Monday, February 25, 2013

February 29: Boston Neck

   Under the dateline, Cambridge, Massachusetts, February 29, 1776, The New-England Chronicle: Or, The Essex Gazette of February 22-29, 1776 reported, “Last Thursday night [February 29] a party of our men took a Corporal and two privates prisoners, as they were going to relieve the centries on Boston Neck.”
Brandies Historian David Hackett Fischer wrote of Boston, Massachusetts in the 1700s, “From the mainland it could be entered only through a narrow gate across the slender isthmus called Boston Neck, or by ferry from Charlestown.  David Hackett Fischer, Paul Revere’s Ride (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 10.  The year 1776 was a leap year 

February 28

   On February 28, 1776, the Continental Congress
   Resolved, That the committee of inspection and observation for the county of Berks, in Pennsylvania, be requested and authorized to contract, upon reasonable terms, for the subsistence of such prisoners now in Reading as are not supplied by Mr. Franks, together with the women and children belonging to all the prisoners there, and for supplying them with fire wood, and other things absolutely necessary for their support:
   That the committees of inspection and observation for the counties, districts, or towns, assigned for the residence of prisoners, be empowered to superintend their conduct, and, in cases of gross misbehavior, to confine them, and report to the Congress the proceedings had on such occasions.
   Ordered, That the foregoing resolve be published.
   Resolved, That committee of safety for Pensylvania, agreeably to the offer made by them of their service, of which the Congress have a sense, be authorized to distribute the officers, prisoners in Lancaster, in such places within the province of Pensylvania, as to that committee shall seem most proper, taking their parole, which, if they refuse to give, the said committee are empowered and directed to confine them; And that, in executing this resolve, the said committee have a regard to the resolutions heretofore made by the Congress, with respect to prisoners and their residence.
     Worthington Chauncey Ford, editor, Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, 34 volumes (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1904-1937), 4:175-176, 164.  For American worries about prisoners in Reading, Pennsylvania, please see the posts for February 4 and February 6, 1776.  For concerns about Lancaster as a home for prisoners, please consult the posts for February 20 and February 21.  For the British and Americans in early 1776 permitting captured officers to have their servants attending them while prisoners, please consult the here, about a prisoner leaving Lancaster, PA for Frederick County, Maryland. 

Only Kind Out of Fear? No

   On February 27, 1777, Boston newspaper The Independence Chronicle and the Universal Advertiser reported, “By a Passage from the London Papers…it appears, That the Mildness of this Government, and the Generosity of the Whigs to the Tories, is attributed altogether to our Timidity, and an Apprehension that our Cause is gone.
   The Independence Chronicle editorial offered, “It is in this Manner our Enemies construe all we say and do.  The Humanity with which we have treated those who have fallen into our Hands by the Fortune of War, is ascribed to the same Principle of Fear; and had been returned by the most barbarous Treatment of the Subjects and Friends of the United State, who have fallen into their Hands; even the Sailors on Voyages of meer Trade.  They have been murdered in a systematical Way, by crowding them together in Cells and Dungeons, and gradually starving them.  This is not high painting, it is literally true.” 
   For the frequent American observation that British prisoners were ungrateful for kind treatment, please visit the posts "A Prisoner's Gratitude" and  "February 20: Prisoners in Lancaster PA." 

February 26: A Prisoner's Petition

From the Journals of the Continental Congress, February 26, 1776:

A petition from lieutenant Jocelyn Feltham, of the 26 [regiment], who was taken prisoner at Ticonderoga [was presented and read,] praying leave to go to Europe for the recovery of his health.
   Revolved, That the prayer of his petition be granted.

   A combined force led by Colonel Ethan Allen and Colonel Benedict Arnold captured the British garrison at Fort Ticonderoga in Upstate New York in 1775.  Lieut Feltham was among the officers captured at the fort.  Ethan Allen had the honor of bragging that he treated Feltham and his fellow-prisoners "with every mark of friendship and generosity...."  Please consult the post "Gen. Richard Prescott." For the February 26, 1776 resolution of the Continental Congress granting Feltham's petition, please consult Worthington Chauncey Ford, editor, Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, 34 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1904-1937), 4:127.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

February 25: Gothic Ravages

   In a February 25, 1777 speech before both houses of the state legislature, New Jersey Governor William Livingston recounted the "more than Gothic Ravages" committed by British forces during their December 1776 occupation of New Jersey.  Livingston mentioned that British soldiers "butchered the Wounded asking for Quarter" and "mangled the Dying wheltering in their Blood."
   The Goths were a Germanic people who invaded the Roman Empire in the 3rd century of the Common Era.  For the above quotes, please consult Carl E. Prince, editor, The Papers of William Livingston: Volume 1: June 1774-June 1777 (Trenton: New Jersey Historical Commission, 1979), pages 254, 255.

February 24: Levi Allen

   On February 24, 1779, Major Bezaleel Beebee of Litchfield, Connecticut gave a sworn statement before Oliver Wolcott regarding the charity of Levi Allen toward American prisoners detained by the British in New York City in January 1777.  Allen was brother of Colonel. Ethan Allen.  Beebee testified that Levi Allen “was at that time indefatigable in providing for…American prisoners in that city, until his money was exhausted….”  The Connecticut Courant (Hartford) published Beebee’s deposition its edition of March 30, 1779.  For access to Early American Newspapers, please find the database listed at the Free Library of Philadelphia web site.

