Search This Blog

Friday, June 1, 2018

The King versus James Armstrong, Part VII

This testimony has been edited for clarity.

At Fort Panmur at Natchez, 19 August, 1786, voluntarily appeared Moses Armstrong, bringing with him the negro Sam who had escaped the day of his father's death with the two Lovels and George Blair.  It being necessary to take his confession by the means of an interpreter, Mr. George Fitzgerald being indisposed, I appointed Don Estevan Minor, Adj. Major of the Post, for that purpose, which
he accepted.

Then I caused the said Moses Armstrong to appear before me, who being duly sworn by the interpreter to answer truly such questions as should be put to him on the part of the King, as follows:

Q:  What is your name and how old are you?
A:  Moses Armstrong.  Sixteen years.

Q:  Where were you born?
A:  In South Carolina

Q:  What religion?
A:  Protestant

Q:  From whence came you now?
A:  [I] came from Stoney Creek to the house of Gibson Clark.

Q:  With what motive did you go to the house of Gibson Clark?
A:  Having heard that [my] mother and the rest of the family had gone to Natchez, [I] went to the house of Gibson Clark, as being the nearest, with the intention of bringing to the Fort his father's negro Sam.

Q:  Where [were you] when the detachments of Samuel Gibson and William Brocus surrounded the house of [your] father?
A:  [I] was in the house carroting tobacco.

Q:  What other persons were in the house at the time?
A:  The whole family were in the house, likewise John and James Lovel and George Blair, who were sitting with [my] father at the door.

Q:  Why did they not all surrender when ordered to do so?
A:  [I] always heard [my] father say that he would not surrender to any party sent to take him. Therefore when the detachment appeared, knowing that [my] father would not surrender and supposing they would fire on [us], [I] fled to the woods for fear of being killed.

Q:  Did you take any arms with you?
A:  No.

Q:  In what manner did you join the company who escaped?
A:  When they fled they took the same course that [I] had taken and overtook [me].

Q:  Were they armed?
A:  Each one had a rifle.

Q:  How long did you stay with them and how were they employed?
A:  The day following the detachment appeared, [I] slept with them. Early the next morning [we found] there were several paths leading from the place where we slept.  Blair and the Lovels took one path and [I] and the negro took the path leading to the plantation of Gibson Clark.

Q:  Did you hear any conversations from which you could infer what resolution they had taken?
A:  John Lovel purposed [sic] remaining in the District and the other two planned taking refuge in the Nation.

Q:  Did you accompany your father in any of the robberies?
A:  [I] I never left the plantation where [I] was employed about the crop.

Q:  What effects and cattle did your father bring to the house which he had stolen with the company before-mentioned?
A:  [My] father and the others had stolen two horses, two saddles, two pair of boots, a great coat, etc. from Manuel Texada and a horse and saddle from Richard Dunn, but they left another in its place.  [He] saw three rifles and a gun which they said they had taken from the houses of Stephen de Alva, James Cole, David Odam and Jacob Cable.

Q:  Were all the horses and effects they had stolen taken to your father's house?
A::They were all in a camp about 70 yards from the house.

Q:  Did you know what further plans your father and his companions had concerted?
A:  They were making ready to go to Georgia.

Q:  Your father took his negro with him when he went to rob.  Was this negro armed?
A:  He always took his negro with him but always unarmed.  The last time, however, the negro returned to the house with a small gun.

Q:  Who furnished your father and his companions with provisions while they were out on these expeditions?
A:  [I] do not know.

Q:  Have you heard them hold any seditious conversations concerning their mode of life?
A:  [I] did not hear any such conversations, but remember to have heard [my] father, on the day of his death, say that in two days he would leave the District.

Q:  Had [your] father and the rest of the troop quitted the house when [you] fled?
A:  [I] remember that [my] father and one of the Lovels were outside the door, but [I cannot] recollect where the others were at that moment.

Q:  Have you any knowledge of a seditious letter addressed to Tacitus Gaillard bearing the signature of David Smith?
A:  [I] never heard of such a letter.

Q:  Did you ever hear your father say that he had frequented the house of Jeremiah Routh and obtained provisions there?
A:  [I] remember to have heard them say that they had taken a horse between Routh's house and that of Jacob Cable.

Q:  Did the two Lovels and George Blair who had come to your father's house intend to go with him to the Indian Nation?
A:  The persons named came to [my] father's house and as they approached Father called to them to halt until he knew their business.  They talked apart for a time but [I] don't know on what subject.

Q:  Do you know of any other persons who intended to join your father's troop?
A:  No.

Q:  Did you from the place where you hid see your father killed and your brother wounded?
A:  [I] saw nothing of it but I heard the report of the rifles.

Q:  Have you anything more to say?
A:  No.

The foregoing being read to him by the interpreter, he acknowledged it to be the same that he had made, having nothing to add nor diminish thereof, and not knowing how to write has made his mark in the presence of the King's Solicitor, the Interpreter, the Clerk and witnesses assisting.

Testimony of the following was also obtained:

Sarah Armstrong, widow of James Armstrong; Gibson Clark, planter; Manuel de Texada, a Cole's Creek planter; James Cole, planter; Estevan de Alva, planter; Richard Dunn; David Odam; Gaspar Sinclair; Jacob Cable; Susannah Cable; and Margaret Sinclair.

At Natchez, 21st August, 1786, the King's Solicitor in this cause, accompanied by the Clerk and two assistants, repaired to the Hospital, where [they] found the body of James Armstrong and directed the Surgeon of said Hospital to give [him] a certificate of the manner of his death, hereinafter inserted in the proceedings:

"I, Louis Faure, King's Surgeon of the Post of Natchez, do certify that a certain James Armstrong died at the Hospital of said Post, on the 21st day of August of the present year 1786, in consequence of a gunshot wounds he received in the head."

Signed by Louis Faure, Antonio Soler, Joaquim de Ossorno, Juan Carreras and Carlos de Grand-Pre.

The end

 See also:

Monday, May 28, 2018

In Memoriam

“You tried, Sweetheart,”
she whispered.
She tossed a handful of dirt
down on the coffin.
A cold wind blew.
The sky was dark. Acid
rained. Chaos.
Two-hundred some-odd years.
Well, not really such a good run,
after all.

Few came to the service.
Few knew who had died.
Or when.
Rest in peace, Dear One.
Blood will fertilize the ground.
Tears will water it. Hope
springs from the scorched earth.
Some day, we will learn.
Or not.
~ May 28, 2018