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General Court Martial of Charles Colbourn
Part 1 of 3

[Extract of the General Court Martial whereof Lieutenant Colonel McPHERSON was President, held at New York between 4 September and 4 October 1780.]

Tuesday the 12th Septr. 1780.

The Court being Met pursuant to Adjournment.

Lieut. & Qr. Master Charles COLBOURN of the Loyal American Regiment came Prisoner before the Court, Accused of receiving a large Sum of Money on Account of the Regimt. & Secreting the same, & other frauds committed by him in his Official Capacity as Quarter Master.

Major Thos. BARCLAY, of the Loyal American Regimt. being duly Sworn deposed, that some time last Spring about the 14th June Lt. Col. ROBINSON was sent for by Genl. ROBERTSON, relative to the fuel of the Regiment that had been expended during the Winter; that Capt. SYMES Asst. Barrack Master, was likewise sent for by Genl. ROBERTSON for the same purpose;

In the conversation that passed between Lt. Col. ROBINSON and Capt. SYMES, Capt. SYMES informed him, that he had paid Lt. COLBOURN (the Prisoner) the Sum of £ 127. 10. for 85 Cords of Wood due to the Regimt. not expended, & 34 £ Currency for cutting of the same;

Lt. Col. ROBINSON immediately upon his Return from Genl. ROBERTSON’s sent for him (the Witness) and asked him if he knew any thing of the Money that Lt. COLBOURN had received, and he answered that he knew nothing more than the Regimental Account relative to the Wood had been settled with the Barrack Master, Lt. Col. ROBINSON observed, that it was very surprising that Lt. COLBOURN had never informed him of his having received the two said Sums of Money, & thought the Matter was very suspicious;

and asked his (the Witness’s) opinion whether the best way of discovering the intention of Lt. COLBOURN relative to the money, would not be calling him to a Settlement of his Accounts, to see if he had given Credit for the above Sums, if not it would be more suspicious;

that Lt. Col. ROBINSON appointed him (the Witness) Capt. FOWLER, and Ensign ROBINSON to inspect (the Prisoner’s) Lt. COLBOURNs Accounts and desired him (the Witness) to tell Lt. COLBOURN that he might appoint his own day for the inspection: That on the day that he (the Witness) Capt. FOWLER, and Ensn. ROBINSON inspected the Accounts, they found that Lt. COLBOURN had not given Credit for the Sums as aforementioned;

The Witness further says that the Return that Lt. COLBOURN brought to Lt. Col. ROBINSON to sign, was only for 275 Cords [of] Wood that had been expended by the Regimt. during the Winter, and the return of the Wood due to the Regimt. together with the Cutting of it was Signed by (the Prisoner) Lt. COLBOURN;

that after the Examination of the Accounts, he (the Witness) asked Lt. COLBOURN if he had not any more Money of the Regimt. in his Hands, as he (the Witness) found that he had brought the balance in his favour, and Lt. COLBOURN Answer’d No; and that the Regimt. was in his Debt the Sum of £ 18. 13. 1. Currency.

        Q:(by the Prisoner)— Did not he (the Witness) ask him (the Prisonr.) to bring in his Accounts relative to the Sum that had been stopp’d from the Sick, & the Money that had been disbursed for the Regimt. from the 24th March last, to the 13th of August?

        A. Yes; and he (the Witness) farther told him, that it was Lt. Col. ROBINSONs Orders, that he (the Prisoner) should bring in a state of all the Monies that he had received, or expended for the Use of the Regiment, as Lt. Col. ROBINSON wanted a final Settlemt. of Accounts.

        Q: Were there any other Accounts settled the 15th August, except those of the Sick?

        A. Yes.

        Q: What Accounts?

        A. Those that are produced before the Court.

        Q: Did not he (Lt. COLBOURN) tell him (the Witness) that there was a large Account of Mr. MARCHINTONs that he could not get to produce that day?

        A. He remembers that there was a Conversation passed between them relative to it, and he (the Witness) asked him, (to the best of his recollection) how much the Regimt. owed Mr. MARCHINTON and Lt. COLBOURN answered about £ 50.

Lt. Col. Beverly ROBINSON, being duly Sworn deposed, that some time in the beginning of last August, he was sent for by Genl. ROBERTSON who wished to ask some questions relative to the Regimts. Cutting Wood last Winter; that after some Conversation (Captn. SYMES Assistant Barrack Master being at that time present) Genl. ROBERTSON told him (the Witness) that all the Regts. had been paid for the deficiency of Wood that they had not received;

Upon which he (the Witness) replyed that he believed the Loyl. Amn. Regimt. had not been paid for their deficiency; that Capt. SYMES then made Answer, that he some time past had paid Lt. COLBOURN (the Qr. Master) for the Wood, that the Regt. had not drawn;

upon which he (the Witness) was much surprised and said that he could hardly believe it, as he would have certainly heard of it, Capt. SYMES still persevered, & he (the Witness) immediately after spoke to Major BARCLAY about it, and expressed his Sorrow that he should entertain any suspicion of Lt. COLBOURNs honesty; that to be certain of his intentions he (the Witness) and Major BARCLAY agreed that Lt. COLBOURN should immediately come to a Settlement of his Accounts, as they looked upon it, that by those Means they should be able to discover them.

