Saturday, November 16, 2013

Battle of Fort Washington (16 Nov. 1776)

On November 16, 1776, Hessian and British forces took 2,607 American soldiers prisoner after the Battle of Fort Washington, on Manhattan.  In his memoirs, American Major General William Heath recalled the shocking news of what befell so many of the prisoners taken at Fort Washington.  "The prisoners were marched to New York; where, being crowded in prisons and sugar houses...they fell sick, and daily died in a most shocking manner.  It was common, on a morning, for the car-men to come and take away the bodies for burial, by loads!"  

William Heath, Memoirs of the American War (Bedford, Mass.: Applewood Books, 2009 [originally published in 1798]), pages 97-98.  For Ethan Allen's description of the carts that carried the dead to mass graves, please consult the posts here and here.    

Friday, November 8, 2013

Torture Survivors Suffer Years Later: Tel Aviv University Study

     In November 2013, researchers at Israel's Tel Aviv University found that survivors of torture suffer a heightened perception of pain, years after the torture.
     Researchers, including lead author Ruth Defrin, believe psychological torments, like mock executions, contribute to a long-term distortion of neurological perception of pain.
     Several of the physical and psychological torments suffered by Israeli soldiers in 1973 were also suffered by Americans in British custody in occupied New York City--starvation, mock execution, and overcrowding.  
     Researchers studied 104 veterans of the Yom Kippur War (1973), comparing 60 people who became Prisoners of War (POWs) to 44 who did not.  
Read a great story on the findings by Sarah Griffiths at UK paper The Daily Mail.  You can read a summary of the European Journal of Pain article, or purchase access to the full article at the Wiley Online Library

     For accounts of mock executions by British soldiers in 1776, please check Edwin G. Burrows, Forgotten Patriots: The Untold Story of American Prisoners during the Revolutionary War (New York: Basic Books, 2008) pages 6-7.  For overcrowding, check posts like "December 12, 1776: Prisoners in New York City."  For accounts of starvation, and Americans returning from British military hands in an "emaciated" condition, please consult posts in this blog like "October 23: French Prisoners" or "Memories of a Prison Ship," for the story of one prison ship survivor who fought a fellow-prisoner over which of them would have the privilege of eating "the putrified carcase of a starved RAT!"

Monday, November 4, 2013

Fort Washington POWs

On November 16, 1776, the American garrison at Fort Washington on Manhattan surrendered to Anglo-Hessian forces.  The surrender followed intense fighting with the Hessians.
     The British reported they took 2,607 American enlisted men prisoners at Fort Washington, 197 commissioned officers and fourteen staff.  The British eventually transferred the privates who were prisoners, and some of the officers, to a series of detention centers and prison ships around New York City.  
     In the next month and a half, many of the American prisoners taken at Fort Washington died in the hands of the British military personnel and their Loyalist functionaries.  In early-January 1777, some returning POWs estimated that 1,100 of the privates who surrendered at Fort Washington died in British custody.
     The American commissioners in Paris--Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane and Arthur Lee--estimated that two-thirds of the prisoners from Fort Washington died in captivity.  According to that estimate, about 1,738 soldiers taken from Fort Washington died in less than two months. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

October 28 1779

     On Monday, November 1, 1779, two Boston newspapers reported the arrival of 238 American prisoners of war from British-occupied New York City.  The Independent Ledger, and the American Advertiser and The Boston Gazette, And The Country Journal reported a British exchange ship arrived in Massachusetts on Thursday, October 28.  The prisoners' voyage from New York to Boston lasted seven days.
     The prisoners "have been in captivity several months, and have been used very inhumanly" by Tory and British captors.  American successes in Georgia and possible fear of reprisals, however, "contributed greatly to abate their inhumanity."
     Most of the prisoners were Americans from "the Westward," that is, not from the New England states of the American northeast.  Even though two ships from Massachusetts waited in New York to exchange prisoners, British personnel insisted on sending to Massachusetts men from distant states, "in order more effectually to harrass them."*

*The report, identical in both papers, misspelled "harass" as "harrass;" it is not a difficult error to make.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Conference with General Washington, October 23, 1775

On September 30, 1775, the Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, appointed three of its Delegates to a committee to meet General George Washington at the Headquarters of the Continental Army in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  The Committee of Conference consisted of Benjamin Harrison of Virginia, Thomas Lynch of South Carolina and Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania.

On October 23, 1775, the Committee of Conference met with Washington to consider twenty-five questions.  Point number five concerned the treatment of Prisoners of War: "In what Manner are Prisoners to be treated?  What Allowance made them & how are they to be cloathed?"

The Congressional committee and General Washington "Agreed that they be treated as Prisoners of War but with Humanity & the Allowance of Provisions to be the Rations of the Army...."

Captured enemy officers, still "being in Pay" from the British, should supply themselves with goods, with Continental authorities accepting the bills of credit issued by the gentlemen-officers.  This practice was consistent with the European and Transatlantic world's unwritten laws of war.  The committee and the General agreed the provisioning of captured soldiers should continue in the manner the Continental Congress already established.

The conference with General Washington shaped the Congressional resolution on Prisoners of War, passed on May 21, 1776.  Congress resolved, "That such as are taken, be treated as prisoners of war, but with humanity, and be allowed the same rations as the troops in the service of the United Colonies; but that such as are officers supply themselves, and be allowed to draw bills to pay for their subsistence and cloathing...."

The committee met with Washington again on October 24 to discuss other issues.  Paul H. Smith, editor, Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789: Volume 2: September-December 1775 (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1977), page 234; Worthington Chauncey Ford, editor, Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789: Volume 4: January 1-June 4, 1776 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1909), page 370.  For more on Benjamin Franklin's concern for the treatment of enemy Prisoners of War, please check the post here.

The Minutes of a Conference with the General by a Committee of Conference, October 23, 1775, are also available here, at the American Archives site of Northern Illinois University Libraries.  Peter Force, editor of American Archives, published a version of the Minutes with different spelling, punctuation and capitalization.  The Letters of Delegates and Journals of the Continental Congress are both available at the website, A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875, a site operated by the US Library of Congress.  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Oct. 1776: Hessian POWs

Inclement weather obliged Scottish-born American General Hugh Mercer to cancel a July 1776 raid on British-occupied Staten Island.  Mercer's instructions to Major Thomas Knowlton specified, "Should you be successful enough to take any British troops prisoners...treat them with humanity."

