J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Capt.-Lt. Kemper Confronts “unofficer and ungentlemanlike behavior”

Yesterday I mentioned Maria Sophia Kemper, daughter of German immigrants to New Jersey. Her brother Daniel became Assistant Clothier-General to the Continental Army, and her brother Jacob joined the officer corps.

Jacob Kemper served in Col. John Crane’s artillery regiment, eventually becoming a captain-lieutenant. That regiment was linked to Massachusetts.

Toward the end of 1782 Capt.-Lt. Kemper got into a dispute with Lt. Henry Abraham Williams of Col. John Lamb’s artillery regiment, which was rooted in New York. The commander-in-chief’s papers tell the story:

At the General Court Martial of which Colonel Michael Jackson is president Lieutenant Henry Williams of the 2d regiment of Artillery was tried, charged with unofficer and ungentlemanlike behavior on the evening of the 6th of October 1782
  • First for asserting a falsehood tending to promote dissention between the 2d & 3d regiments of Artillery, by saying that We the 2d regiment of Artillery to a man (addressing himself to Captn Lieutenant Kemper) do dispise you and your regiment, or any thing you can say in behalf of it—
  • 2dly For stripping to buffet with Captn Lt Kemper, and afterwards drawing a sword on him when unarmed—
  • 3dly For writing a challenge for Captn Lieutenant Kemper & leaving it in the Bar room of a public Tavern unsealed.
The Court after maturely considering the evidence for and against Lt Williams, and his Defence, are of opinion on the first charge, that Lt Williams did on the evening of the 6th of October last say that “We the 2d regiment of Artillery to a man—addressing himself to Captain Lt Kemper—do dispise you and your regiment, or any thing you can say in behalf of it[”] for which they think him very unjustifiable in breach of article 5th Section 18th of the Rules and Articles of war—

On the 2d Charge the Court are of opinion that Lt Williams did on the evening of the 6th of October last strip to buffet with Captain Lt Kemper, and did afterwards draw a sword on him when unarmed, for which Conduct they think him very unjustifiable, in breach of article 5th section 18th of the Rules and Articles of war—

The Court are also of opinion that the 3d Charge is not Supported—

The Court Sentence Lt Williams to be reprimanded in General orders and Suspended from Service for three months.
Gen. Washington confirmed the sentence and added, “Lieutenant Williams should have better understood the delacacy of an officers Character than to have suffered himself to have been betrayed into such improper conduct as he has been guilty of.”

At the end of the war, Capt.-Lt. Kemper joined the Society of the Cincinnati in New York. Lt. Williams did not.

1 comment:

Don N. Hagist said...

I wonder how the court "maturely considers" evidence of immature behavior