Rebel Court Martial of Robert Land & Edward Hicks
At a General Court Martial held at Minisink the 17th and continued by adjournment till the 19th day of March 1779 by order of Brigadier General Hand.
The Members being present and duly Sworn and Adjt. Bonnel of Col. Spencers Regt. acting as Judge Advocate and Prosecuting in behalf of the United States being also Sworn the Court proceed to Business.
Prisoner Robert LAND brought before the Court charged with being a Spy and carrying Intelligence to the Enemy, Pleads not Guilty.
Evidence James Vanokee Esqr. being Sworn saith, that at the beginning of the present War, the Prisoner was suspected of being a Tory, and examined before the Northamton County Committee. That in consequence of his swearing Allegiance to the United States he was set at Liberty.
Arthur Vantoil being sworn saith that on Thursday evening the 11th Inst. he went to Daniel Courtwrites a Neighbour of his suspecting that a number of Tories were at his House, and to see if he could get any Intelligence of them.
That when he went to the Door, he saw the Prisoner (LAND) eating Supper, as soon as LAND saw him he seized his Musket which was by his side with a Bayonet fixed. At which he, the Deponent, left the door.
He further says that Courtwright came out of the House, and he asked him if there was any news, or any Tories in his House, that he told him there was no need, neither was there any Tories in the House.
Lt. Decker being Sworn saith that the 14th Inst. he went towards Coshithton with a party of men, after a number of Tories that were on their way from New York to Niagara.
That about three OClock P.M. he fell in with them and took LAND and HICKS, he further says that LAND told him after he was made prisoner that he was going to the Enemy at Niagara.
Adjourned till tomorrow ten O’Clock.
18th March The Court met According to Adjournment.
Captn. Tyler (formerly an Inhabitant of Coshithton) being sworn saith that at the Commencement of the present war, he heard the prisoner say that he never would take up arms against the King of Britain.
That sometimes afterwards he was carried before the Committee at Peenpack and found Guilty of being an Enemy to these States, and from thence sent to a Committee in Pennsilvania to which state he belonged, for tryall, and upon his taking the Oath of Allegiance to the United States he was set at Liberty.
That immediately after that he went to the Indians; in a short time after that Returned and went to the Enemy at New York.
Captn. Tyler further says that he was sent to the Indians in a few days after Land left them, on Business to try to make peace, with them.
That the Indians told him that Land had been there and made a great complaint concerning the usage he had received from the Committee.
Captn. Tyler farther declares that a few days ago he heard LANDs Wife say that when he was searched for Letters in 1777 that he outwitted those who searched him by having a Letter concealed in his Ink Stand that was sent from General HOWE to the Commanding Officer at Niagara.
That he then told her she was as bad as her Husband and in his Opinion she had Letters from New York concealed, she declared that as God was her Judge she had not, that her Husband had him them for fear they would be found with him as he expected every Minute to be taken prisoner.
Defence The prisoner says in his Defence that a certain Hugh JONES, John LORD and an Indian, came to his House in the Evening in April 1777.
That Jones told him that he was going to join BUTLER and BRANDT and that he intended to get the Indians to distroy the Frontiers, upon which he went with them to try to prevent their distroying the Country, on his way he met BRANDT who told him he had no Orders to distroy the Country and murder the Inhabitants except they were in arms against him, and although he was an Indian he Intended to convince the world that he was possessed with Humanity.
After that he returned Home to Coshithton where he remained, till the 21st February following and then being informed that the Indians were coming to distroy Coshithton, he went to New York to try to put a stop to their Depredations, after being there a few days was informed that the Inhabitants would kill him if he returned.
Upon which he concluded to stay in York, and immediately entered into the Kings Yard a Carpenter where he continued working till the last day February 1779.
He then left New York to go to see his Family which was about Twenty Miles west of Coshithton, and move them to Niagara.
That Genl. CLINTON who Commands the British Troops in New York desired him to carry a Letter to the commanding Officer at Niagara, which he refused.
The Genl. then desired him to inform the Commandant at Niagara, that it was his desire that the Indians should not be permitted to continue to ravage and distroy the Frontiers.
Sentence The Court considering the Case of the prisoner, the Evidence against him, and his Defence are unanimously of Opinion, that he is Guilty of the Charges Exhibited against him, and do therefore Sentence him to suffer Death.
[signed] Eleazr. Lindsley Pres.
The Court Adjourn till tomorrow ten Oclock
19th March The Court met according to adjournment.
Prisoner Edward HICKS Brought before the Court charged with being a Spy, and carrying Intelligence to the Enemy Pleads not Guilty.
Evidence Lieut. Bennet being sworn saith that about two years ago he heard the prisoner say that he would as willingly kill a Man that fought against the British Troops as kill a Dog.
Captain Spalding being Sworn saith at the Commencement of the present War he was acquainted with the prisoner, and that he had a Mind to engage in the Service of the United States, which he thinks he would have done, had he not been persuaded to the Reverse by his Father, and some other evil minded People.
Defence The prisoner says in his Defence, that he was formerly an Inhabitant of Susquehannah.
That in April 1777 he left his Fathers House and went to Niagara in Company with about Sixty Tories where he continued about Two Months, then entered into the Batteaux Service to carry Provisions from Niagara to Oswego where he continued about Six Weeks, & upon hearing that General Washington had Issued a Proclamation Offering pardon to all those who had joined the Indians if they would Return to their Homes, he imediately set of[f] to return home, but coming in too late to receive the Benefit of the Proclamation was taken by some of the Militia and carried to Hartford in the state of Connecticut and there kept confined till Septr. 78, from thence sent to New York as a prisoner of War and Exchanged, entered into the service of the Enemy in the Commissaries Department till the last day of February 79, when he made his Escape from New York and that on his way to Niagara he was taken by a party of Militia near Coshithton the 24th Inst.
Sentence The Court considering the Case of the Prisoner, the Evidence for and against him, and his Defence, are unanimously of Opinion that he is Guilty of being a Spy and do Sentence him to be kept in Close Confinement during the War.
Eleazr. Lindsley Pres.
Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 4, Reel 56, 10 February 1779 — 25 March 1779.
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