Saturday, April 7, 2012

April 8: Prisoners from The Bahamas

     On April 8, 1776, Commodore Esek Hopkins arrived in New London, Connecticut after a raid on the island of New Providence [The Bahamas].  Hopkins arrived with several prisoners, including New Providence governor Thomas Erwin. 
     Hopkins wrote to Connecticut Governor Jonathan Trumbull, “I have…the Governour, a Counsellor, (who is a half-pay officer,) and the Surveyor-General of the Customs for North-America, on board.  I shall be glad of your directions how to dispose of them, as they are gentlemen that I think ought to be well treated as prisoners.  Hopkins added, “I have likewise seventy odd prisoners…which shall be glad to know of your directions respecting them.” 
     Hopkins had orders (dated January 5,1776) from the Naval Committee of the Continental Congress to “carefully attend to such prisoners as may fall into your hands—see that they be well and humanely treated.”  Hopkins wanted special attention paid to the treatment expected of captive “gentlemen.”  For the standards gentlemen-officers expected from each other, even their enemies, see Edwin G. Burrows, Forgotten Patriots: The Untold Story of American Prisoners During the Revolutionary War (New York: Basic Books, 2008), 26-31.  
For the prisoners from the New Providence expedition, consult Worthington Chauncey Ford, ed., The Writings of George Washington: Vol. 4: 1776 (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1889), page 15, note 2.
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