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. 
Post a Comment