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Defeat of the Seminole Indians, &c.
him, he would blindfold us, and make us walk overboard.
Question. What were the reasons given by King Hijah for the prisoner's not granting your request?
Answer. King Hijah stated that the prisoner was fearful of meeting with an American vessel, when we should be taken out, and he thereby lose his schooner.
EDMUND DOYLE, a witness on the part of the prosecution, being duly sworn, was questioned as follows:
Question by the Judge Advocate. Do you know anything that would lead to substantiate the charges against the prisoner now before you? Answer. I know nothing but from common report.
WILLIAM FULTON, an evidence in the present prosecution, being duly sworn, testified to the copy of a letter from A. Arbuthnot to General Mitchell, agent for Indian affairs, dated Suwanee, January 19, 1818, and marked No. 6, as acknowledged by the prisoner to be the same in substance as one written by himself at that time. An extract from the letter was then read.
Extract from a letter written by A. Arbuthnot to General Mitchell, American agent for the Creek nation of Indians, dated
The evidence on the part of the prosecution being closed, the prisoner required Robert C. Ambrister as one of his witnesses, against whom criminal charges had been filed, and who was in custody on account thereof; to which the Judge Advocate objecting, the court was cleared to take its sense; when it was decided that Robert C. Ambrister, now in custody for similar offences with the prisoner, cannot be examined as evidence before this court.
JOHN LEWIS PHENIX, a previous witness, now on the part of the prisoner, being again sworn, was questioned as follows, viz:
Question by the prisoner. Was there any other vessel at the mouth of the Suwany river when Ambrister seized your schooner ?-Answer. Yes. Question. What vessel was it? Was it not the vessel which Ambrister came in?
Answer. It was a sloop, and I understood Ambrister came in her.
Question. Did Ambrister ever mention to you who recommended him to seize the prisoner's schooner, or who assisted him in stimulating the negroes to do so?
Answer. No; I understood he came on board of his own accord.
commanded the prisoner's vessel, ever brought Question by the court. Have you, since you any arms to that part of the country?
Answer. No; I brought a quantity of lead and ten kegs of powder in the last trip.
JOHN WINSLET, a former witness on the part of the prosecution, being recalled on behalf of the prisoner, was questioned as follows, viz:
SUWANEE, January 19, 1818. In taking this liberty of addressing you, sir, in behalf of the unfortunate Indians, believe me I have no wish but to see an end put to a war, which, if persisted in, I foresee must eventually Question by the prisoner. Are you not of opinbe their ruin; and as they were not the aggression that the letter which you say was written by ors, if, in the height of their rage, they commit the prisoner to the Little Prince is now in the any excesses, that you will overlook them as the possession of the Little Prince? just ebullitions of an indignant spirit against an invading foe. I have the honor, &c.
By order of King Hijah and Bowlegs, acting for themselves and the other Chiefs.
Answer. After reading it, I returned to him, and believe it to be still in his possession, as Indians seldom destroy papers of that kind.
The prisoner requesting some time to make up his defence, he was given until to-morrow even
Question by the prisoner. Where did the pri-ing, at four o'clock. soner acknowledge the letter just read to be a copy of the one written by himself?
Answer. In the encampment before this place, about the 6th or 7th instant.
FORT ST. MARK'S, April 28, four o'clock, P. M. The Recorder having read over the proceed
Question by the prisoner. Was not the acknow-ings of the court with closed doors, the prisoner ledgment when he was a prisoner?
Answer. It was.
Question by the prisoner. Did you hear a gentleman say to the prisoner, whilst in custody, that those who recommended the scalping-knife and tomahawk should feel their keenest edge ? Answer. I did hear a gentleman say that those who excited the Indians to the murder of the unoffending should feel the keenest edge of the scalping-knife; but, as well as I recollect, that observation was not made until after the repeated acknowledgments of the prisoner of having written the letter.
Question by the court. Was not the confession of the prisoner to this letter made voluntary, and without any constraint whatever? Answer. I conceive it was.
was recalled into court, and made the defence, marked K, and attached to these proceedings. The doors were then closed, and, after most mature deliberation on the evidence adduced, the court find the prisoner, Alexander Arbuthnot, guilty of the first specification to the first charge, and guilty of the first charge; guilty of the first and second specifications of the second charge, and guilty of the second charge, leaving out the words "acting as a spy;" they therefore do, on the most mature reflections, sentence the prisoner, Alexander Arbuthnot, to be suspended by the neck until he is dead; two-thirds of the court concurring. EDMUND P. GAINES,
Major Gen., Pres't of the Court. S. M. GLASSELL, Recorder.
