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General Court Martial of Thomas Townly

[Extract of the General Court Martial whereof Lieutenant Colonel Thomas STIRLING was President, held at Brooklyn between 24 July 1778 and 1 August 1778.]

Thomas TOWNLY, Corporal in Captain SANDFORD's Troop of Bucks County Dragoons, was brought Prisoner before the Court and accused of having deserted from the said Troop and Stolen a Mare, a Bridle & Saddle and fifteen pair of Boots, and the following Witnesses were examined in Support of the Accusation Vizt.

Ambrose MORRISON, Quarter Master to the said Troop of Dragoons, being duly sworn, deposed that the Prisoner had been duly attested and received pay as a Soldier;

that upon the Baggage of the Army being Ordered to be shipped at Philadelphia, that of Captain SANDFORD's Troop was put on board the Ranger Sloop, under the care of the Prisoner; that upon his Arrival at New York, he found the Prisoner and the Baggage there, and got a Waggon in Order to carry the baggage to Camp;

that upon his return to the Place where he had appointed the Prisoner to meet him with the Baggage, he found that the Waggon which he had procured had by some mistake not come there, upon which the Prisoner, who was then on foot, desired him to let him have a mare, Saddle and bridle which belonged to a Farrier of the Troop, & was in his care, in order to go and hasten the waggon, which he consented to;

that the waggon soon after arrived and he (the Witness) went with it to Camp, but the Prisoner not returning with the Mare, or coming to Camp, he suspected that he had deserted;

that upon examining the Baggage he found that fifteen pair of boots had been taken out of it; it was on the 15th Instant that the Prisoner went away, and was apprehended on the 20th.

        Q. Did he go off in his Regimental Clothing?

        A. Yes.

        Q. Did he dispose of them?

        A. No, he was apprehended in them.

        Q. How did he discover that the Prisoner had disposed of the Mare and the Boots?

        A. From his own Confession, after he was apprehended.

        Q. Was he sober at the time he went off?

        A. He was perfectly so.

Edward THORPE, Cordwainer, being duly Sworn, deposed that about three weeks ago, one HANDLEY came to him and told him that there was a man, who had some Boots to Sell, and as he knew that he (the Witness) was making Boots for Colonel Emerick's Corps, he thought he might get a good Bargain of them;

but upon seeing that it was a Soldier (for the Prisoner had the Dragoon Uniform on) that had them to sell, he said that he would have nothing to do with them;

that HANDLEY said that he had got them in the Jersies, however HANDLEY's Wife advised her Husband not to buy any of them, and the Witness declined having any thing to do with them, unless the Prisoner brought some Authority from his Officer;

that upon going out of the room, he saw one GALLAGHAN who lived opposite to him with the Prisoner, of whom four pair of the Boots for Six Dollars, and a Bowl of punch;

that GALLAGHAN asked the Witness if he thought that he had had a good Bargain and he answered that one pair of them was worth more than he had given for the whole;

that GALLAGHAN gave the Prisoner a Dollar, and went over the way to fetch the other five, and the Prisoner said that he had some more Boots on Long Island, as also some Silk Gowns, which he said, he would bring over.

Gideon WARE Farrier to Captain SANDFORD's Troop of Dragoons being duly sworn, deposed that last Thursday Se'nnight, he came to Town to see after the baggage, & put the mare he rode on with the saddle and bridle into the same Stable, that Mr. MORRISON the Quarter Master put his horse;

that when he wanted to return, he found that the Mare had been taken away, and he was obliged to get a Horse from Mr. MORRISON's Son, on which he went out, that just as he got to the 8th Mile Stone, he met the prisoner on his Mare,

and on asking him, how he could serve him so, he answered that he had taken her by the Quarter Master's Order, that he bid the Prisoner alight, saying that he had got a bad Saddle and would hurt her back,

but instead of alighting, the Prisoner set out as fast as he could ride towards New York & the Witness followed him, but finding it impossible to overtake him, he gave up the pursuit and returned to Camp and did not see either Mare or Saddle again untill this day.

The Prisoner being put upon his defence, acknowledged that he sold twelve pair of the Boots, but knew nothing of the other three;

and said that after Mr. Morrison had lent him the mare he went all over the Town, in search of the Waggon, and returning to the place where he had left him, and found that he was gone, but that his Son had left a Horse for the Farrier, upon which he rode towards Camp upon the Mare but unfortunately got too much liquor upon the road and was induced to return to Town, where he sold the Mare;

but that he had not the least Intention of deserting, having been considerably distressed by the rebels & too ill used by them whilst he lived in the back part of Pensylvania, to run the risque of returning among them, but intended to surrender himself at the time he was apprehended;

that he never quitted the Town all the time that he was away from the Regt. but walked about in his Uniform.

Ambrose MORRISON, Quarter Master to Captain SANDFORD's Troop already sworn being called upon by the Prisoner, deposed, that since he had been in the Troop, he had always behaved like a good young Soldier, and that he never had any reason before to suspect his honesty or he should not have recommended him to have had the care of the baggage.

The Court having considered the Evidence for and against the Prisoner Thomas TOWNLY, together with what he had to offer in his Defence is of Opinion that he is not Guilty of the first Crime laid to his Charge vizt. Desertion, but that he is Guilty of having absented himself from his Troop without leave in breach of the 2nd Article of War of the 6th Section, and that he is also Guilty of having stolen a Mare, Saddle and Bridle, & fifteen pair of Boots;

the Court doth therefore adjudge him the said Thomas Townly to receive One Thousand Lashes on his bare back with Cats of Nine Tails.

                                            Thos. STIRLING Prest.

Step: P. ADYE
   D: Judge Advocate

                                              H CLINTON

Great Britain, Public Record Office, War Office, Class 71, Volume 86, Pages 196-199.

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