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Full text of "Recollections of the Jersey prison-ship; taken, and prepared for publication, from the original manuscript of the late Captain Thomas Dring ... one of the prisoners"

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Taken and prepared for publication from the original 
manuscript of the late 





" It was there, that hunger and thirst and disease, and all the contumely 
which cold-hearted cruelty could bestow, sharpened every pang of death. 
Misery there wrung every fibre that could feel, before she gave the blow 
of grace, which sent the sufferer to eternity." Russclii Oration. 




2E!)fs SE&ftfon strfctl^ Ifmfteti to ne J^unlitetJ Otopfes, all tljfs sfje 

Riverside, Cambridge: H. O. HOUGHTON AND COMPANY. 


IN presenting the following narrative to the public, 
it is deemed proper that it should be accompanied 
with a brief notice of the individual from whose 
memory these Recollections were drawn ; and with 
some account of the materials left by him, from which 
this work has been compiled. 

Excepting the events described in this volume, his 
biography would afford but few incidents of sufficient 
importance to excite public attention. The prime of 
his life was spent in active employment upon the 
ocean, and his remaining years were passed in the avo 
cations of the quiet and industrious citizen. The 
events of the latter yield no themes for comment; 
and the former, although not without its scenes of 
peril and adventure, affords nothing which here re 
quires to be recorded. 

Capt. THOMAS DRING was born in the town of 
Newport (R. I.), on the third day of August, 1758. 


He was therefore in his twenty-fifth year when the 
events occurred which form the subject of the present 
volume. After the termination of his confinement on 
board the Jersey, he entered the merchant service, and 
soon attained the command of a ship. He sailed 
from the port of Providence for many years, and was 
well known as an able and experienced officer. In 
the year 1803 he retired from his nautical profession 
and soon after established himself in business in Prov 
idence, where he resided during the remainder of his 
life. He died on the eighth day of August, 1825, 
aged 67 years ; leaving many by whom his memory 
will long be preserved, as a kind relative, an intelli 
gent and industrious citizen, a worthy and an honest 

The original manuscript from which the facts con 
tained in the following pages have been taken, was 
written in the year 1824. Although it was finished 
but a few-months previous to his decease, his faculties 
were then perfect and unimpaired, and his memory 
remained clear and unclouded, even in regard to the 
most minute facts. To those who were personally 
acquainted with Capt. Dring, his character affords 
sufficient assurance of the correctness of his narrative. 

His manuscript is a closely written folio of about 
sixty pages, containing a great number of interesting 


facts, thrown together, without m uch regard to style 
or to chronological order. Not being intended for 
publication, at least in the form in which he left it, he 
appears to have bestowed but little regard on the lan 
guage in which his facts were described, or on the 
arrangement or connexion in which they were placed. 
His only aim, indeed, appears to have been, to com 
mit faithfully to paper his recollections of all the 
principal events which transpired during his own con 
finement, and the material circumstances in relation to 
the general treatment of the prisoners. His writing 
accordingly abounds with repetitions of not only the 
most important, but even of the most minute occur 
rences. These, although they add value to a manu 
script like his, proving the strength and accuracy of 
his memory, by the perfect accordance of his descrip 
tions of the same facts, made at different times; still 
in a published book they could be viewed but as use 
less redundancies, at least. 

The manuscript has been sought for and eagerly 
perused by several gentlemen of high respectability, 
who were either prisoners on board the Jersey, or 
placed in situations where they had ample opportuni 
ties of being acquainted with the facts. They have 
uniformly borne testimony to the correctness of its 
details ; but have been, at the same time, unanimous 




in the opinion that a perfect and complete revision of 
its style and arrangement was absolutely required. 

It was, in fact, necessary that the work should not 
merely be revised, but rewritten, before its publica 
tion. To do this in a proper manner was no easy 
task. It was necessary to divide the narrative into 
distinct and separate chapters ; and consequently, to 
transpose and connect detached facts under their 
proper heads, in order to produce a degree of uniform 
ity in the whole. But while the circumstances not 
only allowed, but required, full liberty to be taken 
with the language and arrangement of the narrative, 
still nothing has been added, and no fact or occurrence 
of the least importance has been omitted. Through 
out the whole work, the most scrupulous care has 
been taken that the incidents as here pourtrayed, 
should exactly agree with the descriptions of Capt. 
Dring; and also, that they should be so set forth as 
to appear neither of more nor less importance than 
he appears to have attached to them, while writing 
his manuscript. 




















. . 45 



. 50 







THE MARINE GUARD, ........ g g 


" DAME GRANT " AND HER BOAT, ...... - . 


OUR SUPPLIES, . ....... _g 


OUR BY-LAWS, ...... g 


OUR ORATOR, . ....... g 


THE FOURTH OF JULY, ........ _ 


AN ATTEMPT TO ESCAPE, ...... ro g 









I2 - 





IT may be proper to mention, that the Engraving which ac 
companies this volume is copied from an original sketch made 
by Capt. DRING, and attached to his Manuscript. The Ref 
erences are given almost in his own words. 







THE Jersey was originally a British ship of the 
line. She was rated and registered as a sixty-four gun 
ship, but had usually mounted seventy-four guns. At 
the commencement of the American Revolution, being 
an old vessel, and proving to be much decayed, she 
was entirely dismantled, and soon after was moored 
in the East River at New-York, and converted into a 
store-ship. In the year 1780, she was fitted as a 
prison-ship, and was used for that purpose during the 
remainder of the war. Fears having been very natu 
rally felt that the destructive contagion by which so 
many of her unfortunate inmates had been swept 
away might spread to the shore, she was, in conse- 



quence, removed, and moored, with chain cables, at 
the Wallabout, a solitary and unfrequented place on 
the shore of Long-Island. She had been dismantled, 
and her rudder unhung. Her only spars were the 
bowsprit, a derrick for taking in supplies of water, 
&c., and a flag-staff at the stern. Her port-holes had 
all been closed and strongly fastened, and two tiers of 
small holes cut through her sides. These holes were 
about ten feet apart, each being about twenty inches 
square, and guarded by two strong bars of iron, cross 
ing it at right angles ; thus leaving four contracted 
spaces, which admitted light by day, and served as 
breathing holes at night. The interior construction 
and arrangement of the ship, will be clearly under 
stood by an examination of the Engraving, illustrated 
by the following references. 

FIGURE i. Exterior Vieiu of the Ship. 

1. The Flag Staff, which was seldom used, and only for signals. 

2. A Canvass Awning or Tent, used by the guards in warm weather. 

3. The Quarter Deck, with its barricade about ten feet high, with a door 

and loop holes on each side. 

4. The Ship s Officers Cabin, under the quarter deck. 

5. Accommodation Ladder, on the starboard side, for the use of the Snip s 


6. The Steerage, occupied by the sailors belonging to the Ship. 

Fig. 2. 


Fig. 3. 

The arrangement of the, Lower Deck 
(wns simiJrt); but iritl/.out BunJcs.) 


7. The Cook Room for the Ship s crew and guards. 

8. The Suttlcr s Room, where articles were sold to the prisoners, and 

delivered to them through an opening in the bulk head. 

9. The Upper Deck and Spar Deck, where the prisoners were occasion 

ally allowed to walk. 

10. The Gangway I adder, on the larboard side, for the prisoners. 
n. The Derrick, on the starboard side, for taking in water, &c., &c. 

i a. The Galley, or Great Copper, under the forecastle, where the pro 
visions were cooked for the prisoners. 

13. The Gun Room, occupied by those prisoners who were officers. 

14, 15. Hatchways leading below, where the prisoners were confined. 
17, 1 8. Between decks, where the prisoners were confined by night. 

19. The Bowsprit. 

20. Chain Cables, by which the Ship was moored. 

FIGURE 2. The Gun Deck, with its Apartments. 

i. Cabin. 9, 10. The Cook s quarters. 

a. Steerage. n. The Gangway Ladder. 

3. Cook Room. 12. The Officers Ladder. 

4. Suttler s Room. 13. Working Party. 

5. 6. Gangways. 14. The Barricade. 

7. The Booms. o o o Store Rooms. 

8. The Galley. 

FIGURE 3. Tie Upper Deck, betivcen Decks. 

i. The Hatchway Ladder, leading to the lower deck, railed round on 

three sides. 
a. The Steward s Room, from which the prisoners received their daily 

allowance, through an opening in the partition. 
3. The Gun Room, occupied by those prisoners who were officers. 
4 Door of the Gun Room. 


5, 6, 7, 8. The arrangement of the prisoners chests and boxes, which were 

ranged along, about ten feet from the sides of the Ship, leaving a 

vacant space, where the messes assembled. 
9, 10. The middle of the deck, where many of the prisoners hammocks 

were hung at night, but always taken down in the morning, to afford 

room for walking, 
ii. Bunks, on the larboard side of the deck, for the reception of the sick. 




" The various horrors of these hulks to tell, 
" Where want and woe, where pain and penance dwell ; 
" Where Death in ten-fold vengeance holds his reign, 
" And injured ghosts, yet unavenged, complain, 

" This be my task." 


AMONG the varied events of the war of the 
American Revolution, there are few circum 
stances which have left a deeper impression on 
the public mind, than those connected with the 
cruel and vindictive treatment which was ex 
perienced by those of our unfortunate country 
men whom the fortune of war had placed on 
board the Prison-Ships of the enemy. Still, 
among the vague and indistinct narrations which 
have been made, (although in almost every in 
stance falling short of the dreadful reality,) but 


few statements have been given to the world in 
an authentic form ; and these have been for the 
most part relations of detached facts and circum 
stances, rather than such distinct and connected 
accounts as might afford the reader a correct 
view of all the important facts in relation to the 

Indeed, most of those who have spoken and 
who could have written of these facts with the 
fidelity of eye witnesses, have already passed 
beyond the scenes of earth ; and while living, 
had but slight inducements to devote the neces 
sary time and labour to record the history of 
their former sufferings. 

Hence, so little that is authentic, has ever 
been published upon the subject, and so scanty 
are the materials for information respecting it, 
which have as yet been given to the rising gen 
erations of our country, that it has already be 
come a matter of doubt, even among many of 
the intelligent and well-informed of our young 
citizens, whether the tales of the Prison-Ships, 
such as they have been told, have not been ex 
aggerated beyond the reality. They have not 


been exaggerated. Much of the truth has, in 
deed, been told ; but not one half the detail of 
its horrors has ever been pourtrayed. 

But the period has now arrived, which re 
quires that some authentic record should be 
made, in order that the truth of these events 
shall not remain a subject of doubt and un 
certainty. And so few of those who suffered 
in these terrific abodes remain alive, that as a 
matter of precaution, it seems to be required 
that some one possessing actual knowledge of 
the facts, should embody them in a form more 
permanent than the tales of tradition, and more 
detailed than can appear on the page of the 
general historian. 

All the important occurrences of that eventful 
period, all which conspired to give its peculiar 
character to the lengthened contest, or which 
had an effect in advancing or retarding its issue, 
every thing which tends to shew the spirit with 
which it was conducted on either side, is certain 
ly worthy of record and of remembrance. In 
this light, I view the facts in relation to the treat 
ment of the American seamen on board the Brit- 


ish Prison-Ships. These facts are a portion of 
our country s history; and that history would 
not be complete, one of its deepest lessons would 
be lost, were the page which bears the record of 
these facts, to be obliterated. 

The principal motive of the writer of the fol 
lowing pages, in recording the facts which they 
contain, was originally to strengthen his recol 
lection of the particulars relative to the events 
which he has described. Although nearly half 
a century has elapsed, since these events occur 
red, yet so indelible was the impression which 
they left on his mind, that they seem in all their 
details, but as the things of yesterday ; and if 
memory remains to him, they will go with him, 
in all their freshness, to the grave. 

In a very short time, there will be not one be 
ing on the face of the earth, who can, from his 
own knowledge, relate this tale ; though many 
still live, who although not among the sufferers, 
yet well know the truth of the circumstances 
which I have written. 

The number of those who perished on board 
the prison and hospital ships at the Wallabout, 


has never been, and never can be known. It has 
been ascertained, however, with as much pre 
cision as the nature of the case will admit, that 
more than TEN THOUSAND died on board the 
Jersey, and the hospital ships Scorpion, Strom- 
boto, and Hunter. Thousands there suffered, 
and pined and died, whose names have never 
been known by their countrymen. They died 
where no eye could admire their fortitude, no 
tongue could praise their devotion to their coun 
try s cause. 

For years, the very name of "the old Jersey," 
seemed to strike a terror to the hearts of those 
whose necessities required them to venture upon 
the ocean ; the mortality which prevailed on 
board her was well known throughout the coun 
try ; and to be confined within her dungeons, 
was considered equal to a sentence of death, 
from which but little hope of escape remained. 

It was my hard fortune, in the course of the 
war, to be twice confined on board the prison- 
ships of the enemy. I was first immured in the 
year 1779, on board the Good Hope, then lying 
in the North River, opposite the city of New- 


York ; but after a confinement of more than 
four months, I succeeded in making my escape 
to the Jersey shore. Afterwards, in the year 
1782, I was again captured and conveyed on 
board the Jersey, where for nearly five months, 
I was a witness and a partaker of the unspeak 
able sufferings of that wretched class of Ameri 
can prisoners, who were there taught the utmost 
extent of human misery. 

I am now far advanced in years, and am the 
only survivor (with the exception of two) of a 
crew of sixty-five men. I often pass some de 
scendant of one of my old companions in cap 
tivity ; and the recollection comes fresh to my 
mind, that his father was my comrade and fel 
low-sufferer in prison ; that I saw him breathe 
his last upon the deck of the Jersey, and as 
sisted at his interment at the Wallabout ; cir 
cumstances probably wholly unknown to- the 
person, the sight of whom had excited the rec 

In the month of May, 1782, I sailed from 
Providence (Rhode-Island), as Master s Mate, 
on board a privateer called the Chance. This 


was a new vessel, on her first cruise. She was 
owned in Providence, by Messrs. Clarke & Night 
ingale, and manned chiefly from that place and 
vicinity. She was commanded by Capt. Daniel 
Aborn, mounted twelve six pound cannon ; and 
sailed with a complement of about sixty-five 
men. She was officered as follows, viz : 

Daniel Aborn, of Pawtuxet, R. I. Commander. 

John Tillinghast, Providence, First Lieut. 

James Hawkins, Pawtuxet, Second do. 

Sylvester Rhodes, do. Sailing-master. 

Thomas Dring, Providence, Master s Mate. 

Joseph Bowen, do. Surgeon. 

Robert Carver, do. Gunner. 

Joseph Arnold, do. Carpenter. 

John W. Gladding, do. Prize Master. 

The names of several other officers, in inferior 
stations, I do not recollect at this distant period 
of time. 

Our cruise was but a short one : for in a few 
days after sailing, we were captured by the Brit 
ish ship of war Be/isarius, Capt. Graves, of twen 
ty-six guns. We were captured in the night, and 
our crew having been conveyed on board the 
enemy s ship, were put in irons the next morn 
ing. During the next day, the Belisarius made 


two other prizes, a privateer brig from New- 
London or Stonington (Conn.), called the Sam 
son, of twelve guns, commanded by Capt. 
Brooks, and a merchant schooner from Warren 
(R. I.), commanded by Capt. Charles Collins. 
The crews of these two vessels, except the prin 
cipal officers, were also put in irons. These 
captures were all made on soundings, south of 
Long- Island. The putting their prisoners in 
irons was a necessary precaution on the part of 
the captors. We were kept confined in the 
cable-tier of the ship, but were occasionally per 
mitted to go on deck during the day in small 
parties. The Belisarius, then having on board 
upwards of one hundred and thirty prisoners, 
soon made her way for New- York, in company 
with her prizes. 

Our situation on board this ship was not, in 
deed, a very enviable one ; but uncomfortable as 
it was, it was far preferable to that in which we 
soon expected to be placed, and which we soon 
found it was our doom to experience. The ship 
dropped her anchor, abreast of the city, and sig 
nals were immediately made that she had pris- 


oners on board. Soon after, two large gondolas 
or boats came alongside, in one of which was 
seated the notorious David Sproat, the Commis 
sary of Prisoners. This man was an American 
Refugee, universally detested for the cruelty of 
his conduct and the insolence of his manners. 

