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ly were subjected 10-llre severest kind of persecution that ever uns fortunate captives suffered. Officers were insulted, and often. struck for attepting to afford some of the miserable privates a small relief. In about three weeks he was able to walk, and was. himself a witness of the extreme wretchedness his countrymen, suffered. He could not describe their misery. Their constitu-. tions were not equal to the rigor of the treatment they received, and the consequence was the death of many hundreds. The officers were not allowed to take muster-rolls, nor even to visit their men, so that it was impossible to ascertain the numbers that perished; but from frequent reports and his own observations, he verily believed, as well as had heard many officers give it as their opinion, that not less than fifteen hundred prisoners perish, ed in the course of a few weeks in the city of New York, and that this dreadful mortality was principally owing to the want ob provisions and extreme cold. If they computed too largely, it must be ascribed to the shocking, brutal manner of treating the dead bodies, and not to any desire of exaggerating the account. of their sufferings. When the king's commissary of prisoners intimated to some of the American officers, gen. Howe's intens tion of sending the privates home on parole, they all earnestly desired it; a paper was signed expressing that desire; the reason for signing was, they well knew the effects of a longer confinet ment; and the great numbers that died when on parole, justified their pretensions to that knowledge. In January almost all the officers were sent to Long-Island on parole, and there billeted: on the inhabitants at two dollars per week. *. ...
The filth in the churches (in consequence of fluxes) was bez. yond description. Seven dead have been seen in one of them. at the same time, lying among the excrements of their bodies. The British soldiers were full of their low and insulting jokes on those occasions, but less malignant than thc tories. The provie sion dealt out to the prisoners was not sufficient for the support of life; and was deficient in quantity, more so in quality. The bread was loathsome and not fit to be eaten, and was thought to. have been condemned. The allowance of meat was trifting, and of the baser sort. The consequence was, a suspicion of a premeditated and systematical plan to destroy the youths of the land, thereby to deter the country. The integrity of these suffering prisoners was hardly credible Hundreds subinitted to death, rather than endist in the British service, which they were most generally presscd to do. It was the opinion of the Ameaican officers that gen. Howe perfectly understood the condition of
* The major's letter to col. Harrison, one of gen. Washington'a secretaries, after being exchanged for major Acland.
Paro They em
He and he has
the private soldiers; and they from thence argued, that it was exactly such as he and his council had devised. After general Washington's success in the Jerseys, the obduracy and malevolence of the royalists subsided in some measure. The surviviug prisoners were ordered to be sent out for an exchange; but sea 'veral of them fell down dead in the streets, while attempting to walk to the vessels.* .
Gen. Washington wrotetogen. Howe in the beginning of April, ** It is a fact not to be questioned, that the usage of our prisoners while in your possession, the privates at least, was such as could not be justined. This was proclained by the concurrene testimony of all who came out. Their appearance sanctified the assertion, and melancholy experience, in the speedy death of a large part of them, stamped it with infallibie certainty.** The cruel treatment of the prisoners being the subject of conversation among some officers captured by Sir Guy Carleton, gen. Parsons, who was of the company, said, “ I am very glad of it.” They expressed their astonishment, and desired him to explain himself. He thus addressed them. “You have been taken by gen. Carleton, and he has used you with great huma.. nity; would you be inclined to fight against him?" The an. swer was No. “So," added Parsons, “ would it have been, had the troops taken by Howe been treated in like manner; but now, through his cruelty, we shall get another ariuy.” The hon. William Smith, esq.f now at Haverstraw, learning how the British used the prisoners, and concluding it would operate to that end by enraging the Americans, applied to the committee of the New-York state, for leave to go into the city, and renonstrate with the British upon such cruci treatment, which he doubt 'ed not but that he should put a stop to. The committee, however, either from knowing what effect the cruelties would havo in strengthening the opposition to Britain, or from jealousies of his being in some other way of disservice to the American cause, or from these united, would not grant his request. Gen. Gates has been repeatedly heard to say to the following purport*** Had gen. Howe seen to it, that the prisoners and jersevinná bitants, when subdued, were treated with as much humanity and kindness as Sir Guy Carleton exercised toward his prison ers, it would have been all up with the Americans.". . .