Successfully conducting the raid on the night of October 15-16, 1776, Mercer informed President of the Congress, John Hancock on
October 17, "The Hessian prisoners I have ordered to be treated with particular civility, that, when exchanged, they may give the most favourable report of this country...."

George Washington and the Continental Congress hoped to encourage mass desertion by the German soldiers and officers hired by the British crown to fight against American Revolutionaries.  Historian David Hackett Fischer estimates that 23% of the Hessians who survived the war settled in the United States, while others returned to America with their families. 

Captured Hessians were surprised by American kindness toward prisoners.  After all, British officers told the Germans that Americans would not even take Hessian prisoners, but instead slaughter every Hessian who fell into American hands. 

Please check Lyman H. Butterfield, "
Psychological Warfare in 1776: The Jefferson-Franklin Plan to Cause Hessian Desertion," Studies of Historical Documents in the Library of the American Philosophical Society Volume 94 (June 20, 1950): 233-241; David Hackett Fischer, Washington's Crossing (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 378-379; Carl Berger, Broadsides and Bayonets: The Propaganda War of the American Revolution (San Rafael, California: Presidio Press, 1976). 

Showing kindness to prisoners and disproving enemy propaganda became an important war aim for American Revolutionaries.  For the welcome dinner Congress sponsored for Hessian prisoners captured at Trenton, New Jersey on December 25-26, 1776, please visit the post "Parties for Prisoners." 


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Treating Enemy Wounded

Abigail Adams Meets British POWs
    In July 1775, Major General Thomas Gage, commander of British forces occupying Boston, sent thirty marines to guard Tory carpenters repairing a lighthouse near the occupied city.  An American force raided the lighthouse.  One British officer and one British enlisted man perished in the engagement, but the Americans manage to carry off the carpenters and twenty-eight British marines.  
    Four of the British marines were injured in the skirmish.  Doctor Cotton Tufts, a cousin of John Adams, treated the wounded prisoners.  
    The Americans had no losses, until making their escape.  British forces fired at the departing American ships, killing a young man from Rhode Island who manned one of the oars.  Americans buried the lad with military honors.  The wounded British marines, prisoners, asked permission to attend the funeral services for the young America.  
    Abigail Adams, wife John Adams, also attended the funeral.  Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, “I spoke with them. I told them it was very unhappy that they should be obliged to fight their best Friends.”
    Mrs. Adams added, “They said they were sorry--they…express'd gratitude at the kindness they received, said in that they had been deceived, for they were told if they were taken alive, they
would should be Sacrificed by us.”  
    Abigail Adams was glad that Americans showed kindness to captured enemies.  As Mrs. Adams knew, kindness to prisoners was essential for the good of the cause.  As she wrote to her husband on May 18, 1777, “If our cause is just, it will be best supported by justice and righteousness.”   
Treating Enemy Wounded      In the 20th century, Chinese Communist and guerrilla warfare theorist Mao Zedong repeatedly emphasized the advantage of treating enemy wounded.  It works if your enemy sees you releasing well-treated prisoners, including wounded soldiers treated for wounds.  Mao wrote, “This concrete propaganda immediately knocks the bottom out of the enemy propaganda that ‘The Communist bandits will kill everyone and anyone on sight.’”
    During World War II, Mao’s Communist guerrillas in China were not the only combatants treating Japanese prisoners with compassion.  In 1943, Marine Major Sherwood F. Moran described the kindness that effective interrogators should have for Japanese prisoners.  Moran said he and other interrogators were genuinely interested in the care received by a wounded Japanese soldier in American custody.  
    Moran wrote, “This was the prisoner who called out to me when I was leaving after that first interview, ‘Won’t you please come and talk to me
every day.’”  Moran added parenthetically, “And yet people are continually asking us, ‘Are the Japanese prisoners really willing to talk?’”
    For anecdote about George Washington’s concern and civility for a wounded British soldiers at the Battle of Princeton (3 January 1777), please consult the post here.  For two posts dealing with Mao’s emphasis on caring for enemy wounded, please consult the posts, “Parties for Prisoners” and “Dear Syrian Rebels Part 4.”  For Japanese prisoners treated kindly at Camp Tracy, the lxury resort at California’s Byron Hot Springs, please read Rick Lemyre, “Top-Secret World of Camp Tracy,” Discovery Bay Press (Brentwood, Calif.), 28 January 2010, post online January 28, 2010 as “Top Secret World of Camp Tracy Revealed,” [accessed 15 March 2014] (the previous link, [accessed 25 September 2013], is no longer active.)
    Letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams, 31 July - 2 August 1775 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society.; Letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams, 18 May 1777 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society.  Mao Zedong, “Report of the Jinggangshan Front Committee to the Central Committee,” 28 November 1928, in Mao’s Road to Power: Revolutionary Writings, 1912-1949: Volume 3: From the Jinggangshan to the Establishment of the Jiangxi Soviets, July 1927-December 1930, ed. Stuart R. Schram (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1995), page 101. For details on Major Sherwood F. Moran's report, “Suggestions for Japanese Interpreters Based on Work in the Field,” please read Stephen Budiansky, “Truth Extraction,” The Atlantic, 1 June 2005,

Monday, September 23, 2013

Such Liberties: Newport, Sept. 23

The September 23, 1776 issue of Rhode Island newspaper The Newport Mercury reported the meandering travels of two British prisoners captured by American forces in Canada.  The freedom of movement enjoyed by enemy prisoners, and the wages paid to British mariners captured and promptly released from merchant vessels taken as “prizes,” raised questions for printer Solomon Southwick

NEWPORT, September 23.
Last Tuesday [September 17] arrived here, Mr. Joseph Kinyon and Mr. William Clarke, who were two of the men made prisoners at the attack on Quebec; on the 6 of June they, with 8 more, were taken out of prison to go on a fishing voyage to Gaspee, which place Kinyon and Clarke, with 4 others, left in a boat the 4 of August, and got to Casco Bay, from whence they travelled by land.  As they came along, they lodged at Newbury-Post [Massachusetts], where they were informed that a number of prisoners who had been taken in prizes, had been paid their wages, &c. and allowed to purchase a vessel to go home in, but went immediately to Halifax, and that another set were then about purchasing another vessel for the same purpose—Query, Does the enemy give out people such liberties?!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Persecution Better than Tax Support for Religion