We were then called on deck, and having 
been released from our irons, were ordered into 
the boats. This being accomplished, we put off 
from the ship, under a guard of marines, and 
proceeded towards our much dreaded place of 
confinement, which was not then in sight. As 
we passed along the Long-Island shore, against 
the tide, our progress was very slow. The pris 
oners were ordered, by Sproat, to apply them 
selves to the oars ; but not feeling any particular 
anxiety to expedite our progress, we declined 
obeying the command. His only reply was, 
" I ll soon fix you, my lads." 

We at length doubled a point, and came in 
view of the Wallabout, where lay before us the 
black hulk of the old Jersey, with her satellites, 
the three Hospital Ships ; to which Sproat pointed 
in an exulting manner, and said, " There, Rebels, 



there is the cage for you." Oh ! how I wished 
to be standing alone with that inhuman wretch 
upon the green turf, at that moment ! 

As he spoke, my eye was instantly turned 
from the dreaded hulk : but a single glance had 
shown us a multitude of human beings moving 
upon her upper deck. Many were on her bow 
sprit, for the purpose, as I afterwards learned, of 
getting without the limits. 

It was then nearly sunset : and before we 
were alongside, every man, except the sentinels 
on the gangway, had disappeared. Previous to 
their being sent below, some of the prisoners, 
seeing us approaching, waved their hats, as if 
they would say, Approach us not : and we soon 
found fearful reason for the warning. 




" Hail, dark abode ! what can with thee compare 
" Heat, sickness, famine, death, and stagnant air. 
" Pandora s box, from whence all mischiefs flow, 
" Here real found, torments mankind anew. 
" Swift, from the guarded decks, we rushed along, 
" And vainly sought repose, so vast our throng. 
" Three hundred wretches here, denied all light, 
* In crowded mansions, pass th 1 infernal night. 
" Some, for a bed their tatter d vestments join; 
" And some on chests, and some on floors, recline. 
" Shut from the blessings of the evening air, 
" Pensive we lay, with mingled corpses there. 
" Meagre and wan, and scorched with heat below, 
" We looked like ghosts, ere death had made us so." 


WE had now reached the accommodation lad 
der, which led to the gangway on the larboard 
side of the Jersey ; and my station in the boat, 
as she hauled alongside, was exactly opposite to 
one of the air- ports in the side of the ship. 


From this aperture proceeded a strong current 
of foul vapor, of a kind to which I had been 
before accustomed, while confined on board the 
Good Hope; the peculiarly disgusting smell of 
which I then recollected, after a lapse of three 
years. This was, however, far more foul and 
loathsome than any thing which I had ever met 
with on board that ship, and produced a sensa 
tion of nausea far beyond my powers of descrip 

Here, while waiting for orders to ascend on 
board, we were addressed by some of the pris 
oners, from the air-ports. We could not, how 
ever, discern their features, as it had now become 
so dark that we could not distinctly see any 
object in the interior of the ship. After some 
questions, whence we came, and respecting the 
manner of our capture, one of the prisoners said 
to me, that it was " a lamentable thing to see so 
many young men in full strength, with the flush 
of health upon their countenances, about to enter 
that infernal place of abode." He then added, 
in a tone and manner but little fitted to afford us 
much consolation, "Death has no relish for 


such skeleton carcasses as we are, but he will 
now have a feast upon you fresh comers/ 

After lanterns had been lighted on board, for 
our examination, we ascended the accommoda 
tion ladder, to the upper deck, and passed through 
the barricado door ; where we were examined, 
and our bags of clothes inspected. These we 
were permitted to retain, provided they contained 
no money or weapons of any kind. 

After each man had given his name and the 
capacity in which he had served on board the 
vessel in which he was captured, and the same 
had been duly registered, we were directed to 
pass through the other barricado door, on the 
starboard side, down the ladder leading to the 
main hatchway. I was detained but a short 
time with the examination, and was permitted to 
take my bag of clothes with me below; and 
passing down the hatchway, which was still 
open, through a guard of soldiers, I found my 
self among the wretched and disgusting multi 
tude, a prisoner on board the Jersey. 

The gratings were soon after placed over the 
hatchways, and fastened down for the night ; and 


I seated myself on the deck, holding my bag 
with a firm grasp, fearful of losing it among the 
crowd. I had now ample time to reflect on the 
horrors of the scene, and to consider the pros 
pect before me. It was impossible to find one 
of my former shipmates in the darkness ; and I 
had, of course, no one with whom to speak 
during the long hours of that dreadful night. 
Surrounded by I knew not whom, except that 
they were beings as wretched as myself; with 
dismal sounds meeting my ears from every 
direction ; a nauseous and putrid atmosphere 
filling my lungs at every breath ; and a stifled 
and suffocating heat, which almost deprived me 
of sense, and even of life. 

Previous to leaving the boat, I had put on sev 
eral additional articles of apparel for the purpose 
of security ; but I was soon compelled to dis 
encumber myself of these ; and was willing to 
hazard their loss, for a relief from the intolerable 

The thought of sleep did not enter my mind : 
and at length, discovering a glimmering of light 
through the iron gratings of one of the air-ports, 


1 felt that it would be indeed a luxury, if I could 
but obtain a situation near that place, in order to 
gain one breath of the exterior air. Clenching 
my hand firmly around my bag, which I dared 
not leave, I began to advance towards the side 
of the ship ; but was soon greeted with the 
curses and imprecations of those who were lying 
on the deck, and whom I had disturbed in at 
tempting to pass over them. I however perse 
vered, and at length arrived near the desired 
spot ; but found it already occupied, and no per 
suasion could induce a single individual to relin 
quish his place for a moment. 

Thus I passed the first dreadful night, waiting 
with sorrowful forebodings for the coming day. 
The dawn at length appeared, but came only to 
present new scenes of wretchedness, disease, and 
woe. I found myself surrounded by a crowd of 
strange and unknown forms, with the lines of 
death and famine upon their faces. My former 
shipmates were all lost and mingled among the 
multitude, and it was not until we were permitted 
to ascend the deck, at eight o clock, that I could 
discern a single individual whom I had ever seen 


before. Pale and meagre, the throng came upon 
deck ; to view, for a few moments, the morning 
sun, and then, to descend again, to pass another 
day of misery and wretchedness. 




" Dull flew the hours, till from the East displayed, 
" Sweet morn dispelled the horrors of the shade. 
" On every side, dire objects met the sight, 
" And pallid forms, and murders of the night. 
" The dead were past their pain ; the living groan, 
" Nor dare to hope another morn their own. 
" But, what to them is morn s delightful ray ? 
" Sad and distressful as the close of day. 
" O er distant streams, appears the dewy green, 
" And leafy trees on mountain tops, are seen. 
" But they no groves nor grassy mountains tread, 
" Marked for a longer journey to the dead." 


AFTER passing the weary and tedious night, 
to whose accumulated horrors I have but slightly 
alluded, I was permitted to ascend to the upper 
deck, where other objects, even more disgusting 
and loathsome, met my view. I found myself 
surrounded by a motley crew of wretches with 
tattered garments and pallid visages, who had 
hurried from below, for the luxury of a little 


fresh air. Among them, I saw one ruddy and 
healthful countenance, and recognized the feat 
ures of one of my late fellow prisoners on board 
the Belisarius. But how different did he appear 
from the group around him, who had here been 
doomed to combat with disease and death. Men, 
who, shrunken and decayed as they stood around 
him, had been, but a short time before, as strong, 
as healthful and as vigorous as himself. Men, 
who had breathed the pure breezes of the ocean, 
or danced lightly in the flower-scented air of the 
meadow and the hill ; and had from thence been 
hurried into the pent-up air of a crowded prison- 
ship, pregnant with putrid fever, foul with deadly 
contagion ; here to linger out the tedious and 
weary day, the disturbed and anxious night ; to 
count over the days and weeks and months of 
a wearying and degrading captivity, unvaried but 
by new scenes of painful suffering, and new in 
flictions of remorseless cruelty : their brightest 
hope and their daily prayer, that death would not 
long delay to release them from their torments. 
In the wretched groups around me, I saw but 
too faithful a picture of our own almost certain 


fate ; and found that all which we had been 
taught to fear of this terrible place of abode, was 
more than realized. 

During the night, in addition to my other suf 
ferings, I had been tormented with what I sup 
posed to be vermin ; and on coming upon deck, 
I found that a black silk handkerchief, which I 
wore around my neck, was completely spotted 
with them. Although this had often been men 
tioned as one of the miseries of the place, yet as 
I had never before been in a situation to witness 
any thing of the kind, the sight made me shud 
der ; as I knew, at once, that so long as I should 
remain on board, these loathsome creatures would 
be my constant companions and unceasing tor 

The next disgusting object which met my sight 
was a man suffering with the small pox ; and in a 
few minutes, I found myself surrounded by many 
others, labouring under the same disease, in every 
stage of its progress. 

As I had never had the small pox, it became 
necessary that I should be inoculated ; and there 
being no proper person on board to perform the 



operation, I concluded to act as my own phy 
sician. On looking about me, I soon found a 
man in the proper stage of the disease, and de 
sired him to favor me with some of the matter 
for the purpose. He readily complied ; observ 
ing that it was a necessary precaution on my 
part, and that my situation was an excellent one 
in regard to diet, as I might depend upon finding 
that extremely moderate. 

The only instrument which I could procure 
for the purpose of inoculation, was a common 
pin. With this, having scarified the skin of my 
hand, between the thumb and fore-finger, I ap 
plied the matter and bound up my hand. The 
next morning, I found that the wound had begun 
to fester ; a sure symptom that the application 
had taken effect. 

Many of my former shipmates took the same 
precaution, and were inoculated during the day. 
In my case, the disorder came on but lightly, 
and its progress was favourable ; and without the 
least medical advice or attention, by the blessing 
of Divine Providence, I soon recovered. 

Since that time, more than forty years have 


passed away ; but the scar on my hand is still 
plainly to be seen. I often look upon it, when 
alone, and it brings fresh to my recollection, the 
fearful scene in which I was then placed, the 
circumstances by which it was attended, and the 
feelings which I then experienced. 

As the prisoners sent from the Be/isarius had 
not been formed into regular messes, and num 
bered according to the regulations of the ship, 
they were unable to draw their share of provi 
sions for the day, in time for cooking. They had 
now all fasted for nearly twenty-four hours ; and 
knew not in what manner to obtain a morsel of 
food. For my own part, it fortunately happened, 
that at the time of our capture, I had taken the 
precaution to put a few biscuit into my bag ; and 
not having had occasion to use them while on 
board the BeKsarius, I was now furnished with 
the means of satisfying, in some degree, the 
cravings of my own hunger ; and was also en 
abled to distribute a portion of bread among some 
of my comrades. 

In the course of the day, after the regulations 
of the ship had been made known to us, we 


divided ourselves into messes of six men each ; 
and on the next morning, we drew our scanty 
pittance of food with the rest of our compan 




" But, such a train of endless woes abound, 
" So many mischiefs in these hulks are found, 
" That, of them all, the memory to prolong, 
" Would swell too high the horrors of our song. 
" Hunger and thirst, to work our woe, combine, 
" And mouldy bread, and flesh of rotten swine; 
" The mangled carcass, and the battered brain, 
11 The doctor s poison, and the captain s cane, 
" The soldier s musket, and the steward s debt, 
" The evening shackle, and the noon-day threat." 


ON the arrival of prisoners on board the Jersey, 
the first thing necessary to be done was, as soon 
as possible, to form, or be admitted into, some 
regular mess. On the day of a prisoner s arrival, 
it was impossible for him to procure any food ; 
and even on the second day, he could not pro 
cure any, in time to have it cooked. No matter 
how long he had fasted, nor how acute might be 
his sufferings from hunger and privation ; his 


petty tyrants would on no occasion deviate from 
their rule of delivering the prisoner s morsel at 
a particular hour, and at no other. And the poor, 
half famished wretch must absolutely wait until 
the coming day, before his pittance of food could 
be boiled with that of his fellow captives. It 
was therefore most prudent for a newly arrived 
prisoner, to gain admittance into some old estab 
lished mess, (which was not attended with much 
difficulty, as death was daily providing vacan 
cies ; ) for he would thereby be associated with 
those who were acquainted with the mode of 
procuring their allowance in time ; and be also 
protected from many impositions, to which as a 
stranger he otherwise would be liable during the 
first days of his confinement. 

The cruel tyrants, to whose petty sway we 
were subjected on board this hulk, knew no dis 
tinction among their prisoners. Whether taken 
on the land or on the ocean, in arms, or from 
our own firesides, it was the same to them. No 
matter in what rank or capacity a prisoner might 
have been known before his capture, no distinc 
tion was here made ; we were " all Rebels." 


Our treatment, our fare, its allowance and its 
quality were the same. They did not, of course, 
interfere in our private arrangements ; but left 
us to manage our affairs in our own way. 

The extreme after part of the ship, between 
decks, was called the Gun Room. (See the 
Plate, Figure 3.) Although no distinction was 
made by our masters, yet those among the pris 
oners who had been officers previous to their 
capture, had taken possession of this room as 
their own place of abode ; and from custom, it 
was considered as belonging exclusively to them. 
As an officer, I found my way into this apart 
ment ; and with such of my late companions as 
had been officers, was received with civility by 
those who were already in possession of it ; who 
humanely tendered us such little services as were 
in their power to offer. We soon became incor 
porated with them ; and having formed ourselves 
into messes, as nearly as possible according to 
our grades, we were considered -as a part of this 
family of sufferers. 

The different messes of the prisoners were all 
numbered ; and every morning, at nine o clock, 



the Steward and his assistants having taken their 
station at the window in the bulk head of the 
Steward s room, (See the Plate, Figure 3,) the 
bell was rung, and the messes called in rotation. 
An* individual belonging to each mess stood 
ready in order to be in time to answer when its 
number was called. As the number of each 
mess was spoken, its allowance was handed from 
the window, to the person waiting to receive it ; 
the rations being all prepared previous to the 
hour of delivery. The prisoner must receive 
for his mess, whatever was offered; and be its 
quantity or quality what it might, no alteration 
or change was ever allowed. We as prisoners, 
were allowed each day for six men, what was 
equal in quantity to the rations of four men at 
full allowance. That is, each prisoner was fur 
nished in quantity with two thirds of the allow 
ance of a seaman in the British Navy ; which was 
as follows : 

On Sunday, i Ib. of biscuit, i Ib. of pork, and half a pint of peas. 

Monday, i Ib. of biscuit, i pint of oat meal, 2 ounces of butter. 

Tuesday, i Ib. of biscuit and two Ibs. of beef. 

Wednesday, i r-a Ibs of flour, and two ounces of suet. 

Thursday, The same as Sunday. 

Friday, The same as Monday. 

Saturday, The same as Tuesday. 


Hence, as prisoners, whenever we had our 
due, we received, as they said, two thirds of the 
ordinary allowance of their own seamen ; and 
even this was of a very inferior quality. We 
never received any butter; but in its stead, they 
gave us a substance which they called sweet oil. 
This was so rancid, and even putrid, that the 
smell of it, accustomed as we were to every thing 
foul and nauseous, was more than we could en 
dure. We however, always received and gave 
it to the poor, half-starved Frenchmen who were 
on board ; who took it gratefully, and swallowed 
it with a little salt and their wormy bread. Oil 
of a similar quality, was given to the prisoners on 
board the Good Hope, where I was confined in 
1779. There however, it was of some use to 
us, as we burnt it in our lamps ; being there in 
dulged with the privilege of using lights until 
nine o clock at night. But here, it was of no 
service ; as we were allowed on board the 
Jersey, no light or fire, on any occasion what 




Why, Britain, raged thy insolence and scorn ? 

Why burst thy vengeance on the wretch forlorn ? 

The cheerless captive, to slow death consigned, 

Chilled with keen frosts, in prison glooms confined, 

Of hope bereft, by thy vile minions curst, 

With hunger famished, and consumed by thirst, 

Without one friend, when death s last horror stung, 

Rolled the wild eye, and gnawed the anguished tongue." 