February 23: Defections and Captures

Extract of a Letter from Morris-Town [Morristown, New Jersey] February 23 [1777].
   "The 20th Inst. four Hessian and two British soldiers came over to us.  Yesterday 12 Tories and one English Captain, were brought to Head-Quarters.  This morning we have received an account of 12 of the enemy's light horse being taken, by our brave and vigilant scouts."
   The Freeman's Journal, OR New-Hampshire Gazette (Portsmouth, NH), 8 March 1777

   In eighteenth-century correspondence, it was not uncommon to refer to refer to the current month as "Instant," with the number of the day accompanying the reference.  By the date of this letter, George Washington's Headquarters of the Continental Army were in Morristown, New Jersey.  The misconduct of the British and Hessian forces prompted the people of New Jersey to assist the Continental Army in driving the British from most of New Jersey by the middle of January 1777.
   An excellent way to encourage defections, like those of the four Hessians and two Brits mentioned in this letter, is to treat prisoners with kindness.     

February 22: News From Fishkill NY

   In a story datelined Fishkill, New York, February 22, 1781, Providence, Rhode Island newspaper The American Journal and General Advertiser of March 3, 1781 reported that a Loyalist force of about 250 foot and 90 horse left British-occupied New York City and attacked North Castle, New York in Westchester County on February 14. 
   According to the report, the Tory raiders burned eight houses, “plundered the inhabitants of every thing they could carry off, and what they could not carry off they wantonly destroyed.”
   The report added, regarding February 15, “The next day a party of horse came out, and continued their destructive work; they carried off ten prisoners, two of them Negroes.”
   For Tory raids from New York against Connecticut, please consult passages in Edwin G. Burrows, Forgotten Patriots: The Untold Story of American Prisoners During the Revolutionary War (New York: Basic Books, 2008).  For Tory raids into New Jersey, please consult Adian C. Leiby, The Revolutionary War in the Hackensack Valley: The Jersey Dutch and the Neutral Ground,1775-1783 (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1980). 

February 21: Prisoners in Lancaster PA

   The Journals of the Continental Congress record for February 21, 1776, “A letter from the Committee of Safety for Pennsylvania, dated 20 instant, respecting the Prisoners at Lancaster, was read:  Resolved, That the same be referred to the Committee on Prisoners.”

February 20: Prisoners in Lancaster PA

   On February 20, 1776, the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety wrote to the President of the Continental Congress, John Hancock, to suggest the necessity of “making some alteration in the condition of the prisoners” detained at Lancaster, Pennsylvania. 
   The Committee of Safety explained that “the kind treatment” shown to the prisoners meets with ungrateful, even “improper and indecent” return.  Based on information from Lancaster, the Committee remarked that the prisoners “often express themselves in most disrespectful and offensive terms, and openly threaten revenge whenever opportunity shall present.”  An additional danger arising from the town of Lancaster “being but a day’s march from navigable water,” the prisoners would daringly attempt to support any British landing just South in the Chesapeake Bay
   The message was signed by Committee of Safety Chairman John Nixon.  For the heritage of the surname Nixon as a name on the Anglo-Scottish Borders, a lawless land of endemic cattle rustling, please consult David Hackett Fischer, Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989) and George MacDonald Fraser, The Steel Bonnets: The Story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers (New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2008 [1971]). 
   For more on American suspicions that many Tory and British prisoners were ungrateful for kind treatment, please consult the post 
A Prisoner's Gratitude.

February 20: North Carolina

   On February 20, 1776, American General James Moore wrote to General Donald MacDonald of the Loyalist Scottish Highland forces, “Agreeable to my promise of yesterday, I have consulted the officers under my command, respecting your letter, and am happy in finding them unanimous in opinion with me.  We consider ourselves engage in a cause the most glorious and honourable in the world, the defence of the liberties of mankind, in support of which we are determined to hazard everything dear and valuable; and in tenderness to the deluded people under your command, permit me, sir, through you, to inform them, before it is too late, of the dangerous and destructive precipice on which they stand, and to remind them of the ungrateful return they are about to make for their favourable reception in this country.”
    “I have no doubt that the bearer, Captain James Walker, will be treated with proper civility and respect in your camp.”   
   Any condescension in the letter was reciprocal.  In his October 26, 1775 speech before both Houses of Parliament, England's King George III referred to the “deluded multitude”  in America who supported the measures of the Continental Congress.   In his February 19 letter to Moore, MacDonald echoed the King's sentiments by referring to “misled” Americans.   For more background on the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge (February 27, 1776), please consult the posts “King George and Broadswords!” and  “Feb. 13: Parker Leaves Cork...Finally,” as well as the entry on the subject at Wikipedia.   

February 19: North Carolina

   On February 19, 1776, General Donald MacDonald, commanding Loyalist Scottish Highland settlers in North Carolina, wrote to American General James Moore, “I beg leave to remind you of his Majesty’s speech to his Parliament, wherein he offers to receive the misled with tenderness and mercy, from motives of humanity.  I again beg of you to accept the proffered clemency.  I make no doubt, but you will show the gentleman sent on this message every possible civility; and you may depend, that all your officers and men which may fall into our hands, shall be treated with an equal degree of respect. ”  Mac Donald enclosed with his letter a copy of Governor Josiah Martin's Proclamation, issued from a British ship in Cape Fear River in which the Loyalist found refuge from revolutionary Provincial authorities.
   The same day, James Moore acknowledged the receipt of MacDonald's letter and promised an answer by noon the next day, February 20.  Moore explained that he could not comply with Governor Martin's proposed terms, 
“as I find them incompatible with the freedom of Americans.  Moore added that feelings of humanity” would induce Moore to show that civility to such of your people as may fall into our hands, as I am desirous should be observed toward those of ours, who may be unfortunate enough to fall into yours.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