   Bernard Lewis noted that Christianity survived in the Middle East only where Christians had experience being estranged from state power.  In Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt, several Christian denominations endured begrudging toleration and sometimes even persecution by the Greek Orthodox Byzantine Empire.
    The Maghreb, Arabic for the "West," is a region that includes Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.  In the Maghreb, Christianity disappeared under the persecution by the un-Islamic Islamic regime of the Almohads.  Maghrebi Judaism survived, despite suffering similar forced conversions under the Almohads.
   North Africa's Christianity enjoyed a special link to the Christianized Roman Empire.  Maghrebi Christians were accustomed to the patronage of government, while the Maghreb's Jew were accustomed to sporadic persecution.  Accustomed to government persecution rather than government favoritism, Jews had experience preserving their religion, even in secret.
   A few Christians make the government an arm of their religion, using public school football teams as an opportunity to make converts, unaware that a link to government auspices often makes a religion vulnerable.
   In the 1780s, advocates of ending tax support for religion often reached the conclusion that government persecution was better for a religion than government support.  
   In 1785, James Madison noted that "experience witnesseth that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of Religion, have had a contrary operation."  Madison suggested that if you ask the Christian clergy when their religion appeared in its greatest glory, "
those of every sect, point to the ages prior to its incorporation with Civil policy."
   James Madison's Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments (1785) was one of many petitions against a proposed Virginia law Virginians to pay money to support a Christian preacher of the taxpayer's choice.  The Bill exempted Quakers and Mennonites, in deference to their qualms about the state requiring religious contributions and their preference for voluntary contributions.  A flood of petitions against the bill helped convince the Virginia legislature to not enact the bill.  

Friday, September 20, 2013

Chattanooga Choo Choo

Christianity disappeared from Morocco and Zoroastrianism nearly disappeared from Iran after the Islamic conquest, but Judaism did not.  Bernard Lewis noted that North Africa's Christianity was linked to the Roman Empire, and Zoroastrianism was linked to the Persian Empire.  Once they lost their link to state power, they lost their faith.

Jews in Persia and in Northwest Africa did not associate their faith with governmental prestige.  Their faith survived.  

If you link your religion to state auspices, you can drain the power from your faith.  

In the September 20, 2013 issue of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Stephen Hargis reported that Whitwell, Tennessee public high school football coach Billy Barnhart bragged about hosting a preseason camp that converted 21 students to evangelical Christianity.
Several residents complained of high school football coaches who coached student athletes in prayer and Bible study.  The complaints prompted the Freedom from Religion Foundation to challenge the use of public school sports as a venue for prayer.

Coach Barnhart complained, "As a Christian, I believe our faith is being attacked at all levels, not just in schools, but in government, and there's organizations trying to do away with Christianity as much as they can."

Barnhart mistook a challenge to his religious use of school sports as an attack on Christianity itself.  Implicitly, Barnhart identifies his religion with the proselytism, prayer and Bible study he promotes as a public school coach.  Barnhart perceives himself as a youth minister.  Any legal challenge to his religious work as a coach, Barnhart feels is a challenge to his entire faith and calling.

Barnhard feels that his religion is vulnerable, and he is right.  
If you link your religion to state auspices, you can drain the power from your faith.  

Please consult Bernard Lewis, The Jews of Islam (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1984), pages 17 and 18.  For more information on sports reporter Stephen Hargis, please visit [accessed 21 September 2013].  The website of the Freedom from Religion Foundation is  For the mention of Zoroaster by John Adams, please consult the post here.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Old Ironside: Spoiler Alert

  Among other provisions, the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution stipulates, “No person...shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself….”
  Generally, Americans of the early Republic interpreted the Fifth Amendment as a ban on torture.  
  In his 1833 Commentaries on the Constitution, Joseph Storey wrote, “The next clause prohibits any person from being compelled, in any criminal case, to be a witness against himself….”  Storey wrote, “It is well known, that in some countries, not only are criminals compelled to give evidence against themselves, but are subjected to the rack or torture in order to procure a confession of guilt.”
  Storey detested excuses for torture. “It has been contrived, (it is pretended,) that innocence should manifest itself by a stout resistance, or guilt by a plain confession; as if a man's innocence were to be tried by the hardness of his constitution, and his guilt by the sensibility of his nerves.”
Ironside: Spoiler Alert
  The original detective series
Ironside ran from 1967 to 1975, with Actor Raymond Burr (1917-1993) playing the title role.  When NBC announced there the 2013 return of the series, with Blair Underwood in the lead, there was at first cause for celebration.*   Unfortunately, the producers of the new version of Ironside opted to make the retread a vehicle not only for the return of Actor Blair Underwood to primetime television, but also a vehicle for excusing torture.  In a promo clip, the new Ironside dangles a suspect off a roof and reads him his Miranda rights to safety from coerced self-incrimination.  In the opening scene of the pilot episode, which NBC offers here [warning: violent content & bad info on treatment of prisoners], producers and screenwriters depict an offender beaten and brutalized while, again, accompanies by a parody reading of his rights.  
  To the Founders, the Fifth Amendment was not only about having an accused person’s right to the assistance of an attorney.  The Fifth Amendment banned torture.   
  The Founders considered torture characteristic of other countries, notorious countries like Inquisitional Spain, which tortured heretic Protestants and hidden Jews to confess their supposed religious errors.  Geographically and Constitutionally, torture was un-American.  
  Blogging for
Vanity Fair, James Wolcott notes that the teledrama endorsement of police torture is poorly timed.  Controversy already attends the increasing militarization of police tactics. Wolcott wrote of the 2013 Ironside, “We’re supposed to think what the cops are doing here is cool because the actors playing them are so cute, but I don’t think that cuts it.”
  Wolcott added, “Certainly the late John Leonard would have disapproved,” citing the social and media critic who beautifully denounced torture.   
  The implications of the 2013 revision of Ironside are misleading. In particular, Ironside 2013 depicts a “ticking time bomb” scenario, wherein an investigator resorts to tormenting a suspect to obtain lifesaving information.  Colonel Stuart Herrington (US Army-Retired) has years of counterinsurgency and interrogation experience.  In 2007, Herrington wrote that “the so-called ticking time bomb scenario is a Hollywood construct that I never encountered in my 30-year career.” Please consult, Stuart Herrington, "Sunday Forum: Two Problems with Torture," The Pittsburgh [Pennsylvania] Post-Gazette, 21 October 2007. * This blog featured Blair Underwood in this post, about the low number of Yoruba brought to mainland North America during the Transatlantic Slave Trade; in this post, about the Brong ethnic group in Ghana; and also this post about how different African ethnic groups responded to the trauma of chattel slavery in North America.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Syria Rebels & Revenge

