Thursday, November 15, 2012

Number of American Prisoners, 1776

In his "Return of prisoners taken during the campaign, 1776," Tory Joshua Loring, serving the British as commissary general of prisoners, reported the British captured 304 American officers, 25 staff, and 4,101 privates.  British commander General Sir William Howe enclosed the return in a 3 December 1776 letter to Lord George Germain.

This return included men and officers captured in engagements like the Battle of Fort Washington (16 November 1776) on Staten Island and the Battle of Long Island (27 August 1776), which the British  called the Battle of Brooklyn.  This return did not include the officers, men and lads captured on privateers commissioned by the states or ships belonging to the Continental Navy.

The New-York Gazette; and the Weekly Mercury, a newspaper in British-occupied New York City, published Loring's return with an extract of Howe's letter to Germain on 17 March 1777.  Check the Early American Newspaper database at the Philadelphia Free Library web site.

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