Tuesday, June 14, 2011

June 14, 1776

On June 14, 1776, John Hancock, President of Congress, wrote to Pennsylvania Committee of Safety: “You will receive herewith from the commanding officer of the troops in the barracks, Mr. M'Lean, a prisoner who was sent hither by General Putnam in irons, for refusing to give his parole and for other misbehavior, the letter respecting him was referred to the committee appointed by Congress on prisoners, & the prisoner was committed to the charge of the Commanding officer in the barracks 'till the committee should report on his conduct, but as the troops are ordered from the barracks, I have it in command to request you to take charge of him, & have him safely kept agreeable to former resolutions of Congress, until the Congress shall take order concerning him.” Smith, ed., Letters of Delegates to Congress, Volume 4, pages 215-216.

Combatant states normally offered captured enemy officers parole, that is, freedom of travel within certain limits on their word as gentlemen that they will not escape.  In some cases, parole included release to the officer's home country.  Refusing to take parole, Lt. Neil McLean was transported in chains like a criminal. In a Nov. 5, 1776 letter to Robert Morris, McLean denied recruiting for the Royal Emigrants, Scottish Highlanders settled in America and recruited into the service of England's King George III. If the British gave him a commission as an officer in the conflict, McLean denied knowing of it.
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