Monday, November 4, 2013

Fort Washington POWs

On November 16, 1776, the American garrison at Fort Washington on Manhattan surrendered to Anglo-Hessian forces.  The surrender followed intense fighting with the Hessians.
     The British reported they took 2,607 American enlisted men prisoners at Fort Washington, 197 commissioned officers and fourteen staff.  The British eventually transferred the privates who were prisoners, and some of the officers, to a series of detention centers and prison ships around New York City.  
     In the next month and a half, many of the American prisoners taken at Fort Washington died in the hands of the British military personnel and their Loyalist functionaries.  In early-January 1777, some returning POWs estimated that 1,100 of the privates who surrendered at Fort Washington died in British custody.
     The American commissioners in Paris--Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane and Arthur Lee--estimated that two-thirds of the prisoners from Fort Washington died in captivity.  According to that estimate, about 1,738 soldiers taken from Fort Washington died in less than two months. 
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