James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Officers of the Thirty-eighth Regiment of Infantry, 13 August 1813

From Officers of
the Thirty-eighth Regiment of Infantry

Baltimore 13th. August 1813

Respected Sir

In conformity with General orders dated 24th. July 1813,1 the court martial held in the city of Baltimore, to try Such prisoners as may be brought before it, beg leave respectfully to State, that in the course of the trial of James Cook a private in the 16th. regt. U. States infantry, testimony was aduced proving that he had deserted twice, independent of the desertions for which he was araigned before the court, the court, therefore in making up the Sentence of death against James Cook, the prisoner, are impressed with the nescesity of Shewing to the troops now raising an Example in its nature Suficiently awfull to have its proper weight and influence that the frequent desertions may hereafter be prevented, the court at the Same time are decidedly of opinion, that from the Evidence, aduced and the consideration that the prisoner was never Brought to trial for either offence before, the Sentence ought not to be carried into full effect and do therefore recommend his reprieve at the moment asigned for his Execution.2 All which is respectfully Submitted

Wm. Steuart Lt. Col 38th. Infy.
and President G. C. Martial
[and five others]

RC (DNA: RG 94, Letters Received, filed under “Cook”). Docketed by Daniel Parker, with his note: “The whole proceedings referred to General Bloomfield.”

1The orders directed that a general court-martial be convened in Baltimore on 26 July 1813, with Steuart presiding and Lt. William Bird serving as judge advocate (DNA: RG 94, General Orders)

2The transcript of Cook’s August 1813 trial indicates that he had been turned in by a woman who claimed to be his wife, and that he was found asleep in Howard’s Park near Baltimore. He was tried on two counts of desertion, both in 1813; he pled guilty to one count and not guilty to the other. His claim that he had been discharged from a previous enlistment constituted his sole defense. He was found guilty and sentenced to be shot, but the transcript bears Joseph Bloomfield’s signature that he was pardoned (DNA: RG 153, General Court Martial Case Files, X-167).

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