Jun 21, 2018 - Sale 2483

Sale 2483 - Lot 52

Price Realized: $ 3,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 5,000 - $ 7,500
PUTNAM, ISRAEL. Autograph endorsement Signed, as Major General, six lines on the terminal page of a document recording a court-martial [all sic]: 'I have considred the evedancys and the doings of the court marshol and aprove of the sam and ordor that William Hopkins be executed on Mondy the 21 instant betwen the hours of 10 and 11 A.M. at Fort Mongomry and that Jacob Vantosel be put on bord the Gally Shark and be kep to hard duty.' The document, signed by Lewis Du Bois ("Lewis Duboys"), as Colonel and President of the court-martial, dated July 11, 1777. 4 pages, 12 1/2x8 1/4 inches, on one folding sheet; moderate wear and toning, partial separation along center vertical fold, loss of a 1x5-inch area of the bottom corner of the final leaf with loss to the signatures of the court officers, mount remnants in blank area of final page (Putnam's signature not affected). With a full typed transcript. Peekskill, NY, 16 July 1777

Additional Details

This court martial heard the cases of two prisoners over the course of five days. William Hopkins was "charged with going to & holding a correspondence with the enemy, for enlisting men for the enemy's service, and for stealing horses & carrying them to the enemy." A deposition was entered into evidence by a soldier who said Hopkins had attempted to recruit him: "Hopkins pulled down his stocking & shewed the deponent that he sd Hopkins had white breeches & stockings on," which was apparently a signal, and asked the deponent to come to New York with him. "The prisoner told him he had a pass from General Putnam and could pass where he would. The deponent further saith that the prisoner drank the King's health, and asked him to drink it." The prisoner was found guilty, "for which he shall suffer the pain & penalty of death by being hanged by the neck until he be dead."
The second prisoner was Jacob Van Tassel, who pleaded guilty to "lodging William Hopkins his son in law one night in his house," but not guilty to "offering a soldier of this garrison a reward for stealing a number of catredges from the garrison." He was found guilty of both charges and sentenced to "confinement in close gaol during the general's pleasure."
The sentences were approved and ordered to be carried out by Major General Israel Putnam (1718-1790). Putnam hated spies, but believed in due process. Just two weeks later, in a different letter which was later published, he asserted "Spies are the most detestable of all enimies & ought to be speedily executed, tho not without a trial & legal conviction" (see Calendar of Historical Manuscripts, page 260).