Friday, May 25, 2012

Distress and Misfortune

On May 17, 1783, Philadelphia newspaper The Independent Gazetteer reported, "Since out last [that is, since the May 10 issue] about 1600 British prisoners (the remainder of Burgoyne's and part of Cornwallis's army) from Lancaster [Pennsylvania], Maryland, and Virginia, passed through this city, on their way to New-York."

On May 24, The Independent Gazetteer again mentioned the 1600 British prisoners who passed through Philadelphia on their way to the British in New York City.  "If the enemy have any sensibility left, and are not totally callous to every honourable, humane impression, they must feel themselves exceedingly disgraced and ashamed, on contrasting such healthy, well-fed prisoners, with the unfortunate Americans, emaciated and worn down by famine and disease, whom they, in return, have liberated from a rigous confinement in pestilential prison ships, damp, dreary dungeons, and loathsome goals."  Now realtively unfamiliar to Americans, "gaol" is still a British term for prison. 

The Independent Gazetteer editorialized, "On our part every reasonable indulgence had been shewn to them, while they, on theirs, have dealt out...the most shocking cruelties, and have been continually adding injuries and insults to distress and misfortune."

For an account of "emaciated and enfeebled" prisoners released from British prison ships in 1779, please click here.  For George Washington's description of "miserable, emaciated" prisoners released by the British in January 1777, please check here.  For a similar comparison between the treatment of Burgoyne's army to the treatment of Americans who became prisoners, please check here.   
Post a Comment