        Q:(by Major BARCLAY)— Whether in the return that he (the Witness) signed for the fuel for the Regt. there were any Sums of Money expressed for the Wood due, and the Cutting thereof?

        A. He does not recollect that there were any Sums mentioned, as it is so long since.

        Q:(by the Court)— Did Lt. COULBOURN give in the Account produced in Court to the 15th August last, as a final Settlement?

        A. He looked upon it that it was; as Major BARCLAY gave it to him (the Witness) as such.

        Q:(by Major BARCLAY)— After that Lt. COLBOURN Confessed that he had received the £ 161. 10. did not he (the Witness) send to Lt. COLBOURN for the said Sum?

        A. Yes.

        Q: Did Lt. COLBOURN send it?

        A. He sent him (the Witness) £ 100 Currency, and said that he would send the rest the next day, if he (the Witness) would send for it.

        Q:(by Lt. COLBOURN)— Did not he (the Witness) Sign three returns for the Wood, being one for each quarter, from the 1st Novr. to the 12th June last?

        A. He does not recollect whether he signed one or three.

        Q: Did not Lieut. COLBOURN tell him (the Witness) after Major CROSBIE became Barrack Master, that he had settled all accounts with Col. CLARKE the late Barrack Master?

        A. He remembers that Lt. COLBOURN said that he had received the Money for the Cutting of the Wood, and thinks that it was 300 Cords.

        Q:(by Major BARCLAY)— Did Lt. COLBOURN ever inform him (the Witness) that he had received any Sums of Money due to the Regimt. for back Wood, for the last Winter?

        A. Never that he recollects.

        Q: When Mr. APTHORP applied to him (the Witness) for a Receipt for the Wood that the Regt. had Cut from his Estate, What Answer did Lieut. COLBOURN make him (the Witness) When Questioned thereon?

        A. He said that he had given Mr. ORCHARD a receipt for all the Wood the Regimt. was entitled to, as he had settled the Accounts with the Barrack Masters, 7 that there were only two Trees cut on Mr. APTHORPs Estate, that were not carried away.

Colo. Beverly ROBINSON of the Loyal American Regimt. being duly Sworn deposed that when Lt. Col. ROBINSON first informed him that there was a discovery made that Lt. COLBOURN had received a Sum of Money on Account of the Regimt. which he had never accounted for, Lt. Col. ROBINSON desired that he (the Witness) would speak to Lieut. COLBOURN about it;

upon which he (the Witness) desired Major BARCLAY to send to Lt. Colbourn to come to his (Major BARCLAYs) Quarters, & he would meet him there; that upon examining the Accts. he (the Witness) asked Lt. COLBOURN if those were the Regimts. Accounts, and he said Yes; upon which he (the Witness) told him that the Regimt. was then indebted to him £ 18. 13. 1. Currency and Lt. COLBOURN said that it was;

he (the Witness) then asked him if he had not received any more Money on Account of the Regimt. and he then Answered that he had received that Sum of Money, & Lt. COLBOURN said that he did not give the Regimt. Credit for it in that Account, as the Money was due to the Officers; and that the Soldiers had received for their deficiency their full allowance;

he (the Witness) then asked Lt. COLBOURN whether he had acquainted the Lt. Col., or Major, or any of the Officers of it, and he answered he had not; that he (the Witness) then observed to Lt. COLBOURN, that it was very strange that he should have received so large a Sum, and not acquaint the Officers, as he had recd. it between Six and Eight Weeks, and leave it to be discovered by mere Accident; and Lt. COLBOURN answered that he did intend to acquaint the Officers of it, and settle with them.

        Q:(by Major BARCLAY)— Has it not ever been the Custom of the Regimt. to Appropriate Wood Money, or any Contingencies, for the benefit of the Soldiers of the Regimt.?

        A. Yes.

        Q:(by Lt. COLBOURN)— Did not he tell him (the Witness) that as soon as he got in Mr. MARCHINGTON’s Accts. that he purposed carrying them to Lt. Colonel ROBINSON, and ask him (Lt. Col. ROBINSON) whether they should be discharged out of the £ 151. 10. he had recd. for deficiency of Wood?

        A. It is possible that he mentioned it, but he cannot recollect, for certain, whether he did, or not.

        Q:(by the Court)— Did he (the Witness) ever know Lt. COLBOURN guilty of any irregularities in his Department as Quartr. Master, previous to this Affair?

        A. Mr. MARCHINGTON dunn’d him for Money, that was due to him from the Regt.; that in Consequence of which he asked the Lt. Col. why it was not paid, and he answered that there was Money lodged with Lt. COLBOURN, & he (Lt. Col. ROBINSON) had ordered him to pay it; that he (the Witness) at that time thought it was a Neglect of Lt. COLBOURN; that some time after he (the Witness) had a Second Dunn from Mr. MARCHINGTON; upon which he asked Lt. Col. ROBINSON to know why he had not paid it; that when Lt. COLBOURN came, he said he had paid him at twice, all but a Trifle, and upon being asked if he had taken Receipts, he replyed not.

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

                               Colbourn Court Martial, Part 3

Great Britain, Public Record Office, War Office, Class 71, Volume 92, Pages 343–356.

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