Defeat of the Seminole Indians, &c.
proved by the witness to be in the possession of the Little Prince, this court could not notice that circumstance, because there was no means by which it could be obtained. I would ask the honorable court what means they have adopted, or what exertions have they made, to procure this letter? If the honorable court please, I shall here close the defence on the first charge and specification, believing that they are neither sup
May it please this Honorable Court: The prisoner arraigned before you is sensible of the in dulgence granted by this honorable court in the examination of the case now before them. It is not the wish of the prisoner, in making his defence, to tire the patience of the court by a minute reference to the voluminous documents and pa-ported by law nor evidence. pers, or to recapitulate the whole of the testimony which has come before the honorable court in the May it please the honorable court, I will now course of this investigation. Nor is it the inten- of that charge. In support of this charge and come to the second charge, and first specification. tion of the prisoner to waste the invaluable time specification, the evidence is a letter written to of, this court by appeals to their feelings or sympathy, though I am persuaded that sympathy no my son. If the court please, this letter was where more abounds than in a generous Ameri-written in consequence of the situation of my can breast. My only appeal is to the sound and property at Sahwahnee, and the large debts that impartial judgment of this honorable court, the were due me from Bowlegs and his people. Nothpurity and uprightness of their hearts, that they ing. I believe, of an inflammatory nature can be will dispassionately and patiently weigh the evifound on reading the document marked A, audence they have before them, apply the law, and thorizing the opinion that I was prompting the Indians to war. on these, and these alone, pronounce their judg-able court will examine the document marked A, On the contrary, if the honor
If this honorable court please, I shall now prolied on by this honorable court in support of the first charge and specification. Winslet, a witness on the part of the prosecution, says, the Little Prince showed him a letter written in June last, signed A. Arbuthnot, requesting his friendship with the lower nation of Indians; the same witness stated that he believed the letter to be now in the possession of the Little Prince. Here, may it please this honorable court, I would call their attention to the law relating to evidence; first presuming that the rules of evidence are the same, whether in civil or military tribunals.Macomb, 99.
ceed to examine the law and evidence that is re
This point being concluded, the next inquiry is, what are the rules of evidence with respect to the admission of letters, or papers of private correspondence, in a court of criminal jurisdiction? May it please this honorable court, must you not produce the original letters and papers, if they are not lost or mislaid, so that they can. not be obtained; and, in case they are lost, proof must be made of the handwriting being the same as that of the original before they can be received as evidence?-(Macomb on Courts Martial; Peake's Evidence; Gilbert's Laws of Evidence.) No instance can be cited where a copy of a letter was read as evidence when the original could be obtained, much less the giving in evidence the contents of such letter from bare recollection. The only proof that this honorable court has of the existence of such a letter being in the hands of any person, or its contents being known, is the vagrant memory of a vagrant individual. Make this a rule of evidence, and, I ask you, when would implication, construction, and invention stop? whose property, whose reputation, and whose life would be safe? Here I would beg leave to mention a remark made by the president of this court in the course of this investigation, which was, that, notwithstanding the letter was
informing them that it was the negroes, and not the they will see that I wished to lull their fears, by Indians, the Americans were principally moving against.
If the honorable court please, I will make and here close my defence. In proof of this a few remarks on the second specification, charge, the court have before them the eviporting to be written by myself to different indidence of Hambly, Cook, and sundry letters purviduals. May it please the court, what does Cook prove? Why, that I had ten kegs of powder at Sahwahnee. Let me appeal to the experience of this court, if they think this quantity of powder would supply one thousand Indians, and an equal number of blacks, more than two months for hunting?
