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many a good man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-10-08 09:17 AM
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The Wretched Prison Ships
I came across this interesting little tidbit about the Revolutionary War I never heard about before:

Death, disease and injury were the fate of thousands held at sea by the British

By George DeWan | Staff Writer

More Americans died in British prison ships in New York Harbor than in all the battles of the Revolutionary War.

There were at least 16 of these floating prisons anchored in Wallabout Bay on the East River for most of the war, and they were sinkholes of filth, vermin, infectious disease and despair. The ships were uniformly wretched, but the most notorious was the Jersey.

Following the Battle of Long Island in August, 1776, and the fall of New York City soon after, the British found thousands of prisoners on their hands, and the available prisons in New York filled up quickly. Then, as the British began seizing hundreds of seamen off privateers, they turned a series of aging vessels into maritime prison ships.

There were more than a thousand men at a time packed onto the Jersey. They died with such regularity that when their British jailers opened the hatches in the morning, their first greeting to the men below was: "Rebels, turn out your dead!"

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Donnachaidh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-15-08 10:35 AM
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1. at some point they offered an option to POW ships/camps
I know this is fact, because 2 of my ancestors took the option.

The British offered the pows the choice of going to the camps (or the ships) - OR signing on with the British, and to serve the British in a NON-AMERICAN post. The camps were notoriously bad, and my guys took the option, and served out the rest of the war in Barbados.
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