Friday, January 11, 2013

St. Lucia Prison Ship

     On January 31, 1782, Boston newspaper The Independent Chronicle and the Universal Advertiser reported, "Last week a cartel arrived at Chatham, from St. Lucia, with a number of prisoners, in a very emaciated condition."
     British forces employed the most notorious prison ships of the Revolutionary War during their 1776-1783 occupation of New York City, including the infamous prison ship Jersey.  The British also used prison ships elsewhere, like the Nancy in Savannah, Georgia and the Torbay and Pack-horse in Charleston, South Carolina.  In the West Indian island of St. Lucia, the British used the ship Peter as a prison for Americans captured by the British Navy.
     Historian Larry G. Bowman wrote, "Very little information about the Torbay, Pack-Horse, and Peter appears to have survived, but the fragments of evidence indicate they were similar in appearance and function to the more famous prison ships of New York."  Larry G. Bowman, Captive Americans: Prisoners During the American Revolution (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1976), page 42.
The Independent Chronicle's report of prisoners arriving "emaciated" from St. Lucia supports Bowman's comparison of the prison ship there to the prison ships of New York.  
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