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kňowledge or approbation. I transmit the depositions of two persons of reputation who are come from Philadelphia, respecting the treatment they received. I will not comment on the subject : it is too painful.”
In reply to Washington's wish to have the cases particularized, in which the royal prisoners had been ironed, Sir William mentioned Major Stockdon of the New Jersey Volunteers, and a Captain of the same regiment, who had been captured at Princeton, and hand cuffed. Washington admitted that this was true, but declared that it was without his privity or consent, and that relief had been ordered as soon as he was apprised of it: 6 But surely this event, (said he,) which happened so long ago, will not authorise the charges in your letter of the 6th."
The American officers, prisoners at New York, had been at first quartered upon the inhabitants on Long Island; and upon the promise of the Commissary General of Prisoners, to pay two dollars a week for their board, bad lived in tolerable comfort. But upon the failure of the Commissary's resources, they had been removed on board the prison ships, where in common with the privates, they suffered every species of privation, for a period of several months, until on the 10th of December they were again removed to Long Island, upon the engagement of Mr. Lewis Pintard, agent of the Commissary General, to pay for them at the rate of two silver dollars per week. In his letter to Mr. Boudinot, the Commissary, he observed that the convalescents had nothing but salt meat given to them on leaving the hospitals, that the consequence was they relapsed almost immediately, and were dying very fast. Mr. Boudinot was called before the board of war on the 21st December, and from the evi
dences produced by him, it appeared that there were 900 privates and 300 officers prisoners in New York, and about 500 privates and 50 officers in Philadel. phia-—“That the privates in New York have been crowded all summer in sugar houses, and the officers boarded on Long Island, except about 30, who have been confined in the provost guard, and in the most loathsome jails. That since the beginning of October, all these prisoners, both officers and privates, have been confined in prison ships, or the provost.That the privates in Philadelphia have been kept in two publick jails, and the officers in the state house. That from the best evidence which the nature of the subject will admit of, the general allowance to prisoners, at most, does not exceed four ounces of meat, and as much bread per day, soften so much damaged as not to be eatable,) and often much less, though the professed allowance is from eight to ten ounces. That it has been a common practice with the enemy, on a prisoner's being first captured, to keep him three, four, or even five days, without a morsel of provisions of any kind, and then to tempt him to enlist, to save his life. That there are numerous instances of prisoners of war perishing in all the agonies of hunger, from their severe treatment. That being generally stripped of what clothes they have when taken, they have suffered greatly for the want thereof during their confinement."
Such was the report of five of our most respectable officers, founded upon the best evidence of which the nature of the subject would admit. What American is there who can hear these sufferings of our Revolutionary soldiers recited, and not feel his resolution new strengthened to cherish the independence pur
chased at such a price? We desire not to rekindle the extinguished flame of hatred, or open anew the cicatrised wounds of either country. Would to Heaven rather, we could bury these scenes in eternal oblivion; but the exactions of duty forbid us to suppress the record, and truth compels us, while we make it, to cry shame apon the British name. The Congress had some reason to fear that British Generals would hold no faith with rebels, when such was the treatment dealt out to those whom the fortune of war placed in their power. But the treatment which the friends of liberty and the heroes of our independence suffered from the European royalists, was mildness, compared to that which they often experienced at the hands of their own countrymen who had adhered to the cause of British tyranny.
A short time after the return of the devastating ex. pedition of Sir Henry Clinton up the Hudson, during which his officers boasted that they had not left a house standing on its banks, General Tryon, the former Governour of New York, sent a Captain Emmerick, with a hundred men, on a similar expedition to Philip's Manor, within a few miles of General Parsons' guards. After burning several houses, they seized upon the women and children, stripped off their clothing and turned them naked into the streets, in ibe cold weather of the 18th of November-thie men were stripped to their shirts and breeches, haltered, and thus led in triumph to the British lines !-General Parsons, whose soul revolted at such acts of wanton barbarity, though it was in his power to have retaliated upon several tory families in the vicinity of his guard, contented himself with writing a calm, expostulatory letter to General Tryon, in which he painted the unprovoked cruelty of his conduct. To this letter Tryon replied in the following savage terms : “ Sir, could I possibly conceive myself accountable to any revolted subjects of the king of Great Britain, I might answer your letter of yesterday, respecting the conduct of Captain Emmerick's party, upon the tak. ing of Peter and Cornelius Vantassel. As much as I abhor every principle of inhumanity or ungenerous conduct, I should, were I in more authority, burn every committee man's house within my reach, as I deem them the wicked instruments of the continued calamities of this country; and in order the sooner to purge the colony of them, I am willing to give twenty silver dollars for every acting committee man who shall be delivered up to the king's troops."
Was it wonderful that General Parsons, after the receipt of such a letter, should indulge a momentary feeling of resentment, and endeavour to retort upon the tories this treatment of republicans ? A small party were sent in the evening to Greenwich, to the house of Mr. Oliver Delancy. They advanced unperceived, secured the centinel, burnt the house and brought off a few prisoners. There were females here too; but these were tenderly treated, and dismissed without insult. The flames of the house occasioned an alarm at New York, but the little party recrossed the river, and returned in safety.
Before we close this chapter it will be proper to mention a few minor incidents which, it would have interrupted the general narrative, to have related in their proper chronological order.
It will be recollected that Forts Montgomery and Clinton, on the North River, the two most important
posts in that extensive and valuable section of the country, were found by Sir Henry Clinton, garris. oned by no more than about 600 men. The militia of Connecticut had been destined by Washington to this service, but had been diverted from that object by the authorities of Rhode Island, who bad without Washington's consent or privity, planned a secret expedition against Newport, the conduct of which was entrusted to General Spencer, who was stationed at Providence. The militia of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut eagerly engaged in the expedition, and preparations were actively entered upon for the attack. For some time these preparations were concealed from the knowledge of the enemy, and every thing promised success. Information, however, was at length conveyed to them, which put them on their guard. Brigadier General Palmer, of the Massachusetts militia, who was to have led the advance, disobeyed the orders given to him, and occasioned a failure of the whole plan, wbich had been well devised, and with Spencer himself at the head, would have ensured success. Militia are not generally willing to make a second attempt, where the first has failed: notwithstanding this disaster, Spencer would still have gone on, though the enemy were watching his approach, but that the other officers refused their cooperation.
While the two grand armies of the United States were occupied in defending the northern and atlantick frontiers, the peaceable inhabitants of the western frontiers of Pennsylvania and Virginia, were suffering from the daily inroads of the merciless savages. Helpless women and children were cruelly murdered, or driven from their homes to suffer worse than