Rols' Escape - Very Sickly - Another Escape - Unfaithful Doctor - Frenchmen Escape and Return - Captain Ravel's Escape - Mr. Kirk's Escape - A Pardon - Thirty-two released, to go on board Men-of-war - Fourteen more petition for the same - An Indian Pow-wow - Cartel - Letters from Portsmouth - Beer Troubles - The Man that was punished unjustly rescued - Cartel encouragement - Captain Lee's Escape -Commemoration - New Arrangement - Spotted Fever among the French - Second Draft for the Ships -The Albion taken by the French -Twenty-two months a Prisoner - 101 Sabbath privileges lost.
SEPTEMBER 25. To-day Captain Ellenwood, belonging to Beverly, came to see us; he was taken, but has since been discharged, and is now bound home. A great number of letters were sent by him; I sent one to my brother. Last night, one Captain Rols made his escape from a separate prison, incognito, and it was not discovered till eleven o'clock to-day; and would not then have been, had it not been for his messmates, who, when they drew provisions, told of it; fearing that if they drew for him, they would be brought into trouble, as there are express orders against it.
26. To-day two French prizes were brought into this port.
27. Sunday. Last night, a young man in this prison, having a mind to go on board the men-of-war, made his escape over the wall in a shower of rain, and was not discovered. He was one of the number that lately petitioned to go on board the ships. To-day several more of the sick were carried down to the prison hospital. I think there is more than double the number sick now than has been at any time since I have been in prison, except when the small-pox went through the prison. If a man is sick, and very bad, the doctor will take him to the hospital a few days, as a matter of form. He has served several thus, and sent them up again before they were half recovered, and oftentimes when they were scarcely able to walk.
28. To-day our clothing was examined, as of late has been customary once a month, and as they called the roll they missed the man that made his escape the night before last; but they know when, where, or how he went.
29. We learn, by the paper, that General Carlton has arrived home; and also that Parliament is prorogued till the 26th of November.
30. Wet, stormy weather, which renders our
confinement very tedious. We are informed that a few French prisoners, who made their escape a few nights ago, out of a prison in a separate yard, got a boat and set out for France, but meeting with the storm, put about and came back again, and delivered themselves up.
October 1. The first part of last night was very dark, and stormy, and had it not cleared away just as it did before the moon set, immediately after she set there would have been an elopement from this and the officers' prison; but as it was, one Captain Ravel made his escape from the officers' prison, incognito, which I hope hereafter fully to describe. Our new Black-hole is finished to punish Yankees in, and to-day a man was put in for little or nothing - for what they call abusing the turnkey - and ever since he has been in, he has been cutting with a small penknife, and has got a hole through the door near six inches square. To-day nearly one hundred Frenchmen were brought to prison; they were taken in a French East Indiaman.
2. Last night one Mr. Kirk made his escape from the officers' prison; he took the same method that Captains Rols and Ravel did before him.
3. This morning, when the guard came to let the officers out, they missed Captain Ravel and Mr. Kirk, but they knew not when, where, or how they went, so they made no great stir about them.
4. Sunday. This forenoon a gentleman came with a pardon for thirty-three men that petitioned to go on board the men-of- war, which was nearly as follows:
"His Majesty has been graciously pleased to grant a free pardon to thirty-three men, by name -----, resident in this prison, upon condition that they will serve, and continue to serve in His Majesty's Navy." This gentleman said that these men are to be taken out of prison to-morrow, but one of the thirty-three has lately made his escape, and we have heard since that he is on board a man-of-war. He also said that those whose names are not on the list, but wish to enter on board the men-of- war, if they would petition, the same course would be taken, and he had no doubt it would be answered to their satisfaction. Accordingly, this afternoon a petition was written, and about fourteen signed it.
6. Last night there was but very little sleep in this prison, for the men who went on board the men-of-war this morning, were so overjoyed at the thought of being released from prison, that they could not, or would not, sleep the fore part of the night, but ran about the prison, hallooing, and stamping, and singing, like mad-men, till they were tired out, and then went to bed; but the rest in prison were resolved, as they would not let us sleep the first part of the night, we would not let them sleep the latter; accordingly, we all turned out, and had an Indian Pow-wow, and as solid as the prison is, we made it shake. In this manner we spent the night, and in the morning early the men were called out, twenty of whom were immediately carried on board the Russel ship-of-war, now lying in the Sound. The other twelve were taken out about eleven o'clock, and sent on board the Royal George, now lying in Plymouth dock. As they went out, they gave us three cheers; we returned it, for in joy we parted. Among those who went to-day were about a dozen Americans, but they were chiefly inconsiderate youths. This is a move that I have long wished to see, but it came now very unexpectedly. For my own part, to enter on board a ship of war is the last thing I would do. I would undergo every thing but death before I would think of such a thing. This prison has been a little hell upon earth, but I prefer it as much before a man-of-war, as I would a palace before a dungeon. Ten days ago there were 330 prisoners here, now there are only 294.
6. There is a great alteration to be seen in this prison since those men went away, and I make no doubt that after another draft, we shall have peace and tranquillity, and live in harmony, and make ourselves happy, considering our situation, to what we have been for months past.