HAVING received our daily rations, which 
were frequently not delivered to us in time to 
be boiled on the same day, we were conse 
quently often under the necessity of fasting for 
the next twenty-four hours, if we had not a 
stock of provisions on hand ; or were obliged at 
times to consume our food in its raw state, when 
the cravings of hunger could no longer be re 


The cooking for the great mass of the prison 
ers was done under the forecastle, or, as it was 
usually called, the Galley, in a boiler or " Great 
Copper," which was enclosed in brick work, 
about eight feet square. This copper was large 
enough to contain two or three hogsheads of 
water. It was made in a square form, and 
divided into two separate compartments, by a 
partition. In one side of the Copper, the peas 
and oatmeal for the prisoners were boiled, which 
was done in fresh water. In the other side, the 
meat was boiled. This side of the boiler was 
filled with salt water from alongside the ship ; 
by which means, the copper became soon cor 
roded, and consequently poisonous : the fatal 
consequences of which are so obvious, that I 
need not enlarge upon the subject. 

After the daily rations had been furnished to 
the different messes, the portion of each mess 
was designated by a tally fastened to it by a 
string. Being thus prepared, every ear was 
anxiously waiting for the summons of the Cook s 
bell. As soon as this was heard to sound, the 
persons having charge of the different portions 


of food, thronged to the Galley ; and in a few 
minutes after, hundreds of tallies were seen 
hanging over the sides of the brick work, by 
their respective strings, each eagerly watched by 
someindividual of the mess, who always waited 
to receive it. The meat was suffered thus to re 
main in the boiler but a certain time ; and when 
this had elapsed, the cook s bell was again rung, 
and the pittance of food must be immediately re 
moved. Whether sufficiently cooked, or not, it 
could remain no longer. The proportions of 
peas and oat-meal belonging to each mess were 
measured out from the Copper, after they were 

Among the emaciated crowd of living skele 
tons who had remained on board for any length 
of time, the cook was the only person who ap 
peared to have much flesh upon his bones. He 
perhaps contrived to obtain a greater quantity of 
provisions than any of ourselves ; but if they 
were of the same quality with our own, it is ob 
vious that his plumpness of appearance could not 
be the result of good living. He had himself 
been formerly a prisoner; but seeing no pros- 


pect of ever being liberated, he had entered in 
his present capacity ; and his mates and scullions 
had followed his example, they having also been 
prisoners at first. I attributed the appearance of 
our Cook merely to the fact, that he was more 
content with his situation than any other person 
on board appeared to be. He indeed possessed 
a considerable share of good humour; and al 
though often cursed by the prisoners ( but not in 
his hearing) for his refusals to comply with their 
requests, yet considering the many applications 
which were made to him for favours, and the in- 
cumbrances which were around " his palace," he . 
really displayed a degree of fortitude and for 
bearance far beyond what most men would have 
been capable of exhibiting under similar circum 
stances. He did, indeed, at times, when his 
patience was exhausted, " make the hot water 
fly among us ; " but a reconciliation was usually 
effected, with but little difficulty . 

In consequence of the poisonous effects pro 
duced by the use of the sea water for boiling 
our meat in the Great Copper, many of the dif 
ferent messes had obtained permission from " his 


Majesty the Cook/ to prepare their own rations 
separate from the general mess in the great 
boiler. For this purpose, a great number of 
spikes and hooks had been driven into the brick 
work by which the boiler was enclosed, on 
which to suspend their tin kettles. As soon as 
we were permitted to go on deck in the morning, 
some one took the tin kettle belonging to the 
mess, with as much water, and such splinters of 
wood as we had been able to procure during the 
previous day, and carried them to the Galley ; 
and there having suspended his kettle on one of 
the hooks or spikes in the brick work, he stood 
ready to kindle his little fire, as soon as the cook 
or his mates would permit it to be done. It re 
quired but little fuel to boil our food in these 
kettles ; for their bottoms were made in a con 
cave form, and the fire was applied directly in 
the centre. And let the remaining brands be 
ever so small, they were all carefully quenched ; 
and having been conveyed below, were kept for 
use on a future occasion. Much contention often 
arose, through our endeavors to obtain places 
round the brick work ; but these disputes were 


always promptly decided by the Cook, from 
whose mandate there was no appeal. No sooner 
had one prisoner completed the cooking for his 
mess, than another supplicant stood ready to take 
his place ; and they thus continued to throng the 
Galley, during the whole time that the fire was 
allowed to remain under the Great Copper ; un 
less it happened to be the pleasure of the Cook, 
to drive them away. 

I have said that but little wood was requisite 
for our purpose ; but the great difficulty was to 
procure a sufficient quantity of fresh water for 
this manner of cooking. The arrangement by 
which we effected this, was, by agreeing that each 
man in the mess should, during the day previous, 
procure and save as much water as possible; 
as no prisoner was ever allowed to take more 
than a pint, at one time, from the scuttle cask in 
which it was kept. Every individual was there 
fore obliged, each day, to save a little, for the 
common use of the mess, on the next morning. 
By this arrangement, the mess to which I be 
longed, had always a small quantity of fresh 
water in store ; which we carefully kept, with a 



few other necessaries, in a chest which we used 
in common. 

During the whole period of my confinement, 
I never partook of any food which had been 
cooked in the Great Copper. It is to this fact, 
that I have always attributed, under Divine Prov 
idence, the degree of health which I preserved 
while on board. I was thereby also, at times, 
enabled to procure several necessary and com 
fortable things, such as tea, sugar, &c. so that 
wretchedly as I was situated, my condition was 
far preferable to that of most of my fellow suf 
ferers ; which has ever been with me, a theme 
of sincere and lasting gratitude to Heaven. 

But terrible indeed was the condition of most 
of my fellow captives. Memory still brings be 
fore me those emaciated beings, moving from the 
Galley, with their wretched pittance of meat ; 
each creeping to the spot where his mess were 
assembled, to divide it with a group of haggard 
and sickly creatures, their garments hanging in 
tatters around their meagre limbs, and the hue 
of death upon their care-worn faces. By these, 
it was consumed with their scanty remnants of 


bread, which was often mouldy and filled with 
worms. And even from this vile fare, they 
would rise up, in torments from the cravings of 
unsatisfied hunger and thirst. 

No vegetables of any description were ever 
afforded us by our inhuman keepers. Good 
Heaven ! what a luxury to us would then have 
been even a few potatoes ; if but the very leav 
ings of the swine of our country. 




" Oh ! my heart sinks, my trembling eyes o erflow, 

" When memory paints the picture of their woe. 

" Where my poor countrymen in bondage, wait 

" The slow enfranchisement of lingering fate ; 

" Greeting with groans the unwelcome night s return, 

" While rage and shame their gloomy bosoms burn ; 

" And chiding, every hour, the slow paced sun, 

" Endure their woes till all his race was run. 

" No eye to mark their sufferings with a tear, 

" No friend to comfort, and no hope to cheer. 

" And like the dull unpitied brutes, repair 

" To stalls as wretched and as coarse a fare ; 

" Thank Heaven, one day of misery was o er, 

" And sink to sleep, and wish to wake no more." 


BEFORE attempting a more minute account of 
our manner of living on board the Jersey, it may 
be proper to add a further description of the 
ship. The Quarter Deck covered about one 
fourth part of the upper deck, from the stern ; 


and the forecastle extended from the stern, about 
one eighth part of the length of the upper deck. 
Sentinels were stationed on the gangways on 
each side of the upper deck leading from the 
quarter deck to the forecastle. These gangways 
were about five feet wide, and here the prison 
ers were allowed to pass and repass. The in 
termediate space from the bulk head of the 
quarter deck to the forecastle, was filled with 
long spars or booms, and called the Spar Deck. 
The temporary covering afforded by the spar 
deck, was of the greatest benefit to the prison 
ers ; as it served to shield us from the rain and 
the scorching rays of the sun. It was here also 
that our moveables were placed while we were 
engaged in cleaning the lower decks. The spar 
deck was also the only place where we were 
allowed to walk ; and was therefore continually 
crowded, through the day, by those of the pris 
oners who were upon deck. Owing to the great 
number of the prisoners, and the small space 
afforded us by the spar deck, it was our custom 
to walk, in platoons, each facing the same way, 
and turning at the same time. The derrick, for 



taking in wood, water, &c. stood on the star 
board side of the spar deck. On the larboard 
side of the ship, was placed the accommodation 
ladder, leading from the gangway to the water. 
At the head of this ladder, a sentinel was also 

The head of the accommodation ladder was 
near the door of the barricade, which extended 
across the front of the quarter deck, and pro 
jected a few feet beyond the sides of the ship. 
The barricado was about ten feet high, and was 
pierced with loop-holes for musketry ; in order 
that the prisoners might be fired on from behind 
it, if occasion should require. 

The regular crew of the ship consisted of a 
Captain, two Mates, a Steward, a Cook, and 
about twelve sailors. The crew of the ship had 
no communication whatever with the prisoners. 
No prisoner was ever permitted to pass through 
the barricado door, except when it was required 
that the messes should be examined and regu 
lated ; in which case, each man had to pass 
through, and go down between decks ; and there 
remain, until the examination was completed. 


None of the guard or of the ship s crew ever 
came among the prisoners, while I was on board. 
I never saw one of her officers or men, except 
when they were passing in their boat, to or from 
the stern ladder. 

On the two decks below, where we were con 
fined at night, our chests, boxes and bags were ar 
ranged in two lines along the deck, about ten feet 
distant from the sides of the ship; thus leaving as 
wide a space unincumbered in the middle part of 
each deck, fore and aft, as our crowded situation 
would admit. Between these tiers of chests, &c. 
and the sides of the ship, was the place where 
the different messes assembled ; and some of the 
messes were also separated from their neigbours 
by a temporary partition of chests, &c. Some 
individuals of the different messes usually slept 
on the chests, in order to preserve their contents 
from being plundered during the night. 

At night, the spaces in the middle of the deck 
were much encumbered with hammocks ; but 
these were always removed in the morning. 

The prisoners, as before stated, were confined 
on the two main decks below. My usual place 


of abode being in the Gun Room, on the centre 
deck, I was never under the necessity of de 
scending to the lower dungeon : and during my 
confinement, I had no disposition to visit it. It 
was inhabited by the most wretched in appear 
ance of all our miserable company. From the 
disgusting and squalid appearance of the groupes 
which I saw ascending the stairs which led to it, 
it must have been more dismal, if possible, than 
that part of the hulk where I resided. Its occu 
pants appeared to be mostly foreigners, who had 
seen and survived every variety of human suffer 
ing. The faces of many of them were covered 
with dirt and filth ; their long hair and beards 
matted and foul : clothed in rags ; and with 
scarcely a sufficient supply of these to cover 
their disgusting bodies. Many among them 
possessed no clothing except the remnants of 
those garments which they wore when first 
brought on board ; and were unable to procure 
even any materials for patching these together, 
when they had been worn to tatters by constant 
use ; and had this been in their power, they had 
not the means of procuring a piece of thread, or 


even a needle. Some, and indeed many of them, 
had not the means of procuring a razor or an 
ounce of soap. 

Their beards were occasionally reduced by 
eacli other, with a pair of shears or scissors ; 
but this operation, though conducive to cleanli 
ness, was not productive of much improvement 
in their personal appearance. The skins of many 
of them were discolored by continual washing in 
salt water, added to the circumstance that it was 
impossible for them to wash their linen in any 
other manner, than by laying it on the deck, and 
stamping on it with their feet, after it had been 
immersed in salt water ; their bodies remaining 
naked during the operation. 

To men thus situated, everything like ordi 
nary cleanliness was impossible. Much that was 
disgusting in their appearance undoubtedly orig 
inated from neglect, which long confinement had 
rendered habitual, until it created a confirmed in 
difference to personal appearance. 

As soon as the gratings had been fastened over 
the hatchways for the night, we generally went 
to our sleeping places. It was, of course, always 


desirable to obtain a station as near as possible to 
the side of the ship ; and, if practicable, in the 
immediate vicinity of one of the air-ports ; as 
this not only afforded us a better air, but also 
rendered us less liable to be trodden upon by 
those who were moving about the decks during 
the night. 

But silence was a stranger to our dark abode. 
There were continual noises during the night. 
The groans of the sick and the dying ; the curses 
poured out by the weary and exhausted upon our 
inhuman keepers ; the restlessness caused by the 
suffocating heat and the confined and poisoned 
air ; mingled with the wild and incoherent rav 
ings of delirium, were the sounds, which, every 
night, were raised around us, in all directions. 
Such was our ordinary situation ; but at times, 
ths consequences of our crowded condition were 
still more terrible, and proved fatal to many of 
our number in a single night. 

But, strange as it may appear, notwithstand 
ing all the maladies and sufferings which were 
there endured, I knew many who had been in 
mates of that abode for two years, who were 


apparently well. They had, as they expressed 
it, " been through the furnace, and become sea 
soned." Most of these, however, were foreign 
ers, who appeared to have abandoned all hope 
of ever being exchanged, and had become quite 
indifferent in regard to their place of abode. 

But far different was the condition of that 
{X)rtion of our number who were natives of the 
Northern States. These formed by far the most 
numerous class of the prisoners. Most of these 
were young men, who had been induced by ne 
cessity or inclination to try the perils of the sea, 
and had, in many instances, been captured soon 
after leaving their homes, and during their first 
voyage. After they had been here immured, the 
sudden change in their situation was like a sen 
tence of death. Many a one was crushed down 
beneath that sickness of the heart, so well de 
scribed by the Poet, 

" Night and day, 

Brooding on what he had been, what he was ; 
Twas more than he could bear. His longing fits 
Thickened upon him. His desire for Home 
Became a madness ." 


These poor creatures had, in many instances, 
been plundered of their wearing apparel by their 
captors. And here the dismal and disgusting 
objects by which they were surrounded ; the ver 
min which infested them ; their vile and loath 
some food ; and what, with them, was far from 
being the lightest of their trials, their ceaseless 
longing after their homes and the scenes to which 
they had been accustomed, all combined to 
produce a wonderful effect upon them. Dejec 
tion and anguish were soon visible in their coun 
tenances. They became dismayed and terror 
stricken ; and many of them absolutely died 
that most awful of all human deaths, the effects 
of a broken heart. 

" Denied the comforts of a dying bed, 
With not a pillow to support the head ; 
How could they else, but pine and grieve and sigh, 
Detest that wretched life, and f wish to die ? " 




No masts or sails these crowded ships adorn, 
Dismal to view, neglected and forlorn ; 
Here mighty ills oppress d the imprison d throng, 
Dull were our slumbers, and our nights were long 
From morn to eve, along the decks we lay, 
Scorch d into fevers by the solar ray." 


A CUSTOM had long been established, that cer 
tain labour which it was necessary should be per 
formed daily, should be done by a company, 
usually called the " Working Party." This 
consisted of about twenty able-bodied men, chos 
en from among the prisoners, and was com 
manded, in daily rotation, by those of our num 
ber who had formerly been officers of vessels. 
The commander of the party for the day bore 


the title of Boatswain. The members of the 
Working Party received, as a compensation for 
their services, a full allowance of provisions, and 
a half pint of rum each per day ; with the priv 
ilege of going on deck early in the morning, to 
breathe the pure air. This privilege alone was 
a sufficient compensation for all the duty which 
was required of them. 

Their routine of service was, to wash down 
that part of the upper deck and gangways where 
the prisoners were permitted to walk ; to spread 
the awning ; and to hoist on board the wood, 
water, and other supplies, from the boats in 
which the same were brought along side the 

When the prisoners ascended the upper deck 
in the morning, if the day was fair, each carried 
up his hammock and bedding; which were all 
placed upon the spar deck or booms. The 
Working Party then took the sick and disabled 
who remained below, and placed them in the 
bunks prepared for them upon the centre deck ; 
they then, if any of the prisoners had died dur 
ing the night, carried up the dead bodies, and 


laid them upon the booms. After which, it was 
their duty to wash down the main decks below ; 
during which operation the prisoners remained 
upon the upper deck, except such as chose to go 
below, and volunteer their services in the per 
formance of this duty. 

