George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Colonel Thomas Hartley, 13 June 1778

From Colonel Thomas Hartley

York Town [Pa.]
June 13th 1778

May it please your Excellency

I inclose you the Proceedings of a Genl Court Martial held Yesterday.1

You will observe the Sentiments of the Court relating to King and Shockey—the former has much changed his Conduct since the Trial.

on account of his Youth and penitent Behavior Several very respectable People petitioned Congress in his Favour. Congress did not chuse to interfere no further than to direct his Execution to be suspendd till Tuesday next.2

This is sent by Express we hope for an answer by Tuesday noon.

I have used every Diligence to equip my Regt but from some Holidays among the Germans we are retarded a few Days—indeed I have to depend chiefly on my own Artificers.

By Wednesday next I intend to march—by that Time a Part of the Militia will be ready to furnish the necessary Guards—Lieut. Coll Conner being very sick injures us much—I hope he will be better soon.

Lest any Thing should be done relating to the arranging of my Regt before I come to Camp, I inclose you a List of my Officers which I have at present.3 From the unsettled State of the 16 Regts and other Reasons several good officers have Left the Service.

I should Esteem it as a Favour that your Excellency would be pleased not to brigade my Regt before I have the honour of waiting on you; to effect which I shall not loose a moment.

I presume those nine Regts that are to be continued, will be put in a Separate Line that we may be known as such in the army & to Congress, so that we may receive the advantage of it.

I dare say the most of the Gentlemen of the 9 Regts would wish to be brigaded & in a Division together I trust they would distinguish themselves but as at present they are lost, unacknowledged by any State, a very small Share of Fame will ⟨Accrue⟩ to them—though they possibly might deserve More. Please to excuse my Freedom. I am with the greatest Respect your most obedt & most humble Servt

Thos Hartley.


1The enclosed proceedings of a court-martial convened on 12 June at York, Pa., by order of the Board of War, read: “The Court being duly Sworn. proceeded to the Trial of Christopher Shockey a Soldier of Colo. Hartleys Regt Charged with Desertion & Stealing two Horses belonging to the Publick.

“The Prisoner pleads Guilty to the Charge of Desertion, but deny’s stealing the Horses.

“Serjt Kirney of Coll Hartleys Regt being Sworn—deposeth—that on Wednesday last; bringing the Prisoner from Carlisle—the Prisoner told him, that last Summer, when he Deserted—His Brother Abraham Shockey who perswaded him, took two Horses, one of which the Prisoner Rode 15 Miles, & his Brother the other, & then they were put into a pasture[.] Lieut. Mahan deposeth. That the Night the Prisoner deserted—two Horses were taken & carried of, from a waggon which the Prisoner drove.

“Lt Walker deposeth—That the Prisoner deserted from his Compy last Spring—enlisted in another Regiment—was brought to Camp, & pardoned—that about one or two months afterwards—he deserted a second time—& two Horses being missing from the Team he drove, the Morning after he went away, it was supposed he had taken them.

“Mr Beauford being Sworn—& Called upon for the Prisoners General Character—deposeth—that he was sometime ago near Nicholsons Gap, the place where it was said a number of People had counterfeited Money—that he was informed, the Prisoner, who was a deserter; Lived in that Neighbourhood, & was connected with the People who were suspected of Counterfeiting the Money—that he heard a very bad Character of him, & endeavoured to take him, but cou’d not find him.

“The Prisoner in his defence Says. That he was informed last Summer, that his Wife & three Children were turned out of Doors by her Neighbours, & were then without a place to put their heads in—that believing his Family in this Situation, he deserted in order to give them all the Assistance in his power—when he got home, he found his Wife & Children in a Stable of his Brother. In answer to the Charge of Stealing the Horses—he says his Brother who persuaded him to Desert, took them both, & lead one of them a Mile or two before he wou’d consent to ride—that at length being overpersuaded, he took one of the Horses, & rode about 15 Miles—& then both the Horses were turned into a pasture.

“The Court after due consideration of the Evidences before them, are unanimously of Opinion that the Prisoner is Guilty of the Charges exhibited against him—& the said Court do sentance him to suffer Death, under the 1st Article of the 6th Sect. of the Articles of War…. The Court (most of the Members of which were in the Trial of John King Junr) wishing that there may be but one Execution, & hearing of the Peninent Behaviour of King since his Trial—Do beg leave to recommend the said John King to His Excellency Genl Washington for Pardon.

“Shockey has been taken since the former Trial & is considered as the fittest Object for Punishment.

“The Court desire that these proceedings be immediately sent to the General” (DLC:GW).

2The petition to Congress of several inhabitants of York, Pa., on behalf of King, dated 11 June, is in DNA:PCC, item 42; see also JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 11:592. “Tuesday next” was 16 June.

3The enclosure has not been identified.

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