February 18: Rendered Unfit For Service

  Under the dateline Head Quarters, Valley Forge, February 18, 1778, the Connecticut Courant (Hartford) of March 17, 1778 reported, “We hear that an exchange of prisoners is soon to take place between General Washington and General Howe the latter having consented to give up the point so long in dispute about the prisoners sent out last winter on parole: Most of them were treated so hardly that they died soon after their arrival among us or were rendered for-ever unfit for service; and consequently were not proper objects of an exchange.”
   For the speedy death of most of the sickly men and lads Howe released in December 1776 and January 1777, please consult the post "2000 Corpses."  Disgruntled at American refusal to exchange some 2000 healthy British prisoners for near-dead Americans released that winter, Howe planned to put the British and Hessian forces back into the field in violation of their "convention" (for practical terms, their surrender) at Saratoga.
   Americans anticipated Howe's duplicity on the Convention prisoners.  Americans refused to release the Convention prisoners, using a remark by General John Burgoyne who commanded the British forces at Saratoga.  Jane Clark believed Burgoyne intentionally announced that faith was already broken in a letter to Continental forces, to forewarn Americans of Howe's plans.  Please consult Jane Clark, "The Convention Troops and the Perfidy of Sir William Howe," American Historical Review volume 37 (July 1932): 721-723.  The American victory at the Battle of Saratoga, New York (September 19-October 7, 1777) helped convince France to openly support the American fight for independence from Britain.  Please also visit the post, "Boston 1775: Saratoga Not the Turning Point?"  

Saturday, February 16, 2013

February 17: News From Halifax

   Philadelphia, PA newspaper The Pennsylvania Evening Post of March 6, 1777 reprinted news from Boston dated February 17, 1777.  The report mentioned a proclamation by the Howe brothers, General Sir William Howe and Admiral Richard Lord Howe.  The Howes’ proclamation offered of amnesty to those renouncing American independence and pledging loyalty to Britain’s King George III.  
   “By a person lately from Halifax, we learn that when the Howe’s proclamation was proffered to the American prisoners to sign (notwithstanding they were confined on board a guard ship, and told that General Howe had got possession of Philadelphia) they, like true Americans, to a man, nobly disdained to do it.”
For more on the Howe Brothers, and the possibility they were cousins of George III, please visit the post here.

Friday, February 15, 2013

February 16: Samuel Adams

   By the end of 1776, British forces, commanded by General Sir William Howe, were making themselves notorious in the United States for their neglect of American prisoners in New York City.  Americans also learned of outrages against the civilian population in New Jersey.  
In a February 16, 1777 letter to James Warren, Samuel Adams wrote, “Would you believe it, that after the shocking Inhumanities shown to our Countrymen in the Jerseys, plundering Houses, cruelly beating old Men, ravishing Maids, murdering Captives in cold Blood, and systematically starving Multitudes of Prisoners under his own Eye at New York, this humane General totally disavows his own winking at the Tragedy, and allows that a few Instances may have happened which are rather to be lamented.”

   Paul Smith, ed,., Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789, 26 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress,), 6:298.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

February 15: Information From Prisoners

   In letter of February 15, 1776, George Washington informed John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, of British movements in New Jersey, “From the latest advices that I have of their movements, by some prisoners, and others, they appear to be leaving Trenton, and to be filing off towards Princeton and Allentown.” 
The Allentown in this case was Allentown, New Jersey, not the Allentown, Pennsylvania well known in later years as a coal and manufacturing center saluted in a Billy Joel song.  

   In 1776, George Washington insisted on kind, humane treatment of enemy prisoners of war.  In the words of a 1777 poem, Washington “treats his captive with a parent’s care!”  Washington treated prisoners well and still obtained information from them.  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

February 14: News from St. Eustatius

   In its 16 April 1781 issue, The New-York Gazette; and The Weekly Advertiser, a Tory-themed newspaper published in British-occupied New York City, published a letter from the Dutch Caribbean island of St. Eustatius, dated February 14, 1781.  The writer mentioned, “The Jews it is said will be banished.” 
   Rivington’s paper reported that around on Tuesday night, April 10, 1781, 500 prisoners arrived from St. Eustatius for detention in New York.  “The number of prisoners French, Spaniards, Americans and Dutch in this island, is said to amount to near 2000.”
   On February 3, 1781, British Admiral Sir George Brydges Rodney led an invasion of the Dutch island of St. Eustatius.  Given that Rodney brought three regiments of troops, the Dutch garrison of sixty men surrendered.
   Historian Mordehay Arbell describes Rodney's administration of the island as "a reign of terror."  On February 13, Rodney summoned all Jewish adult males.  The admiral ordered the 101 men who appeared stripped of any property they carried.  Rodney dismissed the Jewish victims of his plunder--to arrange the sale of their remaining property.  Ultimately, Rodney sent 30 Jews to St. Kitts and another group to Antigua.
   It was with considerable justification that Jewish-Americans in Philadelphia mentioned in their 1783 petition to the Council of Censors of Pennsylvania "that the Jews of Charlestown [Charleston, South Carolina], New York, New-port and other posts, occupied by the British troops, have distinguishedly suffered for their attachment to the Revolution principles; and their brethren at St. Eustatius, for the same cause, experienced the most severe resentments of the British commanders."  
   For the compelling story, told in great detail and with great skill, please consult Mordehay Arbell, The Jewish Nation of the Caribbean: The Spanish-Portuguese Settlements in the Caribbean and the Guianas (Jerusalem, Israel: Gefen Publishing House, 2002), pages 183-184.
   For accounts of Jewish-Americans among the prisoners suffering in the British prison ship Nancy, off Savannah, Georgia, please visit the post "Sheftall's Messmates," about American Patriot Mordecai Sheftall, Sheftall's son, and Congregational minister Rev. Moses Allen.  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The "Inhuman" Arbuthnot

