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Court Martial for the trial of Thomas Hickey and others. [1776-06-26] [S4-V6-p1084] [Document Details][Complete Volume]


Court Martial for the trial of Thomas Hickey and others

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Proceedings of a General Court Martial of the Line, held at Head-Quarters, in the City of NEW-YORK, by warrant from his Excellency GEORGE WASHINGTON, Esq., General and Commander-in-Chief of the forces of the United AMERICAN Colonies, for the trial of THOMAS HICKEY and others, June 26th, A. D. 1776.

Col. Samuel H. Parsons, President.

Lt. Col. William Sheppard,
Maj. Levi Wells,
Capt. Joseph Hoyt,
Capt. Abel Pettibone,
Capt. Samuel Warren,
Capt. James Mellin,
Capt. Warham Parks,
Capt. William Reed,
Capt. Joseph Pettingil,
Capt. David Lyon,
Capt. David Sill,
Capt. Timothy Purcival.

William Tudor, Judge Advocate.

The warrant being read, and the Court first duly sworn,

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proceeded to the trial of Thomas Hickey, a private sentinel in his Excellency the Commander-in-Chief' s Guard, commanded by Major Gibbs, brought prisoner before the Court, and accused "of exciting and joining in a mutiny and sedition, and of treacherously corresponding with, inlisting among, and receiving pay from the enemies of the United American Colonies."

The prisoner being arraigned on the above charge, pleads not guilty.

William Green sworn, deposes, That, about three weeks ago, I was in company with one Gilbert Forbes, a gunsmith, who lives in Broadway, and we fell into a conversation on politicks. I found Forbes' s pulse beat high in the Tory scheme. I had repeated conversations with Forbes afterwards, and he was always introducing politicks, and hinting at the impossibility of this country standing against the power of Great Britain. He invited me to dine with him one day; and a day or two after asked me if I would not inlist into the King' s service. I asked him where the money was to come from to pay me for the service; Forbes replied the Mayor would furnish money. I was pleased with the notion of getting some money from the Tories, and agreed to the scheme, with a view to cheat the Tories, and detect their scheme. I mentioned the matter to several, and, among others, to Hickey, the prisoner. I told him the principle I went upon, and that we had a good opportunity of duping the Tories. Hickey agreed to the scheme, but did not receive any money, except two shillings which I gave him. Forbes left it with me to inlist and swear the men. Forbes swore me and one Clark on a Bible to fight for the King; but I swore Hickey to fight for America. After the prisoner was engaged, I proposed to him to reveal the plot to the General, but Hickey said we had better let it alone till we had made further discoveries. All that Forbes proposed to me was, that when the King' s forces arrived, we should cut away King' s Bridge, and then go on board a ship of war, which would be in the East Riverto receive us. I inlisted ten or a dozen, and told them all my plan. The prisoner wrote his name upon a piece of paper with five others, which I gave to Forbes, and this was all the inlistment that I knew of the prisoner' s signing.

Gilbert Forbes: A night or two after General Washington arrived in New-York from Boston, Green fell into company where I was. We were drinking, and Green toasted the King' s health, and I did so too. A day or two afterwards Green called upon me, and said, that as I had drank his Majesty' s health, he supposed I was his friend, and immediately proposed to inlist some men into the King' s service, and told me he could procure considerable numbers to join him. I put him off, and declined having any hand in the business. But in repeated applications from him, I at last fell into the scheme. Green was to inlist the men, in which I was not to be concerned, nor have my name mentioned. In a day or two Green gave me a list of men who had engaged, among whom was the prisoner, Hickey. Soon after which, Hickey asked me to give him half a dollar, which I did, and this was all the money Hickey ever received from me. Green received eighteen dollars, and was to pay the men who inlisted one dollar apiece, and we were to allow them ten shillings per week subsistence money. I received upwards of a hundred pounds from Mr. Matthews, the Mayor, to pay those who should inlist into the King' s service, who, alter inlisting, were to go on board the King' s ships, but if they could not get there, were to play their proper parts when the King' s forces arrived.

William Welch: Between a fortnight and three weeks ago I met the prisoner in the street; he asked me to go with him to a grog-shop. When we got there, he told me he had something to tell me of importance, but insisted on my being sworn before be would communicate it. I accordingly swore on the Bible to keep secret what he should tell me. He then said that this country was sold, that the enemy would soon arrive, and that it was best for us Old Countrymen to make our peace before they came, or they would kill us all. That we Old Countrymen should join together, and we would be known by a particular mark, and if I would agree to be one among them, he would carry me to a man who would let me have a dollar by way of encouragement. I did not relish the project, and we parted.

Isaac Ketchum: Last Saturday week the prisoner was committed to jail, on suspicion of counterfeiting the Continental

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currency, and seeing me in jail, inquired the reason of it. I told him, because I was a Tory. On this a conversation ensued upon politicks. In different conversations he informed me that the Army was become damnably corrupted; that the fleet was soon expected; and that he and a number of others were in a band to turn against the American Army when the King' s troops should arrive, and asked me to be one of them. The plan, he told me, was, some were to be sick, and others were to hire men in their room. That eight of the General' s Guard were concerned, but mentioned only Green by name. He further told me that one Forbes, a tavern-keeper, was to be their Captain, but that the inferior officers were not yet appointed, lest the scheme should be discovered.

The prisoner being here called upon to make his defence, produces no evidence; but says, "he engaged in the scheme at first for the sake of cheating the Tories, and getting some money from them, and afterwards consented to have his name sent on board the man-of-war, in order that if the enemy should arrive and defeat the Army here, and he should be taken prisoner, he might be safe."

The Court being cleared, after mature consideration, are unanimously of the opinion that the prisoner is guilty of the charge against him, and of a breach of the fifth and of the thirtieth articles of the Rules and Regulations for the government of the Continental Forces; and the court unanimously sentence and adjudge that the prisoner, Thomas Hickey, suffer death for said crimes by being hanged by the neck till he is dead.

SAMUEL H. PARSONS, President.


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Court Martial for the trial of Thomas Hickey and others. [1776-06-26] [S4-V6-p1084] [Document Details][Complete Volume]



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