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Court of Inquiry Re: Angus McDonald

Proceedings of a Court of Inquiry held by Order of Brigadier Genl, McARTHUR Commanding His Majestys Forces in East Florida &c &c To Enquire into the Conduct of Lieut. Angus McDONALD of the Corps of Guides and Pioneers on the Complaint of Major ALDINGTON, for Going to St. Augustine without Leave and carrying with him Ten Men of said Corps.

St. Augustine 15th May 1783

Lieut. Colo. John HAMILTON R.N.C.R.
Capt. Robert LAWE K.R. Capt. Danl. McNEILL R.N.C.R.
Capt. George DAWKINS S.C. Capt. John HARRISON S.C.

The Court Adjourned till Nine O'Clock tomorrow for want of Evidence.

16th May 1783

The Court being again met, and no evidence appearing to support the Charge, called on Lieut. McDONALD to make his Defence.


Lieut. Angus McDONALD in order to vindicate himself of the first Charge exhibited against him by Major ALDINGTON, informs the Court That in May 1780 he was left at Charlestown with the Command of Twenty One Pioneers, to attend Lord CORNWALLIS Army which he did till March 1781 when he delivered them over to a Capt. or Lieut. BROWN at Hillsborough. That he then got orders from Lord CORNWALLIS and Governor MARTIN, to attend to the Embodying a Company of Highlanders, to be formed into a Regimt, under the Command of His Excellency the Governor, a warrant for that purpose he received from Lord RAWDON at Camden in July 1780.

That, as he was much distressed and suffered much both in Family and Property, he received Lord CORNWALLIS promise to retain his Rank, as Lieut. [of] Pioneers, untill he had completed his Company. That he continued using every Endeavour to complete his Company 'till the Evacuation of Wilmington took place, when all hopes of success vanished, and he was obliged to retreat with the Garrison of Wilmington to Charlestown in the Month of November 1781 where he remained, waiting an Opportunity to bring his family from North Carolina, till the month of June 1782, when he received permission and a Flag of Truce from the Honble. Lieut. Genl. LESLIE for that purpose.

That he proceeded on his Journey upwards of 30 miles from Charlestown, and was attacked by a Sett of Banditti, and Robb'd of all his money, Clothes, Papers, and his Life threatned, not being able to proceed, he returned to Charlestown. That on hearing of the Evacuation of the Town, he again applied to the General for Permission to bring his family within the British Lines, and they arrived in the Month of November 1782. That they were then in great Distress, and he himself reduced by a Fever to a very low State, which induced him to make an Application on the Evacuation of the Town to the Honble Lieut. General LESLIE to permit him and his Distress'd family to go to St. Augustine, and was to have given him leave of absence in writing, but the Hurry which prevailed on this Occasion, and his very bad State of health, prevented him getting it effected before the Fleet sailed.

That from these Circumstances, he was induced to proceed to St. Augustine thinking himself perfectly Secure from Censure. Major ALDINGTON having never ordered him to join, And that he considered himself a Seconded Captain in the North Carolina Highlanders, and had applied to Mr. MILLER Pay Mr. to Seconded Officers for a Certificate to that purpose, the Pay as Lieut. Pioneers, and Captains Half Pay being alike.

In Vindication of the Second Charge exhibited against him by Major ALDINGTON for carrying with him Ten Men of the Guides & Pioneers, he utterly Denies, and produced to the Court a State of the Strength of his Detachment with the Casualties attending it, untill his delivering them over to Lieut. BROWN at Hillsborough, a Copy of which is hereunto Annexed.

Evidence 1st for the Defendt.

Lieut. McNABB of the N.C, Highlanders informs the Court, that when Lord CORNWALLIS Army came to Wilmington, Lieut. Angus McDONALD informed him that he had delivered up the Command of the Detachment of Guides and Pioneers to Lieut. BROWN of said Corps at Hillsborough, as he had got a warrant to raise a Company for the No. Car. Highlanders and that Lord CORNWALLIS had indulged him in Continuing his rank in the Pioneers, untill he should complete his Company in the Highlanders.

Evidence 2d

Capt, Alexr. McRA of the North Carolina Highlanders informs the Court, that when he returned from St. Augustine to Charlestown before the Evacuation of that Place He saw Lieut. McDONALD who enquired of him concerning East Florida, He told him that if he went there, he would neither get Rations, Fuel or Candles, Without a Positive order from General LESLIE, as the Commandg. Officer in East Florida had refused it to him being a Seconded Officer, Lieut. McDonald then told him that Gent. LESLIE had given him leave to go to St. Augustine, and that he was to get a Letter to the Commarding Officer desiring that he might have Rations, Fuel &c as an Officer.

        Question from the Court- Did you ask Lieut. McDONALD his reasons for coming here?

        Answer- He said that the General had granted him leave on acct. of the Sickness of his Family, which would not admit of their going northerly at that season of the Year.

        Question from the Court- Did you know if Lieut. McDONALD carried with him from C. Town any men belonging to the Guides and Pioneers?

        Answer- I never knew of any such being carried away.

Evidence 3d

Capt. Niell McARTHUR of the Royal North Carolina Regt. formerly of the No. Car. Highlanders informs the Court That he saw Lieut. McDONALD in Charlestown soon before the Evacuation, and askd him where he intended going. He told him to St. Augustine- he then asked him if he had leave to go, he replied he had. This Evidence farther confirms the Distressed Situation of Lieut. McDONALDs Family at that time, And farther that he knew of no men belonging to the Guides and Pioneers being carried thence.

Evidence 4th

Rigdon BRICE Esqr. Dep Muster Master informs the Court, That he has compared Lieut. McDONALDs return of men that were left under his Command by Major ALDINGTON, with the first Muster Roll of the N.C. Highlanders in October 81. And it does not appear that any of the men in Ouestion were included among them, and that Lieut. McDONALD never drew Pay for any men belonging to the Guides and Pioneers since the Muster of his Recruits in the North Carolina Highlanders, his own Pay being regularly Issued an the list of Half Pay Officers, though retaining the Rank of Lieut. Pioneers.

Opinion of the Court

The Court having considered Lieut. McDONALDs Defence, the Evidence in support of it, together with his General Good Character, are of Opinion, That any Impropriety that appears to them in his Conduct respecting the first Charge, must have been owing to his being a Stranger to the mode of Obtaining leave, and the Hurry and Multiplicity of Business at Head Quarters previous to the Evacuation. And respecting the Second Charge, the Court are further of Opinion that he is entirely innocent of any part of it.

                                       Jno. HAMILTON Lt. Colo.

Great Britain, Headquarters Papers of the British Army in America, PRO 30/55/10105.

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