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General Court Martial of John Walker

[Extract of the General Court Martial whereof Lieutenant Colonel Thomas MUSGRAVE was President, held at Philadelphia between 24 February 1778 — 11 March 1778.]

Thursday the 26th Feby. 1778.

The Court being met pursuant to Adjournment.

John WALKER, private Soldier in His Majesty’s 10th Regimt. of foot was brought prisoner before the Court & accused of robbing Christiana HUSTON, Inhabitant of Philadelphia of Sundry Articles & deserting from the said 10th Regimt. of foot, & the following Witnesses were examined in support of the two different accusations.

Christiana HUSTON, being duly sworn deposed, that on Monday last about 1 o’Clock in the Afternoon on going into her Shop, she discovered that a pair of leather breeches, three pair of black worsted Stockings 4 pair of Gloves, some Chocolate & other small Articles had been taken away, which she knew to have been in the shop about three quarters of an hour before;

that seeing the prisoner pass by the door Just at the time she suspected he had taken them;

& following him to the Guard, she taxed him with it, but he denied it, but upon asking for the assistance of the Serjeant, he went with her to the Prisoner’s quarters, & in his knapsack they found the breeches, which she (the Witness) knew to be her property, & the Prisoner himself gave them information of other articles, which were accordingly found.

        Q. Did she follow the prisoner immediately upon seeing him?

        A. Yes.

        Q. Was the prisoner personally known to her before?

        A. Yes, he had been at different times in her Shop to buy Onions.

        Q. Did he break open any lock to get at those things?

        A. No, but he had forced out the Staple of the Shop Door.

Serjeant Thomas POIZER, of the 10th Regimt. of Foot, being duly sworn deposed that he on Monday last Commanded the Barrack Guard, of which the Prisoner was one; that between one & two o’Clock Christiana HUSTON, came to the Guard room, & Complained that her Shop, had been robbed, & that she suspected the prisoner;

that he took her to the Prisoner’s Barrack room, which was about thirty yards;

and on Searching his knapsack, he found a pair of leather breeches, which she Claimed as her property, & upon their return to the Guard room the Prisoner Confessed that he had taken them from the Shop with other articles & gave information where those other articles were lodged.

        Q. Did he miss the Prisoner any time before from his Guard?

        A. He did not.

The Witness further deposed that he Confined the Prisoner in Consequence of the Robbery, but about 5 o’Clock the next morning he took the advantage of the Candles being burnt out, to pass the Sentry & make his escape.

Serjeant Edward EVANS of the 10th Regiment of Foot being duly sworn, deposed, that he knew the prisoner to receive Pay, Provisions & Clothing as a Soldier in the said 10th Regiment of Foot.

Francis ALLSTON private Soldier of the 10th Regimt. of Foot, being duly sworn, deposed that at three o’Clock last Tuesday Morning, he was posted as a Sentry over the Prisoner, who taking the advantage of it being dark, made his escape out of the Guard room,

that as soon as he missed him, he alarmed the Guard, & the Corporal & he ran out in search of him but could not discover which way he had gone.

Lieut. Alexr. WICKHAM of the Queen’s American Rangers, being duly sworn, deposed that the Ranger’s were ordered out the day before yesterday & near Germantown he was informed by Major SIMCOE, that there was a deserter a head of them, that the Major ordered Ensign PROCTER, with two horsemen to go in pursuit of him, & the Witness with a party of Dragoons to support him;

that he (the Witness) did not see him apprehended but he saw him brought in by Ensign PROCTER’s Party & at the time they were as far as Chesnut Hill.

        Q. Was he in his Regimentals?

        A. He had a blue great Coat over them.

The Prisoner being put upon his Defence acknowledged himself to have been Guilty of the Robbery of which he Stands accused, but with respect to the desertion, he said he never was attested & had no intention of Deserting but was very much in Liquor when he went off; & was returning to Town, when he was taken,

that he had no Evidences to call upon, but submitted himself to the Mercy of the Court.

The Prisoner having pleaded in his Defence that he never was attested —

William HENDERSON, private Soldier in the 10th Regiment of Foot being duly sworn, deposed that he heard the Articles of War against Mutiny & Desertion read to the Prisoner & saw him take the usual Oath of Fidelity, before the Bailiff of the Town of Inverness in Scotland.

The Court upon Consideration of the Evidence against the Prisoner John Walker together with what he had to offer in his Defence, is of opinion that he is Guilty of the two Several Crimes of Desertion and Robbery, of which he was accused in breach of the 1st Article of War of the 6th Section and of the 2nd Article of the 20th Section;

and doth therefore adjudge him the said John Walker, to suffer Death by being hanged by the neck untill he is dead.

                                       Thos. MUSGRAVE

Step. P: ADYE.
   D. Judge Advocate.

                                   W HOWE.

Great Britain, Public Record Office, War Office, Class 71, Volume 85, Pages 302-305.

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