George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Benjamin Stoddert, 30 May 1780

War Office May 30th 1780.


The board do themselves the honor to inclose to your Excellency, the proceedings of a General Court Martial, held at Philadelphia on the 19th instant, for the Trial of Capt. Coren, & Capt. Lieutenant Godfrey.

With respect to Capt. Coren, the board beg leave to transmit the proceedings of another Court Martial on a former occasion, conceiving it to be proper that Your Excellency should be informed of all the circumstances attending him. I have the honor to be with the highest respect Yr Excellency’s Most Obedt Hble Servt

by ordr

Ben. Stoddert Secy

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


19 January 1779-29 September 1779

The Proceedings of a Genl Court Martial held in the Garrison of Philada for the Tryal of Captn Isaac Coren by Order of the Honble Major Genl Arnold this 19th Janry 1779

Lieut. Col. Davidson Presidt


Captn Craig Captn Bradly
Captn Mumford Captn G. Cottman
Captn Allman Captn Lt Douglass
Lt Yarborough Lt Crossly
Leiut. McNees Lieut. Kenny
Lieut. Pugh Lieut. Verrier
Wm Cross J. Ate

The Court being duely Sworn proceeded to the Tryal of Captn Isaac Coren Charged with, Continual Drunkenness, 2dly Repeated disobediance and Contempt of Orders, 3dly Keeping unjust Accounts against his men, 4thly Removing Centinels placed for the security of Publick Stores of great Value at the Ordinance Yard, where there was upwards of twenty Pieces of Cannon liable to be Spiked, &C.: The Tools of the Artificers, and their Materials in danger of being Stole, all of which he left without a Guard, and treated an Officer who had Charge of those Stores in a very Abusive manner for Enquiring the Reason of his Strange Conduct, and for requesting a Centinel to be left, which was Peremptorily refused; and the Place was left that Night without any Guard, 5thly his Arbitrary & unjust proceedings on Court Martials, 6thly his Continuance of Profane & Abusive Language and beheaving in a Scandalous & infamous manner, such as is, unbecoming an Officer and Gentleman, 7thly Captn Coren has repeatedly and Contemptuously denied that his Company belongs to the Corps of Artillery & Artificers or that Col. Flowers has a right to Command him; And Lastly his breaking his Arrest, and resuming the Command of his Company in an Arbitrary Manner.

Pleads not Guilty

Major Watkins, Evidence on first Charge Affirm[ed] and Sayeth, while I was in Meeting, I was Sitting facing the Door, I saw Captn Coren Coming in who appeared to be in Liquor & should have Opened the Pew Door for him, but for the reason above.

Adjt Lucas Sworn Sayeth I was ordered by Col. Flowers on the 2d day of Decr 1778 to get a Weekly report from Captn Coren in Oder to make a Gen[eral] Report to the Honble Board of War he appeared to be very much in Liquor, he told me he should make it out but not then.

Questn Ask’d adjt Lucas, whether he often seen Cap[tn] Coren in Liquor.

Ansr. I have, but not at the Laberatory.

Lieut. Wright Sworn Sayeth, I have seen Captn Coren often on the Parade Drunk, and have frequently advised him to come there when Sober as it was a bad president to the Men.

Question, Ask’d Lt Wright, if he ever saw Captn Coren so Drunk on the Parade or Laberatory as to be unfit to give Orders.

Ansr. I have on the Parade, and seen him give Orders in the Laberatory when Drunk but not Detrimental to the Works.

Lieut. Caldwell Sworn Sayeth I have often seen Captn Coren who Appeared to be Drunk, but never knew him to Issue wrong Orders on that Account: I never saw him in the Laberatory so much in Liquor, but what he could do his Duty.

Lieut. Grier Sworn Sayeth, I have several times seen Captn Coren very much in Liquor, but not unfit for Duty when he would Come to the Laboratory to give Orders, and never knew him to neglect his Duty on Account of being in Liquor; my living in the House with Captn Coren makes my knowledge of his Conduct more known to me.

James Pearson, Affirmeth & Sayeth, I have seen Captn Coren frequently in Liquor, and have spoke to him about it particularly about the 16th or 18th of Novr last, he came to me about some business, and forgot what he came about, he was very much in Liquor; he sat Down and Slept about half an Hour, and got up and went away, likewise I have often seen him so Drunk as to be incapeable of taking or giving Orders.

2d Charge, Repeated disobedience & Contempt of Orders.

Adjt Lucas already Sworn Sayeth, on the 2d Decr 1778 I was Ordered by Col. Flowers to read the Articles of War to all the Troops under his Command in the City, The Col. in a particular manner Ordered me to shew these Orders to Captn Coren first, I immediately went to Captn Coren’s Quarters and Shewed him the Orders, the Answer he made me (was) that he Damn’d himself, if his [   ] Officers & Men, should Parade with a Sett of Damn’d [   ] Weavers & Carpenters, he further told, his Officers were [   ] sitting on a Ct Martial, that he believed two of his Men would be punished & for that reason they could not money likewise he Swore he did not belong to Col. Flowers at all.

The Court adjourned till tomorrow at 10 OClock for want [of] Evidences.

The Court met according to Adjournment and proceeded on the 3d Charge, for keeping unjust accts against his Men.

