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General Court Martial of Jacob Wood

[Extract of the General Court Martial whereof Lieutenant Colonel James WEBSTER was president, held at Brooklyn between 4 August 1778 and 10 August 1778.]

Jacob WOOD, private Soldier in the 2nd Batt. New Jersey Volunteers, was brought Prisoner before the Court, and accused of having deserted from the said Corps, and the following Witnesses were examined in support of the Accusation Viz.

Lieutenant William VEDEMONDE, of the Same Corps being duly sworn, deposed that he knew the Prisoner to have been duly enlisted and to have received Pay, Cloathing, Provisions and Arms as a Soldier;

that being on Detachment at Fort Knyphausen under the Witness’s Command, he deserted from thence in February last, two other men of the same Detachment, having gone off at the same time, and he was apprehended at Sandy Hook, about three weeks ago, by Order of Colonel MORRIS.

        Q. Did he carry off his Arms and Accoutrements?

        A. It was so reported to him by Corporal AINSLIE.

        Q. Did he carry off his regimental Cloathing and other Necessaries?

        A. They were not to be found after he went off.

Corporal Randal AINSLIE, of the 2nd Batt. New Jersey Volunteers, being duly sworn, deposed that the Prisoner was on Command with him at Knyphausen, and received C[l]oathing and Provisions as every other Soldier did, and deserted from thence just after Christmas last.

        Q. Did he carry off his Arms and Accoutrements and Cloathing?

        A. They never could find any of them afterwards.

        Q. Did not two other men go off at the same time?

        A. Yes.

Captain Cornelius McCLEESE of the 2nd Batt. New Jersey Volunteers, being duly Sworn deposed that finding the Prisoner on board a Fishing Boat at Sandy Hook, on the 3rd Instant, and knowing him to be a Deserter from the regiment he (the Witness) belong’d to, he apprehended him, by Order of Lieut. Colonel MORRIS.

        Q. How was he dressed when he apprehended him?

        A. He was in the habit of a Sailor.

The Prisoner, being put upon his Defence said, that whilst he was at Fort Knyphausen, he received a Letter from his Wife, who lived in New Jersey acquainting him that she was in distress, upon which he came from Knyphausen to New York with a Pass, to get leave from Colonel MORRIS to go to the Jerseys, but the Colonel refused him leave and bid him go back;

that he crossed over from Knyphausen to Jersey and carried his Wife and family to Sandy Hook; about the 1st of May last;

that whilst he was there, Lieutenant PARKER of the same regiment came down and he immediately went on board the Sloop, where he was and desired that he would acquaint his Colonel that he was there, and beg’d that he would obtain leave for him to Stay;

that Lieut. PARKER went up to New York and upon his return told him that the Colonel said that he might Stay there ‘till he went for him;

that Colonel MORRIS himself was backwards and forwards to and from the Hook, and he (the Prisoner) used constantly to Supply him with Fish;

that he also got a Pass from him to go into Jersey, where he Staid a Week and whilst he was there, the French erected a work on a Hill, and were watering their Fleet near Sh[r]ewsbury;

that one of his Neighbours desired him to go and give General CLINTON intelligence of it, and he accordingly set out for New York, and Colonel MORRIS went with him to General CLINTON’s and afterwards returned to the Hook, in the same Sloop with him, and supply’d him with Fish as usual, but having affronted the Colonel by going a fishing without his leave, he ordered Captain McCLEESE to take him up.

Lieutenant Josiah PARKER, of the 2nd Batt. New Jersey Volunteers, being duly sworn, was examined.

        Q. Does he recollect seeing the Prisoner at Sandy Hook, some time ago?

        A. Yes, he came on board the Sloop to him.

        Q. Does he remember the Prisoner desiring him to inform Colonel MORRIS of his being there, and begging to have the Colonel’s leave to stay there?

        A. He does not recollect that he did.

        Q. Did he ever carry any message to the Prisoner from Colonel MORRIS?

        A. Never.

        Q. On seeing the Prisoner there, did he report him to Colonel MORRIS?

        A. Yes, he did immediately on his return to New York.

        Q. What orders did Colonel MORRIS give him in Consequence of his report?

        A. He ordered him to take him up.

        Q. Did he ever see the Prisoner after he reported him?

        A. He did not, but he saw him several different days before.

        Q. Did he ever tell the Prisoner that the Colonel said, that he might stay there, ‘till he sent for him?

        A. No, he never did.

        Q. What conversation passed between the Prisoner and him when he first saw him?

        A. He told him that he believed that the Colonel would hang him, and the Prisoner answered that he meant to join the Regiment and run the risk of it.

        Q. Why did he not take him up as a Deserter?

        A. He had no Guard with him and the Prisoner said (and he believed it) that he would join the Regiment.

        Q. Does he know of his coming up to New York to Sir Henry CLINTON?

        A. He has heard of it.

        Q. Was he the first, who gave Colonel MORRIS intelligence of the Prisoner being at Sandy Hook?

        A. He believes that he was.

        Q. Did he ever buy fish from the Prisoner?

        A. He has bought Clams from him.

The Court Adjourned till next Morning at 9 o’Clock.

Friday August the 7th 1778.

The Court being met pursuant to Adjournment.

Lieutenant Colonel MORRIS Commandant of the 2nd Batt. New Jersey Volunteers, who had been called upon by the Prisoner not being able to attend, on account of an Indisposition, the Prisoner called on

James BOAG, Surgeon’s Mate to the 2nd Batt. New Jersey Volunteers who being duly Sworn was examined.

        Q. (by desire of the Prisoner)— Does he recollect Lieutenant Colonel MORRIS buying fish of the Prisoner at Sandy Hook?

        A. He was on board the Sloop with Colonel MORRIS, when the Prisoner hail’d them, and a Boat being sent to bring him off, Colonel MORRIS bought some fish of him.

        Q. When did this happen?

        A. Last Thursday se’nnight.

        Q. Did he hear any Conversation between Colonel MORRIS and the Prisoner?

        A. No other than he told the Colonel that he had brought him some fish, and the Colonel asking what they cost paid him.

        Q. (by the Court)—  Does he recollect hearing Colonel MORRIS tax him with being a Deserter, previous to his buying fish from him?

        A. He believes that he has; he has often heard Colonel MORRIS during last Summer speak very warmly against him for deserting.

        Q. Does he know of Colonel MORRIS carrying the Prisoner to Head Quarters, when he had come up from the Hook and afterwards going down to the Hook with him?

        A. He thinks that he heard Colonel MORRIS mention it.

        Q. (by desire of the Prisoner)—  Does he recollect his (the Witness) calling the Prisoner as he was going from the Sloop, and giving him a Letter to forward to New York?

        A. He does recollect this Circumstance, and Colonel MORRIS gave him another Letter to forward.

The Court having considered the Evidence for and against the Prisoner Jacob WOOD, together with what he had to offer in his Defence is of Opinion that he was Guilty of the Crime laid to his Charge, in breach of the 1st Article of War of the 6th Section;

but having given himself up and been afterwards employed on different Occasions by Lieut. Colonel MORRIS, instead of being immediately apprehended and brought to tryal, the Court is of a further Opinion that this implied a Pardon, and gave the Prisoner reason to regard it as such;

that they therefore cannot under these Circumstances proceed to Sentence or Adjudge the Prisoner any Punishment.

                                       James WEBSTER
                                         P. Col. 33rd Regt.

Step: P. ADYE
   D. Judge Advocate

                          H. CLINTON

Great Britain, Public Record Office, War Office, Class 71, Volume 86, Pages 405–409.

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