The congress.commissioners for treating with the lidians of the Six Nations, and their brethren on the Susquchand, have had repeated meetings with them. They had one the last Au. gust at the German Flats; when Adam, 'an Oghuaga Sachem, inade mention of the line that was settled between the Indians and whites at the treaty at Fort Stanwix; and observed, that by the agreement the whites were not to encroach upon their lands; but that of late some of the white people had made encroachments, by surveying their hunting grounds, close up to their habitations. He desired the commissioners to consider it, and hoped for redress. They assured the Indians, that the great coun. cil at Philadelphia would effectually put a stop to such wicked practices, and punish every person that should offend against their orders. “If any persons (say they) shall come upon your lands, we desire you will immediately bring them to the minister, that he may write down their names, and inform us of it, and then we shall immediately proceed against them. Brothers, you may all rest assured, that no white people will be suffered to pass the line settled at Fort Stanwix; for although that agreement was made with the king, yet as you are satisfied with it, we shall take care that it is complied with.” Since then, some of the Indians have complained of a number of people who have gone over the line, and settled on the west branch of the Susquehanna, contrary to the Fort Stanwix treaty, and threatened they would not suffer them to stay. The people have not any legal claim to the ground in the opinion of the commissioners; who suppose that col. Butler, upon coming to Niagara, seized upon this affaic as a fit instrument to foment a difference. But the difference, it is hoped, will be prevented by a late treaty at Easton, which ended February the sixth, to mutual satisfaction. The commissioners say, “We remember the agreement at Fort Stanwix. Our people ought not to have bought, and your people not to have sold lands contrary to the former agreement. We blame both. We will tell this matter to congress, who will enquire, and not suffer the old agreement to be broken by any of their people. They will call the intruders back, and do strict justice to both sides.” The Indians seemingly mean to adhere steadily, to their engagements of neutrality; and absolutely protest against either the enemy marching througli their country by way of Niagara, to attack the United States, or the army of the latter marching that way to attack their enemy.
* Sec.col. Allen's pamphlers, and also the hon. William Henry Dravton's publication at Philadelphia, Oct. 24, 1778, addrell lo he communer Carlisle, Clinton and Eden.
.. † Since appointed chick judice of Casadeco
The Americans were not in readiness to begin their naval hostilities at a distance from their own coasts tili late in the last year, That circumstance however, was of no great disadvantage, by reason of an unexpected occurrence. The discovery of an intended conspiracy among the negroes of Jamaica, detained the fleet till after the customary time of sailing. Through this detention, it sailed at a season that was accompanied with much tempestuous weather, which scattered the ships, and exposed them 10 such American cruisers, as lay in wait for them in the latitudes through wbich they were to pass in their voyage homeward. The consequence was, that many of them were taken by the American privateers. The trade from the other islands suffered proportionably ; so that by the close of the year, the British loss in captures, exclusive of transports and government store-ships, was considerable liigher than a million sterling. The privateers were at po difficulty as to the disposal of their prizes. The ports of France and Spain especially the first, were open to them, both in Europe, and in their American dominions. In the last the captors sold them openly, without any colours of disguise. On remonstrances from the British court, a little more decorum was observed in Europe, and a check given to the avowed sale of them; for a while they were obliged to quit the harbours, and were purchased at the entrance orin the ofhingBut in the WestIndia islands the real inclinations of the French were undisguised. They not only purchased the prizes as fast as they could be brought into port; they moreover fitted our privateers, under American colours and commissions, and with a few American seamen on board (at times probably not any) carried on a war upon the British conimerce. . Though many have been the captures made by the ships and armed vessels of the British navy, they have 'not counterbalanced, either in number or value those taken by the Americans from Great-Britain. Several of them indeed were laden with flour, and other articles for the trade in the West-Indies; and so profed a timely relief to the British islands, which were suffering much, through the depravation they lay under, of those various supplies with which they had been before furnished from the American continent. . The ministerialists at New-York will undoubtedly amuse the Ration with accounts of the thousands, who have formed theinselves into military corps under the auspices of gen. Sir William Howe, as he is now to be stiled from the honor conterred upon him, for his success on Long-Island. But when the campaign comes to be opened by Sir William, you will find that they are reduced to hundreds; and that the acquisition of strength derived from the country, whatever flattering appearance it may have upon paper, is no wise answerable to the report. Governor Tryon made a parade in black and white before lord George Germain, : with his two thuosand nine hundred and seventy inhabitants of New-York, who have qualified by taking an oath of allegience and fidelity to his majesty. By the aid of the mayor, be may in" VOL. II.
crease them to three thousand and twenty. He may add those attested on Staten-Island and elsewhere, and make the whole a. mount to five thousand six hundred men. He may also tell of the loyal inhabitants of Queen's county, who have received ciglat hundred stand of arms, with demonstrations of joy, and with a professed resolution to use them in defence of the island*. But the service they will be of to government, in the great American contest, will be next to nought.
The Georgiu representatives, met in convention, unanimously agreed in a constitution for that state, on the 5th of Februray.
TAR. Sayre sued ford Rochford, in the court of Common
IV Pleas, about this time twelvemonth, for illegal imprison. ment; the jury granted him a thousand pounds damages, subject to the opinion of the court upon a point of law. Thus endedan affair, which in the commencement occasioned a great bustle among the people. .
An unaccountable indifference possessed the nation, through the last summer. When at length the American cruisers, not only scoured the Atlantic, but spreading over the European seas, brought alarm and hostility to our doors--when the de. struction which befel the homeward bound richly laden WestIndia fleets, poured equal ruin upon the planters in the islands, and the merchants at home--even in that state of public loss and private distress, an unusual phlegm prevailed, and the same tranquil countenance was preserved, by those who had not yet partaken of the calamity..
Administration had acquired such an appearance of stability, as seemed to render them, for some considerable time to come, superior to the frowns of fortune. Supported by an irresisti. ble majority in parliament, they were already armed with every
. * See his letter published in the Gazette, and in the Remembran.. ser, vol. V. p. 101.