     In a video obtained by The New York Times, rebel commander Abdul Samad Issa and several members of his group kill seven prisoners.  The prisoners are disarmed.  Several bear scars from severe beatings.  
     Before killing the prisoner at his feet, Issa recites a statement that includes the words, "We swear to the Lord of the Throne, that this is our oath: We will take revenge."
     On September 3, 1775, George Washington's secretary Joseph Reed wrote to a captured British officer, "General Gage's treatment of our officers, even of the most respectable rank, would justify a severe retaliation....  General Washington's disposition will not allow him to follow so unworthy an example.  You and your companions will be treated with kindness...."
     Reed informed the prisoner that American Captain Samuel Blachley Webb "has orders to accompany you to Hartford, and is particularly enjoined to show you every mark of civility and respect."
     The former Syrian rebel who smuggled the video out of Syria, leaving the fight in disgust at the cruelty of the rebels, deserves credit for his sentiments and his bravery.
     Warning: This video is disturbing.  Although the Times blocks out the actual killings, the video shows the helpless prisoners and the so-called Syrian "rebels" who are about to kill the disarmed men, some of them apparently mere lads.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Military Necessity of Sympathy

   Showing sympathy can help an interrogator bond with a disarmed prisoner. Veteran David J. Morris believes soldiers could benefit from similar training in case they become prisoners.
   As a lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, David J. Morris attended SERE school in 1995.  SERE is an acronym of Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape--was meant to prepare Americans of the Cold War era for torments used by Communist nations like North Korea in the 1950s, sometimes even techniques like waterboarding.      
   In a column for Slate, Morris wrote, "Durant survived by befriending his captors and forcing them to see him as a fellow human being.  SERE conditions servicemen to expect nothing but the worst from their captors; Durant's life depended on his ability to understand his captors...."

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Kindness & Understanding

Antoinette [Hill] Tuff showed compassion, love and sympathy to the gunman.  Tuff's sympathy saved the gunman's life.  Tuff's kindness probably also saved the lives of many children at the school where Tuff is a bookkeeper.

Here is the call Tuff made to emergency services, posted to YouTube by the newspaper Atlanta Journal-Constitution.    

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

237 Years Ago Today

At the Battle of Long Island (August 27, 1776), British and Hessian forces under Sir William Howe reported taking 85 American commissioned officers prisoner, along with 6 staff and 1,006 privates.  Nine of the officers were wounded in the battle, as were 56 of the enlisted men (privates). 

The British eventually permitted most officers to take parole and find private lodgings on Long Island and transferred the privates to make-shift prisons in such confiscated buildings as sugar houses and non-Anglican churches. 

In the battle and its aftermath, British personnel in North America became notorious for several breaches of eighteenth-century military decorum. 

1)  First there was the slaughter of disarmed, wounded or otherwise overpowered men who should have been taken captive.  This remained a complaint against British forces throughout the war

2)  Secondly, British provost personnel permitted captured American enlisted men to die of starvation and unchecked contagion.  This also remained a complaint throughout America's War of Independence.  

3)  Finally, American Revolutionaries accused British and Tory personnel of desecrating American dead

Throughout the war, British and Loyalist forces were, at best, careless with the interment of dead American prisoners.  Colonel
Ethan Allen, a paroled American officer on Long Island during the winter of 1776-77, later recalled British forces dumping dead prisoners by into ditches by the cartload, and leaving them only "slightly buried."  Allen remembered Tories on burial detail "making derision, and exulting over the dead, saying, there goes another load of damned rebels." 

American dead at the battlefield on Long Island were also neglected by their victorious foe.  In his 2008 book Forgotten Patriots: The Untold Story of American Prisoners During the Revolutionary War, Historian Edwin G. Burrows wrote, "Apparently, the British were unable--or unwilling--to clear the battlefield of corpses...."  In his diary for June 5, 1777, Loyalist Nicholas Cresswell described a carriage ride on Long Island through "a little town called Jamaica...."  Cresswell complained, "Our noses were now and then regaled with the stink of dead Rebels, some of them have lain unburied since last August." 

Historian Robert E. Cray, Jr. documented American prisoners who, despite disease and starvation, struggled to live long enough to return to their hometowns to be buried near their ancestors. 

The return (report) of prisoners taken in the Campaign of 1776 reported by British Commissary General of Prisoners, Massachusetts-born Tory Joshua Loring, was printed in such American newspapers as The Connecticut Courant, And Hartford Weekly Intelligencer, 21 April 1777.  For Cresswell's journal entry, please consult The Journal of Nicholas Cresswell, 1774-1777, ed. Lincoln MacVeagh (Bedford, Mass.: Applewood Press, 2007 [1924]), page 231.  Consult also Edwin G. Burrows, Forgotten Patriots: The Untold Story of American Prisoners During the Revolutionary War (New York: Basic Books, 2008), pages 8-9 (quote on page 9). 

For some sense of the depth of American outrage at British disrespect for American dead, please read Robert E. Cray, Jr., "Commemorating the Prison Ship Dead: Revolutionary Memory and the Politics of Sepulture in the Early Republic, 1776-1808," The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Series, Vo. 56 (July 1999): 565-590.