   The Pennsylvania Evening Post of March 8, 1777 carried this news with the dateline of Boston, February 13, 1777: “Last week arrived at Ipswich, from Halifax, a schoonerwhich left it the 23d of January: The Captain of which informs…That our countrymen, to the number of about two hundred, are confined on board the Belona guard ship of fifty guns, where they are treated in the usually barbarous manner, by the inhuman Commodore Arbuthnot….”
   Mariot Arbuthnot was the British naval commissioner at Halifax, Nova Scotia from 1775 to 1778 and Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia from 1776-1778.  
The cruelty of Arbuthnot was not representative of the people of Halifax, Nova Scotia.  The captain of the schooner also reported that the few Loyalists refugees who fled Boston with the British withdrawal from the city on March 17, 1776 “are treated with the greatest contempt” by the local residents.  

   Officers of the British Navy and Army made Halifax a scene of cruelty throughout the war, despite the compassionate disposition of the civilian population.  For an October 1778 account of American prisoners starving in Halifax prisons and prison ships, please visit the post here.  For a January 1782 account of American prisoners returning from Halifax “in a very emaciated, sickly condition,” please visit the post here.
For the infamy the British Navy gained during the Revolutionary War for using cruelty to coerce prisoner enlistment, please consult, Philip Ranlet, “British Recruitment of Americans in New York during the American Revolution,” Military Affairs volume 48 (January 1984): pages 26-28.  For more on Ipswich, Massachusetts, please consult the Wikipedia entry on same.  For the cultural link between Puritan Massachusetts and the English region of East Anglia, home of the English town Ipswich, please consult David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989) and Roger Thompson, Mobility and Migration: East Anglian Founders of New England, 1629-1640 (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1994). 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Boston, February 12

   Under the dateline of Boston, February 12, 1778, Boston, Massachusetts newspaper The Independent Chronicle and the Universal Advertiser of that date reported, "In Consequence of a late Act passed this state, intitled, 'An act for prescribing and establishing an Oath of Fidelity and Allegiance,' the Committee of Correspondence for this Town, the Week past, have given information to proper Authority of sundry Persons who were suspected of being inimical to these United States, who, being summoned, took the said Oath, without hesitation, excepting three, who were committed to the Goal last Saturday [February 7]."
   Gaol, sometimes rendered "goal," was an English term for jail and remains so in Britain but not in the United States.
 "An Act for Prescribing and Establishing an Oath of Fidelity and Allegiance" (1778),  Massachusetts lawmakers empowered and obligated every justice of the peace in every county of the state to summon any suspects of being "inimical to the United States," if that person was reported as such by any member of the state's two legislative bodies, the Council and House of Representatives; by any civil or military officer of any town or county; by any selectman or member of a Committee of Correspondence, Safety or Inspection; or by "any two substantial Freeholders" of any town or plantation with Massachusetts.
   As documented by the State Library of Massachusetts, the language of the oath was, "I A. B. do swear (or affirm as the Case may be) that I will bear true Faith and Allegiance to the State of Massachusetts-Bay, and will faithfully support and maintain and defend the same against George the Third King of Great-Britain, his Abettors and all other Enemies and Opposers whatsoever, and will discover all Plots and Conspiracies that shall come to my Knowledge against said State, or any other of the United States of America. So help me GOD."
   The act required the that any suspect who refused to take the oath be confined to "Gaol" for forty days.  If after forty days, the suspect still refused to take the oath, the state was to order him deported to any port under the authority of Great Britain.  The cost of the gaoler's fee and the suspect's transport from Massachusetts would come from the estate of a suspect who could afford the costs or from the treasury of the state if the suspect could not afford either expense or both of them.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

February 11: Simsbury Mines

   February 11, 1775: George Washington to the Committee of Simsbury, Connecticut, from the Continental Army Headquarters at Cambridge, Massachusetts, “The prisoners which will be delivered you with this, having been tried by a court-martial, and deemed to be such flagrant and atrocious villains that they cannot by any means be set at large or confined in any place near this camp, were sentenced to be sent to Symsbury, in Connecticut.”
   Washington wrote, “You will be pleased to have them secured in your jail, or in such other manner as to you shall seem necessary, so that they cannot possibly make their escpae.”  Washington added that the charges for their imprisonment “will be at the Continental expense.” 
   Sadly, the jail at Simsbury was a semi-fortified mine.  Simsbury Mine became a detention center for Tory prisoners, that is, for Americans Loyal to the British Crown during the American War of Independence.  For a more on the Simbury Mine prison, please visit this page by the Colebrook Historical Society.  

Saturday, February 9, 2013

February 11: British & Hessians Prisoners

Philadelphia, February 11, 1777
  “Last Friday [February 7] a number of British prisoners, and some Hessians, were brought to this city from the Jerseys.”
   Dunlap’s Pennsylvania Packet or, the General Advertiser (Philadelphia), 11 February 1777
   George Washington wanted prisoners treated with kindness and respect, whether British or Hessian.  

