AMERICANREVOLUTION.ORG

A RELIC OF THE REVOLUTION

CHAPTER VIII.

More Prisoners - Hears from Home - Suspicion - A hot Press - 1500 Seamen wanted - News from America - Disagreeable Company - Destitution of the Prisoners - Digging, and Detection - A Pious Wish - Twenty years of age - Mournful Reflection - Letter from Bilboa - Bad Bread - Unpleasant Reflections - King's Speech - Bold Project - Failure - Reports - Strictness of the Guard - Suspicion - Privation from the Gospel - Prisoners Threatened -Voluntary Sacrifice - Good News reported - Detail of General Burgoyne's Defeat - Washington and Howe.

OCTOBER 20. There has been a prospect of a French war ever since we have been taken, but now I believe it is inevitable.

21. To-day we have drawn new hammocks, which are nearly a foot shorter than those we had before, on account of the hanging of them being altered.

22. To-day the remainder of the prisoners came on shore to the prison, and among them is a young man belonging to one of the schooner Hawk's prizes. This young man formerly lived with Thomas Tennant, of Newbury. From him I obtained intelligence of the health of my father and brother, and many other friends. It is a great satisfaction to me to hear from home, though it is very uncertain whether or not I ever see it.

23. Wet weather.

24. Warm and pleasant.

25. King Charles' restoration day. The garrison, fort, and each ship in the harbor, in commission, fired a salute. We are told that twelve sail of the line have been put in commission within a few days. We learn that there are suspicions that a French fleet has gone to the West Indies. To-day a large ship came in here in distress, having carried away her main-mast and mizen-topmast.

26. It is eleven months to-day since we left Portsmouth.

27. Last night two prisoners, Cutter and Morris, made their escape from the prison hospital; also to-day another prisoner ran the gantlet for stealing a penny loaf from one of the prisoners.

28. We are informed that two sentries, who were knowing to those two prisoners making their escape, are confined upon suspicion, and one of them has turned King's evidence, and informed of the other.

29. Cold and windy weather.

30. A bad storm, so that we keep house all day, except when we get out to draw our provisions.

31. Pleasant and warm, for the season.

November 1. We are informed that a few days ago, in a storm, a ship appeared, at a small distance from land, and gave a signal of distress, and in about ten hours was not to be seen; it is supposed she foundered.

2. We are informed that there is as hot a press now going on as ever was known in England; and that fifteen hundred seamen are wanted immediately, to fit out a fleet.

3. We have a paper, dated the 21st of last month, wherein is an account of General Burgoyne's losing two thousand men, besides a number taken prisoners.

5. To-day is Gunpowder Treason, and they make but little account of it compared with what I expected. To-day a boy ran the gantlet, for stealing.

6. To-day some prisoners, in a separate prison, who have been trying for some time to make their escape by digging out, were discovered by the guard.

7. We have a paper wherein are several fine pieces in behalf of America, which I hope will prove of advantage, as the Parliament is to set about the 15th or 20th of this month ; I am persuaded that the American affairs will be called up as the first question, and the subject of the most importance.

8. Two ships-of-war dropped down into the Sound, in order for sailing.

9. Sunday. Somewhat cold, and there are a great many in prison who have neither shoes nor stockings for their feet, and scarcely a jacket or shirt for their back: these must inevitably suffer, if not perish, this winter, with cold, if not supplied with clothing. As to myself, I have enough to keep me comfortable as to clothes, which is more than two-thirds in prison have; for many have been obliged to sell their clothes to buy provisions.

10. To-day six persons, in a separate prison, as they were at work in a drain under ground, digging out, were discovered by the guard, and caught in the drain, and carried to the Black-hole.

11. Two of the turnkeys, who used to tend the doors and gates, have been discharged; I suppose on suspicion of their being too good friends to us.

12. To-day an American captain, belonging to Manchester, who was taken in a merchantman, came to see us. He is set at liberty, and is bound home. Several in prison sent letters by him, but we could not write a true account, because our letters were examined.

13. Wet weather. Our yard, which was a pleasant spot when we came into it, is now nearly a mud pond in wet weather, and in dry a dust heap.

