George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 12 January 1781

Lebanon 12th Jany 1781.


James Wilson a soldier of this State, on duty at Horseneck, was placed a Sentinel over Nathan Frink a notorious traitor to the States, who had been taken in arms against the same. Frink found means to bribe Wilson to suffer his escape—and both went off together—After this Wilson was taken from the enemy—tried by a Court martial and sentenced to suffer death—While this sentence was sent to me for confirmation—Wilson again escaped, I believe after his sentence was confirmed—Sometime after this Wilson comes to our lines under a flag to procure his family to be removed within the lines of the enemy—under the last mentioned circumstance he was detained by General Silliman, and remains in custody—the question to Your Excellency is whether the protection of a flag is to be deemed so sacred as to screen a villain from the execution of a sentence which he has so justly merited? I shall be much obliged by a Resolution of this Query. The rather as a Capt. Saml Marsh of this State Militia who was going into New York under sanction of a flag to make some inquiry for the welfare of his Son who was lately wounded and taken by the enemy is now detained under a pretence of being treated in the same line as we shall deal with Wilson.

If Your Excellency should be of opinion that the sanction of a flag is not sacred as to protect Wilson from death—I will be much obliged if you will be pleased to write by the bearer of this to Genl Clinton—stating the circumstances. and desiring the release of Capt. Marsh—If a flag is to be deemed so sacred as to screen the villain as well as the honest man. This State must take their measures accordingly. I am, with the highest Esteem & Consideration Your Excellency’s Most Obedt hble Servant

Jonth; Trumbull

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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