February 10: The Greatest Tyranny

   In Parliamentary proceedings of February 10, 1775, Sir William Meredith urged a repeal of the Declaratory Act (1766), “which asserts a right in parliament to make laws to bind American in all cases whatsoever.”  Either quoting or paraphrasing Sir William’s argument, the account read, “The power of God himself was bounded within the limits of strict justice; a power to bind, in all cases whatsoever, had never been claimed by the greatest tyrant on earth, not by any earthly power, before the declaratory act.”   The ominous language of the Declaratory Act provided ammunition for American propagandists.  In Number 1 of The American Crisis, Thomas Paine wrote, “Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but 'to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER,' and if being bound in that manner is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth.  Even the expression is impious, for so unlimited a power can belong only to GOD.”   The account of Parliamentary proceedings appeared in The New-York Gazette; and the Weekly Mercury (New York City), 24 April 1775; The American Crisis, Number I, appeared in The Pennsylvania Evening Post (Philadelphia), 31 December 1776, attributed only to “the Author of COMMON SENSE.  
   Parliament only repealed The
American Colonies Act (1766), or the Declaratory Act, with the Statute Law Revision Act (1964).  Sir William was right to consider the Declaratory Act's language unprecedented and unparalleled  Studying the constitutional history of the Australian state of Victoria, Greg Taylor found that the Constitution Acts of 1855 and 1975 gave the Victoria Parliament 
power to make laws in and for Victoria in all cases whatsoever. 
   Other than Victoria's parliamentary powers for its own state and Britain's Parliamentary power claimed for the American colonies, Congress's Constitutional authority over the District of Columbia, Taylor found that the phrase all cases whatsoever” apparently has no counterparts anywhere else.  Greg Taylor, The Constitution of Victoria (Annandale, New South Wales: The Federal Press, 2006), pages 209 and 210note46. 

February 10: John Graham Released

   On February 10, 1776, three New York City innkeepers—John Bridgwater [Bridgewater?], James Holdin and Thomas Hyat—appeared before the Committee of Safety and jointly engaged on behalf of John Graham, a prisoner in the city’s Upper Barracks.
   The trio pledged, “That the said John Graham will demean himself peaceably, and be of good behaviour toward all the friends of liberty in America, and not do any act…contrary to any measure directed by the Continental Congress, or the Provincial Congress, or Committee of Safety of this Colony, or any Committee of any City, Town, Precinct, or District, in this or any other of the United Colonies.”
   If Graham failed to comply by the innkeepers’ engagement, the trio agreed to “surrender the said John Graham a prisoner” to any guard commissioned by the Provincial Congress or the Committee of Safety of New York or commander of the Continental Army in New York.  If they could not produce Graham a prisoner, they agreed to pay or suffer any penalties that Graham himself, in case of his default, would be “adjudged to bear, pay, sustain, or suffer.”
   The Committee of Safety, “Ordered, That the said John Graham, now a prisoner in the Guard-House, at the Upper Barracks, be discharged.”
   Historian T. H. Breen called America's local and provincial committees 
“schools of revolution, giving thousands of Americans experience in self-government.  By serving on committees and enforcing the resolutions of the Continental Congress, Americans affirmed their commitment to law and order rather than mob rule or mere rebellion.  Consult T. H. Breen, The Secret Founding Fathers, The Daily Beast, 3 July 2010 (accessed 9 February 2013).
   The Hyatt Hotels Corporation is not named for innkeeper Thomas Hyat.  Entrepreneurs Hyatt von Dehn and Jack D. Crouch owned Hyatt House, at Los Angeles International Airport.  The Hyatt Hotels Corporation formed in 1957 when Jay Pritzker bought von Dehn's shares of Hyatt House.  

Friday, February 8, 2013

February 9: Abraham Brower Captured

The February 9, 1778 issue of The New-York Gazette; and The Weekly Mercury (New York City) gave the following information about Abraham Brower of the New Jersey militia:

  Brower the Person who last Week murdered Mr. John Richards, of New-Barbados Neck, has…been secured, and was on Thursday Afternoon lodged in the Custody of the Provost Guard.
   Upon examining into the Means used by the four intrepid and loyal Persons, who voluntarily undertook to apprehend the aforesaid Brower, and brought him to Town, it was found they had endured inexpressible Anxiety and Fatigue; to reward such brave and fortunate Exertions, a Subscription is opened at Mr. Rivington’s and Mr. Gaine’s for collecting the Contributions of those who have a generous Sensibility of their spirited Enterprize.

   For conflicting accounts of Loyalist Captain John Richards, please consult the post here.  Hugh Gaine published The New-York Gazette: and The Weekly Mercury and James Rivington published The Royal Gazette, both newspapers published within British-occupied New York City and guided by a Loyalist editorial policy.  For a story about Rivington from Historian Carol Sue Humphrey, please check this video from YouTube channel Rag Linen presents Reporting the Revolutionary War:

Thursday, February 7, 2013

February 8: Tenderness to Patients or Prisoners

   On February 13, 1775 issue, The New-York Gazette; and the Weekly Mercury, published in New York City by Hugh Gaine, carried the following item with a dateline of Philadelphia, February 8, 1775.

   On Thursday night last [that is, February 2] arrived here the sloop Polly, Capt. Davidson, from Jamaica, but last from the Havanna, where he was obliged to put in by sickness: he conceives himself in gratitude bound to inform the public, that during three weeks illness in that port, he was treated in the most humane, friendly, and polite manner; that the attention of the physicians, as well as the neatness and accommodation of his apartments, was every way equal to what he could expect in an English hospital….