As to the letters named in this specification, may it please the honorable court, the rules of fence will apply with equal force in the present evidence laid down in the first part of this de
It remains now, may it please the honorable court, to say something as to Hambly's testimoy; and, may it please this honorable court, the rule laid down in this case as to hearsay evidence will be found without a precedent. A strong case was stated by an intelligent member ef this court, on the examination of this part of the evidence; that is, would you receive as testimony what a third person had said, who, if present, you would reject as incompetent? Apply this principle to the present case; could an Indian be examined on oath in our courts of judicature? If, then, the testimony of savages is inadmissible, Hambly proves nothing.
Here, may it please this honorable court, I close my reply to the charges and specifications preferred against me; being fully persuaded that, should there be cause of censure, my judges will, in the language of the law, lean to the side of mercy.
Defeat of the Seminole Indians, &c.
Continuation of the minutes of the proceedings of a special court, whereof Major General Gaines is President, convened by order of the 26th of April,
FORT ST. MARK's, April 27, 1818. The court proceeded to the trial of Robert C. Ambrister, a British subject, who, being asked if he had any objections to any one of the members of the court, and replying in the negative, was arraigned on the following charges and specifications, viz:
Charges against Robert C. Ambrister, now in custody, who says he is a British subject. CHARGE 1st. Aiding, abetting, and comforting the enemy, supplying them with means of war, he being a subject of Great Britain, at peace with the United States, and lately an officer in
the British colonial marines.
The Recorder then read to the court the following order, viz:
HEADQ'RS. DIVISION OF THE SOUTH,
Captain Allison, of the 7th infantry, is detailed to form a supernumerary member of the special court now sitting at Fort St. Marks. By order:
ROBERT BUTLER, Adj't Gen. Pursuant to the above order, the supernumerary member took his seat.
the prosecution, being duly sworn, stated, that JOHN LEWIS PHENIX, a witness on the part of about the 5th or 6th of April, 1818, his vessel and Specification 1st. That the said Robert C. himself having been captured by the prisoner, and Ambrister did give intelligence of the movehe brought to Suwanee as a prisoner, there was ments and operations of the American army be- an alarm among the negroes and Indians, created tween the 1st and 20th of March, 1818, and did by learning some news from Mickasuky, at which excite them (the negroes and Indians) to war time the prisoner appeared active in sending oragainst the army of the United States, by send-ders, and sending a detachment to meet the Ameing their warriors to meet and fight the Ameri-rican army. The witness also stated, that the can army, whose Government was at peace and friendship with the United States and all her
CHARGE 20. Leading and commanding the Lower Creeks in carrying on a war against the
Specification 1st. That the said Robert C. Ambrister, a subject of Great Britain, which Government was in peace and amity with the United States and all her citizens, did, between the 1st of February, and 20th of March, 1818, levy war against the United States, by assuming command of the Indians, in hostility and open war with the United States, and ordering a party of them to meet the army of the United States, and give them battle, as will appear by his letters to Governor Cameron, of New Providence, dated 20th March, 1818, which are marked A, B, C, and D, and the testimony of Mr. Peter B. Cook, and Captain Lewis, of the schooner Chance. By order of the court,
J. M. GLASSELL, Recorder. To which charges and specifications pleaded as follows, viz : To the 1st charge and specification, not guilty. To the 2d charge and specification, guilty, and justification.
Adjourned until to-morrow morning at 7 o'clock.
Major General GAINES, President.
Major Montgomery, Major Minton,
Lieutenant J. M. Glassell, Recorder.
prisoner appeared to be a person vested with au-
The witness further stated, that some time about
Question by the court. Did you ever understand by whose authority, and for what purpose, the accused came into the country?
Answer. I have frequently heard him say he came to attend to Mr. Woodbine's business at the bay of Tampa.
Question by the prisoner. Did I not tell you, when I came on board the schooner Chance, I wished you to pilot me to St. Mark's, as I was informed that two Americans, by the names of Hambly and Doyle, were confined there, and I wished to have them relieved from their confinement?
Answer. You stated you wanted to get Hambly and Doyle from St. Mark's. I do not know what were your intentions in so doing.
Question. Did I not tell you that I expected the Indians would fire upon me when arriving at St. Mark's?
Answer. You did not. You stated that you intended to take the fort in the night by surprise. Question. Did you see me give ammunition
Defeat of the Seminole Indians, &c.
to the negroes and Indians? if so, how much, and at what time?
the Americans have commenced hostilities with them two years ago, and have advanced some Answer. I saw you give powder and lead to considerable distance in their country, and are the negroes when you came on board, and ad-now making daily progress. They say they sent vised them to make balls; and I saw you give liquor and paint to the Indians.
