q. Was not he (the Witness) on the Parade on the 8th March last and what passed that day?

        A. He was at the Evening parade that day when Lt. WILSON went up to Major COLDEN and told him that a man in the Ranks was laughing at him Lieut. WILSON) or something to that purpose, or turning up his nose; and desired that he would go with him, and Major COLDEN asked him to point out the man, which he did; and Lt. WILSON said "dont you see him laughing" and went up to him and Struck him with the Butt end of his Bayonet he had in his hand, upon which Major COLDEN said something to Lt. WILSON, which he (the Witness) did not know but Lt. WILSON said "then I beg leave to resign my appointment"; upon which Major COLDEN said "Do your duty." Lt. Wilson answered that he would not, and Major COLDEN then ordered him to his room.

        Q. when Lt. WILSON said "then I beg leave to resign my appointment" did not he further say, that he would do the duty no more?

        A. He does not recollect.

        Q. Did not he (the Witness) see Lt. WILSON Strike the man, whilst Major COLDEN was Speaking to him?

        A. He thinks he did.

        Q. Did he observe any provocation from the man at that time, to cause Lt. WILSON to strike him?

        A. He did not.

        Q. since Lt. WILSON has been in Arrest, has not he the Witness heard him boast of his hardiness and fortitude; and that if it was any other Subaltern Officer in the Regiment they would have made some concession, and pass over the affair; or words to that purpose?

        A. Yes.

        Q.(by Lt. WILSON)-- At the time that the threatening Letter was read at the Mess room, did not he Lt. WILSON say that he thought he had better resign the appointment of Adjutant?

        A. He does not remember the time; but heard Lt. WILSON say one day "by God I will resign my appointment of Adjutant," but is not sure whether it was in the mess room or his own Quarters; and Major COLDEN answered that he might if he pleased.

        Q.(by Major COLDEN)-- Did Lt. WILSON resign in consequence of what Major COLDEN said?

        A. No.

        Q.(by Lt. WILSON)-- What was the Sentence passed on the three people who were tried by a Regimental Court Martial, of which he (the Witness) was President, for theft?

        A. They were Sentenced two hundred Lashes each but upon his (the Witness) recommending them to the Commanding Officer they were pardoned.

Click here for ---> Wilson Court Martial, Part 2

                               Wilson Court Martial, Part 3

Great Britain, Public Record Office, War Office, Class 71, Volume 92, pages 76-88.

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