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General Court Martial of Chandler, Dwight, Letchmore, Murray & Bacon

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

Friday the 5th May 1780.

The Court being met pursuant to Adjournment.

Thomas CHANDLER, Timothy DWIGHT, Thomas LETCHMORE, Robert MURRAY, and Jaber BACON of Governor Wentworths Volunteers were brought Prisoners before the Court accused of forcibly entering the House of William THORNE of Great Neck on Long Island Farmer, and at an unreasonable hour in the Evening of the 2d March, and without any provocation beating abusing and otherwise ill treating him (the said William THORNE), his Wife & Son.

William THORNE of Great Neck Long Island Farmer being duly sworn deposed that BACON & CHANDLER Mess'd at his House and that on the 2d March last the Prisoners (WATERS, CHANDLER, DWIGHT, MURRAY and BEACON) met at his House at BACON and CHANDLERs Room at about 12 o'Clock in the morning and afterwards they went away and returned at 4 o'Clock in the afternoon,

that they were very noisy all the afternoon, and between ten & Eleven o'Clock at night DWIGHT, MURRAY and LETCHMORE went into his the Witnesses Room & dragged him into BACON & CHANDLERs room, & got a Chair and desired him to sit down to drink a Glass of Grog with them,

that he sat down & MURRAY told him that he had entered a Complaint against him, and he answered that he had not, upon which MURRAY called him a Liar and Struck him in the face with his fist and said that if ever he (the Witness) ever entered another Complaint against him that he would be the Death of him,

upon which he (the Witness) got up and went into his own room, and LECTCHMORE, DWIGHT and MURRAY followed him and laid hold of him again and drag'd him about half way across the Room when FULTON (of Governor Wentworth's Volunteers) rescued him, and told them to go out of his (the Witnesses) Room,

that some time afterwards DWIGHT went into his room again with a long Sword in his hand (but does not know whether it was drawn) & floursh'd it about, and said this is the weapon of Death- after which DWIGHT went out of the Room, and he (the Witness) saw no more of either of them, as he went into another Room.

        Q: Does he (the Witness) keep a public house?

        A: No.

        Q: Were the Prisoners drunk?

        A: LETCHMORE & MURRAY were a little in Liquor and the rest seem'd to be perfectly sober.

        Q: At the time that DWIGHT flourished about the Sword did he Strike him (the Witness) with it or make any use of threats?

        A: No.

        Q: At the time that the Prisoners went into his room, had either of them any sticks, or any kind of weapon?

        A: LETCHMORE had a horn in his hand.

        Q: What does he (the Witness) suppose was the reason of their going into his room?

        A: He cannot say but some days before CHANDLER said that whilst there was a LETCHMORE, a MURRAY and a drop of rum they would have a tear to pieces at his House and would play kill.

        Q: Was his (the Witnesses) Wife in the Room when the Prisoners went into it?

        A: She was in it the Second and third time they went into it.

        Q: Did they use any violence to her or his Daughter?

        A: No.

        Q: Did the Prisoner ever behave ill before that time?

        A: No.

        Q:(by the Prisoner BACON)-- Did not MURRAY tell him (the Witness) that two of their Corps had been fired upon near his House and supposed that it was his Son?

        A: He said that they had been fired upon, and supposed he (the Witness) was the man.

        Q: Did not the Prisoner offer to make any Concessions?

        A: They wrote him a Letter (which was produced in Court) Vizt.

                                  Success Pond 5th March 1780.
  We are very sorry that we have given you any reason for Complaint, and be assured for the future that we.shall not offer you or [your] family the smallest Insult.

N.B. If you have any other proposals towards an accomodation please to suggest them to the Bearer Mr. Robert FOWLER who will meet at a place he shall appoint this afternoon, and pawn his honor no Insult shall be offered.
                                           J. STINSON
                                           T. DWIGHT
                                           B. MURRAY
                                           T. LECHMORE
                                           T. CHANDLER
                                           J. BACON Junr.

Thomas THORNE (living with the former Evidence) being duly Sworn deposed that on the 2d March last at about 11 or 12 o'Clock at Night, as he was in Bed the Prisoners (DWIGHT, LETCHMORE, CHANDLER, MURRAY, and BEACON) went into his Room, and said that they would kill him and send him to the Provost, and LETCHMORE struck him on the Head with a piece of a Horn

that afterwards his (the Witness) Mother and Sister went into his room and beg'd of the Prisoners not to murder him (the Witness) upon which MURRAY shoved her and Struck her twice with his fist and they (the Prisoners) directly after quit the room and he (the Witness) jumped out of the Window.

        Q: Were the Prisoners drunk at that time?

        A: He does not think that they were.

        Q: Had the Prisoners any Weapons?

        A: DWIGHT had a Sword but it was not drawn.

        Q: Did the Prisoners offer any violence to his Mother or Sister?

        A: No.

        Q: When they (the Prisoners) went into his Room did they say what their reason was for going in?

        A: They ask'd him why he had threatned them and he answered that he never did.

        Q: What does he suppose was the reason of their entering his Room?

        A: He does not know.

        Q: Did he (the Witness) know the Prisoners before that time?

        A: Yes.

        Q: Did they ever according to his knowledge behave ill before that time?

        A: Yes.

        Q:(by Chandler)-- Did he (the Witness) see MURRAY Strike his Mother, or was it from report that he knew it?