Question. Have you not often heard me say, between the 1st and 20th of April, that I would not have anything to do with the negroes and Indians in exciting them to war with the United States ?
Answer. About the 15th of April I heard you say you would not have anything to do with the negroes and Indians; I heard nothing about exciting them to war.
Question. Can you read writing?
a number of letters to your excellency by Mr. Arbuthnot, but have never received one answer, which makes them believe that he never delivered them, and will oblige them much if you will let them know whether he did or not. The purport of the letters was begging your excellency to be kind enough to send them down some gunpowder, muskets, balls, lead, cannon, &c., as they are now completely out of those articles; the Americans may march through the whole territory in one month, and, without arms, &c., they must surrender. Hillis Hajo, or Francis, the Indian chief, the one that was in England, tells me to let your excellency know that the Prince Regent told him that whenever he wanted ammunition, your excellency would supply him with as much as he wanted. They beg me to press upon your excellency's mind to send the abovementioned articles down by the vessel that brings this to you, as she will sail for this place immediately, and let the Prince Regent know of their situation. Any letters that your excellency may In-send down, be good enough to direct to me, as they have great dependence in my writing. Any news that your excellency may have respecting them and America, you will be doing a great favor to let me know, that I may send among them.
Question. Did you not hear me say, when arriving at Suwaney, that I wished to be off immediately for Providence?
Answer. I did not. After the alarm, you said you wished to be off for Tampa.
Question. Did you not say to the accused you wished to visit Mr. Arbuthnot, at his store, on Suwany, and get provisions yourself? Answer. I did not. I stated I wanted provisions. Question. Did I send or command any dians to go and fight the Americans ?
Answer. I did not exactly know that you sent them; the Indians and negroes were crowding before your door, and you were dividing the paint, &c. among them; and I understood a party was going to march.
Question. Did I not give up the schooner in charge to you as captain?
Answer. After our return from Suwany town, you directed me to take charge of her to go to Tampa.
There is now a very large body of Americans and Indians, who I expect will attack us every day, and God only knows how it will be decided; but I must only say this will be the last effort with us. There has been a body of Indians gone to meet them, and I have sent another party. I hope your excellency will be pleased to grant the favor they request. I have nothing further to add, but am, sir, with due respect, your obe
dient humble servant,
ROBERT C. AMBRISTER.
Question by the prisoner. Did you hear me say that I came on Woodbine's business?
Answer. I did.
Question by the prisoner. Were not the negroes alluded to, at Arbuthnot's store before I arrived?
JOHN J. ARBUTHNOT, a witness on the part of the prosecution, being duly sworn, stated, that some time about the 23d of March, the prisoner came with a body of negroes, partly armed, to his father's store on Suwany river, and told the witness that he had come to do justice to the country by taking the goods and distributing them among the negroes and Indians, which the witness saw the prisoner do; and that the prisoner stated to him that he had come to the country on Woodbine's business to see the negroes righted. The witness has further known the prisoner to give orders to the negroes; and that, PETER B. Cook, a witness on the part of the at his suggestion, a party was sent from Suwany prosecution, being duly sworn, stated, that he to meet the Americans to give them battle, which never heard the prisoner give any orders to neparty returned on meeting the Mickasuky In-groes or Indians; that the prisoner distributed dians in their flight. The witness also testified to the following letter, marked A, and referred to in the specification of the 2d charge as the writing of the prisoner.
Robert C. Ambrister to Governor Cameron.
SAHWAHNEE, (near St. Mark's fort,) March 20, 1818. SIR: I am requested particularly by all our Indian chiefs, to acquaint your excellency that
Answer. No. You came with them.
