Friday, July 21, 2023

George Solifelt--Court Martial File Aug 1865

If you have been following my George Solifelt research, you might remember that I'd found two court martial files in the NARA catalog.  I ordered the one I knew had to be him(it mentioned one of the companies he served in during the Civil War.)  Finally have a transcription of sorts of the proceedings.  I have formatted it so that it is easier to read.  There were several cases prior to it which were put off due to absences of parties.  The file contains notation of those before beginning with the court martial.  My transcription begins with the court martial of George and 4 others from Co. "E" 20 Pennsylvania Cavalry.  Note that he is listed as George T Solifelt here.  Sometimes the middle initial is H.  Fellow soldier John Price is not only involved in the court martial with George but he will be at the same prison in 1870 when George is doing time for highway robbery.  Both men are listed in the description log books along with their identifying marks both of which are tattoos.

Abstracted information from the court martial of George T Solifelt(and others)

The Court then proceeded to the trial of 
Sergeant Charles S Garrett & Privates Thomas
Newbury, George T Solifelt, John Crawford and
John Price All of Co E 20 Penn Cavalry who
were called into court and having heard the
order conversing the court read were asked if
they had any objection to any member
named in the order
To this they replied in the negative
The court was
then duly sworn by the Judge Advocate
in the presence of the prisoners
and the Judge Advocate was duly sworn
by the presiding officer also in the
presence of the prisoners
The Prisoners
Sergeant Charles S Garrett & Privates
Thomas Newbury, George T Solifelt, John
Crawford and John Price all of Co "E" 20th
Penn Cavalry were arraigned on the following
Charge & Specification
Charge   Robbery
Specification   In this that they the said
Sergeant Charles S Garrett Privates Thomas 
Newbury George T Solifelt John Crawford
and John Price all of Co E "20" Penn Cavly
did enter the dwelling of Alfred Nally a
Citizen of Charles Co Md and did steal
there from a hat, one watch, about one dollar
and fifty cents in silver coin, two coats one
vest, one pair of pants and keys belonging
to the trunks of the said Alfred Nally Citizen
This at or near Port Tobacco Md on or
abt the 30th day of April 1865
To which charge and
specification the prisoners pleaded as follows
of the Specification to Charge Not Guilty
of the -----------  ---- Charge Not Guilty

Sergeant Richard Abbott Quarter Master Sgt
of Co D 3rd N.J. Cavalry a witness
for the prosecution being duly sworn
My name is Richard Abbott, I
am Quarter Master Sergeant of Co D 3rd N.J. Cavalry
and acting Provost Sergeant at Port Tobacco

Ques by Judge Advocate    Do you or not know
the Prisoners
Ans   By sight
Q by J.A.   Were you Provost Sergeant at Port
Tobacco when these men were arrested
Ans   I was   I arrested them--Crawford
and Garrett--for having been implicated in
the robbery of Mr. Nally a citizen--After
having turned them over to the Provost Marshal
at Remount Camp Lieut Stone--in the
tent in which I arrested them I found
a watch which had been stolen from Mr.
Nelly   I arrested these two upon in-
formation received from the other prisoners
Newbury, Solifelt and Price after they
had been prisoners for a while they were sent
to Port Tobacco  I searched Crawford 
and Garret but found none of the stolen
property on them    The robbery was made
on the last of April
all belong to Co E 20th Penn Cavalry
Q  J.A.  Did you find any other property
than the watch
A   I did not but Lieut Stone found
some keys in the tent where the watch
was found    Mr Nally claimed the 
Q by prisoner Garrett    Did you arrest Garret
in the tent or in the street and how do
you know that we all belonged in the same
tent the watch was found in
Ans   I was in charge of the party who
arrested Garret   I am not positive whether
the tent belonged to the prisoner Garret or
not   I went there at 12 1/2 P.M Nobody
was in the street of 20 Penn Cavalry
at the time   I went to the officer of
20th Penn Cavalry  He got up and
went around with me--He went to
Adams' tent and called him out
I took him to the Provost Marshall and
went back to Adams' tent  Adams is a 
Sergeant of the 20th Penn Cavalry  The guard
which went there with me had the other
parties Crawford and Garrett  I am not
certain that Adams' and Garretts' tent is
the same  I understood so before going
there that it was
Q by Court  Who was it arrested Garrett
Ans   One of my guards  I don't know which 
one   I obtained information from Price 
Solifelt and Newbury that Crawford and
Garrett were present with them when the
robbery was committed  Solifelt told
me that Price had the watch   Price told
me that he had given Sergeant Adams the 
watch but that Adams was not there
when the robbery was committed.  Solifelt
told me that Price, Crawford and Garrett
were present when the robbery was com-
mitted but I think that Garrett had
nothing to do with it.
Q   J A   How do you know that the watch
referred to belonged to Mr. Nally
Ans.   I did not know at the time
but since then Mr. Nally has identified it.