14. This morning, as some in prison were at work, trying to dig out, the guard came in and found the hole; and when they came to turn us out, there were one or two who did not move so soon as they wanted them to do, and they struck and abused them; afterwards, when one of the prisoners went to one of the prison windows to look for something, the sentry in the prison yard saw him and struck him over the back, and broke his bayonet.

15. It is twelve months to-day since we sailed from Newburyport. I hope the Lord in whom we ought to trust, will, in his own good time, deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, and return us to a free country, - which would be a day of good fortune, a day of agreeable surprise and great joy. Then would I say -

Thrice happy youth, though destitute and poor,
These are my restoration days;
The Lord, who brought me out, I'm sure
Can teach me how his name to praise.

16. Sunday. Pleasant for the season of the year.

17. This day I am twenty years of age. I have often read in authors of some great transaction to be laid open to the world in the year 1777, and I have been looking for it, in hope of seeing the event; but, alas! little did I think that at the age of twenty years I should have spent almost a twelvemonth of my time a prisoner.

18. It has been reported for several days past, that Philadelphia is taken. I believe I may assert with truth, that since we have been taken, we have heard fifty times that Philadelphia was taken, and often I have seen it in the papers, and many people believe it. It is in this manner that the poor and common people in England are blinded, by false reports; and some of the gentlemen of Plymouth hired the sexton to ring the bells, for rejoicing.

19. Captain Lee received a letter from Bilboa, and had an offer of being supplied with money. This letter informs us that Mr. Stevanson, Captain Lee's lieutenant, who made his escape from prison on the 21st of September, has arrived safe in Bilboa.

20. This morning William Moody, a Newbury man, taken with Captain Tileston about nine months ago, came to see us. He has got invalided, and intends to make the best of his way home.

21. We are told that six more large ships have been put in commission.

22. Our bread to-day is intolerably bad; it appears to us as though it was made of the grain of malt, or chopped straw: there are straws in it an inch long, and it is so bully and tough, that it is scarcely fit for a beast to eat. We complained of it, and were told if we would put up with it to-day we should have no more such.

23. Sunday. There are so many men in the prison, and so few books, that, in general, we are but poorly employed

24. We hear that there has a packet arrived from America, but we shall not learn what news she brings, until their contents have been to London and refined.

25. We hear that Captain Thompson, of the Bailey frigate, is now in France.

26. It is twelve months to-day since we sailed from Portsmouth. It is enough to vex the spirit of any man, to think that such a number of men should be thrown away, and brought into trouble through the misconduct of one man. If there had been good conduct on board of our vessel, we should have made up our cruise in twenty-four hours from the time we were taken; for, that same night, in a few hours after we were taken, the Reasonable spoke twelve or fifteen sail of transports bound to America, and their convoy had thrown their guns overboard in a storm.

27. We are informed that the King's Speech is in the papers, and that he is resolved to carry on the war with America, at all hazards.

28. For the two months past I have received ten shillings for boxes. Ever since about ten days after I came to prison, I have bought myself a breakfast of bread and milk, every morning it was to be had; and of late I have had potatoes to eat with my meat almost every day, which, I am sorry to say, is more than two thirds in prison can get.

29. To-day I had an opportunity of reading the King's Speech to the House of Lords, on the 20th of this month, in which he acknowledges that he is much grieved at the great expense the nation is at in this war; but he hopes that the Parliament will assist him still in carrying it on with vigor.

30. Sunday. Last evening, it being very dark and stormy, we were in general resolved to put in execution a plan proposed - to dig out at the back side of the prison, seize the sentry, confine him, and carry him out of call, but not to hurt him. Upon breaking ground, they unexpectedly saw a lamp placed near the hole, which gave light all round, so that they thought it impracticable to put their design into execution. I think if it had been otherwise, nearly two thirds in prison would have gone out. I got myself dressed and ready, and was in hopes of getting out, but to my sorrow, I find myself still in Mill Prison.

December 1. I had an opportunity of hearing the paper read, which gives an account of General Lee being exchanged; but for my own part, I do not expect we shall be exchanged before the conclusion of the war, unless France and Spain declare war, which to appearance, cannot be avoided.

2. We are informed that two packets have lately arrived, and confirm the reports that Philadelphia is taken. Also, they have reported that the Amercans have blown up an English seventy-four, which was attempting to go up to Philadelphia.

