1759 RARE AND EXCEPTIONALLY UNIQUE HANDWRITTEN ACCOUNT OF THE TRIAL AND SUBSEQUENT PUNISHMENT OF AN AMERICAN DRAFT DODGER, UNWILLING TO FIGHT FOR THE BRITISH IN THE FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR
On offer is an extraordinary historical document of pre-Independence America and the French and Indian War which pitted the colonies of British America against those of New France, with both sides supported by military units from their parent countries and American Indian allies. The document in question is two and a half pages, dated 1759, concerning the legal case of a man named Jesse Dimmick, of Mansfield, Windham County, Connecticut, a member of the 10th Company, Connecticut Militia, who refused to accompany the combined Expedition of British Regular and American Militia for the purpose of invading Canada during the French and Indian War. The letter is sent from “attorney to our Svrn Lord the King for sd Country” named Jedediah Elderkin to Samuel Gray, Esq. “one of his majesty’s justices for ye peace for Windham County, Conn.” The letter begins with some background to the desertion, “General Assembly of ye Coloney of Connecticut at their Sessions held in New Haven in March last did resolve and order to Raise five thousand troops in sd Colony to Joyne his majesty’s Regular troops in North America & in junction with them to invade Canada and Carry war into the hart of the Enemies Country in pursuance to his majesty’s orders and Instructions...Col. Dyar having recd sd orders did then immediately grant his proper warrant under his hand to Joseph Stors of Mansfield Capt of the 10th military Companey in sd 5th Regiment him ordering to Impress or Detach of the Soldiers under his command or those that ware with in the Limits of sd Companey to able bodied effective men to go in sd expedition.” The letter than discusses the case of Mr. Dimmick. “...but sd Jesse Dimmick not regarding the Laws and Constitution of sd Coloney to sd detachment & order did neglect and refuse to joyne sd company under sd Major Glass or in any wise to go in sd expedition which neglect and refusal of sd Dimmick is against the peace of ye King his crown & dignity and contrary to the Laws of this Coloney in such case made & provided given under my hand in Windham County February 27th day anno domine 1759 & in the 32 year of his majesty’s raign Jedediah Elderkin” The next page contain more details of the case. “...you are hereby Commanded forthwith to arrest sd body of the with named Jesse Dimmick and him have forth with before Amon Babcock Esq one of his majesty’s justices of sd peace for sd County of Windham...” this part is dated March 29th, 1759 by “Samuel Gray Justice of sd peace”. The last part of the document, dated the “17th day of April 1759” concerns the trail of Mr. Dimmick, who has been arrested and brought before the justice of the peace, where Dimmick pleads not guilty to the charges against him. “Dimmick appeard in sundry Guidances all which were thoroughly examinned by this court & Dimmick way heard in his defense & this court having examined sd J. Dimmick & sd guidances summoned their in of sd openion that their in cours of action...that Dimmick becom bound with loyalty in a recognized bond to sd ___ of sd County of Windham of twenty pounds lawful money.” This is signed “the above is & with in are true copys of Record as in life. Amos Babcock justice of sd Peace.” The very last page contains a list of costs associated, in pounds, shillings, and pence, “Costs abound to Mr. Nebon £1-6-0”; “Court fees £0-2-0”; the total cost of the trail for Dimmick appears to be £2, 1 shilling and six pence, before his court appointed penalty of 20 pounds for refusing to join the service. The document is in folio format, measuring 13 x 8 inches, dated 1759, in very good, clean and legible condition. The script can at times be difficult to decipher due to the dated language and spelling of the era, but rewards a close look, both the for the interesting facts of the case, as well as the wider military and historical significance of these report in the decades prior to American Independence, when it was still a British colony. There is no description of why Dimmick chooses not to join the militia, but it could be because of a belief in an independent America. This could be why he pleads not guilty to charges he is clearly guilty of. (Background: The French and Indian War (1754–63) comprised the North American theater of the worldwide Seven Years' War of 1754–63. The war pitted the colonies of British America against those of New France, with both sides supported by military units from their parent countries of Great Britain and France, as well as by American Indian allies. Jesse Dimmick was born between 1725 and 1726, and died on the 10th of January 1771. He married Rachel Kidder on May 19, 1751 in Dudley, Massachusetts. Jedediah Elderkin was born in Norwich, Connecticut in 1717. Col. Elderkin and Col. Dyer were the leading lawyers in Eastern Connecticut. Jedidiah Elderkin was appointed Justice of the Peace in 1756 and chosen a member of the General Assembly from Windham in the spring of 1751 and repeatedly afterwards until 1785. In March 1775, Jedidiah Elderkin, Esq., was commissioned a Colonel of the Fifth Regiment of the Connecticut Militia.
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