Sunday, June 24, 2012

James Josiah

     On 11 June 1776, the Andrew Doria, captain Nicholas Biddle, separated from captured prizes  Crawford and Oxford, transports carrying Scottish Highlanders the British meant to employ against American Revolutionaries.  The crew and the Highlanders on the Oxford became prisoners in Virginia.  The British man of war Cerberus, Captain John Symonds, captured the Americans in charge of the prize Crawford.  James Josiah, the First Lieutenant of the Andrew Doria assigned by his captain as prize master of the Crawford, was confined for six months on the Cerberus while it finished its cruise.  
     Although the transports Oxford and Crawford were taken at about the same time, the prisoners in American custody received different treatment from the prisoners in British custody.  On 22 June 1776 the Virginia Convention resolved the prisoners should be well treated and "reconciled to the country."
     In contrast, when Josiah refused to take up arms against his country, refusing to accept a mate's position on the British man of war, Captain Symonds ordered Josiah to the main deck, "where the boatswain and his three mates were charged to see him perform the meanest duty in the waist of the ship."  
     Josiah also witnessed the coercive enlistment of American captives: "
It…frequently happened that masters of vessels were rifled by the British officers of what was in their chests, and insulted and kicked from the quarterdeck for asking the liberty of brining their necessaries, which were left behind in their vessels.  The only satisfaction they could obtain was to be ordered directly to a gun."
     On 8 February 1777, James Josiah described his captivity in a statement sworn before Philadelphia Justice of the Peace James Young.  Josiah's deposition appeared in several American newspapers, including
The Independent Chronicle and the Universal Advertiser (Boston), 29 May 1777.  
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