Around the railing of the hatchway leading 
from the centre to the lower deck, were placed 
a number of large tubs for the occasional use of 
the prisoners during the night, and as general 
receptacles of filth. Although these were in 
dispensably necessary to us, yet they were 
highly offensive. Nevertheless, on account of 
our crowded situation, many of the prisoners 
were obliged to sleep in their immediate vicinity. 
It was a part of the duty of the Working Party 
to carry these tubs on deck, at the time when 
the prisoners ascended in the morning ; and 
to return them between decks in the after 

Our beds and clothing were kept on deck un 
til it was nearly the hour when we were to be 
ordered below for the night. During this inter 
val, the chests, &c. on the lower deck being 


piled up, and the hammocks removed, the decks 
washed and cleared of all incumbrances except 
the poor wretches who lay in the bunks, it was 
quite refreshing, after the suffocating heat and 
foul vapours of the night, to walk between 
decks. There was then some circulation of air 
through the ship ; and for a few hours, our ex 
istence was in some degree tolerable. 

About two hours before sunset, the order was 
generally issued for the prisoners to carry their 
hammocks, &c. below. After this had been 
done, we were allowed either to retire between 
decks, or to remain above until sunset, accord 
ing to our own pleasure. Every thing which 
we could do conducive to cleanliness having 
then been performed, if we ever felt anything 
like enjoyment in this wretched abode, it was 
during this brief interval, when we breathed the 
cool air of the approaching night, and felt the 
luxury of our evening pipe. But short indeed 
was this period of repose. The working party 
were soon ordered to carry the tubs below ; and 
we prepared to descend to our gloomy and 
crowded dungeons. This was no sooner done, 


than the gratings were closed over the hatch 
ways, the sentinels stationed, and we left to 
sicken and pine beneath our accumulated tor 
ments, with our guards above crying aloud, 
through the long night, "All s 




" Thou SCORPION, fatal to the crowded throng, 
" Dire theme of horror and Plutonian song, 
" Requir st my lay. Thy sultry decks I know, 
" And all the torments that exist below." 

* * * * * 

" The briny wave that Hudson s bosom fills, 
" Drained through her bottom in a thousand rills. 
" Rotten and old, replete with sighs and groans, 
" Scarce on the waters she sustained her bones. 
" Here, doomed to toil, or founder in the tide, 
" At the moist pumps incessantly we plied. 
" Here, doomed to starve, like famished dogs, we tore 
" The scant allowance which our tyrants bore." 


THE Jersey was used as a place of confinement 
for seamen only. I never knew an instance of a 
soldier being sent on board her as a prisoner. 
During my confinement in the summer of 1782, 
the average number of prisoners on board the 


Jersey was about ONE THOUSAND. They were 
composed of the crews of vessels of all nations 
with whom the English were then at war. By 
far the greater number, however, had been cap 
tured in American vessels. 

The three Hospital Ships, Scorpion, Strombolo, 
and Hunter, were used for the reception of the 
sick from the principal hulk. The Jersey at 
length became so crowded, and the mortality on 
board her increased so rapidly, that sufficient 
room could not be found on board the Hospital 
Ships for their reception. Under these dreadful 
circumstances it was determined to prepare a 
part of the upper deck of the Jersey for the re 
ception of the sick from between decks. Bunks 
were therefore erected on the after part of the 
upper deck, on the larboard side ; where those 
who felt the symptoms of approaching sickness 
could lie down, in order to be found by the 
Nurses as soon as possible ; and be thereby also 
prevented from being trampled upon by the 
other prisoners, to which they were continually 
liable while lying on the deck. 

I have stated that the number of the Hospital 


Ships was three. One of them, however, was 
used rather as a store-ship and depot for the 
medical department, and as a station for the 
Doctor s Mates and boats crews attending the 
whole. This ship was, I think, the Hunter. 

I never was on board either of the Hospital 
Ships ; and could never learn many particulars in 
relation to the treatment of the sufferers on board 
them ; for but few ever returned from their re 
cesses to the Jersey. I knew but three such in 
stances during the whole period of my imprison 
ment. But I could form some idea of the interior 
of the Hospital Ships, from viewing their outward 
appearance, which was disgusting in the high 
est degree. Knowing, as we did, from whence 
their wretched inmates had been taken, the sight 
of these vessels was terrible to us, and their ap 
pearance more shocking than that of our own 
miserable hulk. 

But whatever might be our sensations on 
viewing the Hospital Ships, they were, undoubt 
edly, in many respects, preferable to the Jersey. 
They were not so crowded, and of course af 
forded more room for breathing. They were 


furnished with awnings, and provided with a 
wind-sail to each hatchway, for the purpose of 
conducting the fresh air between decks, where 
the sick were placed. And, more than all, the 
hatchways were left open during the night, as 
our kind keepers were under no apprehensions 
of danger from the feeble and helpless wretches 
who were there deposited. 

When communication between the ships was 
required, or any thing wanted, it was made known 
by signals, which were promptly attended to by 
the boats from the Hunter. Our condition caused 
our keepers much labour, and furnished employ 
ment, which to some of them was far from being 

There were on board the Jersey, among the 
prisoners, about half a dozen men, known by the 
appellation of " Nurses." I never learnt by 
whom they were appointed, or whether they had 
any regular appointment at all. But one fact I 
well knew, they were all thieves. They 
were, however, sometimes useful in assisting the 
sick to ascend from below to the gangway on 
the upper deck, to be examined by the visiting 



Surgeon, who attended from the Hunter every 
day (when the -weather was good). If a sick 
man was pronounced by the Surgeon to be a 
proper subject for one of the Hospital Ships, 
he was forthwith put into the boat in waiting 
alongside ; but not without the loss or detention 
of all his effects, if he had any, as these were at 
once taken into possession by the Nurses as 
their own property. 

I will here relate an incident not on account 
of its extreme aggravation, but because it oc 
curred immediately under my own eye which 
will show in some degree the kind of treatment 
which was given by these Nurses to the poor, 
weak, and dying men who were left to their 
care, and who were about to be transported to a 
hospital ship, and, in all probability, in a few 
hours, to the sand bank on the shore. 

I had found Mr. Robert Carver, our Gunner 
while on board the Chance, sick in one of the 
bunks where those retired who wished to be re 
moved. He was without a bed or pillow, and 
had put on all the wearing apparel which he pos 
sessed, wishing to preserve it, and being sensible 


of his situation. I found him sitting upright in 
the bunk, with his great coat on over the rest of 
his garments, and his hat between his knees. 
The weather was excessively hot, and in the 
place where he lay the heat was overpowering. 
I at once saw that he was delirious, a sure 
presage that his end was near. I took oft his 
great coat, and having folded and placed it under 
his head for a pillow, I laid him down upon it, 
and went immediately to prepare him some tea. 
I was absent but a few minutes, and on return 
ing, met one of the thievish Nurses with Carver s 
great coat in his hand. On ordering him to re 
turn it, his only reply was, that it was a perqui 
site of the Nurses, and the only one they had ; 
that the man was dying, and the garment could 
be of no further use to him. 

I, however, took possession of the coat, and, 
on my liberation, returned it to the family of the 
owner. Mr. Carver soon after expired where 
he lay. We procured a blanket, in which we 
wrapped his body, which was thus prepared for 
interment. Others of the crew of the Chance 
had died previous to that time. Mr. Carver was 


a man of strong and robust constitution. Such 
men were subject to the most violent attacks of 
the fever, and were also its most certain victims. 
I attach no blame to our keepers in regard to 
the thievish habits of the Nurses, over whom 
they had no control. I have merely related this 
incident for the purpose of more clearly showing 
to what a state of wretchedness we were re 




By feeble hands their shallow graves were made ; 
No stone, memorial, o er their corpses laid. 
In barren sands, and far from home, they lie, 
4 No friend to shed a tear when passing by ; 
O er the mean tombs, insulting foemen tread, 
Spurn at the sand, and curse the rebel dead." 


IT has already been mentioned that one of 
the duties of the Working Party was, on each 
morning, to place the sick in the bunks, and if 
any of the prisoners had died during the night, 
to carry the dead bodies to the upper deck, 
where they were laid upon the gratings. Any 
prisoner who could procure and chose to furnish 
a blanket, was allowed to sew it around the re 
mains of his deceased companions. 


The signal being made, a boat was soon seen 
approaching from the Hunter; and if there were 
any dead on board the other ships, the boat re 
ceived them on her way to the Jersey. 

The corpse was laid upon a board, to which 
some ropes were attached as straps ; as it was 
often the case that bodies were sent on shore for 
interment before they had become sufficiently 
cold and stiff to be lowered into the boat by a 
single strap. Thus prepared, a tackle was at 
tached to the board, and the remains of the suf 
ferer were hoisted over the side of the ship into 
the boat, without further ceremony. If several 
bodies were waiting for interment, but one of 
them was lowered into the boat at a time, for 
the sake of decency. The prisoners were al 
ways very anxious to be engaged in the duty of 
interment ; not so much from a feeling of hu 
manity, or from a wish of paying respect to the 
remains of the dead (for to these feelings they 
had almost become strangers ) , as from the desire 
of once more placing their feet upon the land, if 
but for a few minutes. A sufficient number of 
the prisoners having received permission to assist 


in this duty, they entered the boat, accompanied 
by a guard of soldiers, and put off from the 

I obtained leave to assist in the burial of the 
body of Mr. Carver, whose death was mentioned 
in the preceding Chapter. As this was done 
in the ordinary mode, a relation of the circum 
stances attending it will afford a correct idea of 
the general method of interment. 

After landing at a low wharf which had been 
built from the shore, we first went to a small 
hut, which stood near the wharf, and was used 
as a place of deposit for the hand-barrows and 
shovels provided for these occasions. Having 
placed the corpses on the hand-barrows, and re 
ceived our hoes and shovels, we proceeded to the 
side of the bank near the Wallabout. Here a 
vacant space having been selected, we were 
directed to dig a trench in the sand, of a proper 
length for the reception of the bodies. We con 
tinued our labour until our guards considered 
that a sufficient space had been excavated. The 
corpses were then laid into the trench, without 
ceremony, and we threw the sand over them. 


The whole appeared to produce no more effect 
upon our guards, than if we were burying the 
bodies of dead animals instead of men. They 
scarcely allowed us time to look about us ; for 
no sooner had we heaped the earth above the 
trench, than the order was given to march. But 
a single glance was sufficient to show us parts of 
many bodies which were exposed to view, al 
though they had probably been placed there, 
with the same mockery of interment, but a few 
days before. 

Having thus performed, as well as we were 
permitted to do it, the last duty to the dead, and 
the guards having stationed themselves on each 
side of us, we began reluctantly to retrace our 
steps to the boat. We had enjoyed the pleasure 
of breathing, for a few moments, the air of our 
native soil ; and the thought of returning to the 
crowded prison-ship was terrible in the extreme. 
As we passed by the water s side, we implored 
our guards to allow us to bathe, or even to wash 
ourselves for a few minutes ; but this was re 
fused us. 

I was the only prisoner of our party who wore 


a pair of shoes, and well recollect the circum 
stance, that I took them from my feet for the 
pleasure of feeling the earth, or rather the sand, 
as I went along. It was a high gratification to 
us to bury our feet in the sand, and to shove 
them through it, as we passed on our way. We 
went by a small patch of turf, some pieces of 
which we tore up from the earth, and obtained 
permission to carry them on board, for our com 
rades to smell them. Circumstances like these 
may appear trifling to the careless reader ; but 
let him be assured that they were far from being 
trifles to men situated as we had been. The in 
flictions which we had endured ; the duty which 
we had just performed ; the feeling that we 
must in a few minutes re-enter our place of suf 
fering, from which, in all probability, we should 
never return alive, all tended to render every 
thing connected with the firm land beneath, and 
the sweet air above us, objects of deep and 
thrilling interest. 

Having arrived at the hut, we there deposited 
our implements, and walked to the landing place, 
where we prevailed on our guards, who were 



Hessians, to allow us the gratification of remain 
ing nearly half an hour, before we re-entered 
the boat. 

Near us stood a house, occupied by a miller ; 
and we had been told that a tide-mill, which he 
attended, was in its immediate vicinity, as a land 
ing place for which, the wharf where we stood 
had been erected. It would have afforded me a 
high degree of pleasure to have been permitted 
to enter this dwelling, the probable abode of har 
mony and peace. It was designated by the 
prisoners by the appellation of the " Old Dutch 
man s ; " and its very walls were viewed by us 
with feelings of veneration, as we had been told 
that the amiable daughter of its owner had kept 
a regular account of the number of bodies which 
had been brought on shore for interment from 
the Jersey and the Hospital Ships. This could 
easily be done in the house, as its windows com 
manded a fair view of the landing place. We 
were not, however, gratified on this occasion, 
either by the sight of herself, or of any other 
inmate of the house. 

Sadly did we approach and re-enter our foul 


and disgusting place of confinement. The pieces 
of turf which we carried on board were sought 
for by our fellow-prisoners with the greatest 
avidity : every fragment being passed by them 
from hand to hand, and its smell inhaled, as if it 
had been a fragrant rose. 




" At dead of night, 

" In sullen silence, stalks forth Pestilence : 
" Contagion, close behind, taints all her steps 
" With poisonous dew ; no smiting hand is seen ; 
" No sound is heard ; but soon her secret path 
" Is marked with desolation ; heaps on heaps, 
" Promiscuous drop. No friend, no refuge near : 
" All, all is false and treacherous around ; 
" All that they touch, or taste, or breathe, is death. 

" Yet, still they breathe destruction ; still go on, 

" Inhumanly ingenious, to find out 

" New pains for life, new terrors for the grave; 

" Artificers of death ! " PORTEUS. 

MY visit to the shore, as described in the last 
chapter, was the first one which I had been per 
mitted to make. I had then been a prisoner for 
several weeks, and my situation had become, in 


some degree, familiar ; but my visit to the land 
caused me to feel the extent of my wretched 
ness, and to view my condition with feelings of 
greater abhorrence, and even of despair. 

I have already observed that Mr. Carver was 
not the first victim among the crew of the 
Chance. The first individual was a lad named 
Palmer, about twelve years of age, the youngest 
of our crew. While on board the Chance he was 
a waiter to the officers, and he continued in that 
duty after we were placed on board the Jersey. 
He had, with many others of our crew, been in 
oculated for the small pox, immediately after our 
arrival on board. The usual symptoms appeared 
at the proper time, and we supposed the appear 
ances of his disorder to be favourable ; but these 
soon changed, and the yellow hue of his features 
declared the approach of death. He became de 
lirious, and died during the succeeding night. 
He was a member of the same mess with my 
self, and had always looked up to me as a pro 
tector, and particularly so during his sickness. 
That night was truly a wretched one to me ; for 
I spent almost the whole of it in perfect dark- 


ness, holding him during his convulsions ; and it 
was heart-rending to hear the screams of the 
dying boy, while calling and imploring, in his 
delirium, for the assistance of his mother and 
other persons of his family. For a long time, 
all persuasion or argument was useless to silence 
his groans and supplications. But exhausted 
nature at length sunk under its agonies ; his 
screams became less piercing, and his struggles 
less violent. In the midnight gloom of our 
dungeon, I could not see him die ; but knew, by 
placing my hand over his mouth, that his breath 
ings were becoming shorter ; and thus felt the 
last breath as it quit his frame. The first glim 
mer of morning light through the iron grate, fell 
upon his pallid and lifeless corpse. 

I had done every thing in my power for this 
poor boy during his sickness, and could render 
him but one more kind office. I assisted in sew 
ing a blanket round his body, which was, with 
those of the others who had died during the 
night, conveyed upon deck in the morning, to 
be, at the usual hour, hurried to the bank at the 
Wallabout. I regretted that I could not assist 


at his interment ; but this was impossible, as I 
was then suffering with the small pox myself; 
neither am I certain that permission would have 
been granted me if I had sought it. Our keep 
ers seemed to have no idea that the prisoners 
could feel any regard for each other ; but ap 
peared to think us as cold-hearted as themselves. 
If any thing like sympathy was ever shewn us 
by any of them, it was done by the Hessians. 
In fact, the prisoners had lost almost every feel 
ing of humanity for each other ; and being able 
to reciprocate but few offices of kindness, their 
feelings had become withered, and self-preserva 
tion appeared to be their only wish. 