James Baker a Matross under Captn Coren Sworn that [   ] complains of not receiving all his Wages, produces an imperfect acct and also Sayes he never was refused money when he call’d for it.

A complaint being made on behalf of John Tracy Drum[mer] under Age, upon the Accounts produced by Captn Coren and Clerk said Drummer acknowledged to have received all the Sums due him, which Acct the Clerk kept and Swore to them.

4th Charge, removing Centinels placed for the Security of Publick [   ].

Lieut. Stroop Sworn Sayeth that on the Evening of the 26th [Decr] 1778 Captn Coren came with his Guard to my house, and Ask’d me what was to become of his Men, in a very Abusive Manner, I told him, there was the Church with a Stove in it, and that I had no other place for [them] he immediately call’d the Corporal of the Guard and [told] him to March their Men Off, and so the Ordinance Yard became all night without a Centinel.

Question Ask’d, if the Guard could have been conveniently Quartered in the Meetinghouse that night on Acct of the Inclemency of the Weather?

Ansr. Yes as there was a Stove in it.

Question by Captn Coren to Lt Stroop, was there any Wood to Burn in the Stove.

Ansr. Nay.

Question. were Cannon & Artificers Tools under the Charge of that Guard.

Ansr. Yes.

Question to Lt Stroop, had you Charge of them Stores.

Answer. I had in the Day, & not in the night.

Question, did you Ask Captn Coren what was his reason for removing the Guard.

Ansr. I did not.

Question. did he treat you in an Abusive Manner.

Answer. he made a great Noise, Swearing about the House and he was in Liquor.

Questn. what was his reason for so doing.

Ansr. on Acct of his men standing out in the Inclemencey of the Night.

5th Charge, his Arbitrary and unjust proceedings on Ct Martials.

Adjt Lucas Sworn Sayeth, On the 12th of Decr last he was Ordered by Col. Flowers to read the Articles of War to all the Troops under his Command, the Col. in a Particular manner desired me to Shew these Orders to Captn Coren first, which I immediately comply’d with, Captn Coren’s Ansr to me was, that he had Ordered a Court Martial that three of his Men were to be flog’d that Evening, and would not parade his Men, & further told me that his Men all know the Articles of War.

6th Charge, his Continuance of Profane & Abusive Language. Adjt Lucas Already Sworn Sayeth, I was at the Cols. a few Day’s ago, he informed me that Captn Coren was there to know from the Col. what Men Made Complaints of his Defrauding them, I heard a great Noise in the House [&] I drew near the Stairs, and he and Captn Coren Swearing presently after he left the Cols. Room: I heard him Damn the Col. for a little whelp that he should Command in the field before him, the Col. call’d me up, and Ordered me to take notice of it.

Question. what was Captn Coren’s reason for so doing.

Ansr. because the Col. would not inform who they Men were that had Complained against him.

Lieut. Wright, already Sworn Sayeth that frequently I have heard Captn Coren Damn Col. Flowers for a Puppy & he did not belong to him that the belonged to Genl Knox.

Seventh & last Charge, Lieut. Wright Inform’s that Captn Coren went the day he was Arrested to the Board of War to settle about his Arrestment, some time after Captn Coren came to the Laboratory and Acted as usual in giving Orders, on the Evening of the same day he came on the Parade, when he received the Orders of the Day & read them he told Lt Grier there was no Church tomorrow & delivered the Orders to Lt Grier upon which I told Lt Grier I did not know how to Act as Col. Flowers had Ordered me to bring they M[en] Down.

Court Adjourned till ten OClock tomorrow 22d Janry 1779. The Court met according to Adjournment and proceeded, The Sentence of the Court on the first Charge of Continual Drunkenness, that Captn Coren is Guilty of a Breach of Article the fifth and Section the Eighteenth of the Articles of War by repeated Drunkenness contrary to good Order & Milatary discipline.

The Court having considered the second Charge, as it Appears to them from the Variety of Evidences & an Order of the Board of War Signed Richd Peters Septr 29th 1778 for a Quota of Men to do Garrison Duty directed to Captn Coren, for that purpose; considering him in the Military Line, & not under the Command of Col. Flowers (only in the Laboratory,) in which point of light it Appears he has ever considered himself, do acquit him of that Charge.

The Court having considered the third Charge, and on producing his Books & Receipts which are justly and fairly kept Acquit him.

The Court having Considered the fourth Charge, and the Evidence respecting his removing the Guard & leaving the Stores without a Centinel find him Guilty of a Breach of Article the fifth & Section the Eighteenth of the Articles of War.

The Court having considered the fifth Charge, acquit him.

The Court having considered the Sixth Charge, find him Guilty of a Breach of Section the fourteenth Article 21st of the Articles of War.

The Court having considered the Seventh Charge Acquit him agreeable to the Evidence of the second Charge.

The Court acquit him of the last Charge.

The Court do Sentence Captn Isaac Coren to be Discharged the Service: But the Court unanimously recommend him to the Genl in Consideration of his past usefullness and Zeal for the Service, he giving up a Pension which he received Annually from his Britanic Majesty, his Usefullness in the Service they referr to Genl Knox of Artillery And prays being reinstated.


Saml Davidson Lt Col.

Wm Cross J. Ate


Index Entries