Friday, January 13, 2012

Being Prisoners to Rebels

On Feb. 1, 1776, Lord George Germain wrote to General William Howe, commander-in-chief of British forces operating in the thirteen United Colonies. Sending Howe the American officers captured on a privateer, Germain wrote, "It is hoped that the possession of these prisoners will enable you to procure the release of such of His Majesty' s officers and loyal subjects as are in the disgraceful situation of being prisoners to the Rebels...."

Germain wanted Howe to arrange a prisoner exchange with the "Rebels," but Germain did not want Howe to imply any acknowledgement of the United Colonies as a legitimate combatant state.

Germain knew Howe was in a difficult situation, "for, although it cannot be that you should enter into any treaty or agreement with Rebels for a regular cartel for exchange of prisoners, yet I doubt not but your own discretion will suggest to you the means of effecting such exchange, without the King's dignity and honour being committed, or His Majesty's name used in any negotiation for that purpose; and I am the more strongly urged to point out to you the expediency of such a measure, on account of the possible difficulties which, may otherwise occur in the case of foreign troops serving in North America."
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