Often, the British entrusted the care of these prisoners to particularly embittered Tories, American Loyalists, who were often in fact recent immigrants to the former colonies from the British Isles  The notorious Provost Marshall in charge of one prison, Captain William Cunningham, came to the colonies from Ireland just before the outbreak of hostilities. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

August 22: A Return of POWs

   On August 22, 1776, the Massachusetts Council ordered "That the Committee of Correspondence, &c., in the several Towns in this State, do forthwith transmit to the Sheriff of the County whereunto they respectively belong, an accurate list of all Prisoners of War in their respective Towns, expressing their names, and to what Company or Corps they did belong; to the end that the several Sheriffs may be able to make a true return thereof to this Board as soon as may be, and, as the Congress have requested, an immediate Return of all Prisoners of War within this State be made to them."
   In resolutions passed May 21, 1776, the Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, resolved that captured enemy forces "be treated as prisoners of war, but with humanity...."  In the resolutions, Congress included the request for a return, or count, of POWs in American hands.  The Congress resolved "That a list of the prisoners in each Colony be made out by the Committees of the counties, towns, or districts where they reside, and transmitted to the Assembly, Convention, or Council or Committee of Safety of such Colony, respectively, who shall send a copy thereof to Congress."  Please consult Worthington Chauncey Ford, editor, Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789: Volume 4: January 1-June 4, 1776 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1906), pages 370 and 372.
     Historian T. H. Breen remarked that local and state committees prepared Americans for self-government, introducing thousands of North Americans to the responsibilities of public service.  Breen maintained his argument in a column for The Daily Beast and in the 2010 book American Insurgents, American Patriots: The Revolution of the People.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sickly and Emaciated: August 21, 1781

On Friday, August 24, 1781, New London, Connecticut newspaper The Connecticut Gazette; And The Universal Intelligencer reported under the dateline New-London, August 24, “Tuesday [that is, August 21] a Flag returned here from New-York, which brought from the Hospital-Ship 51 American Prisoners, two of which died on the Passage, and the other are in a sickly and emaciated Condition.”
     Vessels conveying prisoners for release or exchange were “flags of truce” or simple “flags.” 
     British commanders occupying New York often exchanged released “sickly and emaciated” American and French captives in exchange for healthy British prisoners returning from American custody.  Sadly, it was not unusually for several sickly American prisoners to die in the passage. 
     In the Connecticut cities of Groton and New London, residents risked their lives to care for sickly prisoners who brought various epidemics from the prison ships
     This level of prisoner mistreatment was not standard for the era.  Papers reprinting this story included The Independence Chronicle and the Universal Advertiser (Boston), 30 August 1781; The Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser (Philadelphia), 4 September 1781; and The New-Jersey Gazette (Trenton), 5 September 1781.
     For prisoners who died on the return passage, please click here.  For an account of a January 1781 release of prisoners who were "all sick," please check here.  Thanks for reading. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Paulus Hook (Aug 19, 1779)

   On August 22, 1779, Major Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee wrote from Paramus, New Jersey to report the Continental Army captured the British, Hessian and Tory garrison at Paulus Hook, near Jersey City.
   On August 19, the American forces under Major Lee took 158 prisoners.  British forces, on several occasions, killed and mutilated wounded or disarmed Americans.  
Retaliation was part of the informal laws of war in that era, but Lee reported to George Washington, "American humanity has been again signally manifested. Self-preservation strongly dictated, on the retreat, the putting the prisoners to death, and British cruelty fully justified it; notwithstanding which, not a man was wantonly hurt."
   Lee also reported, "I intended to have burnt the barracks; but on finding a number of sick soldiers and women with young children in them, humanity forbad[e] the execution of my intention."   
   Congress ordered the publication of Lee's letter, along with other correspondence reporting the American victory at Paulus Hook.  Philadelphia paper The Pennsylvania Packet published the correspondence in its issue of September 2, 1779.
     British Historian Matthew H. Spring offers several explanation for the reputed brutality of English light infantry during the American Revolution.  Spring points first to the feeling of superiority in an elite corps like the light infantry, and the widespread contempt for unlawful rebellion.
     Spring also mentions British exasperation with less savory American tactics.  Spring cites two occasions when some Americans feigned surrender, only to turn on the British who tried to receive them.  Matthew H. Spring, With Zeal and With Bayonets Only: The British Army on Campaign in North America, 1775-1783 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008; paperback, 2010), pages 232-237.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

August 11, 1779

On August 11, 1779, The New-Jersey Gazette (Trenton) carried a March 22, 1779 from Captain Holmes Everett, of the frigate British Arethusa, to Philip Stevens, Secretary of the Board of Admiralty.  From Brest, France, Everett wrote, “It is with great regret I must beg you to inform their Lordships of the loss of the King’s frigate, the Arethusa.”
     Everett explained, “The Arethusa was lost on the reefs of Ushant the 19th.  We are to be conducted to Parhaix, a little town of Brittany.”
     Everett acknowledged kind treatment by the French.  “I ought to do justice to the nation in which I am a prisoner: The inhabitants of these coasts have given us every succor in their power, with uncommon readiness: They have omitted nothing that might comfort us under our misfortune, and my people are treated with the greatest humanity.” 
     TheNew-Jersey Gazette carried an editorial remark that appeared in the July 29, 1779 issue of Boston’s The Independent Chronicle and the Universal Advertiser: “Notwithstanding the known humanity of the French in Europe, and of the Count d’Estaing in America, to the British prisoners, in how different a manner have the subjects of France been treated who have fallen into British hands?”
     For American editors in 1779, the kind treatment of Captain Everett and his crew demonstrated the generosity of the French.  For Americans in 2013, the kind treatment received by these prisoners demonstrates that, in fact, poor treatment of prisoners was not accepted as normal to people in the eighteenth century.  The suffering of French and American prisoners in British-occupied cities like New York was appalling not only by modern standards, but by eighteenth-century standards as well. 
     For more on Everett and the wreck of the Arethusa, please consult John Campbell, et al., Lives of the British Admirals…, 8 volumes, new edition (London: Barrington, Strand, and J. Harris, 1812-1817), 5:447.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Spoiler Alert: POWs on WDYTYA

After a popular stint on NBC, the U.S. version of the British celebrity genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are? (WDYTYA) found a home on TLC.  For a second time so far, WDYTYA discovered a celebrity descended from a German Prisoner of War so well-treated by the Americans, that he decided to become American.

In season 3, Actor Rob Lowe discovered that one of his ancestors was a Hessian soldier taken prisoner at Trenton, New Jersey by the American army under George Washington in 1776.  In season 4, author and late night television hostess Chelsea Handler learned new details about her maternal grandfather, a German soldier captured during World War Two and sent to America as a POW.

For the moving and compelling episode about Chelsea Handler's family, please visit (accessed 8 August 2013).  

