Friday, December 2, 2011

Our Polished Enemies

     In his Dec 19. , 1776 letter to George Washington, Connecticut Governor Jonathan Trumbull, Senior did not blame British commander Gen. Sir William Howe for the suffering of American prisoners in British-occupied New York City.  Howe, Trumbull wrote, "expressed himself with great humanity" when accounting for the prisoners' suffering.
     Relaying to Washington Howe's explanation, Trumbull wrote that the number of American prisoners in the city "is so great, and not having a country to dispose them in, as we have for our prisoners...he most heartily wishes for an exchange...."
     About a month later, Trumbull blamed British commanders personally for the suffering of American prisoners.  Dorothy Twohig, editor of Volume 8 of The Papers of George Washington: Revolutionary War Series, includes in the volume a January 23, 1777 letter from Trumbull to Washington.
     Trumbull wrote that the friends of Connecticut officers and soldiers detained by the British in New York were especially "impatient" for their release, "& with good Reason, as their sufferings there from Cold, Hunger, nakedness, Sickness...& accumulated Insult beggar all Description, many incapable to support this Load of Suffering, have fallen sacrifice to the rigour and Inhumanity of our polished Enemies...." 
     Jonathan Trumbull, Sr. to George Washington, Lebanon, Connecticut, 23 January 1777, in Dorothy Twohig, editor, The Papers of George Washington: Revolutionary War Series: Volume 8: January-March 1777 (Charlottesville: The University Press of Virginia, 1998), 141.


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