Alfred Nally a citizen of Charles County Md
a witness for the prosecution being duly sworn
My name is Alfred Nally I am
a citizen of Charles County MD.  I have
seen all of the prisoners they were at my
house last Sunday two weeks ago.(April 30)
Those five men last Sunday morning two 
weeks ago came along by my house in-
quiring the way to a shop(a whiskey shop)
They asked me if some men had not
passed by my house and said that they
were after them to catch them and carry
them down to camp.  I told them
yes that a lot had just passed and
that they had taken a watch from a
black man who they had found just
above my house.  They then went on
and were gone about an hour and a half
And as they returned they stopped and 
asked me for their dinner.  I told them
that they could have it.  They sat
down and had their dinner and all 
the time they were at the table they 
had on canteens of whiskey and drank
of it frequently seeming as if they wanted
to get drunk.  One poured out a tumbler
full and wanted to make me by force drink
it.  They got up from the table and bid me farewell.  When they had gotten out 
of the gate three of them turned back
again and went behind the stable and
had a talk.  They then came back
and one of them was acting lieutenant.
He gave the other two(the witness desig
nates Newbury as acting as lieutenant
and Solifelt and Price as the other two
men accompanying him on his return
and to whom he gave orders)  orders to search
my house and take what they pleased
He (Newbury) then put me under arrest
by locking his carbine and telling me 
that if I moved that he would blow my
my(sic) brains out.  The other two then went
to work to rob the house.  One of them
that one setting there(the witness designate
Rice) went to my wife and after getting her
up in the corner of the room told her that
if she did not give up a watch she had
that he would smash her over her damned
head.  He took the watch from her.  He 
then broke open my wife's trunk.  In it
was about a dollar and a half in silver
He(Price) took that.  This same man
took a hat belonging to my little boy
Among them they took from my house
was a bunch of keys belonging to trunks and
a side board.  I have seen the watch
in the possession of the Provost Marshall
Q J A  What was the other man doing
during this time
Ans  He was searching trunks too
when he --that one--(Solifelt) was going out
of the room  I saw that he had some
of my wife's dress patterns hanging on his
arm.  I shamed him and he threw them
down I don't know what those two outside
were doing.
Q J A Di you no not see Garrett and 
Crawford after they left your house after
getting dinner?
Ans  While the three were in the house
I saw them at the gate
Q J A  Do you know whether or not they
went away immediately
Ans  I don't
Q J A   How far is the gate from the house
Ans About two hundred yards
Q J A  If you were under guard how 
could you see what the men was doing in
the house.
Ans.   It was all in the same room
Q J A  What was the conduct of those
two men who did not come back
Ans They acted very cleverly toward
Q J A Do you or not know where they got
Ans  I don't know.  I suppose at the 
shop about a mile from where I live.
the one they inquired for when they first
came along.  I don't think they had
been drinking then for they behaved well
Q J A  Which were those who came back
to search the house
Ans  That one(Newbury) and that one 
(Price) and that one(Solifelt)
Abraham Gunter Sergeant Co "E" 20 Penn Cavalry
a witness for the prosecution being duly sworn
My name is Abraham Gunter am a 
sergeant of Co "E" 20th Penn. Cavalry
I know the prisoners.  They are Privates
John B Crawford  George Solifelt, John
Price and Thos Newbury and Sgt Charles
S Garrett Co "E" 20th Penn Cavalry
The prosecution closed
Daniel S West Private in 3rd N J. Cav'ly a 
witness for the defense being duly sworn testified
My name is Daniel S West am a 
Private of 3rd New Jersey Cavalry  I 
know the prisoners they are Sgt Garrett
and Private Crawford 20th Peen Cavalry
Q by Prisoner  Did you or not over hear Nally
a citizen whose house was robbed say that
he drank with the party who committed
the robbery
Ans.  I did
Alanson S Phillips 2nd Lieut Co K 17th 
Penn Cavalry a witness for the defense being
duly sworn testified.
My name is Alanson S Phillips am 2nd Lieut Co K 17th
Penn Cavalry.  I have seen Sgt Garrett
and think I have seen the other(Crawford)
Q by Prisoner  So you do not know of Sgt
Garrett having been arrested on or about
April 30th
Ans  I only know that about that time
that I arrest him on suspicion and (took)
him and another to Major Seward the
then commander of the camp.  I ar-
-rested him and the other man just here
opposite the church
Q by Pris.   Were there any one with these 
two men when they arrived in camp
Ans   No Sir
Q by Pris  What time of day was it 
that you made the arrest
Ans About three or four o'clock
Q by Pris  Why did you suspicion these
Ans  Because the report had come to me
while I was out at the other end of the line
that some men had been out committing
depredations and I came over to instruct
the pickets to arrest any one coming in
saw these two men and arrested them 
The defense was closed
The prisoners having no further testimony
to offer and no defense to make
The case was closed
The court was cleared
After mature deliberation upon
the evidence adduced do find the
prisoners Sgt Charles S Garrett Privates
Thomas Newbury, George T Solifelt John Crawford and John Price as follows all of Co E 20th Penn Cavalry

Outcome & notations on the jacket of the document

Charles S Garrett & John Crawford are found Not Guilty 
acquitted, and released from custody and returned to duty.

Thomas Newbury, George T Solifelt and John Price are found guilty and are ordered to be confined for two years in such penitentiary as the Secretary of War may designate.

We the undersigned member of the General Court Martial do most courteously
recommend to the mercy of the Commanding General
Privates Thos. Newbury, George T Solifelt and John Price Co E 20th Penn Cavalry considering their offense more of an indiscretion committed under the influence of intoxicating drink than a willful intention to commit a robbery. (signatures in image below)

Fort Delaware Del is designated as the place of confinement.

E D Townsend Asst Adjutant General
August 23, 1865

Copy Furnished Pt John Price June 30, 1869

Court Martial Case Files, MM-2557; Record Group 153; Records of the Office of the Judge Advocate General(Army); National Archives, Washington, DC. [Case of Sgt Garrett & four others Co. "E" 20th Pa Cavalry ]

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