Monday, August 5, 2013

Held Without Charge

In the August 1, 1778 issue of Philadelphia newspaper The Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser, pseudonymous write "Civis" lamented the cruelties British forces in America inflicted not only on military prisoners but also upon civilians.
   "Nor was age any protection," complained Civis.  "Old men...have been cast into filthy gaols with the very refuse of mankind, and there remained unheard, without the least charge being brought against them, and many worthy citizens have perished, for perhaps speaking an unguarded expression, relative to one of these mighty conquerors."
   Sadly, the United States of America sent numerous innocent people to Guantanamo Bay.  While detained at Gitmo, innocent Mohammed Akhtiar suffered the indignity of insults and assaults from detainees who, unlike Akhtiar, were actual terrorists and extremists, who called Akhtiar an "infidel" because he was not a terrorist.
   For more on the Civis essay, please visit the post, "The High Chancery of Heaven."


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Parker versus Math

In a 2009 column, Kathleen Parker condemned President Barack Obama's disapproval of waterboarding.  Instead, Parker championed the reasoning of former US Vice President Dick Cheney, who still defends harsh treatment of defenseless captives.  Parker insinuated that Obama's rejection of waterboarding reflected his relative youth and naïveté.  In contrast, Parker characterized Dick Cheney as "an old timer with decades of experience."

Parker was wrong to think the rejection of torture is popular among young adults.  Compared to younger generations, Americans born before 1940 are more likely to say torture is "never justified."  In fact, in 2004, Pew Research Center found that the younger the respondents, the small the percentage that rejected torture as "never justified."  
Check page 9 of this 12-page pdf, labeled page 48.  The popularity of torture among young adults probably derives from the corrosive influence of popular culture.  

Parker advised us to heed the advice of elders with decades of experience.  Dick Cheney was born in 1941.  US Senator John McCain (Republican-Arizona), however, was born in 1936.  McCain condemned waterboarding as torture, and torture breaks the law and hurts the efforts of the nation that resorts to it.

General and former Secretary of State Colin Powell was born in 1937.  Powell also condemned the harsh treatment of captives.

Senator McCain and Secretary Powell have decades of military experience.  Dick 
Cheney does not.  
Cheney is not the old timer with decades of experience.  
Dick Cheney is the young whippersnapper who thinks rough treatment of prisoners gets what he wants, despite the better judgment of his elders.  

Friday, August 2, 2013

Staten Island, July 1776

In preparation for a possible raid on British forces occupying Staten Island, New York, Scottish-born American General Hugh Mercer sent instructions to Major Thomas Knowlton.  Mercer wrote, "Should you be successful enough to take any British troops prisoners, secure them well and treat them with humanity."

You can read Mercer's July 18, 1776 letter to Knowlton at the American Archives website maintain by the Northern Illinois University Libraries.  Read more about Knowlton at the post, "January 8: Raid on Charlestown, Massachusetts."  Bad weather forced a cancellation of the Staten Island raid Mercer planned for the evening of July 18.  Please consult Mark V. Kwasny, Washington's Partisan War, 1775-1783 (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1996), page 63.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

First Avenger

   In Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), an American interrogator, played by Tommy Lee Jones, offers a steak dinner to a captured Nazi.  The incident is based on true stories. 
   In a report carried by The Seattle Times and The Washington Post, Petula Dvorak reported of American World War II interrogators, “They took prisoners out for steak dinners to soften them up.”
   For an account of the Continental Congress paying for a dinner to welcome Hessian prisoners, please visit the post “Parties for Prisoners.”  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Savage Barbarity

In a July 9, 1777 letter to his cousin John Adams, Samuel Adams wrote, "The Progress of the Enemy thro' the Jerseys has chagrind me beyond Measure, but I think we shall reap the Advantage in the End."

Like other Patriots, Samuel Adams believed that every British victory could mean their defeat.  In New Jersey, for instance, British forces committed such criminal outrageous that the people turned against the occupier and helped the Continental Army drive the British from the state.

Adams wrote of the people of New Jersey, "They have been treated with savage Barbarity by the Hessians, but, I believe, more so by Britains. After they have been most inhumanly used in their Persons, without Regard to Sex or Age, and plundered of all they had without the least Compensation, Lord Howe and his Brother (now Sir William Knight of the Bath) have condescended to offer them Protections for the free Enjoyment of their Effects."

For more on Lieutenant-General Sir William Howe and his brother Admiral Richard Lord Howe, please consult the post here.  For the July 9, 1777 letter of Samuel Adams to John Adams, please consult Paul H. Smith, editor, Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789: Volume 7: May 1, 1777-September 18, 1777 (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1981), page 64.  For Rev. John Witherspoon's prediction that Providence would make even "the inhumanity of brutal sodliers" work to some purpose, please check the post here.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A "New Generation"

In a video posted June 16, 2013, Liz Cheney announced her intention to challenge incumbent U. S. Senator Mike Enzi (Republican—Wyoming).  Appealing to “heritage” and “values,” Cheney claimed the mantle of previous generations.  Nevertheless, Cheney claimed to represent a “new generation” whom she thinks should displace candidates like Enzi. 

Sadly, on the issue of how to treat captured terrorists, Cheney and her generation distance themselves from traditional values.  Showing kindness to prisoners from even the most vicious enemies is an American tradition.  Unfortunately, Liz Cheney co-founded “Keep America Safe” in 2009.  The organization defended harsh treatment of people in American custody. 

In 2004, a survey by Pew Research Center found that the younger the respondents, the weaker their rejection of torture.  While 44% of those 65 and over said torturing a terrorism suspect is “never justified,” that figure steadily dropped in younger age groups. Only 34% of those 50-64 chose “never justified.”  In 2004, the age group 50-64 included Liz Cheney’s father, former US Vice President Dick Cheney (born 1941), who still defends waterboarding and other techniques while denying they are torture.  Only 31% of respondents 30 to 49 chose “never justified;” that was and still is Liz Cheney's age group.  In 2004, only 26% of adults “Under 30” said
“never” to torture.

World War II veterans like General John W. “Jack” Vessey and World War II interrogator Henry Kolm understood that respectful treatment of enemies is an American tradition worth defending.  Sadly, Liz Cheny does not understand this.  