   The report further indicated that the Spanish Governor of Cuba and the “principle Gentlemen” of Havana showed Davidson “every mark of tenderness and respect.”  T
he Governor and Captain General of the Island of Cuba was Don Felipe de Fondesviela y Ondeano, Marquis de la Torre (1725-1784), who served in that post from November 18, 1771 to June 12, 1777. Davidson considered himself chiefly indebted, after God, to their humanity and tenderness for the restoration of his health.”
   In the eighteenth century, acknowledging kind treatment was a polite obligation.  Spain and Britain were at peace in 1775 when Davidson visited the Spanish colony of Cuba.  The two nations had been in conflict as recently as the Seven Years War (1756-1763), which Spain entered officially in 1762 by declaring war on Britain.  Davidson was acknowledging kind treatment by people of a nation recently at war with his own.  Acknowledging kindness from a foe, or former foe, was also a mark of magnanimity.
   In 1779, American prisoners returning from Newfoundland gave public acknowledgement of humane treatment by the British Governor of Canada, Admiral Richard Edwards.  
Knowing that prisoners in other locales often faced harsh treatment, the prisoners returning from Newfoundland “sincerely wish, that whenever their countrymen may have occasion to censure British cruelty, they may consider that admiral Edwards ought always to be excepted.”
Also in 1779, a Boston editorial acknowledged news that a committee in London was gathering donations for Americans detained in England: “While Britain as a nation, has carried on the war in America with the greatest inhumanity, it ought to be acknowledged that many individuals have exhibited a compassion and liberality to our countrymen that does honour to human nature.”  For details, visit the post, Britain as a Nation.
Tenderness, a synonym for gentleness, was often used in the eighteenth century in connection with caring for the sick and for prisoners.  For instance, on January 1, 1776, George Washington instructed the Continental Agent for captured enemy vessels at Cape Ann, Massachusetts, “All prisoners of whatever rank, or denomination, to be treated with utmost humanity and tenderness.” 
   On December 10, 1775, Washington’s secretary Stephen Moylan wrote to the agent at Beverly, Mass., “You will…, sir, treat the prisoners with all possible tenderness.” A news report about the Battle of Great Bridge (December 9, 1775) boasted, “A correspondent, on whose information we may depend, informs us, that our soldiers shewed the greatest humanity and tenderness to the wounded prisoners the late engagement at the Great Bridge.”  A 1775 report of a prisoner exchange at Cambridge, Mass. between the Americans and British boasted of the “Tenderness” Americans showed to prisoners. 

     In his January 1, 1777 orders condemning rape and robbery committed by British forces, George Washington admonished American soldiers, “contending for liberty,” to show “humanity and tenderness” to women and children.  Please visit the post “A Lover of Humanity.”   

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

February 7: Parole for Officers Made POWs

   After receiving a letter from the New Jersey Committee of Safety regarding Prisoners of War (POWs), the Continental Congress commissioned several of its members as a committee to discuss the issues raised by the Committee of Safety.  On February 7, 1776, the Continental Congress "took into consideration" the report of its committee on the letter and resolved a second committee, "to take an account of the prisoners," be added to the committee studying the issue of POWs.
     In a February 7 resolution, the Continental Congress commissioned the committee on these POWs "to examine the capitulations entered into with the prisoners at the time of their surrender, to have the paroles of the officers taken, to order them to their respective places of residence, and to see that the capitulations be duly observed, and the orders of Congress, respecting the prisoners, punctually carried into execution, and, finally, make a return to Congress of the paroles of the officers, their names, and places of residence, and also the number of the privates, and where placed."
   By the customs of eighteenth-century warfare, a nation at war granted captured gentlemen-officers freedom of movement provided the officers gave their word not to rejoin the war until notified of their official exchange as prisoners.  The nation that took them prisoner might permit the officers to return to their homeland or, as in this case, enjoy private accommodations and liberty of movement within a specified area of the nation detaining them.  The oath the captured officers took was their parole.
   For the 
February 7, 1776 resolution by Congress, please visit Journals of the Continental Congress,1774-1789, 34 volumes (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1904-1937), Volume 4: Pages 115-116.  For a discussion of parole by officers taken Prisoners of War, please consult the posts here and here.  

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

February 6, 1776: Reading, PA Letter

     On February 6, 1776, the Continental Congress noted, “A Letter from the Committee of Reading, in Berks County [Pennsylvania], was laid before Congress, informing that a number of Prisoners were arrived there, and desiring to know how they are to be supported.”
     Congress “Resolved, That the same [Letter] be referred to the Committee appointed to contract for supplying the Prisoners.” 
     For the context of the resolution, visit either the American Archives page of the Northern Illinois University Libraries or the Library of Congress page for Journals of the Continental Congress,1774-1789, ed. Worthington Chauncey Ford, 34 volumes (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1904-1937), Volume 4: Page 113.

