General George Washington's Instructions to Captain Charles Dyar, of the schooner Harrison, included the stipulation, "Whatever Prisoners you take, must be treated with Kindness and Humanity. Their private Stock of Money and Apparel to be given them, after being strictly searched, and when they arrive at any Port, they are to be delivered up to the Agent, if any there; if not, to the Committee of Safety of such Port."
Washington issued the same orders, the same day, to Captain William Burke, of the Warren, and Captain John Ayers, of the Lynch. For the captains and their respective vessels, see Peleg Dennis, The Stars and Stripes and Other American Flags: Including Their Origin and History... 5th Edition (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1914 ), 38.
The Agents had similar orders to treat prisoners kindly. On January 1, 1776, for instance, General Washington instructed Winthrop Sargent, the Continental Agent for captured vessels at Cape Ann, Massachusetts, "All prisoners of whatever rank, or denomination, to be treated with the utmost humanity and tenderness."