The next deaths among our own crew were 
those of James Mitchell, and his son-in-law, 
Thomas Sturmey. It is a singular fact that both 
of these men died at the same time. I did not 
even know that either of them had been sick ; 
and my first intimation of the fact was when I 
was told that their bodies were lying on the 
grating, on the upper deck. I there found them 
lying in the same clothes in which they had died. 
We procured a couple of blankets, and placed 


them around the bodies, previous to their inter 
ment. I applied for permission to accompany 
their remains to the land, and to assist in their 
burial ; but this was denied me. I, however, 
watched their progress to the shore, and saw 
them deposited in the bank. Mr. Mitchell was 
generally known among his fellow-citizens of 
Providence ; and there are many now living who 
well recollect him. 

It will, at first, appear almost incredible, that 
my former companions, my friends, and fellow- 
townsmen, could be thus sick and dying, so near 
me, and I remain in profound ignorance of the 
fact. But such was in reality our situation in 
this little world of concentrated misery. We 
were separated and scattered over the different 
parts of the crowded hulk, and mingled with the 
great mass of the prisoners ; and, sometimes 
meeting each other, among the multitude, we 
would, on enquiring respecting the fate of an old 
comrade, receive the appalling information that 
he had either been attacked by sickness and re 
moved to one of the Hospital Ships, or had died, 
and gone to his last home under the bank of the 




" Remembrance shudders at this scene of fears, 

" Still in my view some tyrant chief appears, 

" Some base-born Hessian slave walks threatening by, 

"Some servile Scot, with murder in his eye, 

" Still haunts my sight, as vainly they bemoan 

" Rebellions manag d so unlike their (nun." 

" No waters laded from the bubbling spring, 

" To these dire ships these little tyrants bring, 

" No drop was granted to the midnight prayer, 

" To Rebels in these regions of despair ! 

" The loathsome cask a deadly dose contains ; 

" Its poison circling through the languid veins." 


IN addition to the regular officers and seamen 
of the Jersey, there were stationed on board 
about a dozen old invalid marines ; but our act 
ual guard was composed of soldiers from the 


different regiments quartered on Long Island. 
The number usually on duty on board was about 
thirty. Each week they were relieved by a fresh 
party. They were English, Hessians, and Ref 
ugees. We always preferred the Hessians, from 
whom we received better treatment than from 
the others. As to the English, we did not com 
plain, being aware that they merely obeyed their 
orders in regard to us ; but the Refugees, or Roy 
alists, as they termed themselves, were viewed 
by us with scorn and hatred. I do not recol 
lect, however, that a guard of these miscre 
ants was placed over us more than three times, 
during which their presence occasioned much 
tumult and confusion ; for the prisoners could 
not endure the sight of these men, and occasion 
ally assailed them with abusive language ; while 
they, in return, treated us with all the severity 
in their power. 

We dared not approach near them for fear of 
their bayonets : and of course could not pass along 
the gangways where they were stationed ; but 
were obliged to crawl along upon the booms, in 
order to get fore and aft, or to go up or down 


the hatchways. They never answered any of 
our remarks respecting them ; but would merely 
point to their uniforms, as if saying, We are 
clothed by our Sovereign, while you are naked. 
They were as much gratified at the idea of leav 
ing us, as we were at seeing them depart. Many 
provoking gestures were made by the prisoners 
as they left the ship, and our curses followed 
them as far as we could make ourselves heard. 

A regiment of Refugees, with a green uni 
form, was then quartered at Brooklyn. We 
were invited to join this Royal Band, and to par 
take of his Majesty s pardon and bounty. But 
the prisoners, in the midst of their unbounded 
suffering, of their dreadful privation and consum 
ing anguish, spurned the insulting offer. They 
preferred to linger and to die, rather than desert 
their country s cause. During the whole period 
of my confinement, I never knew a single in 
stance of enlistment from among the prisoners of 
the Jersey. 

The only duty, to my knowledge, ever per 
formed by the old marines, was to guard the 
water butt, near which one of them was stationed 


with a drawn cutlass. They were ordered to 
allow no prisoner to carry away more than one 
pint of water at once ; but we were allowed to 
drink at the butt as much as we pleased ; for 
which purpose two or three copper ladles were 
chained to the cask. Having been long on 
board, and regular in the performance of this 
duty, they had become familiar with the faces of 
the prisoners ; and could thereby, in many in 
stances, detect the frauds which we practised 
upon them in order to obtain more fresh water 
for our cooking than was allowed us by the reg 
ulations of the ship. Over the water the soldiers 
had no control. 

The daily consumption of water on board was 
at least equal to seven hundred gallons. I know 
not whence it was brought, but presume it was 
from Brooklyn. One large gondola, or boat, 
was kept in constant employment to furnish the 
necessary supply. 

So much of the water as was not required on 
deck for immediate use, was conducted into butts 
placed in the lower hold of the hulk, through a 
leathern hose, passing through her side, near the 


bends. To this water we had recourse when we 
could procure no other. 

When water in any degree fit for use was 
brought on board, it is impossible to describe the 
struggle which ensued in consequence of our 
haste and exertions to procure a draught of it. 
The best which was ever afforded us was very 
brackish ; but that from the ship s hold was nau 
seous in the highest degree. This must be evi 
dent when the fact is stated, that the butts for 
receiving it had never been cleaned since they 
were placed in the hold. The quantity of foul 
sediment which they contained was therefore 
very great, and was disturbed and mixed with 
the water, as often as a new supply was poured 
into them ; thereby rendering their whole con 
tents a substance of the most disgusting and 
poisonous nature. I have not the least doubt 
that the use of this vile compound caused the 
death of hundreds of the prisoners, when, to 
allay their tormenting thirst, they were driven 
by desperation to drink this liquid poison, and 
to abide the consequences. 




" At Brooklyn WTiarf, in travelling trim, 
" Young Charon s boat receives her store ; 
" Across the wavy waste they skim, 
" She at the helm, and he, the oar. 

" The market done, her cash secure, 
" She home%vard takes her wonted way ; 
" The painted chest, behind the door, 
" Receives the gainings of the day." 


ONE indulgence was allowed us by our keep 
ers ; if indulgence it may be called. They had 
given permission for a boat to come alongside 
the ship with a supply of a few necessary arti 
cles, to be sold to such of the prisoners as pos 
sessed the means of paying for them. 


This trade was carried on by a very corpulent 
old woman, known among the prisoners by the 
name of " DAME GRANT." Her visits, which 
were made on every other day, were of much 
benefit to us, and I presume a source of profit to 
herself. She brought us soft bread and fruit, with 
various other articles, such as sugar, tea, &c. all 
of which she previously put up into small paper 
parcels, from one ounce to a pound in weight, 
with the price affixed to each, from which she 
would never deviate. The bulk of the old lady 
completely filled the stern sheets of the boat; 
where she sat, with her box of goods before her, 
from which she supplied us very expeditiously. 
Her boat was rowed by two boys, who delivered 
to us the articles we had purchased ; the price 
of which we were required first to put into their 

When our guard was not composed of Refu 
gees, we were usually permitted to descend to 
the foot of the accommodation ladder, in order 
to select from the boat such articles as we wished. 
While standing there, it was distressing to see 
the faces of hundreds of half famished wretches, 


looking over the side of the ship into the boat, 
without the means of purchasing the most tri 
fling article before their sight ; not even so much 
as a morsel of wholesome bread. None of us 
possessed the means of generosity, nor had any 
power to afford them relief. Whenever I 
bought any articles from the boat, I never en 
joyed them ; for it was impossible to do so in the 
presence of so many needy wretches, eagerly 
gazing at my purchase, and almost dying for 
want of it. 

We frequently furnished Dame Grant with a 
memorandum of such articles as we wished her 
to procure for us, such as pipes, tobacco, needles, 
thread, and combs. These she always faithfully 
procured and brought to us ; never omitting 
the assurance that she afforded them exactly at 

Her arrival was always a subject of interest to 
us ; but at length she did not make her appear 
ance for several days ; and her approach was 
awaited in extreme anxiety. But, alas ! we were 
no longer to enjoy this little gratification. Her 
traffic was ended. She had taken the fever from 


the hulk, and died, if not in the flower of 
her youth, at least in the midst of her use 
fulness, leaving a void which was never after 
wards filled up. 




" On the hard floors, these wasted objects laid, 
" There tossed and tumbled in the dismal shade. 
" There no soft voice their bitter fate bemoaned, 
44 And death trod stately while his victims groaned." 


AFTER the death of Dame Grant, we were 
under the necessity of purchasing from the Sut 
ler such small supplies as we needed. This man 
was one of the Mates of the ship, and occupied 
one of the apartments under the quarter deck, 
through the bulk head of which an opening had 
been cut, from which he delivered his goods. 
He here kept for sale a variety of articles, among 
which was usually a supply of ardent spirits, 
which was not allowed to be brought alongside 


the ship for sale. It could therefore only be 
procured from the Sutler, whose price was two 
dollars for a gallon. Except in relation to this 
article, no regular price was fixed for what he 
sold us. We were first obliged to hand him the 
money, and he then gave us such a quantity as 
he pleased of the article which we needed ; there 
was, on our part, no bargain to be made. But, 
to be supplied even in this manner, was, to those 
of us who had means of payment, a great con 

But how different was our condition from that 
of our countrymen who were sent prisoners to 
England, during the same period. They were 
also in confinement, it is true, but it was in pris 
ons which were palaces in comparison with the 
foul and putrid dungeons into which we were 
crowded. They were furnished with sweet and 
wholesome provisions, and with pure and good 
water for every necessary purpose. They could 
easily procure vegetables, and every other sup 
ply conducive to their comfort. An Agent was 
appointed to supply them with clothing and to 
attend to their complaints. They had a sufficient 


space for exercise and manly recreation during 
the day, and the privilege of using lights by 
night. They were not so crowded together as 
to be thereby rendered the almost certain victims 
of disease and death. They received donations 
from the charitable and the well disposed. Such 
was their situation, in a foreign country, in the 
land of our enemies. What a contrast does this 
present to the picture I have attempted to give 
of our condition, while confined on our own 
waters, and in sight of our own shore! Our 
own people afforded us no relief. Oh, my 
Country ! why were we thus neglected in this 
our hour of misery, why was not a little food 
and raiment given to the dying martyrs of thy 
cause ? 

Although the supplies which some of us were 
enabled to procure from the Sutler were highly 
conducive to our comfort, yet one most neces 
sary article neither himself nor any other person 
could furnish us. This was wood for our daily 
cooking; to procure a sufficient quantity of which, 
was to us a source of continual trouble and anx 
iety. The cooks would indeed steal small quan- 


tities, and sell them to us, at the hazard of cer 
tain punishment if detected ; but it was not in 
their power to embezzle a sufficient quantity to 
meet our daily necessities. As the disgust of 
swallowing any food which had been cooked in 
the Great Copper was universal, each prisoner 
used every exertion to procure as much wood 
as possible, for the private cooking of his own 

During my excursion to the shore, to assist in 
the interment of Mr. Carver, it was my good 
fortune to find a hogshead stave floating in the 
water. This was truly a prize. I conveyed 
the treasure on board ; and in the economical 
manner in which it was used, it furnished the 
mess to which I belonged with a supply of fuel 
for a considerable time. 

I was also truly fortunate on another occasion. 
I had, one day, command of the Working Party, 
which was then employed in taking on board a 
sloop load of wood for the ship s use. This was 
carefully conveyed below, under a guard, to pre 
vent embezzlement. I nevertheless found means, 
with the assistance of my associates, to convey a 


cleft of it into the Gun Room, where it was im 
mediately secreted. Our mess was thereby sup 
plied with- a sufficient quantity for a long time ; 
and its members were considered by far the 
most wealthy persons in all this republic of mis 
ery. We had enough for our own use, and 
were enabled occasionally to supply our neigh 
bours with a few splinters. 

Our mode of preparing the wood for use was 
to cut it with a jack knife, into pieces about four 
inches long. This labour occupied much of our 
time, and was performed by the different mem 
bers of the mess, in rotation ; which employment 
was to us a source of no little pleasure. 

After a sufficient quantity had thus been pre 
pared for the next day s use, it was deposited in 
the chest. The main stock was guarded, by day 
and night, with the most scrupulous and anxious 
care. We kept it at night within our own en 
closure; and by day it was always watched by 
some one of its proprietors. So highly did we 
value it, that we went into mathematical calcula 
tions to ascertain how long it would supply us, if 
a given quantity was each day consumed. 


It may be thought that this subject is not of 
sufficient importance to be so long dwelt upon. 
But things which are usually of trifling worth 
may, at times, become objects of the greatest 
consequence. Men may be placed in situations 
where the flint is of more value than the dia 




" What though the sun, in his meridian blaze, 
" Dart on their naked limbs his scorching rays ; 
" Still, of etherial temper are their souls, 
" And in their veins the tide of honour rolls." 


SOON after the Jersey was first used as a place 
of confinement, a code of By-Laws had been 
established by the prisoners, for their own regu 
lation and government, to which a willing sub 
mission was paid, so far as circumstances would 
permit. I much regret my inability to give these 
rules verbatim ; but I cannot at this distant period 
of time recollect them with a sufficient degree 
of distinctness. They were chiefly directed to 
the preservation of personal cleanliness, and the 
prevention of immorality. For a refusal to com- 


ply with any one of them, the refractory prisoner 
was subject to a stated punishment. It is an 
astonishing fact that any rules thus made should 
have so long existed and been enforced among 
a multitude of men situated as we were ; so 
numerous, and composed of individuals of that 
class of human beings who are not easily con 
trolled, and usually not the most ardent support 
ers of good order. There were many foreigners 
among our number, over whom we had no con 
trol, except so far as they chose voluntarily to 
comply with our regulations ; which they cheer 
fully did, in almost every instance, so far as their 
condition would allow. 

Among our Rules were the following : That 
personal cleanliness should be preserved, as far as 
was practicable ; that profane language should be 
avoided ; that drunkenness should not be allowed ; 
that theft should be severely punished ; and that 
no smoking should be permitted between decks, 
by day or night, on account of the annoyance 
which it caused to the sick. 

A due observance of the Sabbath was also 
strongly enjoined ; and it was recommended to 


every individual to appear cleanly shaved on 
Sunday morning, and to refrain from all recrea 
tion during the day. This rule was particularly 
recommended to the attention of the officers, and 
the remainder of the prisoners were desired to 
follow their example. 

Our By-Laws were occasionally read to the 
assembled prisoners, and always whenever any 
prisoner was to be punished for their violation. 
Theft or fraud upon the allowance of a fellow- 
prisoner was always punished, and the infliction 
was always approved by the whole company. 
On these occasions the oldest officer among the 
prisoners presided as Judge. 

It required much exertion for many of us to 
comply with the law prohibiting smoking be 
tween decks. Being myself much addicted to 
the habit of smoking, it would have been a great 
privilege to have enjoyed the liberty of thus in 
dulging it, particularly during the night, while 
sitting by one of the air ports ; but as this was 
entirely inadmissible, I of course submitted to the 

Many of us waited in great anxiety for the 


moment when we could ascend to the upper 
deck, and enjoy the gratification of our favourite 
habit. The practice had indeed become univer 
sal among the prisoners, at least as many of them 
as had the means of procuring tobacco. We 
were allowed no means of striking fire, and were 
obliged to procure it from the Cook employed 
for the ship s officers, through a small window 
in the bulk head, near the camboose. After one 
had thus procured fire, the rest were also soon 
supplied, and our pipes were all in full operation 
in the course of a few minutes. The smoke 
which rose around us appeared to purify the 
pestilential air by which we were surrounded ; 
and I attributed the preservation of my health in 
a great degree to the exercise of this habit. Our 
greatest difficulty was to procure tobacco. This, 
to some of the prisoners, was impossible ; and it 
must have been an aggravation to their suffer 
ings to see us apparently puffing away our sor 
rows, while they had no means of procuring the 
enjoyment of a similar gratification. 

