Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Scottish Prisoners

     On the evening of Wednesday, 19 June 1776, the brothers Captain James Barron and Captain Richard Barron intercepted 217 escaped British prisoners.  The prisoners were Scottish Highlanders,  “mostly recruits,” belonging to the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment of Foot, "the Black Watch."  The two captains landed their prisoners in Williamsburg, Virginia on the morning of 20 June 1776.     
     Captain Nicholas Biddle of the Andrew Doria captured the transport ships carrying the Highlanders on 29 May 1776.  By the time the Barrons Brothers encountered the transport off Virginia, the ship was in possession of the Highlanders.  The 2 July 1776 issue of 
The Pennsylvania Evening Post (Philadelphia) explained how the Highlanders came to Virginia.  

   This morning Captain James Barron came to town from Jamestown with the agreeable news that and his brother, in two small armed vessels, were safe arrived there, with the Oxford transport from Glasgow, having on board two hundred and seventeen Scotch Highlanders, with a number of women and children, which they took last Wednesday evening, on her way up to Gwyn’s-island, to join Lord Dunmore. The people on board inform, that they are part of a body of three thousand troops which sailed from Glasgow for Boston, but upon hearing that place was in our possession, they steered their course for Halifax; that they had been taken by the Andreas Doria, one of the Continental fleet, who, after disarming them, and taking out all the principal officers, with such of the transport’s crew as were acquainted with navigation, put eight of their own hands on board to bring her into port, but that the carpenter of the transport formed a party and rescued the vessel from them, and was conducting her into Hampton road, when the Captain Barrons very fortunately came across them, and moored them safe at Jamestown, where they are now disembarking, and are expected in town this day.

This account mistakenly identified the Andrew Doria for the privateer The Congress, but the account offered this detail on the recapture of the Highlanders: "Upon sighting of Captain [James] Barron's vessel, they despatched a boat to him, with a sergeant, one private, and one of the men who were put on board by the Congress to make inquiry.  The latter, finding a convenient opportunity, informed Captain Barron of their situation, upon which he boarded her and took possession."  The Highlanders sent an officer to make an inquiry of Captain Barron, but the personnel on the transport ship most familiar with navigation were the Andrew Doria crewmen taken captive by the mutinied Highland prisoners, explaining why they included an American Patriot on the boat sent to Barron.  

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