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Court Martial of private William Coleman

Court Martial of private William Coleman, 22d Regiment of Foot, September 1778
W. O. 71/87 p. 209 - 250, Public Record Office

Proceedings of a General Court Martial held in the Camp at Rhode Island on Monday the 7th of September 1778, by virtue of Warrants from His Excellency Sir Henry Clinton, Knight of the Most Honorable Order of the Bath, General and Commander in Chief of all His Majesty's Forces within the Colonies, laying on the Atlantic Ocean, from Nova Scotia to West Florida inclusive, &ca &ca &ca. Dated at Head Quarters, in Newport, September the 2d 1778.

Lieutenant Colonel John Campbell [22nd Regiment] President.
Members
Lieut. Col. Andrew Bruce [54th Regiment] Lieut. Col. Rawlins Hillman [22nd Regiment]
Capt. Stephen Bromfield [43th Regiment] Capt. Thomas Coore [54th Regiment]
Capt. Duncan Cameron [54th Regiment] Capt. John Bachop [54th Regiment]
Capt. William Miller [43th Regiment] Capt. William Wade [38th Regiment]
Capt. Robert Lindsay [22nd Regiment] Capt. Michael Seix [22nd Regiment]
Capt. John Rowland [22nd Regiment] Capt. Thomas Cornwall [not identified]
Capt. Andrew Maxwell [not identified] Capt. Thomas Chapman [not identified]

Captain Henry Barry, Deputy Judge Advocate

Saturday September 12th 1778, The Court being assembled.

Prisoner William Coleman, Private Soldier in the 22d Regiment, and Captain Edward Brabazon's Company, was brought before it, and charged with being guilty of Desertion.

1st. Evidence. Serjeant Thomas Richards of the 53rd Regiment being duly sworn, deposes, that he is doing duty in the same Regiment and Company with the Prisoner, who was missing the 27th of July last, that Corporal Baker was the next day sent to seek him in the Hessian Encampment, and that he has not seen the prisoner since the day he was missed till the 8th Instant, when he saw him in the Quarter Guard.

2d Evidence. Corporal Henry Baker of the same Regiment and Company with the Prisoner, being duly sworn, deposes, that he called the Roll at nine o'Clock the Evening of the 27th of July last, when the prisoner was present, that the next Morning he was absent, and that he did not see him from that time, till he was brought prisoner to Camp the 8th Instant.

Defence.

The Prisoner, William Coleman, being called to, and put on his Defence, says, that being sleeping in a Barn at some distance from his Encampment, he was taken Prisoner by some Rebel Privateer's Men, and carried to Greenwich, from then to Providence, and after, by Order of General Sullivan, sent to Rode [sic] Island in a Cartel and exchanged as a prisoner of War the 8th Instant.

The Court having heard and considered the Evidence against the Prisoner, William Coleman, as also his Defence, is of Opinion, he is Guilty of the Crime laid to his Charge, being a Breach of the first Article of the Sixth Section of the Articles of War, and doth therefore Adjudge him to suffer Death.
John Campbell
Henry Barry Lieut. Col. 22nd Regt.
Depy. Judge Advocate
Confirmed

William Coleman was described by Major Archibald Erskine as "very incorrigible & such a poor
looking soldier at the same time". A taylor born 1743 in Pinchbeck, County Lincoln, he joined
the army some time during the 1760s. In American, he served in Edward Brabazon's company of
the 22d Regiment. He was respited from the above sentence, but deserted again in 1779, was
caught, and tried yet again. He was discharged from the regiment in September of 1780;
remarkably, given his service record, he received a pension through Chelsea Hospital.

Thomas Richards was one of a large number of soldiers who escaped from captivity after the
British surrender at Saratoga, and made their way back to the British army. While many of these
men were drafted into other regiments, including several dozen into the 22d, Richards did not
officially join the 22d, and we have no information on his subsequent service.

Henry Baker was a wool comber, born in 1744 in Wellington, county Somerset. He joined the
army in 1762. At the time of the above trial he was serving in Edward Brabazon's company of
the 22d Regiment. He was discharged at the end of the war and received a pension through
Chelsea Hospital.