Monday, February 4, 2013

February 5: Marblehead

     News with the dateline of Boston, Massachusetts, February 5, 1776, reported, “Last Saturday [February 3], a number of prisoners (marines and sailors) arrived in town from the interior parts of this State and Connecticut, and on Monday set off for Marblehead [Massachusetts], in order to be exchanged for a number of our men who lately arrived in the cartel vessels there.”
     For the terms cartel and flag of truce for vessels carrying prisoners for exchange, please check the post here and 
Marblehead in the American Revolution
     Marblehead was an active fishing town on the Massachusetts coast affected by such arbitrary British policies as the Royal Navy's impressment of civilian mariners.  The Fourteenth Massachusetts Continentals, raised in Massachusetts fishing towns like Marblehead, served under shipowner Colonel John Glover.  Ostensibly, Glover's regiment served as infantry.  During the Continental Army's evacuation of Long Island and during the crossing of the Delaware before the Battle of Trenton (December 25, 1776), Glover's Marblehead regiment put its maritime experience to use in the campaign of 1776.
     Just as the crews of Northern New England fishing boats included Euro-Americans, African-Americans and Native Americans, Glover's regiment included whites, Blacks and Indians.  Brandies Historian David Hackett Fischer remarked that during the War of American Independence, the Continental Army, 
“beginning with the Marblehead regiment, became the first integrated national institution in the United States.
     Please consult David Hackett Fischer, Washington's Crossing (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 21-22, 217 (quote on page 22) and the several references in David McCullough, 1776 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005).  Fischer and McCullough both cite George A. Billias, General John Glover and His Marblehead Mariners (New York: Henry Holt and Compnay, 1960).  For the experience of another Massachusetts fishing town in the American Revolution, please consult Joseph E. Garland, The Fish and the Falcon: Gloucester's Resolute Role in America's First Fight for Freedom (Charleston, South Carolina: History Press, 2006).

Sunday, February 3, 2013

February 4: Prisoners at Reading, PA

     February 4, 1776, the Committee of Correspondence of Reading, Pennsylvania wrote to the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia.  The Committee reported they received several English soldiers captured in Canada, “with their wives and children.”
     The prisoners arrived in Reading “without any previous notice” and “without any person attending them to supply them,” but the Committee understood “it was the pleasure of Congress the said soldiers should be quartered here” so they immediately appointed Henry Hollar, a member of the Committee, to provide for the prisoners.  The Committee noted that Hollar secured housing, firewood and provisions for the prisoners, “who must have otherwise suffered much at this severe season.” 
     The Committee sent an express rider to Congress for instructions on the quality of provisions allowed for the prisoners.  The Committee of Reading added, “As Mr. Hollar has been an active member of this Committee, and is a very suitable person, we beg leave to recommend him to be continued as Commissary for the soldiers stationed here.”  Mark Bird, Chairman of the Reading Committee of Correspondence, signed the message to the Congress. 
     For an excellent description of prisoners of war in Reading, Pennsylvania throughout the Revolutionary War, please consult Laura L. Becker, “Prisoners of War in the American Revolution: A Community Perspective,” Military Affairs volume 46 (December 1982): pages 169-173.  
     Major General Thomas Gage, commander of British military forces operating within and against the United Colonies, wrote in August 1775“...I understand they make war like savages, making captives of women and children.  Separating these soldiers from their families would have been inhumane, especially to the soldiers themselves.  Women proved invaluable supports for men and lads in both the American and British armies.  Writing for the Journal of the American Revolution, independent researcher Don, N. Hagist estimates about 20% of British soldiers were accompanied by their wives and children.  
     In her work, Women in the United States Military: An Annotated Bibliography, Judith Bellafaire writes this in the summary of Mayer's Belonging to the Army“It was not unusual or unwelcome for women to accompany their soldier husbands on military campaigns during the eighteenth century when armies had no [well-]organized food or medical services....  Soldiers on campaign appreciated the hot food and clean clothes women provided, and commanders realized that these were not trivial amenities but often influenced the overall health of the troops.  The American Army put women on the payroll as cooks, laundresses, seamstresses, and nurses.
     The American Army (that is, the Continental Army) was not slower to realize this.  David Hackett Fischer writes that the Continental Army suffered for having few women in their camps in 1775 and 1776.  According to Fischer, 
“Several observers attributed the filthy appearance of the army at Boston and New York and its miserable camp sanitation and very high rates of illness to the absence of women.
See David Hackett Fischer, Washington’s Crossing (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), pages 383-385, who cites Walter Hart Blumenthal, Women Camp Followers of the American Revolution (Philadelphia: George S. MacManus Company, 1952) and Holly A. Mayer, Belonging to the Army: Camp Followers and Community During the American Revolution (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996).  For the quote from Bellafaire, please consult Judith Bellafaire, Women in the United States Military: An Annotated Bibliography (New York: Routledge, 2011), page 15.  For the Fischer quote, please consult Fischer, Washington's Crossing, page 384.  Please also visit Don N. Hagist, "Top 10 Facts About British Soldiers," Journal of the American Revolution (February 2013), [accessed 6 February 2013].

Saturday, February 2, 2013

February 3: "For the Good of Their Country"

   In his February 3, 1776 letter to Samuel Lyman, Continental Congressman from Connecticut Oliver Wolcott wrote, “The Ladys I hope will still make themselves contented to live without Tea for the good of their Country.” 
   Wolcott understood that the Patriotic commitment of American women was vital to their country's cause.  In Dartmouth, Massachusetts, fifty-seven women not only pledged to use no more India tea but also pressured a local gentleman to surrender his.  In Edenton, North Carolina in October 1774, fifty-one ladies formed an Association to support the measures of the North Carolina Provincial Congress (read about them here).
   German-American pacifist communities like the Moravian Brethren trained men and women to care for the sick and wounded.  Read about the Revolutionary commitment of many German-Americans at the post here.  

February 3: The Word Rebel

     On February 3, 1776, Oliver Wolcott wrote to Samuel Lyman that King George III’s ministers “intend to offer special Pardons upon the Points of Bayonets, but I think We are not well disposed to receive their Graces in that Manner.” 
     Wolcott remarked, “I think the Word Rebel is not made quite so free a use of by their High Mightinesses of late but I more fear their Temporary Moderation than their Arms.  Common Sense Operates pritty well, but all Men have not common Sense.”