        A: He saw MURRAY Strike her.

        Q: Did not (the Witness) call to CHANDLER & BACON to come into the Room, before they went in?

        A: No.

Thomas TALMAN of Long Island being duly sworn deposed that on the 2d March last he lodged at William THORNES and about 10 or 11 o'Clock at night MURRAY & LECHMORE went into the room (with some others where he was in Bed) and asked him what he meant by threatning them, as he had;

and he answered that he had not threatned them at all, and BACON went in afterwards and said that he (the Witness) was not the person, upon which they went out of his Room and went into their own appartment;

that some little time after they passed thro his own (the witness) room to the room that Thomas THORNE layd in and he heard some high words;

and Mrs. THORNE and her two Daughters went into Thos. THORNE's Room and were there some time & the Prisoners afterwards went out and Mrs. THORNE & her Daughters followed them out

he (the Witness) saw Thos. THORNE lay in his bed with some blood in his face, upon which he the witness got up and went into the Room where William THORNE his Wife and Daughters were and after he sat there a little while, DWIGHT, CHANDLER MURRAY & LETCHMORE went into the Room with their Shirts off (but don't know whether there Breeches were off) and danced about the Room, after which they went out of it,

that the next day the Prisoners sent in to Mrs. THORNE to know if she would sell them fowls, and she sent them word she had not any to spare;

that afterwards CHANDLER went in & asked the same question, and she answered No, upon which LETCHMORE got a Gun and shot five fowls.

        Q: Had the Prisoners any Weapons?

        A: DWIGHT had a Sword (but not drawn), and LETCHMORE had a bit of a horn (what they call the hounds with.)

        Q: At the time that the Prisoners were dancing with their Shirts off, did he (the Witness) see either of them attempt any violence to the women?

        A: No.

        Q: Did the Prisoners pay or offer to pay for the fowls before or after they shot them?

        A: After they shot them, they sent their Servant in with Seventeen Shillings & Six pence to pay for them, and he laid it upon the Table by Mrs. THORNE and went away.

        Q: Had Mrs. THORNE a great Stock of Poultry?

        A: They had a great many fowls, and all manner of Poultry.

        Q: Were the Prisoners drunk when they went into his Room?

        A: They appeared to be in Liquor.

The Prisoners being put upon their Defence delivered themselves to the Court in the following manner Vizt.

Mr. President & Gentlemen of the Court Martial

As we could not willingly occasion any further trouble or delay, we beg leave to assure the Court that on the Evening of disipation we had not the least intention to injure Mr. THORNE or his family, and are very happy to find that no real injury was done either to William THORNE (the Complainant) or Thos. THORNE (the son) who though in their Testimony mentions blows, do not complain that either wounds or the least pain was occasioned thereby;

The Evidence of the near Sighted TALMAN notwithstanding (was it even pretended) that the least real injury was not done to Mrs. THORNE or Daughters we will not trespass on the patience of the Court by a Single Comment on the Evidence; the same having been fairly taken;

but shall content ourselves with observing in general that the whole transaction will we humbly conceive appear to have been the accidental or unintentional effect of mirth and frolic which we Sincerely wish had not so far exceeded the bounds of moderation and Sobriety, as to disturb the quiet of Mr. THORNE and family,

we cannot however forbear mentioning that had Mr. THORNE been as ready to receive, as we were to make every reasonable and manly concession as well as just and honorable satisfaction much trouble might have been saved not only to the Court, but to himself and us.

Dr. James PORTER of Governor Wentworths Volunteers being duly sworn was examined.

        Q:(by the Prisoners)-- Was he more than once at THORNE's house upon a frolick?

        A: No.

        Q: Was not he at the frolick at THORNEs hous[e] that was reported to Genl. DELANCEY?

        A: Yes.

        Q: Did he see any abuse or ill treatment given to THORNE his Son, Wife or Daughters?

        A: No.

        Q: Were the Prisoners in liquor?

        A: Yes.

Quarter Master James FULTON of Governor Wentworths Volunteers being duly sworn was examined.

        Q:(by the Prisoners)--  Was not he (the Witness) at that frolick at THORNEs house that was reported to General DELANCEY?

        A: Yes.

        Q: Did he see any abuse or ill treatment given to THORNE, his Wife or Daughters?

        A: No.

        Q: Did the Prisoners go into the room where the Women were and dance naked in the room?

        A: Not whilst he was there.

        Q:(by William THORNE)-- Did not he the Witness see the prisoners holding him (THORNE) and dragging him along and whether he (the Witness) did not desire them to let him alone?

        A: He saw MURRAY holding him but not dragging him along or abuse him.

The Court having considered the Evidence for and against the Prisoners, Thos. CHANDLER, Timothy DWIGHT, Thos. LETCHMORE, Robert MURRAY, and Jaber BACON, together with what they had to offer in their Defence, Is of Opinion that the Prosecution is Malicious and ill grounded; and as the Prisoners had offered to make any Concessions, that the Prosecutor might point out (which was concealed from a previous Court of Enquiry) the Court doth therefore Acquit them.

                                       Edm: EYRE Majr. 54th Regt.

Mattw. WOOD
   D: Judge Advocate

                     H: CLINTON

Great Britain, Public Record Office, War Office, Class 71, Volume 92, Pages 100-107.

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