George Washington Papers

General Orders, 21 January 1781

General Orders

[New Windsor] sunday January 21st 1781

Parole. Countersigns——

At a Brigade General court martial held by order of Lieutenant Colonel commandant Brooks commanding the 3d Massachusetts’ brigade the 22d of december last Major Wiley President.

Charles Watts soldier in the 10th Massachusetts regiment was tried for “Absenting himself from his regiment without leave and attempting to go to the enemy.”1

The Court after maturely considering the Evidence find the Prisoner Guilty of a breach of Article 1st Section 6th of the Rules and Articles of War and sentence him to suffer Death more than two thirds of the Court agreeing thereto.2

The Commander in Chief confirms the Sentence, but is pleased in the intercession of the officers of the regiment to which the Prisoner belongs in his behalf to Pardon him and directs his release from Confinement.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Charles Watts, a free black man from Lynn, Mass., enlisted in the 10th Massachusetts Regiment for the duration of the war in January 1777.

2Section 6, article 1, of the articles of war reads: “All officers and soldiers, who having received pay, or having been duly inlisted in the service of the United States, shall be convicted of having deserted the same, shall suffer death, or such other punishment as by a court-martial shall be inflicted” (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 , 5:792).

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