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French and Indian War

Court Martial Proceeding at Winchester, May 2, 1756

extracted from

The Official Records of Robert Dinwiddie, Volume II, R. A. Brock, editor
(Richmond: Virginia Historical Society, 1884), pages 399-401.


Minuts of a Court-Martial Held at Winchester.

At a Gen’l Court-Martial held at Winchester, May 2d, 1756:
Capt. Robert Steuart, President;
Capt. Woodward, Capt. Lewis, Lieut. Stark, Lieut. Blagg, Lieut. Lomax, Lieut. Lowry, Capt. Spotswood, Capt. Harrison, Lieut. Bullett, Lieut. Eustace, Lieut. Williams, Lieut. King. Members.

Sergeant Nathan Lewis, accused for retreating with a party of Men without orders and not going to the Assistance of Capt. John Mercer when Engaged with the Indians the 18th April, nigh Edwards Fort. Lieut. Lemon, first Evid’ce Sworn, says he ordered Serg’t Lewis to go out with him from the Fort with about thirty men, which he carr’d out, and at the same time, order’d Lewis shou’d go upon the right with a few of them, and so keep up with him as to be able to join him upon an attack; but after marching a small Distance he found himself Deserted by half his men, together with Lewis. Mr. Lemon continued his march till he overtook Lieut. Williams, when the Engagement Began. But Lewis was not there and was found in the Fort on return.

Serg’t Sallard, Sworn, says: Serg’t Lewis Left the Fort when the other Party Did, and return’d to the Fort a Little before them.

John Beard, Sworn, says: Serg’t ask’d him and the other Soldiers with him to go upon the right of Lieut. Lemon’s party, and that they went about a mile, which brought them nigher the Fort, and seeing a Dog they Persued him; then hearing Guns fire the[y] consulted what to do, and seeing Mr. Blagg’s party, joined them, and that Lewis and he was never out of the Pasture till they join’d Lieut. Blagg’s party on their Retreat. The Deponent says that Lewis seeme’d very willing to join Lieut. Blagg’s party.

John Whiffle sworn, says that he and Lewis and the others march’d up the Pasture after Leaving Lieut. Lemon’s party; there they heard some Guns fire, and Stopt sometime, consulting what to do. Lewis was ask’d if they had not best join the party Engaged, to which he Answer’d ‘twas Dangerous, and they might be shot by their own Men as well as the Indians, as they knew not which side they were engaged upon. They afterwards, seeing a party come out of the Fort, the Deponent ask’d Lewis if he wou’d not join them, but he said it was too Late, and that they wou’d retreat before they cou’d join them. He further says, several of the men ran to Lieut. Blagg’s party, and he and Lewis being left, they return’d to the Fort. Serj’t Lewis, in Defence, says, that Lieut. Lemon order’d him to go up a Valley on the right (which Lieut. Denies, as allso that there was such a Valley) with Lemon; he there March’d and Expected to meet Mr. Lemon, as he had promised to join him at the Head of the Valley (which Lieut. Lemon also denies), But when he came there, he went in Pursuit of an Indian Dog w’ch he saw.

It’s the unanimous opinion of the Court that Serj’t Lewis’s conduct is a manifest Breach of the 12th Article of War, 14th Section (viz.: whatsoever Officer or Soldier shall Misbehave himself before the Enemy, or shall speek words inducing others to do the Like, shall suffer Death) and merits the punishment thereby inflicted.

Robert Stewart, [Wax Seal] P’t.
H. Woodward, [Wax Seal.]
Robert Spotswood, [Wax Seal.]
Charles Lewis, [Wax Seal.]
Henry Harrison, [Wax Seal.]
William Start, [Wax Seal.]
Thomas Bullitt, [Wax Seal.]
John Blagg, [Wax Seal.]
Hanc’k Eustace, [Wax Seal.]
H. Lomax, [Wax Seal.]
John Williams, [Wax Seal.]
John Lowry, [Wax Seal.]
John King, [Wax Seal.]


French and Indian War Documents

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