3. This morning the guard discovered another hole which we begun to dig yesterday. I think we have been very diligent and careful to improve every opportunity to make our escape, but the guard is so very strict with us, that I think it almost impossible to succeed, and we have reason to think that there are some traitors amongst us, who give information of every thing of the kind which we undertake.

4. We, in our mess, bought another bag of potatoes, for three shillings.

5. This day twelvemonth I was at sea in a storm; the same day, by what I can learn, was a day of thanksgiving in America.

6. Last evening, a man in prison received a letter from a friend in London, which desired him to make himself easy, for we should be delivered before we were aware of it; but we have been told such stories ever since we have been in England; so we place very little confidence in it.

7. Sunday. It is a great grievance to be shut up in prison, and debarred from hearing the gospel preached on the Lord's day, though I did not make much improvement of it when I had the opportunity.

8. To-day we were all mustered, and after this was over, the agent informed us that he had received a letter from the Board, to put all in this prison on half allowance, for breaking orders and attempting to make our escape, until the transgressor should be found out. But as we all, with one voice joined in one cause, we thought it inhuman to pitch upon any one man; therefore, by way of contribution, we raised money enough to hire one man to own the same and suffer for all, so that we are obliged to support him while on half allowance and make him amends for his sufferings

9. To-day the man delivered himself up, to go to the Black-hole, and the agent allows him every indulgence consistent with his orders, which is a very uncommon thing for him.

10. Warm and pleasant, for the season of the year.

11. There have been various reports for several days past, but I thought them not worthy of observation, because they did not come from so good authority as I could wish they might; but to-day we have a very authentic account from Captain Henry Johnston's brother, who is lately from London, that General Burgoyne and his army are totally routed, many killed, and taken to a man; and as I do not doubt the truth of it, it gives me more satisfaction than any news I have heard since I have been a prisoner. Also, we have good reason to believe that Howe is in possession of Philadelphia; but Washington, of choice, without any molestation, let him march in, for we hear that the Americans have possession of all the forts on the river.

12. I purchased a book called the "American Crisis," on purpose to lend it to a friend without. We are told that the generality of the people in England are very much disaffected at the proceedings of the ministry.

13. To-day we all carried our clothing out into the yard, and were examined to know who wanted clothes, and who did not. But for my part, I am not in need of any thing, for with what little money I have got in time past, by making boxes, I have clothed myself tolerably well. We were told, by a gentleman who came to see us, that our countrymen at home have something to be proud of, though we are a little humbled by our imprisonment.

14. To-day Captain Lee received a letter from Captain Trott, who was taken in one of the Civil Usage's prizes. He informs us of their taking ten valuable prizes, and six of the number were arrived safely at the place of destination.

15. Cold weather to what it has been for some days past.

16,17. We have a paper wherein is a confirmation and the particulars of General Burgoyne's being taken, with six thousand men, seven thousand stand of arms, seven thousand suits of clothes, seventy thousand guineas, sixty batteaux, with a thousand barrels of provisions, and a great many pieces of artillery, which in England they acknowledge to be the best ever sent out of the country, against any nation. We have, also, a melancholy account of the cruelty of the Indians in the back settlements, set on by the inhuman Burgoyne, and an account of General Lincoln's taking two forts, up North River, and putting the people to the sword. We hear, besides, of General Washington's giving Howe battle, and after the battle was over, there were six hundred wagon loads of dead and wounded seen to go into Philadelphia. After hearing this news, joy is plainly seen in the countenance of every American here.

18. We hear that Lord North has made a motion for peace, in the House, but they thought as he was one of the chief instigators of war, that he had no right to have any hand in making peace.

19. We hear that General Putnam had intercepted several letters sent by Howe to Burgoyne, which showed their determination, and proved of happy consequences to the Americans. According to the last accounts, the American loss in the late engagements is very inconsiderable.

20. To-day six men came up from the Black-hole, who were sent there on the tenth of last month - their forty days having expired.

21. Nothing remarkable, except repeated confirmations of what we have heard before.

22. We are informed that Parliament has adjourned till the twentieth of next month; I suppose, to hear further intelligence from Lord Howe, and to know whether he has made any progress in the country.

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