Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Human Shields

Boston, January 30, 1777
     “By a Person late from Halifax, who was on board the British Pirate Renown, Capt. Banks, while she lay in this Harbour, informs, that he, with 13 New-England Men, was put on board the Boats which were ordered to attack the brave Capt. Mugford, and that the Pirates put those Sons of America in the Front of the Battle to cover themselves, whereby some of them were slain by their Friends!—Remember this Oh Americans, and let your Justice whet your Swords to revenge the innocent Blood of murdered Brethren
The Independent Chronicle and the Universal Advertiser (Boston), 30 January 1777
   James Mugford captained the schooner Franklin, part of the squadron off Boston commanded by Commodore John Manley.
Pirates derided by The Independent Chronicle were in fact the officers and men of the British Royal Navy.  Captain Francis Banks of the Royal Navy commanded the small, 50-gun ship HMS Renown.   
     Thomas Jefferson remarked that the “most afflicting” ordeal for American prisoners in British hands was coerced recruitment into British service.  Jefferson remarked that these prisoners in particular “were haunted by the horror of having, perhaps, themselves shot the ball by which a father or a brother fell.”  In the case of the Renown, however, this ordeal was forced upon the Americans firing upon British forces.   
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