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?"  
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