We dared not often apply at this Cook s cam- 
boose for fire, as the surly wretch would not 


willingly repeat the supply. One morning I 
went to the window of his den, and requested 
leave to light my pipe ; and the miscreant, with 
out making any reply, threw a shovel full of 
burning cinders in my face. I was almost 
blinded by the pain, and several days elapsed 
before I fully regained my sight. My feelings 
on this occasion may be imagined ; but redress 
was impossible, as we were allowed no mode of 
even seeking it. I mention this occurrence to 
show to what a wretched state we were reduced, 
when thus exposed to the wanton and vexatious 
insults, the petty and disgusting tyranny of all 
those wretches, from the Commissary to the 
Cook and the Cook s scullion. This wanton act 
of that inhuman monster would not probably 
have been justified by the Captain, had it come 
to his knowledge ; but it was wholly out of our 
power to devise means whereby to convey any 
complaint to him. Had the means been allowed 
us of making known our grievances, many of 
these brutal aggressions would probably have 
been punished, and we should have been saved 
from the endurance of a great number of petty, 
but unceasing insults. 




" Stranger Youth, 

" So noble and so mild is thy demeanour, 

" So gentle and so patient ; such the air 

" Of candour and of courage which adorns 

" Thy manly features, thou hast won my love." 


DURING the period of my confinement, the 
Jersey was never visited by any regular clergy 
man, nor was Divine service ever performed on 
board. And among the whole multitude of the 
prisoners, there was but one individual who ever 
attempted to deliver a set speech, or to exhort 
his fellow-sufferers. 

This individual was a young man named 
Cooper, whose station in life was apparently that 


of a common sailor. He was a man of eccentric 
character, but evidently possessed talents of a 
very high order. His manners were pleasing, 
and he had every appearance of having received 
an excellent education. He was a Virginian ; 
but I never learnt the exact place of his nativity. 
He told us that he had been a very unmanage 
able youth, and that he had left his family con 
trary to their wishes and advice ; that he had 
often been assured by them that the old Jersey 
would bring him up at last, and the Wallabout 
be his place of burial. " The first of these pre 
dictions/ said he, " has been verified ; and I 
care not how soon the second proves equally 
true, for I am prepared for the event. Death, 
for me, has lost its terrors, for with them I have 
been too long familiar." 

On several Sunday mornings Cooper harangued 
the prisoners in a very forcible yet pleasing 
manner, which, together with his language, 
made a lasting impression upon my memory. 
On one of these occasions, having mounted a 
temporary elevation on the spar deck, he, in an 
audible voice, requested the attention of the pris- 


oners, who having immediately gathered round 
him in silence, he commenced his discourse. 

He began by saying that he hoped no one 
would suppose he had taken that station by way 
of derision or mockery of that holy day, for that 
such was not his object ; on the contrary, he was 
pleased to find that the good regulations estab 
lished by the former prisoners obliged us to re^ 
frain even from recreation on the Sabbath ; that 
his object, however, was not to preach to us, nor 
to discourse upon any sacred subject. He wished 
to read us our By-Laws, a copy of which he 
held in his hand ; the framers of which were 
then in all probability sleeping in death, beneath 
the sand of the shore before our eyes. That 
these laws had been framed in wisdom, and were 
well fitted to preserve order and decorum in a 
community like ours ; that his present object was 
to impress upon our minds the absolute necessity 
of a strict adherence to those wholesome regula 
tions ; that he should briefly comment upon each 
article, which might be thus considered as the 
particular text of that part of his discourse. 

He proceeded to point out the extreme neces- 


sity of a full observance of these Rules of Con 
duct ; and pourtrayed the evil consequences 
which would inevitably result to us, if we neg 
lected or suffered them to fall into disuse. He 
enforced the necessity of our unremitted atten 
tion to personal cleanliness, and to the duties of 
morality ; he dwelt on the degradation and sin of 
drunkenness ; described the meanness and atrocity 
of theft; and the high degree of caution against 
temptation necessary for men who were perhaps 
standing on the very brink of the grave; and 
added that, in his opinion, even sailors might as 
well refrain from profane language while they 
were actually suffering in Purgatory. 

He said that our present torments in that 
abode of misery were a proper retribution for 
our former sins and transgressions ; that Satan 
had been permitted to send out his messengers 
and inferior demons in every direction to collect 
us together ; and that among the most active of 
these infernal agents was David Sproat, Com 
missary of Prisoners. 

He then made some just and suitable observa 
tions on the fortitude with which we had sus- 


tained the weight of our accumulated miseries ; 
of our firmness in refusing to accept the bribes 
of our invaders and desert the banners of our 
country. During this part of his discourse, the 
sentinels on the gangways occasionally stopped 
and listened attentively. We much feared, that 
by some imprudent remark, he might expose 
himself to their resentment; and cautioned him 
not to proceed too far. He replied that our 
keepers could do nothing more, unless they 
should put him to the torture, and that he should 

He touched on the fact that no clergyman had 
ever visited us ; that this was probably owing to 
the fear of contagion ; but it was much to be re 
gretted that no one had ever come to afford a 
ray of hope, or to administer the Word of Life 
in that terrific abode ; that if any Minister of the 
Gospel desired to do so, there could be no ob 
stacle in the way ; for that even David Sproat 
himself, bad as he was, would not dare to 
oppose it. 

He closed with a merited tribute to the mem 
ory of those of our fellow-sufterers who had 


already paid the debt of nature. " The time," 
said he, " will come, when their bones will be 
collected ; when their rites of sepulture will be 
performed ; and a monument erected over the 
remains of those who have here suffered, the 
victims of barbarity, and died in vindication of 
the rights of Man." 

I have myself lived to see his predictions veri 
fied. Those bones have been collected ; those 
rites have been performed ; that monument has 
been raised. 

The remarks of our Orator were well adapted 
to our situation, and produced much effect upon 
the prisoners, who at length began to accost him 
as " Elder," or " Parson Cooper." But this he 
would not allow ; and told us, if we would insist 
on giving him a title, we might call him " Doc 
tor ; " by which name he was ever afterwards 
saluted, so long as he remained among us. 

He had been a prisoner for about the period 
of three months, when, one day, the Commissary 
of Prisoners came on board, accompanied by a 
stranger, and enquired for Cooper ; who, having 
made his appearance, a letter was put into his 


hand, which he perused, and immediately after 
wards left the ship, without even going below 
for his clothing. While in the boat, he waved 
his hand, and bid us be of good cheer. We 
could only return a mute farewell ; and in a few 
moments the boat had left the ship, and was on 
its way to New York. 

Thus we lost our Orator, for whom I had a 
very high regard at the time, and whose charac 
ter and manners have, ever since, been to me a 
subject of pleasing recollection. 

Various were the conjectures which the sud 
den manner of his departure caused on board. 
Some asserted that poor Cooper had drawn upon 
himself the vengeance of old Sproat, and that he 
had been carried on shore to be punished. No 
certain information was ever received respecting 
him ; but I have always thought that he was a 
member of some highly influential and respect 
able family, and that his release had been effected 
through the agency of his friends. This was 
often done by the influence of the Royalists or 
Refugees in New York, who were sometimes 
the connexions or personal friends of those who 


applied for their assistance in procuring the lib 
eration of a son or a- brother from captivity. 
Such kind offices were thus frequently rendered 
to those who had chosen opposite sides in the 
great revolutionary contest ; and to whom, 
though directly opposed to themselves in politi 
cal proceedings, they were willing to render 
every personal service in their power. 




" Black as the clouds that shade St. Kilda s shore, 

" Wild as the winds that round her mountains roar, 

"At every post some surly vagrant stands, 

" Cull d from the English or the Scottish bands. 

" Dispensing death, triumphantly they stand ; 

" Their muskets ready to obey command, 

" Wounds are their sport, as ruin is their aim ; 

" On their dark souls compassion has no claim ; 

" And discord only can their spirits please : 

" Such were our tyrants ; only such as these." 


A FEW days before the fourth of July, we had 
made such preparations as our circumstances 
would admit for an observance of the anniver 
sary of American Independence. We had pro 
cured some supplies wherewith to make our 
selves merry on the occasion ; and intended to 


spend the day in such innocent pastime and 
amusement as our situation would afford ; not 
dreaming that our proceedings would give um 
brage to our keepers, as it was far from our in 
tention to trouble or insult them. We thought, 
that although prisoners, we had a right, on that 
day at least, to sing and be merry. As soon as 
we were permitted to go on deck in the morn 
ing, thirteen little national flags were displayed 
in a row upon the booms. We were soon or 
dered by the guard to take them away ; and as 
we neglected to obey the command, they tri 
umphantly demolished and trampled them under 

Unfortunately for us, our guards at that time 
were Scotchmen, who, next to the Refugees, 
were the objects of our greatest hatred ; but 
their destruction of our flags was merely viewed 
in silence, with the contempt which it merited. 

During the time we remained on deck, several 
patriotic songs were sung, and choruses were re 
peated ; but not a word was intentionally spoken 
to give offence to our guards. They were, nev 
ertheless, evidently dissatisfied with our proceed- 


ings, as will soon appear. Their moroseness 
was a prelude to what was to follow. We were 
in a short time forbidden to pass along the com 
mon gangways, and every attempt to do so was 
repelled by the bayonet. Although thus incom 
moded, our mirth still continued. Songs were 
still sung, accompanied with occasional cheers. 
Things thus proceeded until about four o clock, 
when the guards were turned out, and we re 
ceived orders to descend between decks, where 
we were immediately driven, at the point of the 

After being thus sent below in the greatest 
confusion, at that early and unusual hour, and 
having heard the gratings closed and fastened 
above us, we supposed that the barbarous resent 
ment of our guards was fully satisfied ; but we 
were mistaken, for they had further vengeance 
in store, and merely waited for an opportunity to 
make us feel its weight. 

The prisoners continued their singing between 
decks, and were of course more noisy than usual, 
but forbore, even under their existing tempta 
tions, to utter any insulting or aggravating ex- 


pressions. At least, I heard nothing of the kind, 
unless our patriotic songs could be so construed. 

In the course of the evening we were ordered 
to desist from making any further noise. This 
order not being fully complied with, at about 
nine o clock the gratings were removed, and the 
guards descended among us, with lanterns and 
drawn cutlasses in their hands. The poor, help 
less prisoners retreated from the hatchways, as 
far as their crowded situation would permit ; 
while their cowardly assailants followed as far 
as they dared, cutting and wounding every one 
within their reach; and then ascended to the 
upper deck, exulting in the gratification of their 

Many of the prisoners were wounded ; but, 
from the total darkness, neither their number 
nor their situation could be ascertained ; and, if 
this had been possible, it was not in the power of 
their companions to afford them the least relief. 
During the whole of that tragical night, their 
groans and lamentations were dreadful in the 
extreme. Being in the Gun Room, I was at 
some distance from the immediate scene of this 



bloody outrage ; but the distance was by no 
means far enough to prevent my hearing their 
continual cries, from the extremity of pain, their 
applications for assistance, and their curses upon 
the heads of their brutal assailants. 

It had been the usual custom for each prisoner to 
carry below, when he descended at sunset, a pint 
of water, to quench his thirst during the night. 
But on this occasion we had thus been driven to 
our dungeons, three hours before the setting of 
the sun, and without our usual supply of water. 

Of this night I cannot describe the horrors. 
The day had been very sultry, and the heat was 
extreme throughout the ship. The unusual num 
ber of hours during which we had been crowded 
together between decks, the foul atmosphere and 
sickening heat, the additional excitement and 
restlessness caused by the wanton attack which 
had been made ; above all, the want of water, 
not a drop of which could we obtain during the 
whole night to cool our parched tongues ; the 
imprecations of those who were half-distracted 
with their burning thirst, the shrieks and wail- 
ings of the wounded, the struggles and groans 


of the dying, together formed a combination of 
horrors which no pen can describe. 

In the agonies of their suffering, the prisoners 
invited, and even challenged, their inhuman 
guards to descend once more among them ; but 
this they were prudent enough not to attempt. 

Their cries and supplications for water were 
terrible, and were, of themselves, sufficient to 
render sleep impossible. Oppressed with the 
heat, I found my way to the grating of the 
main hatchway, where on former nights I had 
frequently passed some time, for the benefit of 
the little current of air which circulated through 
the bars. I obtained a place on the larboard 
side of the hatchway, where I stood facing the 
East, and endeavoured, as much as possible, to 
draw my attention from the terrific sounds be 
low me, by watching through the grating the 
progress of the stars. I there spent hour after 
hour in following with my eye the motion of a 
particular star, as it rose and ascended, until it 
passed over beyond my sight. 

How I longed for the day to dawn ! At length 
the morning light began to appear ; but still our 


torments were increasing every moment. As the 
usual hour for us to ascend to the upper deck 
approached, the Working Party were mustered 
near the hatchway, and we were all anxiously 
waiting for the opportunity to cool our weary 
frames, to breathe for a while the pure air, and, 
above all, to procure water to quench our intol 
erable thirst. The time arrived, but still the 
gratings were not removed. Hour after hour 
passed on, and still we were not released. Our 
minds were at length seized with the horrible 
suspicion that our tyrants had determined to 
make a finishing stroke of their cruelty, and rid 
themselves of us altogether. 

It was not until ten o clock in the forenoon 
that the gratings were at length removed. We 
hurried on deck, and thronged to the water cask, 
which was completely exhausted before our 
thirst was allayed. So great was the struggle 
around the cask, that the guards were again 
turned out to disperse the crowd. 

In a few hours, however, we received a new 
supply of water ; but it . seemed impossible to 
allay our thirst, and the applications at the cask 
were incessant until sunset. 


Our rations were delivered to us; but, of 
course, not until long after the usual hour. 
During the whole day, however, no fire was 
kindled for cooking in the Galley. All the food 
whic"h we consumed that day we were obliged 
to swallow raw. Everything, indeed, had been 
entirely deranged by the events of the past night, 
and several days elapsed before order was re 
stored. This was at length obtained by a change 
of the guard, who, to our great joy, were re 
lieved by a party of Hessians. 

The average number who died on board, dur 
ing the period of twenty-four hours, was about 
five ; but on the morning of the fifth of July, 
eight or ten corpses were found below. Many 
had been badly wounded, to whom, in the total 
darkness of the night, it was impossible for their 
companions to render any assistance ; and even 
during the next day they received no attention, 
except that which was afforded by their fellow- 
prisoners, who had nothing to administer to their 
comfort, not even bandages for their wounds. 

I was not personally acquainted with any of 
those who died or were wounded on that night. 


No equal number had ever died in the same 
period of time during my confinement. This 
unusual mortality was of course caused by the 
increased sufferings of the night. 

Since that time, I have often, while standing 
on the deck of a good ship under my command, 
and viewing the rising stars, thought upon the 
terrors of that night when I stood watching their 
progress through the gratings of the old Jersey. 
And when I now contrast my former wretched 
ness with my present situation, in the full enjoy 
ment of liberty, health, and every earthly com 
fort, I cannot but muse upon the contrast, and 
bless the great and good Being from whom my 
comforts have been derived. I do not now re 
gret my captivity nor my sufferings ; for the 
recollection of them has ever taught me how to 
enjoy my after life, with a greater degree of con 
tentment than I should perhaps have otherwise 
ever experienced. 




Better the greedy wave should swallow all, [ 

Better to meet the death-conducting ball, 

Better to sleep on ocean s oozy bed, 

At once destroy d and number d with the dead ; 

Than thus to perish in the face of day, 

Where twice ten thousand deaths one death delay." 


IT had been some time in contemplation, among 
.a few of the inmates of the Gun Room, to make 
a desperate attempt to escape, by cutting a hole 
through the stern or counter of the ship. In 
order that their operations might proceed with 
even the least probability of success, it was ab 
solutely necessary that but few of the prisoners 
should be admitted to the secret. At the same 
time, it was impossible for them to make any 


progress in their labour, unless they first con 
fided their plan to all the other occupants of the 
Gun Room ; which was accordingly done. In 
this part of the ship, each mess was on terms of 
more or less intimacy with those whose little 
sleeping enclosures were immediately adjacent to 
their own ; and the members of each mess fre 
quently interchanged good offices with those in 
their vicinity ; and borrowed and lent such little 
articles as they possessed, like the good house 
wives of a sociable neighbourhood. I never 
knew any contention in this apartment during 
the whole period of my confinement. Each in 
dividual in the Gun Room, therefore, was willing 
to assist his comrades, as far as he had the power 
to do so. When the proposed plan of escape 
was laid before us, although it met the disappro 
bation of by far the greater number, still we 
were all perfectly ready to assist those who 
thought it practicable. 

