Charles Towne, South Carolina


Revolutionary War comes to Charles, Towne. As the relationship between the colonists and England deteriorated, Charleston became a focal point in the ensuing American Revolution. In protest of the Tea Act of 1773, which embodied the concept of taxation without representation, Charlestonians confiscated tea and stored it in the Exchange and Custom House. Representatives from all over the colony came to the Exchange in 1774 to elect delegates to the Continental Congress, the group responsible for drafting the Declaration of Independence; and South Carolina declared its independence from the crown on the steps of the Exchange. Soon, the church steeples of Charleston, especially St. Michael's, became targets for British warships causing rebel forces to paint the steeples black to blend with the night sky.


It was twice the target of British attacks. At every stage the British strategy assumed a large base of Loyalist supporters who would rally to the King given some military support.[citation needed] On June 28, 1776 General Henry Clinton with 2000 men and a naval squadron tried to seize Charleston, hoping for a simultaneous Loyalist uprising in South Carolina. It seemed a cheap way of waging the war but it failed as the naval force was defeated by the Continental Army, specifically the 2nd South Carolina Regiment at Fort Moultrie under the command of William Moultrie. When the fleet fired cannonballs, the explosives failed to penetrate the fort's unfinished, yet thick palmetto log walls. Additionally, no local Loyalists attacked the town from behind as the British had hoped. The loyalists were too poorly organized to be effective, but as late as 1780 senior officials in London, misled by Loyalist exiles, placed their confidence in their rising.


Clinton returned in 1780 with 14,000 soldiers. American General Benjamin Lincoln was trapped and surrendered his entire 5400 men force after a long fight, and the Siege of Charleston was the greatest American defeat of the war (see Henry Clinton "Commander in Chief" section for more). Several Americans escaped the carnage, and joined up with several militias, including those of Francis Marion, the 'Swampfox,' and Andrew Pickens. These militias used hit-and-run tactics. Eventually, Clinton returned to New York, leaving Charles Cornwallis with 8000 Redcoats to rally Loyalists, build forts across the state, and demand oaths of allegiance to the King. Many of these forts were taken over by the outnumbered guerrilla militias. The British retained control of the city until December 1782. After the British left the city's name was officially changed to Charleston in 1783.


The First Siege of Charlestown, S.C.

The British ship Thunder opened the attack on Charleston with a barrage of ten-inch mortars at 11 a.m. on June 28, 1776. The shelling continued as eight British gun boats advanced toward the American forces at Fort Moultrie. Within the hour more than 100 enemy pieces converged on the Fort.


Despite the concentrated British forces, the rebels successfully resisted the attack. By 11 o'clock that night the British ships, battered and severely bruised during the day-long battle, admitted defeat and slipped their cables, drifting away with the tide.


British killed and wounded during the siege ran approximately 5 to 1 to the Americans.


What went wrong? A lucky break for the Americans helped turned the tide — three British warships ran onto a shoal known as the Middle ground, putting a near-insurmountable dent in the execution of their battle plan. Compounding the problem was the British army's failure to attack the undefended rear of Sullivan Island because of Sir Henry Clinton's misjudging of the depth of the channel between the islands.


More importantly, however, one must look to the British themselves. Their continual incapacity for developing an over-all strategy to put down the colonists' rebellion was much in evidence all during the years of the War. The lack of a unified strategy and the inability to enlist the necessary support led to failures in New England, then to the middle states of New York and Pennsylvania, and finally to the southern region.


In an attempt to bail themselves out of their previous defeats, the London high command during the summer of 1775 began developing plans for a military expedition into the south. Based strictly on the record, one might have safely concluded that the military operation at Charleston was foredoomed from the start.


In the end...the siege of Charleston proved to be a humiliating defeat for the British. The southern colonies would remain rebel territory for three years before the Redcoats could summon up enough strength to attack this stronghold again.



The Battle of Charles Towne


From Rivington New York Gazette, of May 31.

NEW YORK, May 31.


The following particulars of the operations of the Royal Army before Charlestown, South Carolina, are extracted from a letter received by his Majesty ship the Iris, from an officer of rank, dated May 14, which was two days after the garrison surrendered to General Sir Henry Clinton.


"The Roebuck, commanded by Sir Andrew S. Hammond, with Admiral Arbuthnot flag flying, led, and of course received the chief part of the raking fire in passing Sullivan Island. The ships got so near before the rebels perceived the Admiral intentions that it was astonishing with what little injury they passed. Twenty seven killed and wounded was the whole loss of the squadron.