     In the course of America’s War of Independence, American Revolutionaries realized that cruelty by British forces and menacing language from British leaders convinced many Americans to support the efforts of the Continental Congress.  The 
Temporary Moderation Wolcott observed might reverse the momentum toward independence. The term rebel was an offensive word for an illegal combatant.  
    Thomas Paine wrote the pamphlet Common Sense to encourage Americans to declare their independence.  As other Americans did in 1776, Wolcott seems to be using “Common Sense” as a synonym for independence.  
     Oliver Wolcott was a Connecticut delegate to the Second Continental Congress.  Wolcott's son of the same name served as United States Secretary of the Treasury from from 1795 to 1800.  For more on Connecticut lawyer and later Massachusetts state legislator Samuel Lyman, please visit the entry on Lyman at Wikipedia.  
     For the full text of Wolcott's letter, please visit the Library of Congress web site, A Century of Law Making for a New Nation: U. S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1785 and locate Oliver Wolcott to Samuel Lyman, Philadelphia, 3 February 1776, in Paul H. Smith, Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789, 26 vols. (Washington: Library of Congress, 1976-2000): volume 3: 191.  

Friday, February 1, 2013

Capt. John Richards

   John Richards was a resident of New Barbados Neck, New Jersey, currently the town of Kearney.  His attachment to the Loyalists cause prompted him to move from New Jersey to British-occupied New York City while his family remained in New Bardanos Neck.  Hearing of the sickness in his family, Richards obtained a British pass to go beyond enemy lines to visit his home.
   Loyalists and Revolutionary newspapers offered very different versions of Richards's encounter with two armed men, near the
Three Pigeons Tavern in Bergen Township, New Jersey.  
   The February 2 issue of Loyalist New York City newspaper The New-York Gazette; and The Weekly Mercury reported, “On Thursday Afternoon [January 29, 1778], on his Way to gratify an ardent Desire to see his Family, who were ill of the Small-pox, Mr. JOHN RICHARDS, of New-Barbados Neck, was taken by two armed Men, and on the Road between that and the three Pigeons, was shot dead by one of them, as he was preventing the other from robbing him of his Watch.”
   The New-York Gazette eulogized Richards, “He was a Man universally known, and as universally beloved; warmly attached to his Friends, humane and candid to his Enemies, benevolent and hospitable to all Men, and has now fallen a Sacrifice to his unsuspecting and generous Temper, for when warned of the Danger of his intended Visit, his Answer was, ‘that his Countrymen, even if they should take him, would never injure him.’”
   The Gazette was not above reproving the deceased for trusting his fellow-Americans, especially those Americans in rebellion: “Mistaken Man, to trust to the Generosity of those, who have involved their Country in Ruin.” 
   The Gazette reported that the “Monsters” who perpetrated the murder were “Brower and Le Sheair, the former Shot him dead.” 
   Historian Adrian Coulter Leiby wrote that John Richards probably long enjoyed the trust of his New Jersey neighbors, who apparently elected him to several county offices in the years before the Revolutionary War.  His neighbor's estimation of John Richards changed after the Declaration of Independence.  On July 13, 1776, New Jersey authorities in Trenton obliged Richards to give his parole, requiring him to pledge that he would not give supplies or information to British forces.  
   Paul H. Smith reports that Abraham Brower and John Lazier were members of Major John Goetshius’s battalion of New Jersey militia.  Leiby referred to the battalion as Major Goetschius’s Bergen County Rangers.  The pro-Revolutionary newspaper The New-Jersey Gazette (Burlington) gave a different account of the incident on February 11, 1778:

   On the 29th ult. [that is, January 29] Major Goetschius, who commands a party of rangers in   Bergen county, had dispatched John Leshier and Abraham Brower, to of his men, to reconnoiter the enemy’s picket at Paulus-Hook.  As they lay in ambush at Prior’s mill, within sight of the enemy’s centry, they were passed by John Richard[s] with a Negro man belonging to himself, and another to Cornelius Van Vorst, upon a Waggon.  John Richard had a pass from Col. Turnbull to go to Bergen.  Maj. Goetchius’s men thought it their Duty to carry Mr. Richard and the two negroes to their commanding officer for examination.  Upon the road, about six miles from the place where they were taken, Mr. Richard and his negro took hold of Leshier’s musket, (they being in the waggon, and Brower at a little distance on horseback) with design, as Leshier thought, to kill him.  Upon this he called to Brower to come to his assistance.  As Brower came up, the negro took hold of Leshier, and Richard turned to seize Brower—but Brower, to prevent him, shot him dead on the spot, and the negroes were carried to Maj. Goetchius’s.

   Leiby suggested that Brower and Lazier had much in common with "other [New] Jersey Dutchmen who tried to work their farms...and to carry on as soldiers at the same time, men with no expectation or desire of bringing themselves to public notice."  Leiby believed both men adhered to a branch of the Dutch Reformed Church that included a majority of New York and New Jersey's Dutch Calvinist, a branch that was generally supportive of American Cause.    
   For more information, please consult  Paul H. Smith, ed., Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789, 26 vols. (Washington: Library of Congress, 1976-2000), vol. 11: page 386 and 386note1; and
Adrian Coulter Leiby, The Revolutionary War in the Hackensack Valley: The Jersey Dutch and the Neutral Ground, 1775-1783 (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1992 [1962]), pages 20, 144 and 147note47.