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General Court Martial of Enoch Coddington

[Extract of the Proceedings of the General Court Martial whereof Lt. Col. Thomas DUNDAS was President, held at New York City between 23 October -- 28 October 1780.]

Enoch CODDINGTON, Private Soldier in the 4th Battn. of New Jersey Volunteers was brought before the Court, accused of having deserted from the said Battalion and held Correspondence with the Rebel Army, and the following Witnesses were examined in support of the two several Accusations, vizt.

Lieut. John HESLOP, Acting Adjutant of the same Battalion, being duly sworn, deposed that the Prisoner was serving as a Soldier in that Battalion, at the time that he (the Witness) joined it, and therefore he cannot speak as to his Inlistment, but he knows him to have duly received pay & cloathing afterwards, and that he deserted from the Regt. in the latter end of 1778 or early in 1779, and was brought in again by a Party of Refugees, about the 6th or 7th of August 1780.

        Q. Does he (the Witness) know of his having held Correspondence with the Rebel Army?

        A. No.

        Q. Did the Prisoner carry off his Arms and Necessaries?

        A. He either carried them off or destroyed them, as they were never found afterwards.

The Prisoner being put upon his Defence said that he enlisted with Capt. BESSONETT, to serve only as long as he (Capt. BESSONETT) served; and to be under the Command of him and no one else.

Abigail CARR, Sister of the Prisoner being called upon by him and duly Sworn, was examined.

        Q. (by desire of the Prisoner)-- Was she present when the Prisoner enlisted with Capt. BESSONETT?

        A. Yes she was.

        Q. What were the terms of his enlistment?

        A. Capt. BESSONETT said that if the Prisoner would enlist with him, he should serve as long as he (Capt. BESSONETT) did, and no longer, and that he would never turn him over to any other Person, and when he quitted the Regt; the Prisoner should quit it also.

Captain Daniel BESSONETT, late of the 4th Battn. of New Jersey Volunteers, being duly Sworn, was examined.

        Q. (by desire of the Prisoner)-- Did not the Prisoner enlist to serve with him and no other Man?

        A. He told the Prisoner at the time of his enlistment, that he should serve with him, and no other, as far as it was in his Power, to prevent it; but some new Arrangements being made in the Regt. and he (the Witness) being thereby seconded. the Prisoner fell into another Company-- whilst he was in the Witness's Company, he always served faithfully, and he often indulged him, in going out of the Lines, to see his Friends, and he (the Prisoner) was frequently on advanced Posts, from which he had opportunities of deserting, if he had wished it.

        Q. (by the Court)--  Was not the Prisoner enlisted for three Years or during the War, and duly attested?

        A. Yes.

        Q. Did he (the Witness) make a Promise to the Prisoner, that if he left the Regt. the Prisoner should leave it also?

        A. He promised the Prisoner that he would use his Interest & do all in his Power, to effect it.

        Q. Did the Prisoner ever apply to him (the Witness) after he left the Regt. to procure him his Discharge?

        A. He does not recollect that he ever did, but the Prisoner had lived with him as a Servant, whilst the Witness was serving in the Regt. and he frequently applied to him to return to him in the same Station; that he (the Witness) requested Col. BUSKIRK to let him have the Prisoner as a Servant, and the Colonel promised that in case he (the Witness) would enlist another Man, he should have the Prisoner, as such; that he accordingly did enlist a Man, and sent him to the Regiment, but when he apply'd to Colonel BUSKIRK for his Servant, he was told that he could not be spared, as the Regt. was weak, but that he might have a Boy, in his Stead.

The Court having considered the Evidence for and against the Prisoner, Enoch CODDINGTON, together with what he had to offer in his Defence, is of Opinion that he is Guilty of the Crime laid to his Charge, and thereby of a Breach of the Ist Article of War of the 6th Section, and do therefore sentence him to receive five hundred Lashes on his bare back with a Cat of Nine Tails,

but in Consideration of many favorable circumstances to the Prisoner, which appear on the Proceedings, the Court is induced to recommend him to His Excellency the Commander in Chief, for Mercy.

                                       Thomas DUNDAS
                                       President & Lt. Cell: 80th Regt.

Step. P. ADYE
   D. Judge Advocate

                       H. CLINTON

Great Britain, Public Record Office, War Office, Class 71, Volume 92, Pages 400-403.

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