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General Court Martial of Lieutenant Boswell

[Extract of the General Court Martial whereof Colonel LUDLOW was President, held at Flushing Fly between 5 September & 25 September 1778.]

Prisoner—     Lieutenant BOSWELL of the Maryland Loyalists came Prisoner before the Court, and the following Charge was exhibited against him

Crime—    That he the said Lieutenant BOSWELL upon the march of the Army through the Jerseys in June last, being in a Corps of Safe Guards, took two Horses the property of an Inhabitant of the Jerseys, under the protection of a safe Guard, and employed a Soldier of the same Corps, to lead the Horses off, contrary to a General Order issued by General Sr. Henry CLINTON against plundering and marauding.

Evidence—    Lieutenant INGLES of the Maryland Loyalists informs the Court that the Prisoner on the March through the Jerseys, when in a Corps of Safe Guards came up to him in an Oarchard, leading a Horse, and a Soldier of the same Corps leading another, which the Prisoner told him a light Dragoon had caught for him.

Evidence—    Captain FRISBY of the Maryland Loyalists informs the Court, that the Prisoner when in a Corps of Safe Guards, told him, he had two fine Horses which he Shewed him. That he asked the prisoner whether they did not belong to an Inhabitant. He answered no they were Rebel property he found them in a Wood.

James McDONALD private Soldier in the Maryland Loyalists informs the Court that when he was in a Corps of safe Guards the Prisoner came up to him with two Horses one of which he ordered him to lead. That an Officer of the Corps a little after took the Horse away and made him and another Soldier ride the Horse to the House of an Inhabitant who had Safe Guard. That the Inhabitant owned them both and they were delivered to him.

Evidence—    Adjutant MILLAR of the Maryland Loyalists informs the Court that he Saw Lieutenant BOSWELL when in a Corps of safe Guards with two Horses. That he asked the Prisoner what he meant to do with them as no Horses would be suffered to cross from Sandy Hook but those returned at Schulkil. He answered he wanted them only for his immediate use and did not mean to carry them over. That he frequently heard the Prisoner complain of being lame.

Evidence—    Charles TAMBOUR private Soldier in the Maryland Loyalists informs the Court that the Prisoner ordered him and a light Dragoon in the Jerseys to follow him into a Wood whereby the Prisoner’s Orders they catched two Horses which he (the Witness) led to Camp.

Evidence—    Lieut. Col. CHALMERS of the Maryland Loyalists informs the Court that the prisoner complaining to him that he was lame he asked him “if he could not get a Horse” which in a Letter to General TRYON the Prisoner says he looked upon as a “Sufficient hint” for taking the Horses in Question one for his own use the other for a friend of the Colonel’s (meaning his).

Defence—    The Prisoner being on his Defence, says that he was Ordered to take a Command in a Corps of Safe Guards, when he was so very lame that he could hardly walk. That he informed Colonel CHALMERS of it, he said he was sorry for it, and asked him if he could not get a Horse. Unable to borrow, or hire one upon any terms, he marched off with the Corps of Safe Guards, and being informed by the Adjutant, near a place called Middletown, that the Corps were to march on to the place of Embarkation that night, he was returning to acquaint Col. CHALMERS that he could march no farther, and was met by a light Dragoon who observing his lameness, offered to get him a Horse which he accordingly did.

From motives of friendship to Captain PARKER, an intimate Acquaintance of Colonel CHALMERS, who was likewise lame, he desired the light Dragoon to catch another which he intended for him. A Soldier of the Regiment who came up, led them both to a place where part of the Corps lay, when the Adjutant riding up, asked him (the Prisoner) what he meant to do with those Horses; he answered, one of them he intended for himself, the other for Captain PARKER, to ride to the place of Embarkation, from whence they should be sent back, or turned loose, that the owner might get them again.

Soon after, Captain JONES who had Command of the Corps, seeing him with the Horses, asked him what he meant to do with them. He returned him the same answer he had made the Adjutant, adding that he should procure the Colonel’s Approbation for the purpose, with which Captain JONES was satisfied, and went away, immediately after which, Captain Walter DULANY arrested him.

Sentence    The Court having duly weighed the Evidence for and against the prisoner are of Opinion that he is not Guilty, of the Charge and do therefore Acquit him with Honor.

                                       G. G. LUDLOW Col.

Capt. Grafton DULANY
   Acting Depy. Judge Advocate

                       Confirmed H CLINTON

Great Britain, Public Record Office, War Office, Class 71, Volume 87, pages 179-181.

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