Monday, July 8, 2013

Looked Upon As Regulars

     In a letter to Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, member of the Second Continental Congress Thomas McKean relayed news from South Carolina: “A general exchange of prisoners has taken place to the Southward, and our good old friend General Gadsden is expected here in a few days.  All the Refugees and Tories taken on our part have been given up for all our Militia taken by the enemy; this was agreed to without reference to numbers or rank on either side.”  The letter was dated July 8, 1781, in Philadelphia.
     The agreement for an exchange was negotiated on May 3, 1781 between Captain Frederick Cornwallis, who negotiated on behalf his cousin Lieutenant General Sir Charles Cornwallis, and Lieutenant Colonel Carrington, who negotiated on behalf of Continental Army Major General Nathanael Greene.  The May 3 agreement or cartel made several important stipulations.  For instance, article 2 conceded, “That men enlisted for six months and upwards in continental or State service be looked upon as regulars.”  In other words, men who formed militia units in defense of their country were not illegal combatants or “irregulars” excluded from exchange.   
     Edmund Massingbred Hyrne, the American Deputy Commissary General for Prisoners, and James Frazer, Commissary of Prisoners for the British, announced the release on June 22, 1781. 
     The agreement pertained to all British militia in American custody and all American militia in British custody captured from the state of the war to June 15, 1781.  All officers and militia members on parole were also released from that commitment on June 22.  The agreement covered only “prisoners of war, taken in the Southern department.”  The “Refugees” McKean mentioned were American Loyalists who fled their home towns and enlisted in the British service, but sometimes included American prisoners forced to enlisted with the British.  John Almon and George Pownall, The Remembrancer, or, Impartial Repository of Public Events: From the Year 1781, Part 2 (London: J. Debrett, 1781), page 186.  For McKean’s letter to Samuel Adams, please consult Paul H. Smith and Ronald M. Gephart, editors, Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789: Volume 17: March 1, 1781-August 31, 1781 (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1990), pages 387-388.  For the coercive enlistment of American prisoners, please consult Philip Ranlet, “British Recruitment of Americans in New York during the American Revolution,” Military Affairs volume 48 (January 1984): 26-28; and Philip Ranlet, “In the Hands of the British: The Treatment of American POWs During the War of Independence,” The Historian volume 62 (June2000): 731-758. 
     To read “Agreement between Nathanael Greene and Charles Cornwallis, Earl Cornwallis concerning an exchange of prisoners” (May 3, 1781), please visit, a page of Documenting the American South, from the University of North Carolina Library, last update March 28, 2010 (accessed July 8, 2013).  

Thursday, June 27, 2013

June 27, 1778

     After Congressman Robert Morris received a June 19, 1778 letter on the treatment of American prisoners in the hands of the British Army and Navy, the Continental Congress resolved on June 27, “That the Board of War and Marine Committee be…respectively directed to cause the land and sea prisoners in the power of these states to be forthwith treated, in all respects, as near as may be, in such manner as the American land and sea prisoners in the power of the enemy are, or shall, from time to time, be treated; provided, that nothing contained in this resolution shall be construed to extend so far as to prevent an exchange of prisoners upon fair and equitable principles.”
     Retaliation was part of the customary laws of war in the eighteenth century.  American Revolutionaries believed threats of retaliation were effecting to coercing British military personnel to respect the rights of American prisoners.  These threats included proposals to restrict the rations of British prisoners to match what Americans received on the prison ships and in the prisons of British-occupied New York City. 
     Despite the American belief, the Continental Congress appointed compassionate commissaries to attend the needs of enemy prisoners, commissaries who were often as squeamish about retaliation as the members of Congress.  Historian Edwin G. Burrows wrote that the Continental Congress occasionally ordered commissary personnel to implement retaliation, “But it also let the commissaries decide when to relent, which they usually did rather quickly.”  
     The American confidence in retaliation was misplaced.  Considering the suffering of Americans confined to prison ships, Jesuit Historian Charles Henry Metzger wrote, “Protests and appeals, even reprisal, proved ineffective.  Correspondence was of no avail.  And meanwhile, defenseless men, even the sick, the dying, and the dead, bore the full brunt of outrageous treatment.” 
     Please consult Edwin G. Burrows, Forgotten Patriots: The Untold Story of American Prisoners During the Revolutionary War (New York: Basic Books, 2008), page 193; Charles H. Metzger, The Prisoner in the American Revolution (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1971), page 288; Worthington Chauncey Ford, editor, Journals of the Continental Congress 1774-1789: Volume 11: May 2-September 1, 1778 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1908), page 723.  As noted in the post here, the threat of retaliation deterred the British from executing a famous office like Ethan Allen, but the possibility of American retaliation did not prevent British and Tory personnel from letting thousands of captive American enlisted men die of starvation and unchecked disease in occupied cities like New York. 
     In 1776, the Marine Committee issued repeated orders for the humane treatment of American prisoners.  Consider, for instance, the Marine Committee’s July 11 message to the Eastern Navy Board; their August 22 instructions to Commodore Ezek Hopkins; their August 23 orders to Lieutenant John Baldwin; and their December 10 message to Captain Elisha Hinman.  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Thank You, Nova Scotia!

     On June 19, 1777, Boston, Massachusetts newspaper The Independent Chronicle and the Universal Advertiser reported news from Nova Scotia.  The editor did capitalize as many words as a modern editor might. 
     The Independent Chronicle reported, “On Sunday last [that is, on June 15, 1777], a person arrived in this town from Halifax, who left it the 29th of May, from whom we have collected the following authentic Advices….That the American prisoners, to the number of 200, confined on board the lord stanley prison-ship, in that harbor, are treated in the most barbarous and inhuman manner possible; and was it not for the kind interpositions of some of the inhabitants of Halifax, the last winter, in supplying them with necessaries, numbers of them must inevitably have perished, they having but 4 british soldiers allowance for 6 of them (poor allowance indeed) and that thrown to them, as if to dogs….”
     Commanders in the British Navy apparently made no distinction between American civilians captured at sea and American sailors captured in service.  The Independent Chronicle reported that “our navy-men and merchantmen are considered on an equality of footing, and are treated more like savages than christians, when they fall into the hands of perjured George’s emissaries.” 
     The suffering of Americans in prison ships off Nova Scotia was not the fault of the Canadian people.  The blame must fall heavily on Mariot Arbuthnot, the British naval commissioner and the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia.  Historian Edwin G. Burrows wrote, “During his…posting at Halifax, Arbuthnot tolerated conditions on the prison ships Bellona and Lord Stanley that allegedly dismayed even British observers….”  Consult Edwin G. Burrows, Forgotten Patriots: The UntoldStory of American Prisoners During the Revolutionary War (New York: Basic Books, 2008), page 304note22.
     For another 1777 report on American prisoners in Halifax, please consult the post here.  Please also consider reports of prisoners in Halifax from 1778 and 1782.  Learn more about Arbuthnot at the post here.  