"The army carried on their approaches through the canal, first abbatis and even to the foot of their left work; when every thing in preparation for a storm, and the ships almost in motion, the enemy averted the intended blow by a letter from General Lincoln, acquainting Sir Henry Clinton that he would accept the terms he had two days before rejected.


"The Continental troops are prisoners, and the militia and inhabitants prisoners on parole, and to return to their own homes. The property of the inhabitants in town secured to them, but all the vessels at the wharfs are forfeited. The Providence, Boston and Ranger, three Continental frigates are of the number, a French frigate called the Adventure, and a number of other vessels, such as brigs, gallies, &c. have fallen with the town.


"Previous to the taking the town, information was received that so many drafts had been made from Sullivan Island, that the garrison was reduced to 200 men. The sort is so perfectly impregnable to ships, that the Admiral determined to attack it by storm with the seamen and marines. Two hundred men were landed in the night on the east end of the island, who took possession of an old redoubt, the same number were to be conveyed in boats from Mount Pleasant, under cover of the fire of the ships, when the whole being ready, and the ships in motion, the fort surrendered, the garrison became prisoners of war; this service hastened and brought on the surrender of the town four days after.


"Lord Cornwallis with the army will march tomorrow for Camden, and so on to the northward, and from what we learn of the disposition of the inhabitants, if the war is prosecuted with vigor in these southern colonies, rebellion will suffer a severe shock in the course of this summer."


Further particulars relating to the conquest of Charles Town, (the capital of South Carolina) received from his Majesty ship Iris, Capt. Hawker.


The garrison of Charlestown surrendered prisoners of war on the 12th May: The private property was allowed to be secure, except the shipping. The militia, who had taken the oaths of allegiance to the king, `tis said, went with Earl Cornwallis, for Camden. The garrison of Sullivan island being summoned by Capt. Charles Hudson, (Commander of his Majesty ship Richmond, with a body of seamen and marines, on the 8th of May) to surrender Fort Moultrie: The Commandant answered, it should be defended to the last extremity; but the officer carrying the refusal had proceeded but a little way on his return, when he was called back and told, that the storm which was threatened by Capt. Hudson most prove a very serious affair, and therefore his garrison had consented to submission; and we are informed a great quantity of silver plate was found in the fort on taking possession of it. The inhabitants of Carolina in general buried their plate in Charlestown, thinking it a safer depositum than risquing it under ground on their plantations, where, from the curious and nefarious disposition of their Negroes, resident on the spot, it should be discovered and stolen; and by preferring this method of concealment, they have all secured their effects, under the generous and merciful permission of Sir. Henry Clinton, their Conqueror. When the Iris left Charlestown, his Excellency the General had committed his dispatches for government to the care of Major Crosbie and Admiral Arbuthnot, those respecting the Royal Navy Department, to Sir Andrew Snape Hammond, who were embarked in his majesty ship Perseus, for London.


His Excellency General Sir Henry Clinton detached the main body of the royal army on the 15th instant, under the command of Lieut. General Earl Cornwallis, to Camden, a principal town on Wateree, a branch of Santee river, about 100 miles distant from Charlestown, on the way to Hillsborough county, in North Carolina.


In late 1779, following strategic failures earlier in the American Revolutionary War, the British were stymied by the waiting strategy adopted by General George Washington leading the Continental Army. Under political pressure to deliver victory, British leaders turned to a "southern strategy" for winning the war that built on the idea that there was strong Loyalist support in the southern colonies. Their opening move was the capture of Savannah, Georgia, in December 1779, following which they planned an attack on Charleston, South Carolina, which they would use as a base for further operations in the South.


Siege

After failing to achieve any advantage in the north in 1779, the British government instructed Sir Henry Clinton to head a combined military and naval expedition southward. He evacuated Newport, Rhode Island, on October 25 and left New York in command of Hessian General Wilhelm von Knyphausen. In December, he sailed with 8,500 troops to join Marc Prevost at Savannah. Charles Cornwallis accompanied him, and later Lord Rawdon joined him with an additional force totaling around 14,000 troops and 90 ships.

Marching upon Charleston via James Island, Clinton cut off the city from relief, and began a siege on April 11. Skirmishes at Monck's Corner and Lenud's Ferry in April and early May scattered troops on the outskirts of the siege area. Benjamin Lincoln held a council of war, and was advised by de Laumoy to surrender given the inadequate fortifications.[1][2] Clinton compelled Lincoln to surrender on May 12.[3] The loss of the city and its 5,000 troops was a serious blow to the American cause. It was the largest surrender of an American armed force until the 1862 surrender of Union forces at Harper's Ferry during the Antietam Campaign. The last remaining Continental Army troops were driven from South Carolina consequent to the May 29 Battle of Waxhaws. General Clinton returned to New York City in June, leaving Cornwallis in command with instructions to also reduce North Carolina.


