Sunday, January 8, 2012


In January 1776, residents of Cork, Ireland donated goods for American prisoners on a passing war ship. The donations included tea, brown sugar, pickled beef new clothes, and liquor for American Colonel Ethan Allen.

In his 1779 Narrative..., Ethan Allen recalled that the gifts arrived on the ship Solebay while Captain Thomas Symonds and the first lieutenant were off board. The second lieutenant received them and distributed the gifts for the men.

Allen recalled, "Two days after the receipt of the aforesaid donations, Captain Symonds came on board, full of envy towards the prisoners, and swore by all that is good, that the damned American rebels should not feast at this rate, by the damned rebels of Ireland...."

Symonds ordered the confiscation of the liquor donated to Allen, move that provoked second lieutenant Douglass to object. Allen wrote, "The taking of my liquors was abominable in his sight; he therefore spoke in my behalf, till the Captain was angry with him; and in consequence, proceeded and took away all the tea and sugar, which had been given to the prisoners, and confiscated it to the use of the ship's crew."

Ethan Allen, A Narrative of Colonel Ethan Allen's Captivity... (Burlington, Vermont: H. Joyhnson & Co., 1838 [1779]), 61, 63. The generosity of the British people (in the eighteenth century, the Irish and the the English) contrasted with some British personnel in the field. See Francis D. Cogliano, American Maritime Prisoners in the Revolutionary War: The Captivity of William Russell (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2001). For the force of the word "rebel," consult Edwin G. Burrows, Forgotten Patriots: The Untold Story of American Prisoners During the Revolutionary War (New York: Basic Books, 2008), 36.
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