Saturday, June 1, 2013

June 1779: Barbarous Treatment

   On Thursday or Friday in the second week of June 1779, about 200 American prisoners arrived in Elizabeth, New Jersey after their release from British Naval custody in occupied New York City.  Under the dateline of Philadelphia, June 19, 1779, Philadelphia newspaper The Pennsylvania Packet or General Advertiser reported, “On Friday the 10th inst. about 200 marine prisoners, exchanged, were landed at Elizabeth-Town from the prison ships in the harbour of New-York; several of them have since come to town.” 
     Pennsylvania Packet editor John Dunlap had the date wrong.  June 10, 1779 was a Thursday.  Friday was the 11th not the 10th “instant.” 
     The prisoners were reportedly in the same condition as most other prisoners released by British forces in New York.  The editors of The Pennsylvania Packet  informed the public that the prisoners “are generally reduced and emaciated, by barbarous treatment.”
     From the prisoners, the editors and their readers learned of the miserable conditions on prison ships:  “Many, who came out of captivity at the same time, are so sickly and weak, as to be unable to travel.  These sufferers say, that the ship to which they were confined, was greatly crouded, sick and healthy together, insomuch, that at night when they were shut under deck, they were almost suffocated.  In this horrid situation, no wonder, six or seven died daily.  Between 3 and 400 prisoners remained, of which about one half are French.”
     Crowding the well along with those sick with contagious diseases like smallpox and dysentery was a frequent complaint from prisoners confined in British occupied American cities like Charleston and New York.  British authorities ensured better conditions for prisoners in England.  Please check Philip Ranlet, “In the Hands of the British: The Treatment of American POWs During the war of Independence, The Historian Volume 62 (June 2000): 731-758; Jesse Lemisch, “Listening to the ‘Inarticulate:’ William Widger’s Dream and the Loyalties of American Revolutionary Seamen in British Prisons,” 9-13; Francis D. Cogliano, American Maritime Prisoners in the Revolutionary War: The Captivity of William Russell (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2001), 151-158; and Sheldon S. Coehn, Yankee Sailors in British Gaols: Prisoners of War at Forton and Mill, 1777-1783 (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1995).
      From accounts of French prisoners suffering in British custody in New York, please check here and here.  For accounts of captive Americans reduced by starvation to mere skeletons, please consult the reference in the last paragraph at this post.  

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Brave Are Always Humane

In his 1753-54 novel, The History of Sir Charles Grandison: In a Series of Letters Published from the Originals…, English novelist Samuel Richardson has a character write, “The brave are always humane.”
     The novel either influenced American humanity to prisoners, or informed how they defended kind treatment.  On February 8, 1777, Boston newspaper The Independent Chronicle and the Universal Advertiser printed an account of British Col. Richard Prescott repeatedly insulting and striking an American prisoner, despite the compliance of the prisoner and the objection of Lord Percy (Lt. Gen. Hugh Percy).  The Independent Chronicle editorialized, “We shall leave it to our readers, to make their own reflections on this treatment, and to determine from it, the character of Col. Prescot, and whether it does not indicate him to be a blustering coward; for, according to an established maxim, the brave are always generous, and treat with humanity those, whom the fortune of war has made their prisoners.”
     In his Memoirs of the American War, Major General William Heath recounted the fate of the American soldiers who became prisoners after the surrender of Fort Washington (November 16, 1776).  Heath wrote, “The prisoners were marched to New York; where, being crowded in prisons and sugar houses…they fell sick, and daily died in a most shocking manner.”
     Heath opined, “O ye officers of the provost! to whatever nation or people you belong, when the unfortunate of your fellow-men are thus committed to your charge, clothe yourselves with humanity, and soothe distress as far as in your power; for by this will you secure a better reward than your present wages.”
     Heath advised, “And you who have the honour to command armies, when your victories have filled provosts and prisons, think it not beneath you to visit the prison, that with your own eyes you may see the state of your prisoners: for such visits, the great CAPTAIN OF YOUR SALVATION hath said, shall be considered as made to Himself; while it also gives you a name among men closely allied to that of the conqueror.  The truly brave are always humane.”
     Heath was referencing the 25th chapter of the Gospel According to Matthew, wherein Jesus describes a Judgment Day when the messianic “King” will reject those who never visited him when he was a prisoner.  “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty…or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” (Matthew 25:44-45, New International Version)

     In the early-twenty-first century, popular culture had a less praiseworthy effect in how Americans discussed the treatment of prisoners.  Gary Solis, who designed and taught the Law of War for Commanders curriculum for the US Military Academy at West Point lamented that his young students constantly referenced Jack Bauer, a fictional character from the Fox Network show 24.  Solis insisted, “Jack Bauer is a criminal.  In real life, he would be prosecuted.” 
     Interrogators for the FBI and the military and even many at the CIA insist that interrogation requires courteous, respectful treatment of prisoners.  Expert interrogator Col. Stuart Herrington also realized the negative influence of 24 after teaching “an auditorium of young Army interrogators” in 2006.  In a 2007 Op-Ed for The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette complaining that “our young soldiers  take away lessons from today’s pop culture,” Herrington wrote, “Self-styled ‘experts’ on interrogation frequently city the ‘ticking bomb scenario’ (featured on shows like ‘24’) to justy the Jack Bauer-like tormenting of a prisoner.”  Herrington rejected the ticking time bomb scenario as “a Hollywood construct” that the colonel never encountered in three decades of military interrogation. 
     In November 2006, US Army Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, dean of West Point, brought three expert interrogators from the military and FBI, along with human rights groups, to visit Joel Surnow, the creator of 24.  The magazine New Yorker Finnegan told the producers that 24 was “hurting efforts to train recruits in effective interrogation techniques and is damaging the image of the U.S. around the world.”