We, however, described to them the difficul 
ties and dangers which must unavoidably attend 
their undertaking ; the prospect of detection 
while making the aperture, in the immediate 



vicinity of such a multitude of idle men, crowded 
together ; a large proportion of whom were always 
kept awake by their restlessness and sufferings 
during the night ; the little probability that they 
would be able to travel, undiscovered, on Long 
Island, even should they succeed in reaching the 
shore in safety ; and, above all, the almost abso 
lute impossibility of obtaining food for their sub 
sistence ; as an application for that, to our keep 
ers, would certainly lead to detection. But, not 
withstanding all our arguments, a few of them 
remained determined to make the attempt. Their 
only reply to our reasoning was, that they must 
die if they remained ; and that nothing worse 
could befal them if they failed in their under 

One of the most sanguine among the adven 
turers was a young man named Lawrence, the 
Mate of a ship from Philadelphia. He was a 
member of the mess next to my own, and I had 
formed with him a very intimate acquaintance. 
He frequently explained his plans to me, and 
dwelt much upon his hopes of success. But, ar 
dently as I desired to obtain my liberty, and 


great as were the exertions I would have made, 
had I seen any probable mode of gaining it, yet 
it was not my intention to join in this attempt. 
I nevertheless agreed to assist in the labour of 
cutting through the planks ; and heartily wished, 
although I had no hope, that the enterprise might 
prove successful. 

The work was accordingly commenced, and 
the labourers concealed, by placing a blanket 
between them and the prisoners without. The 
counter of the ship was covered with hard oak 
plank, four inches thick ; and through this we 
undertook to cut an opening sufficiently large 
for a man to descend, and to do this with no 
other tools than our jack knives and a single 

All the occupants of the Gun Room assisted 
in this labour, in rotation, some, in confidence 
that the plan was practicable ; and the rest, 
merely for amusement, or for the sake of being 
employed. Some one of our number was con 
stantly at work ; and we thus continued, wear 
ing a hole through the hard planks, from seam 
to seam, until at length the solid oak was worn 


away piecemeal, and nothing remained but a thin 
sheathing on the outside, which could be cut 
away at any time, in a few minutes, whenever 
a suitable opportunity should occur for making 
the bold attempt to leave the ship. 

It had been previously agreed, that those who 
should first descend through the aperture should 
drop into the water, and there remain until all 
those among the inmates of the Gun Room, who 
chose to make the attempt, could join them, and 
that the whole band of adventurers should then 
swim together to the shore, which was about a 
quarter of a mile from the ship. 

A proper time at length arrived. On a very 
dark and rainy night, the exterior sheathing was 
cut away ; and at midnight, four of our number, 
having disencumbered themselves of their clothes, 
and tied them across their shoulders, were as 
sisted through the opening, and dropped, one 
after another, into the water. 

Ill-fated men ! Our guards had long been 
acquainted with the enterprise. But, instead of 
taking any measures to prevent it, they had per 
mitted us to go on with our labour, keeping a 



vigilant watch for the moment of our projected 
escape, in order to gratify their bloodthirsty 
wishes. No other motive than this could have 
prompted them to the course which they pur 
sued. A boat was in waiting, under the ship s 
quarter, manned with rowers and a party of the 
guards. They maintained a perfect silence after 
hearing the prisoners drop from the opening ; 
until, having ascertained that no more would 
probably descend, they pursued the swimmers, 
whose course they could easily follow by the 
sparkling of the water, an effect always pro 
duced by the agitation of the waves in a stormy 

We were all profoundly silent in the Gun 
Room, after the departure of our companions, 
and in anxious suspense as to the issue of their 
adventure. In a few minutes we were startled 
by the report of a gun, which was instantly suc 
ceeded by a quick and scattering fire of mus 
ketry. In the darkness of the night, we could 
not see the unfortunate victims, but could dis 
tinctly hear their shrieks and cries for mercy. 

The noise of the firing had alarmed the pris- 


oners generally ; and the report of the attempted 
escape, and its defeat, ran like wildfire through 
the- gloomy and crowded dungeons of the hulk, 
and produced much commotion among the whole 
body of the prisoners. lit a few moments the 
gratings were raised, and the guards descended, 
bearing a naked and bleeding man, whom they 
placed in one of the bunks ; and having left a 
piece of burning candle by his side, they again 
ascended to the deck, and secured the gratings. 

Information of this circumstance soon reached 
the Gun Room ; and myself, with several others 
of our number, succeeded in making our way 
through the crowd to the bunks. The wounded 
man was my friend Lawrence. He was severely 
injured in many places, and one of his arms had 
been nearly severed from his body by the stroke 
of a cutlass. This, he said, was done in wanton 
barbarity, while he was crying for mercy, with 
his hand on the gunwale of the boat. He was 
too much exhausted to answer any of our ques 
tions, and uttered nothing further, except a single 
enquiry respecting the fate of Nelson, one of his 
fellow-adventurers. This we could not answer. 


Indeed, what became of the rest, we never 
knew. They were probably all murdered in 
the water. 

This was the first time that I had ever seen a 
light between decks. The piece of candle had 
been left by the side of the bunk in order to 
produce an additional effect upon the prisoners. 
Many had been suddenly awakened from their 
slumbers, and had crowded round the bunk 
where the sufferer lay. The effect of the par 
tial light upon his bleeding and naked limbs, 
and upon the pale and haggard countenances 
and tattered garments of the wild and crowded 
groups by which he was surrounded, was horrid 
beyond description. 

We could render the sufferer but little assist 
ance ; being only able to furnish him with a few 
articles of apparel, and to bind a handkerchief 
around his head. His body was completely cov 
ered and his hair filled with clotted blood ; we 
had not the means of washing the gore from his 
wounds during the night. We had seen many 
die ; but to view this wretched man expiring in 
that situation, where he had been placed beyond 


the reach of surgical aid, merely to strike us 
with terror, was dreadful. 

The gratings were not removed at the usual 
hour in the morning, but we were all kept be 
low until ten o clock. This mode of punishment 
had now become habitual with our keepers, 
and we were all frequently detained between 
decks until a late hour in the day, in revenge 
for the most trifling occurrence. This cruelty 
never failed to produce the torments arising 
from heat and thirst, with all their attendant 

The immediate object of our tyrants having 
been answered by leaving Mr. Lawrence below 
in that situation, they promised, in the morning, 
that he should have the assistance of a Surgeon ; 
but this promise was not fulfilled. The prison 
ers rendered him every attention in their power. 
They washed and dressed his wounds ; but in 
vain. Mortification soon commenced ; he be 
came delirious and died. 

No inquiry was made by our keepers respect 
ing his situation. They evidently left him thus 
to suffer, in order that the sight of his agonies 


might deter the rest of the prisoners from follow 
ing his example. 

We received not the least reprimand for this 
transaction. The aperture was again filled up 
with plank, and made perfectly secure ; and no 
similar attempt to escape was made, at least so 
long as I remained on board. 

It was always in our power to knock down 
the guards and throw them overboard. But 
this would have been of no avail. If we had 
done so, and have effected our escape to Long 
Island, it would have been next to impossible 
for us to have proceeded any farther, among 
the number of troops there quartered. Of these 
there were several regiments ; and among them 
the regiment of Refugees, before mentioned, 
who were vigilant in the highest degree, and 
would have been delighted at the opportunity 
of apprehending and returning us to our dun 

There were, however, several instances of 
individuals making their escape. One, in par 
ticular, I well recollect. James Pitcher, one of 
the crew of the Chance, was placed on the sick- 


list, and conveyed to BlackwelFs Island. He 
effected his escape from thence to Long Island ; 
from which, after having used the greatest pre 
caution, he contrived to cross the Sound, and 
arrived safe at home. He is now one of the 
three survivors of that vessel s crew. 




The body maddened by the spirit s pain, 

The wild, wild working of the breast and brain, 

4 The haggard eye, that horror widened, sees 

Death take the start of sorrow and disease ; 

Here, such were seen and heard : so close at hand, 

A cable s length had reached them from the land ; 

Yet farther off than ocean ever bore ; 

Eternity between them and the shore ! " 


NOTWITHSTANDING the destroying pestilence 
which was now raging to a degree hitherto un 
known on board, new companies of victims were 
continually arriving ; so that, although the mor 
tality was very great, our numbers were increas 
ing daily. Thus situated, and seeing no pros 
pect of our liberation by exchange, we began to 


despair, and to believe that our certain fate was 
rapidly approaching. 

One expedient was at length proposed among 
us, and adopted. We petitioned General Clin 
ton, who was then in command of the British 
forces at New York, for leave to transmit a me 
morial to General Washington, describing our 
deplorable situation, and requesting his interfer 
ence in our behalf. We further desired that 
our memorial might be examined by the British 
General, and if approved by him, that it might 
be carried by one of our number to General 

Our petition was laid before the British com 
mander by the Commissary of Prisoners, and 
was granted. We received permission to choose 
three from our number, to whom was promised 
a passport, with leave to proceed immediately on 
their embassy. 

Our choice was accordingly made, and I had 
the satisfaction to find that two of those elected 
were from among the former officers of the 
Chance, Capt. Aborn, and our Surgeon, Mr. 
Joseph Bowen. 


The Memorial was soon completed, and signed, 
in the name of all the prisoners, by a committee 
appointed for that purpose. It contained an ac 
count of the extreme wretchedness of our con 
dition, and stated, that although we were sensible 
that the subject was one over which General 
Washington had no direct control, as it was not 
usual for soldiers to be exchanged for seamen, 
and his authority not extending to the marine 
department of the American service; yet still, 
although it might not be in his power to effect 
our exchange, we hoped that he would be able 
to devise some means to lighten or relieve our 

Our messengers were further charged with a 
verbal communication for General Washington, 
which, for obvious reasons, was not included in 
the written memorial. They were directed to 
state, in a manner more circumstantial than we 
had dared to write, the peculiar horrors of our 
situation ; to describe the miserable food and 
putrid water on which we were doomed to sub 
sist ; and finally to assure the General, that in 
case he could effect our release, we would agree 


to enter the American service, as soldiers, and 
remain during the war. Thus instructed, our 
messengers departed. 

We waited, in alternate hope and fear, the 
event of their mission. Most of our number 
who were natives of the Eastern States were 
strongly impressed with the idea that some means 
would be devised for our relief, after such a 
representation of our condition should have been 
made. This class of the prisoners, indeed, felt 
most interested in the success of the application ; 
for many of the sufferers appeared to give them 
selves but little trouble respecting it ; and some, 
among the foreigners, did not even know that 
such an application had been made, or that it had 
ever been in contemplation. The long endur 
ance of their privations had rendered them al 
most indifferent to their fate ; and they appeared 
to look forward to death as the only probable 
termination of their captivity. 

In a few days, our messengers returned to 
New York, with a letter from General Wash 
ington, addressed to the committee of the pris 
oners who had signed the memorial. The pris- 


oners were all summoned to the. spar-deck, 
where this letter was read. Its purport was as 
follows: That he had perused our communi 
cation, and had received with due consideration 
the account which our messengers had laid be 
fore him ; that he viewed our situation with a 
high degree of interest ; and that although our 
application (as we had stated) was made in re 
lation to a subject over which he had no direct 
control, yet that it was his intention to lay our 
Memorial before Congress ; and that in the 
mean time we might be assured that no exer 
tion on his part should be spared which could 
tend to a mitigation of our sufferings. 

He observed to our messengers, during their 
interview, that our long detention in confine 
ment was owing to a combination of circum 
stances, against which it was very difficult, if not 
impossible, to provide. That, in the first place, 
but little exertion . was made on the part of our 
countrymen to secure and detain their British 
prisoners for the purposes of exchange ; many 
of the British seamen being captured by priva 
teers, on board which, as he understood, it was a 


common practice for them to enter as seamen ; 
and that when this was not the case, they were 
usually set at liberty, as soon as the privateer 
arrived in port, as neither the owners nor the 
town or state where they were landed would be 
at the expense of their confinement and mainte 
nance ; and that the officers of the General Gov 
ernment only took charge of those seamen who 
were captured by the vessels in the public ser 
vice. All which circumstances combined to ren 
der the number of British prisoners, at all times, 
by far too small for a regular and equal ex 

General Washington also transmitted to our 
committee copies of letters which he had sent to 
General Clinton and to the Commissary of Pris 
oners, which were also read to us. He therein 
expressed an ardent desire that a general ex 
change of prisoners might be effected ; and if 
this could not be accomplished, he wished that 
something might be done to lessen the weight of 
our sufferings ; that if it was absolutely neces 
sary that we should be confined on the water, he 
desired that we might at least be removed to 


clean ships. He added, if the Americans should 
be driven to the necessity of placing the British 
prisoners in situations similar to our own, similar 
effects must be the inevitable result ; and that he 
therefore hoped they would afford us better 
treatment, from motives of humanity. He con 
cluded by saying, that as a correspondence on 
the subject had thus begun between them, he ar 
dently wished it might eventually result in the 
liberation of the unfortunate men whose situation 
had called for its commencement. 

Our three messengers did not return on board 
as prisoners, but were allowed to remain on pa 
role at Flatbush, on Long Island. 

We soon found an improvement in our fare. 
The bread which we received was of a better 
quality, and we were furnished with butter in 
stead of rancid oil. An awning was provided, 
and a windsail furnished to conduct fresh air be 
tween the decks during the day. But of this we 
were always deprived at night, when we most 
needed it, as the gratings must always be fast 
ened over the hatchways ; and I presume that 
our keepers were fearful, if it was allowed to 
remain, we might use it as a means of escape. 

We were, however, obliged to submit to all 
our privations ; consoling ourselves only with 
the faint hope, that the favourable change in our 
situation, which we had observed for the last few 
days, might lead to something still more benefi 
cial, although we saw but little prospect of escap 
ing from the raging pestilence, except through 
the immediate interposition of Divine Providence, 
or by a removal from the scene of contagion. 




" The captive raised his slow and sullen eye ; 

" He knew no friend, nor deemed a friend was nigh ; 

" Till the sweet tones of Pity touched his ears, 

" And Mercy bathed his bosom with her tears. 

" Strange were those tones, to him, those tears were strange 

" He wept, and wondered at the mighty change." 

" Like Peter, sleeping in his chains, he lay ; 
" The angel came, and night was turned to day ; 
" Arise ! his fetters fall ; his slumbers flee ; 
" He wakes to life ; he springs to liberty ! " 


SOON after Capt. Aborn had been permitted to 
go to Long Island on his parole, he sent a mes 
sage on board the Jersey, informing us that his 
parole had been extended so far as to allow his 
return home, but that he should visit us previous 


to his departure. He requested our First Lieu 
tenant, Mr. John Tillinghast, to provide a list of 
the names of those captured in the Chance who 
had died, and also a list of the survivors, noting 
where each survivor was then confined, whether 
on board the Jersey,, or one of the Hospital Ships. 

He also requested that those of our number 
who desired to write to their friends at home, 
would have their letters ready for delivery to 
him, whenever he should come on board. The 
occupants of the Gun Room, and such of the 
other prisoners as could procure the necessary 
materials, were, therefore, soon busily engaged 
in writing as particular descriptions of our situa 
tion as they thought it prudent to do, without the 
risk of the destruction of their letters, as we were 
always obliged to submit our writing for inspec 
tion, previous to its being allowed to pass from 
the ship. We, however, afterwards regretted 
that on this occasion our descriptions were not 
more minute, as these letters were not examined. 