Arbuthnot's goods, and also paint, to the negroes and Indians; also that some powder was brought from the vessel to Suwanee by the prisoner, and distributed among the negroes by Nero. Some time in March the prisoner took Arbuthnot's schooner, and, with an armed party of negroes, (twenty-four in number,) set out for St. Marks, for the purpose of taking Arbuthnot's goods at that place, and stated that he would compel the commandant to deliver them up. On hearing of the approach of the American army, the prisoner told the negroes it was useless to run; for, if they
Defeat of the Seminole Indians, &c.
ran any further, they would be driven into the The prisoner told the witness that he had been a lieutenant in the British army, under Colonel Nicholls. The prisoner was sent by Woodbine to Tampa to see about those negroes he had left there. The prisoner told the witness that he had written a letter to Governor Cameron for ammunition for the Indians some time in March; and also told the witness that he had a commission in the patriot army, under McGregor, and that he had expected a captaincy. The witness testified that the following letters, marked A, B, C, and D, and referred to in the specification to the 2d charge, were in the handwriting of the prisoner, and one marked E.
long time since, and have advanced some distance. in their territory, and are still continuing to advance; that they (the chiefs of Florida) have sent repeatedly to your excellency, and have never received one answer; they suspect Mr. Ar buthnot has never delivered the papers to your excellency; they wish me to state to you that they are completely out of ammunition, muskets, &c., begging your excellency will be pleased to send them the articles above mentioned, with a few cannon, as the Americans build their boats so strong that their rifle balls cannot penetrate their sides. The captain of the vessel, who will come down again, I have given orders to make your excellency acquainted with the time the NOTE.-The letter marked A, is copied in a pre- will, I hope, be good enough to make the Prince vessel will sail for this place. Your excellency vious part of these proceedings.
From Robert C. Ambrister to Maj. Edward Nicholls.
SUWANEE, NEAR RIVER APPALACHICOLA. DEAR SIR: Francis, and all the Indian chiefs, have requested me particularly to acquaint you that the Americans have commenced hostilities with them these two years past, and are making daily progress in their territory, and say they will proceed; that you are the only friend they have in that part of the world, and hope that you will exert yourself in their behalf, and ask for as much assistance as can be had; that the Americans are at the forks of the river Appalachicola; they have written a number of times to England and Providence, but have never received one answer; they expect the man never delivered the letters, but they have full hopes in my writing; they request you to make the Prince Regent acquainted with their deplorable situation; the Americans have been very cruel since they commenced, and I hope you will not lose a single moment in forwarding their views; they say they will be extremely happy to see you; nothing would give them greater pleasure than to see you out at this present time. If they should not see you, to send them out all news and directions, that they may be guided by it. There are about three hundred blacks at this place, and a few of our bluff people; they beg me to say they depend on your promises, and expect you are on the way out; they have stuck to the cause, and will always believe in the faith of you, and any directions you may give. Send to me at this place and I will do what I can. And remain, my dear sir, most truly yours,
ROBERT C. AMBRISTER.
N. B. Francis says you must bring the horses when you come out, that you promised, and that his house has been burnt down, and burnt his uniform clothes. R. A.
From Robert C. Ambrister to Governor Cameron.
SIR: I am requested particularly by the Indian chiefs to acquaint your excellency that the Americans have commenced hostilities with them a 15th CoN. 2d SESS.-72
Regent acquainted with their situation, and ask for assistance, which have pressed me very hard to send them down what news may be respecting to press on your excellency's mind, and likewise them and the country, which will be a great satisfaction to them. I have the honor to be, &c.
ROBERT C. AMBRISTER.
N. B. They beg your excellency will be as expeditious as possible; that your excellency is the only dependence they have, and whom the Prince Regent told them would give them every assistance that laid in your power. R. C. A.
From Robert C. Ambrister to Governor Cameron.
chiefs to acquaint your excellency that they are
tack us daily; I have sent a party of men to opI expect the Americans and Indians will atexcellency's mind to lay the situation of the pose them; they beg of me to press on your country before the Prince Regent and ask for assistance. All news respecting them, your excellency will do a favor to let us know by the first opportunity, that I may make them acquainted; I have given direction to the captain to let your excellency know when the vessel will sail for this place. I hope your excellency will be pleased to send them the ammunition; I expect if they do not procure some very shortly, that the Americans will march through the country. I have nothing further to add. I am, dear sir, &c.. ROBERT C. AMBRISTER.
From Robert C. Ambrister to Peter B. Cook.
MOUTH OF THE RIVER, Tuesday 3 o'clock. DEAR COOK: The boat arrived here about three o'clock on Thursday; the wind has been