7. This morning, when Mr. Sorrey came to bring us our money, he desired the butcher to tell us that we might depend upon it that a cartel was settled, and that we are very soon to be exchanged for prisoners in France. The strongest circumstance that induces us to believe it is, that those men were admitted on board the men-of-war. This news also agrees with a letter which we received clandestinely from Captain Harris, in Portsmouth prison; he writes that a Rev. gentleman, who has been a friend from the beginning, told him that there was actually a cartel negotiating.
8. Nothing remarkable, but repeated confirmations of what we have heard before.
9. It is four months to-day since Admiral Biron's fleet sailed from the Sound, and as yet we have heard of no arrival, except one ship. Also, this afternoon the brewer that supplies us with beer, through a mistake brought a cask of strong beer instead of malt, and he did not find out his mistake until be got here, and so was obliged to carry it back again. Afterwards, he brought us some that was small enough, and was not according to contract; we received it, but several took theirs and turned it over the gate. The man that was put in the Black-hole, nine days ago, has ever since been punished unjustly, and to-day he was resolved to get out, and we were resolved to get him out. After tearing the Black-hole yard down which is about twenty feet long and eight wide, he got out and came into this prison, and in the afternoon the whole guard came in with their arms, and demanded the man. But, with one accord, we all said that he should not be punished unjustly, and if they put him in the Black-hole it should not stand an hour. All this time the man had posted himself advantageously upon a beam over head in this prison, with a large stone in each hand, and a stocking full besides, swearing, in a most determined manner, that he would crack the first man's skull that offered to touch him. The guard went in to persuade him to go peaceably, but he would not, and they dared not, or did not touch him; and after a long controversy, they went out without him.
10. We learn, by the papers, that the Fox frigate, and a ship of eighteen guns, and one of sixteen guns, are taken by the French and carried into France.
11. Sunday. To-day we received a pound of potatoes per man, instead of cabbage, which the late draught has rendered very scarce.
12. To-day three letters were received in this prison, from prisoners in Portsmouth. They agree concerning the cartel which fs expected to take place. They write that passports are signed and passed from Dr. Franklin to the ministry. They write, also, that they had it from the American agent in Paris.
13. To-day, a fleet consisting of fifty sail, with convoy, passed this harbor. We suppose them to be an outward bound West India fleet.
14. Last night Captain Lee made his escape from the officers' prison, in the same manner that Captain Rols and others did, before him; and there are several others who are fixed, and only waiting for an opportunity to go the same way.
15. It is twenty-three months to-day since I left Newbury. This morning when the guard counted the officers out, they missed one; and after a long search, they found it to be Captain Lee. But all they know about it, is that he is gone.
16. As it is twelve months to-day since General Burgoyne was taken, in commemoration thereof, at one o'clock, we all drew up in the yard, and gave three cheers; and at night, before we were turned in, we did the same. This afternoon, seven more American prisoners were brought to prison. They were lately brought from Liverpool, and were captured in different vessels.
17. For two days past, there have been no doctors here to attend to our sick, and I hear that the chief physician at the royal hospital has the charge of them. To-day a number were removed into this prison, from a separate prison, called the itchy ward, to make room for the sick. The masons are now at work, building a chimney in an old prison, in this yard, that has lately been repaired. This prison is to be made an hospital for the sick, as the other hospital is wanted for the French prisoners; for there is between five and six hundred of them in one large prison, in a separate yard, and they are very sickly. They have the spotted fever among them, which was brought by those taken in the French East Indiaman.
18. Sunday. Yesterday the officers in the other prisons received a private letter from without, which confirms the news concerning a cartel, giving the particulars, which causes great satisfaction in the yard.
19. A man in prison received a letter from the Russell, ship-of-war, which is now lying in the Sound, from those who went on board from this prison. They write that they are bound to a station in the East Indies.
20. This morning a pardon arrived from the King, for the fourteen men who petitioned to go on board the King's ships.
21. This morning, the same man that brought the first draft, came, and called over the names of those fourteen men, and asked them of what country they were, and how long they had been to sea. Two of them being sick of their bargain, denied that their names were there.
I am in hopes of soon hearing that Rhode Island is taken, for I hear that the British troops there, have burnt five frigates and two sloops-of war, fearing that they would fall into the hands of the Americans. From the same source we learn that the Albion, a ship of sixty-four guns, is taken by the French, and carried into France. - Also, that four sail of the line have lately sailed from France, bound to America, to join Count D'Estaing; and also, that the English have taken another East Indiaman from the French, besides that which was brought in here.
22. To-day some officers from the ships came after those men, and the two before mentioned denied that they signed their names. They did not ask them to go, but one man went that did not sign, so that on the whole they got thirteen, which, with the first draft, makes forty-five men that have gone on board the men-of-war. But those who remain, I believe, are true sons of America.
23. Notwithstanding the encouragement we have about being exchanged, last evening a man made his escape by getting over the wall. It being very dark and rainy, more would have gone the same way, but they were discovered by the guard.
24. It is twenty-two months to-day, that I have been a prisoner; but now I think the auspicious day is at hand, when, with God's blessing, we shall all take our departure from this place. If I mistake not, this is the only day since I have been a prisoner, that we have not been counted. But this morning we were let out, and at night turned in, without any such thing; so that it appears they grow very careless about us to what they have been, which I consider a good omen.
25. Sunday. One hundred and one Sundays have passed since I have enjoyed a Sabbath day's privilege. To-day being King Charles' restoration day, the garrison and fort fired a salute.