The next day, Capt. Aborn came on board, 
accompanied by several other persons who had 
also been liberated on parole ; but they came no 


nearer to the prisoners than the head of the 
gangway-ladder, and passed through the door of 
the barricado to the quarter-deck. This was 
perhaps a necessary precaution against the con 
tagion, as they were more liable to be affected 
by it than if they had always remained on board ; 
but we were much disappointed at not having as 
opportunity to speak to them. Our letters were 
delivered to Capt. Aborn by our Lieutenant, 
through whom he sent us assurances of his de 
termination to do everything in his power for our 
relief; and that if a sufficient number of British 
prisoners could be procured, every survivor of 
his vessel s crew should be exchanged ; and if 
this could not be effected, we might depend on 
receiving clothing, and such other necessary ar 
ticles as could be sent for our use. 

About this time some of the sick were sent 
ashore on Blackwell s Island. This was con 
sidered a great indulgence. I endeavoured to 
obtain leave to join them by feigning sickness, 
but did not succeed. The removal of the sick 
was a great relief to us, as the air was less foul 
between decks, and we had more room for mo- 


tion. Some of the bunks were removed, and the 
sick were carried on shore, as soon as their con 
dition was known. Still, however, the pestilence 
did not abate on board, as the weather was ex 
tremely warm. In the day time the heat was 
excessive, but at night it was intolerable. 

But we lived on hope, knowing that in all 
probability our friends at home had, ere then, 
been apprized of our condition, and that some 
relief might perhaps be soon afforded us. 

Such was our situation, when, one day, a short 
time before sunset, we descried a sloop approach 
ing us, with a white flag at her mast-head ; and 
knew, by that signal, that she was a Cartel ; and 
from the direction in which she came, supposed 
her to be from some of the Eastern States. She 
did not approach near enough to satisfy our curi 
osity, until we were ordered below for the night. 

Long were the hours of that night to the sur 
vivors of our crew. Slight as was the founda 
tion on which our hopes had been raised, we had 
clung to them as our last resource. No sooner 
were the gratings removed in the morning, than 
we were all upon deck, gazing at the Cartel. 


Her deck was crowded with men, whom we sup 
posed to be British prisoners. In a few minutes 
they began to enter the Commissary s boats, and 
proceeded to New York. 

In the afternoon a boat from the Cartel came 
alongside the hulk, having on board the Com 
missary of Prisoners ; and by his side sat our 
townsman, Capt. William Corey, who came on 
board with the joyful information that the sloop 
was from Providence, with English prisoners, to 
be exchanged for the crew of the Chance. The 
number which she had brought was forty ; being 
more than sufficient to redeem every survivor of 
our crew then on board the Jersey. 

I immediately began to prepare for my de 
parture. Having placed the few articles of cloth 
ing which I possessed in a bag (for, by one of 
our by-laws, no prisoner, when liberated, could 
remove his chest), I proceeded to dispose of my 
other property on board ; and after having made 
sundry small donations of less value, I concluded 
by giving my tin kettle to one of my friends, 
and to another the remnant of my cleft of fire 



I then hurried to the upper deck, in order to 
be ready to answer to my name, well knowing 
that I should hear no second call, and that no 
delay would be allowed. 

The Commissary and Capt. Corey were stand 
ing together on the quarter-deck ; and as the list 
of names was read, our Lieutenant, Mr. Tilling- 
hast, was directed to say whether the person 
called was one of the crew of the Chance. As 
soon as this assurance was given, the individual 
was ordered to pass down the accommodation- 
ladder into the boat. Cheerfully was the word 
" here ! " responded by each survivor as his name 
was called. My own turn at length came, 
and the Commissary pointed to the boat. I 
never moved with a lighter step, for that mo 
ment was the happiest of my life. In the excess 
and overflowing of my joy, I forgot, for a while, 
the detestable character of the Commissary him 
self ; and even, Heaven forgive me, bestowed a 
bow upon him as I passed. 

We took our stations in the boat in silence. 
No congratulations were heard among us. Our 
feelings were too deep for utterance. For my 


own part, I could not refrain from bursting into 
tears of joy. 

Still there were intervals when it seemed im 
possible that we were in reality without the lim 
its of the old Jersey. We dreaded the idea that 
some unforeseen event might still detain us ; and 
shuddered with the apprehension that we might 
yet be returned to our dungeons. 

When the Cartel arrived, the surviving num 
ber of our crew on board the Jersey was but 
thirty-five. This fact being well known to Mr. 
Tillinghast, and finding that the Cartel had 
brought forty prisoners, he allowed five of our 
companions in the Gun Room to answer to the 
names of the same number of our crew who had 
died ; and having disguised themselves in the 
garb of common seamen, they passed unsus 

It was nearly sunset when we had all arrived 
on board the Cartel. So sooner had the ex 
change been completed than the Commissary 
left us, with our prayers that we might never 
behold him more. I then cast my eyes towards 
the hulk, as the horizontal rays of the setting 


sun glanced on her polluted sides, where, from 
the bends upwards, filth of every description had 
been permitted to accumulate for years ; and the 
feelings of disgust which the sight occasioned 
are indescribable. The multitude on her spar- 
deck and forecastle were in motion, and in the 
act of descending for the night ; presenting the 
same appearance that met my sight, when, near 
ly five months before, I had, at the same hour, 
approached her as a prisoner. 




At length returned unto my native shore, 

4 How changed I find those scenes which pleased before. 

In sickly ships, what num rous hosts confined, 

At once their lives and liberties resigned. 

In dreary dungeons, woful scenes have passed ; 

Long in tradition shall the story last : 

1 As long as Spring renews the flowery wood, 

4 Or Summer s breezes curl the yielding flood." 

"DowN, Rebels; down!" was the insulting 
mandate by which we had usually been sent be 
low for the night ; and now, as we stood on the 
deck of the Cartel, watching the setting sun, I 
could hardly persuade myself that I should not 
soon hear that unfeeling order shouted forth by 
some ruffian sentinel behind me. 



During the evening, every thing around us 
contributed to our gratification. It was a pleas 
ure to us even to look at the lighted candles ; 
for, except on the night of the attempted escape, 
described in a former Chapter, we had not seen 
any thing of the kind for months. We derived 
enjoyment from gazing at the stars, not one of 
which we had seen, in its zenith, since our cap 
ture, having never been permitted to look abroad 
in the night, except through the massy gratings 
or iron bars of our prison. 

We had no desire for sleep ; and the whole 
night was spent in conversation, during which 
I learned the particular circumstances in relation 
to our exchange. 

On his arrival at Providence, Capt. Aborn had 
lost no time in making the details of our suf 
ferings publicly known ; and a feeling of deep 
commiseration was excited among our fellow 
citizens. Messrs. Clarke & Nightingale, the 
former owners of the Chance, in conjunction 
with other gentlemen, expressed their determi 
nation to spare no exertion or expense neces 
sary to procure our liberation. It was found that 


forty British prisoners were, at that time, in 
Boston. These were immediately procured, and 
marched to Providence, where a sloop, owned 
and commanded by a Capt. Gladding of Bristol, 
was chartered to proceed with the prisoners 
forthwith to New York, that they might be 
exchanged for an equal number of our crew. 
Capt. Corey was appointed as an Agent, to effect 
the exchange, and to receive us from the Jersey ; 
and having taken on board a supply of good pro 
visions and water, he hastened to our relief. He 
received much assistance, in effecting his object, 
from our townsman, Mr. John Creed, at that 
time Deputy-Commissary of Prisoners. I do 
not recollect the exact day of our deliverance, 
but think it was early in the month of October, 

The sun rose brightly on the morning after 
our exchange. We spent the time, while our 
breakfast was preparing, in viewing once more 
the detested place of our long confinement ; and 
while the prisoners were crowding on deck, we 
could occasionally discern among them the fig 
ures of some of our former messmates. We 


could not but compare their situation with our 
own ; and sweet as was the taste to us of whole 
some food, gladly would we have relinquished 
our repast, could we have sent it to them. 

Our plentiful breakfast produced a great effect 
upon our spirits. We soon began to think and 
feel that we were, once more, men. Our anxi 
ety for the arrival of Capt. Corey from the shore 
was extreme. At length, about ten o clock, he 
came on board, and ordered the sloop to be got 
under weigh. No windlass nor capstan was 
necessary for that purpose ; for we grasped the 
cable with our hands, and run the anchor up to 
the bow in a moment. The sails were rapidly 
set ; and with the wind and tide in our favour, 
we soon lost sight of the Jersey, the Hospital 
Ships, and the dreaded sand bank of the Wall- 

We were obliged to pass near the shore of 
Black well s Island, where were several of our 
crew, who had been sent on shore among the 
sick. They had learned that the Cartel had 
arrived from Providence, for the purpose of re 
deeming the crew of the Chance, and expected to 


be taken on board. Seeing us approaching, they 
had, in order to cause no delay, prepared for 
their departure, and stood together on the shore, 
with their bundles in their hands ; but to their 
unutterable disappointment and dismay, they saw 
us pass by. We knew them, and bitterly did 
we lament the necessity of leaving them behind. 
We could only wave our hands as we passed ; 
but they could not return the salutation, and 
stood, as if petrified with horror, like statues, 
fixed immovably to the earth, until we had van 
ished from their sight. 

I have since seen and conversed with one of 
these unfortunate men, who afterwards made his 
escape. He informed me that their removal 
from the Jersey to the Island, was productive of 
the most beneficial effects upon their health, and 
that they had been exulting at the improvement 
in their condition ; but their terrible disappoint 
ment overwhelmed them with despair. They 
then considered their fate inevitable ; believing 
that in a few days they must be again conveyed 
on board the hulk, there to undergo all the 
agonies of another death. 



We were hailed and examined by two guard 
ships near the Island, but were not long de 
tained. When this was over, and all fear of 
further detention by our enemies had vanished, 
we gave way at once to our unrestrained feel 
ings. We breathed a purer air ; it was the air 
of Freedom. Every countenance was lighted 
up with smiles, and every heart swelled with ex 
pectation. Each hour presented some new and 
pleasing object, some well-known spot, some 
peaceful dwelling, or some long remembered 

Several of our crew were sick when we en 
tered the Cartel, and the sudden change of air 
and diet caused some new cases of fever. This 
we attributed in a great degree to our having 
partaken too freely of fish and vegetables, a 
diet to which we had long been unaccustomed, 
and with which we were then abundantly sup 
plied. No one, however, died on board the 

One of our number, who was thus seized by 
the fever, was a young man named Bicknell, of 
Harrington, Rhode Island. He was unwell when 


we left the Jersey, and his symptoms indicated 
the approaching fever; and when we entered 
Narragansett Bay, he was apparently dying. 
Being informed that we were in the Bay, he 
begged to be taken on deck, or at least to the 
hatchway, that he might look once more upon 
his native land. He said that he was sensible of 
his condition ; that the hand of death was upon 
him ; but that he was consoled by the thought 
that his remains would be decently interred, and 
be suffered to rest among those of his friends 
and kindred. I was astonished at the degree of 
resignation and composure with which he spoke. 
He pointed to his father s house, as we approached 
it, and said it contained all that was dear to him 
on earth. He requested to be put on shore. 
Our Captain was intimately acquainted with the 
family of the sufferer ; and, as the wind was 
light, we dropped our anchor, and complied with 
his request. He was placed in the boat, where 
I took a seat by his side, in order to support 
him ; and with two boys at the oars, we left the 
sloop. In a few minutes his strength began 
rapidly to fail. He laid his fainting head upon 


my shoulder, and said he was going to the shore, 
to be buried with his ancestors ; that this had 
long been his ardent desire ; and that God had 
heard his prayers. No sooner had we touched 
the shore, than one of the boys was sent to in 
form his family of the event. They hastened 
to the boat to receive their long lost son and 
brother ; but we could only give them his 
yet warm, but lifeless corpse. 




" There is a spot of earth supremely blest, 

" A dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest, 

" Where man, creation s tyrant, casts aside 

" His sword and sceptre, pageantry and pride. 

" Here woman reigns ; the mother, daughter, wife, 

" Strew with fresh flowers the narrow way of life. 

" Where shall that land, that spot of earth be found ? 

" Art thou a man ? a patriot ? look around : 

" Oh, thou shah find, howe er thy footsteps roam, 

" That land THY COUNTRY, and that spot THY HOME ! " 


AFTER remaining for a few minutes with the 
friends of our deceased comrade, we returned to 
the sloop, and proceeded up the river. It was 
about eight o clock in the evening when we 
reached Providence. There were no quarantine 
regulations to detain us ; . but as the yellow fever 


was raging among us, we took the precaution to 
anchor in the middle of the stream. It was a 
beautiful moonlight evening ; and the intelligence 
of our arrival having spread through the town, 
the nearest wharf was in a short time crowded 
with people, drawn together by curiosity, and a 
desire for information relative to the fate of their 
friends and connexions. Continual enquiries were 
made from the anxious crowd on the land, re 
specting the condition of several different indi 
viduals on board. At length the information 
was given that some of our number were below, 
sick with the yellow fever. No sooner was this 
fact announced, than the wharf was totally de 
serted, and in a few minutes not a human being 
remained in sight. " The old Jersey Fever," as 
it was called, was well known throughout the 
whole country. All were acquainted with its 
terrible effects ; and it was shunned as if its 
presence was certain destruction. 

After the departure of the crowd, the sloop 
was brought alongside the wharf, and every one 
who could walk immediately sprang on shore. 
So great was the dread of the pestilence, and so 


squalid and emaciated were the figures which we 
presented, that those among us whose families 
did not reside in Providence, found it almost im 
possible to gain admittance into any dwelling. 
There being at that time no hospital in or near 
the town, and no preparations having been made 
for the reception of the sick, they were aban 
doned for that night. They were, however, 
supplied in a few hours, with many small ar 
ticles necessary for their immediate comfort, 
by the humane people in the vicinity of the 

The friends of the sick who belonged in the 
vicinity of the town, were immediately informed 
of our arrival ; and in the course of the follow 
ing day, these were removed from the vessel. 
For the remainder of the sufferers ample provis 
ion was made, through the generous exertions of 
Messrs. Clark & Nightingale. 

Solemn indeed are the reflections which crowd 
upon my mind, as I review the events which are 
here recorded. Forty-two years have passed 
away since this remnant of our ill-fated crew 
were thus liberated from their wasting captivity. 


In that time what changes have taken place. 
Of their whole number, but three are now alive. 
James Pitcher, Dr. Joseph Bowen, and myself, 
are the sole survivors. Of their officers, I alone 



I CANNOT close these sketches without refer 
ring to the fate of the old Jersey. At the expi 
ration of the war, in 1783, the prisoners remain 
ing on board were liberated ; and the hulk being 
considered unfit for further use, was abandoned 
where she lay. The dread of contagion pre 
vented every one from venturing on board, and 
even from approaching her polluted frame. But 
the ministers of destruction were at work. Her 
planks were soon filled with worms, who, as if 
sent to remove this disgrace to the name of 
common humanity, ceased not from their labour 
until they had penetrated through her decaying 
bottom, through which the water rushed in, and 
she sunk. With her went down the names of 
many thousands of our countrymen, with which 
her inner planks and sheathing were literally 



covered ; for but few of her inmates had ever 
neglected to add their own names to the almost 
innumerable catalogue. Could these be counted, 
some estimate might now be made of the whole 
number who were there immured ; but this rec 
ord has long since been consigned to eternal ob 
livion. It is supposed that more men perished 
on her decks than ever died in any other place 
of confinement on the face of the earth, in the 
same number of years. 

Notwithstanding the lapse of time, and the con 
sequent decay and dissolution of the remains of 
the multitudes who were buried on the shore, 
which were continually washed from the sand 
and wasted by the elements, when, in the year 
1803, the bank at the Wallabout was removed 
for the purpose of building a Navy Yard, a very 
great quantity of bones were collected. A me 
morial was presented to Congress, requesting an 
appropriation sufficient to defray the expenses 
necessary for their interment, and for the erec 
tion of a suitable Monument upon the spot ; but 
the application was unsuccessful. In the year 
1808, the bones were interred under the direc- 


tion of the Tammany Society of New York, at 
tended by a solemn funeral procession, in the 
presence of a vast concourse of citizens ; and the 
corner stone of a Monument was laid (to use 
the impressive words which are inscribed upon 
it), " in the name of the Spirits of the Departed 



M 159472