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General Court Martial of Garret Bush

[Extract of the General Court Martial whereof Lieut. Colonel John GUNNING was President, held at New York between 16 November 1779 and 24 November 1779.]

Friday the 19th November 1779.

The Court met pursuant to Adjournment.

Garret BUSH Inhabitant of Staten Island, was brought Prisoner before the Court, and accused of Aiding and acting as a Guide to the Rebels on Staten Island in taking a part of His Majesty's Light Dragoons.

Captain COGLE of the 1st Battalion of New Jersey Volunteers being duly Sworn deposed that one James BARTLEY came to him at his Post at Deckers Ferry on Staten Island, and informed him that the person who guided the Rebels on a certain Night wore a Snuff coloured pair of Velvet Breeches, a sort of Callicoe cross barr'd Jacket with Linnen backs to it, a little round Hat bound with Velvet, and a Ribband buckled round the Crown, that the said James BARTLEY came from the Rebel Shore, and informed him of the above, that he (the Witness) then went and pursued him; that he went into several Houses, but could find nothing like the described Cloaths, that at last he went to the House the prisoner formerly lived at, and there found the prisoner with a Hat on his Head exactly answering BARTLEY'S description; that as soon as BARTLEY saw the Prisoner he cried out "that is the man."

        Q: (by the Court) -- How long a time was there between the Light Dragoons having been attempted to be carried off to the time the man gave you the information of the Prisoner?

        A. About Six Weeks.

        Q: Did you say that the people in whose House the Cloaths were found, said they belonged to the Prisoner?

        A: Yes.

James BARTLEY Soldier in the 1st Battalion New Jersey Volunteers, being duly Sworn deposed that about three months ago or something more, he was with the Rebels when they crossed over at the burnt Island, that he believes the intention of the Rebels was to take some Light Horse, but finding that the Party at Decker's Ferry was too Strong for them, they only lay in wait upon the road to take a patrole as it should pass; that two Light Horsemen were passing by the Place where they lay, and the rebels fired upon them: that while they were firing, a Guide who belonged to the Rebels, ran to a House hard by and brought the Prisoner to the Gate, and asked him if he were willing to go with them to guide them back to their Boat, and he said he was, but that they must make haste, for that if he should be found out, he would be hung -- that the Prisoner then did guide them to the Marsh, when they let him go as they then knew the road very well.

        Q:(by the Court) -- Do you know of your own knowledge, that the Prisoner went with his own accord or was he forced?

        A: He went of his own accord.

The Court Adjourned for further Evidence.

Monday 22nd November 1779.

The Court met pursuant to Adjournment not having further Evidence the Prisoner was put upon his Defence.

The Prisoner Garret BUSH being put upon his Defence, declared to the Court, that on a Sunday Evening he was going home, when the rebels took him just as he came out of the door and forced him to guide them to their Boat; that as soon as he got to the Marsh, they let him go.

The Prisoner called upon Mr. Benjamin PARKER Inhabitant of the City of New York who being duly sworn deposed that he has known the Prisoner five Years that he enlisted as a Waggoner under Colonel SHERRIFFE: that he never knew him at all to be suspected as an Enemy to British Government, and has always understood that he has done his Duty very well upon Staten Island.

He further called upon Mr. Isaac DECKER Inhabitant of Staten Island who being duly Sworn deposed that he has known the Prisoner from a Child that he always looked upon him as a friend to British Government, and he never heard that his Character was the least Suspected by any one.

The Court having duly considered the Evidence for and against BUSH, together with what he had to offer in his Defence, is of Opinion That he acted as a Guide to the Rebels in breach of the nineteenth Article of the fourteenth Section of the Articles of War; but that it was by Compulsion and it doth therefore Acquit him.

                                       J: GUNNING
                                      Lt. Col. President

 Assistant Deputy Judge Advocate

                         H. CLINTON

Great Britain, Public Record Office, War Office, Class 71, Volume 91, pages 19-22.

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