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Letter from a Committee of Westchester County, New-York, to the Provincial Congress


Fredericksburgh, March 15, 1776.

Isaac Bates, upon being taken up as a deserter, by an advertisement from Elijah Oakley, Lieutenant under Captain Comfort Ludinton, of Colonel Jacobus Swartwouts Regiment of Minute-men, pleads and says, that said Lieutenant Oakley did release him.

In support of which plea he produced the evidences, whose depositions are as follows:

I, Abraham Birdsal, of lawful age, being sworn before the Chairman of the Committee, do testify and say: that on the 5th of this instant, March, being at the house of Cornelius Fuller, I heard Elijah Oakley say he would give any man two shillings who would set his name to such a paper. Whereupon Isaac Bates said he would set his name to it; and the said Oakley said he would give him four shillings if he would; and finally said, as he could not make change, he would give him a six-shilling bill, lawful money; and, as Bates took the pen, Oakley says, If you do write your name there, you shall go; and Bates says, I mean to go; and wrote on the bottom, of the paper, as I supposed, his name; but I understood by others (for I cannot read writing) that he wrote, "Elijah Oakley may kiss my — Isaac Bates;" at which Oakley was mad, and swore he should go. Whereupon Bates says, "Why, you are not mad, are you? I was only in a joke." "Joke, or no joke," said Oakley, "you shall go." But afterwards I saw Bates give Oakley the bill again, and saw Oakley tear off a piece, which I suppose was what Bates had written; and I understood by Oakley that he had discharged him. Whereupon I said to Bates, "Since Oakley is so fair with you, you ought to treat him;" and he immediately called for a grog, and did treat him.

I, John Chase, of lawful age, being sworn before the Chairman of the Committee, do testify to the whole of the foregoing deposition; and further, that when Oakley took the bill, he said he would see if it was the same bill which he gave Bates, and went to the light and said, "Yes, it is the same bill which I gave you." "Now," said I to Mr˙ Oakley, "you and Isaac are clear, are you not?" "Yes," said Mr˙ Oakley, "we are clear; it was only a joke."