George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Captain Jotham Horton, 9 March 1779

From Captain Jotham Horton

Boston March 9th 1779

The Memoral of Jotham Horton of Boston, a Capt. in the Continental Train of Artillery, Humbly Shews, that your Memorialist, had the Misfortune to be taken a Prisoner in Fort Washington from whence he was Carried to New York and kept a Prisoner Nine Months, there & at Long Island, after having Obtaind a Parole he at the Latter part of the Time being Abused by a Fellow at Long Island, Struck him, whereupon he was sent for under Guard, to New York, where he was Committed again, and a Tryall had on him whereof he was Acquitted, & a pass was made out for him to Proceed to Long Island again, but soon after, he found that the Person, he Struck was dissatisfy’d with his Coming off there again, Applyd to the Generall for a New Tryall, whereupon your Memorialist, not likeing to go there a Prisoner again, (having had no New Parole, After being Committed) thought proper, as they had Broke the Perole, to Come off, which he Accordingly did, When Brigr Genll Knox was in Town Last Winter he waited on him, & told him the Affair, he for Answer told him, that ⟨mutilated⟩ Lookt upon it that he ought to be Exc⟨hanged⟩ before he Acted against the Enemy again that we had Officers Enough, to Exchange, & that if he should be taken again he would be used, the worse, unless that Exchange was done, Upon which Genll Heath, procur’d an Officer and sent for me, Genll Heath then told Colo. Crane that I was now Ready to proceed to Camp, Colo. Crane Accordingly, Order’d me to Proceed and in May last I sett of[f] from Boston, when I Arriv’d at Camp, I was forbid taking the Command of the Company that was Raise’d for me, Genll Knox, said that severall Officers did not Chuse to serve in the Regiment with me, As I had broke my Parole, Colo. Crane Order’d me to Tarry with Capt. Treadwells,1 Company till something was done about the Matter, after I had Tarried, two or Three Months, Gen: Knox Order’d a Court of Enquiry I Petitiond him to be Try’d by a Genll Court Martiall of the Line, But he refuse’d it, but said as a New Arrangement of Officers had taken place, he would not Recommend me and so should get Rid of me, he Also refused to sign a pay Abstract any Longer, then up to the 12th Sepr, but said he did not Look upon me as an Officer of the Artillery any Longer. So I Accordingly came Away after Tarrying about Six Months, Whereby I Look upon my self very Greatly Injur’d.

If Your Excellency will Vouchsafe to Enquire into my Carractor, from any of the New England Brigades, I believe you will find that I never Merritted such Treatment, As I Entre’d the service Immediately upon the Lexington Battle & Continued in it till now I trust with Honour & Reputation Inclos’d I Transmitt your Excellency Duplicates of the Court of Enquiry, for your Perusal,2 I waited upon Gen. Gates, who Advis’d me to write you, The foregoing Particulars Relating to this Affair, I am with Great Respect, Your Excellencys Most Obedient Humble Servant

Jotham Horton

P.S. I sent You the Origanal of the within Copy some time since haveing received no answer suppose it must have miscarried.3 therefore I now send you this hopeing it will come safe to hand.

J. H.

LS, DLC:GW. GW’s secretary Robert Hanson Harrison wrote below the docket: “very justly discharged.”

1William Treadwell (c.1749–1795) joined Col. Richard Gridley’s regiment of Massachusetts artillery as a second lieutenant in April 1775 and became a captain-lieutenant in Col. Henry Knox’s Continental Artillery Regiment that December. He was elevated to captain of the 3d Continental Artillery Regiment in January 1777, served in that capacity for the remainder of the war, and died at Worcester, Massachusetts.

2Horton apparently enclosed “A true Copy” of “A Court of enquiry Held at the Park of Artillery [White Plains, N.Y.] the 27 Augst 1778,” with Col. Charles Harrison as president, three captains as members, and Capt. John Doughty as judge advocate (DLC:GW). The court heard evidence on “a Charge exhibited against Capt. Horton for deserting from his Parole whilst a Prisoner with the Enemy on Long Island in Sepr 1777,” which reads: “Col. [Otho Holland] Williams says that he was not station’d at the same place with Capt. Horton on Long Island But at some short distance, that Capt. Horton was carried to New York and Confined for strikeg some man and afterwards Releas’d and sent to Long Island, that some few days thereafter Capt. Horton made his escape, that some other officers Station’d with him (Col. Williams) were in Like circumstances with Capt. Horton who upon being releas’d from there confinement without signing New Paroles had a meeting with the other Officers to know whether they were bound by any Parole and whether they would be justifiable in makeing there escape, they were of Opinion that this new Parole was [not] given, yet one was Implied: tho Col. Williams does not know that Capt. Horton was acquainted with this Determination: Adgt [Baxter] How[e] says that Capt. Horton was confined in new York and releas’d that Capt. Horton told him he had given no new Parole that Capt. Horton after this made his escape that the Officers Prisoners were of differant Opinions some thought he was right and some rong.” In his own defense, Horton said “that he was a Prisoner at the new Lotts on Long Island that he had fray with a Person upon the Island, who Complained to Genl [Daniel] Jones that Genl Jones thereupon sent for Capt. Horton to new York where he was confin’d for two Days and tried, was Acquitted upon being Acquitted Genl Jones desir’d him to go back to Long Island and directed Commissary [Joshua] Loring to give him a Pass, that he Signed no new Parole But went to the Island where in a few Days he was inform’d that he was to be sent for again: dreading a second Confinement he took the advice of some Officers and thereupon made his Escape.” After hearing the evidence and Horton’s defense, the court announced itself “unanimously of Opinion that Capt. Horton in makeing his escape from the Enemy is Guilty of a Breach of Parole.”

3Horton’s earlier letter to GW has not been found.

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