Tarleton in his Campaign reported a total of 5,283 captured, including three signers of the Declaration of Independence: Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton and Thomas Heyward, Jr.


Consequences

An active and bitter partisan war began. The British advance was marked by more than the usual destruction of war; the Loyalists rose to arms; the Patriot population regrouped around some of its militia commanders to harass the British and their Loyalist allies. Little mercy was shown on either side, especially after Tarleton's decimation of the Continentals at Waxhaws, which many saw as a massacre.


Prisoners at Charleston during Revolutionary War

More than 11,500 Americans were held captive on British prison ships. They died of disease, starvation, violence and neglect. A monument to these soldiers was erected in Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn, New York; it overlooks Wallabout Bay, the site where these prisoners were held captive in sixteen British prison ships between the years of 1776 and 1783. In 1776 Fort Putnam under the command of Colonel Rufus Putnam stood in this site in the park; it was built to defend the Brooklyn high land and to protect New York from the british. It was Georgia’s Major General Nathaniel Greene who battled the british there on August 27, 1776. He was greatly outnumbered and the British took control of New York City and Long Island, occupying them until the war ended. The ships collected American prisoners from everywhere and included the seamen imprisoned in Charleston, South Carolina after the British occupation of 1780, St. Augustine, Florida and Halifax, Nova Scotia.


Over 5,000 prisoners came from Savannah, Georgia. Eventually such prisoners were eventually transferred to the prison ships in the New York harbor. Every morning, British guards yelled” Turn out your dead!” and the bodies were taken and buried in shallow graves along the shore. A British ship called Jersey was nicknamed ”Hell” by its prisoners because of crowding conditions, sickness, starvation, whippings and frequent deaths. General George Washington complained about the prison ships in his letter to British commander General William Howe on January 13, 1777. Prisoners were released if they renounced the Revolutionary cause and pledged their loyalties to King George III. When the war ended in 1783, the remaining prisoners were freed. The list of of prisoners was copied from records in the British War Department in 1888 by the Society of Old Brooklynites and can be found at here


More about Prisoners


The Continental troops, by the articles of capitulation, were to be detained prisoners in some place contiguous to Charleston; the barracks were pitched on as the proper place; this was agreed to by both parties. The British, in violation of their solemn compact, put these people on board of prison-ships. Confined in large numbers on board of these vessels, and fed on salt provisions in this climate in the months of October and November, they naturally generated a putrid fever from the human miasma. This soon because highly contagious. The sick brought into the general hospital from the prison-ships, generally died in the course of two or three days, with all the marks of a highly septic state. Application was made to Mr. De Rosette, the British commissary of prisoners; the vast increase of the numbers of deaths was pointed out, and he was requested to have proper steps taken to check the progress of a disorder that threatened to destroy the whole of the prisoners.


In consequence of this application Mr. Fisher, our commissary of prisoners, and Mr. Fraser, who formerly practiced physic in this country, but then acted as a British deputy commissary, were ordered to inspect the State of the prisoners in the vessels. This report confirmed the truth of what had been advancedthis can be proved by a very particular circumstance. My hopes were very sanguine that something would be done for the relief of those unhappy persons, but they were entirely frustrated by a person from whom I did not, and ought not to have expected it. Dr. John M'Namara Hays, physician to the British army, a person who had been taken by the Americans on the capture of Burgoyne, who had received the politest treatment from the Americans when a prisoner, and who had the generosity to acknowledge the usage he had met withthis person was ordered to report on the state of the prisonersto my astonishment, I was informed his report was, that the prison-ships were not crowded, perfectly wholesome, and no appearance of infections disorders amongst the prisoners.


I then determined to make one more effect for the relief of these unhappy personsfor this purpose I had two of the dead bodies kept in the area of the hospital, and, upon Dr. Hays' daily visit to our hospital, I marked to him the appearances of the subjects, whose bodies were highly tinged with a yellow suffusion, petechied over the breast and trunk, with considerable ecchymosis from extravasated or dissolved blood about the neck, breast and upper extremities. I inquired if it was possible a doubt could remain respecting the nature of their disorder, and expressed my surprise at the report he had made. The words of his reply were, 'that the confinement of the prisoners in prison-ships was the great eyesore, and there was no help for that, it must be done.' The disorder in consequence continued until the cold weather; the number of deaths, joined with the number that were compelled by this treatment to enlist with the British, removed in a great measure the cause. Hitherto a number of our prisoners who were tradesmen had been permitted to remain in the barracks, or in the city, where they were employed by the Britishabout the month of January 1781, they were all confined to the barracks, and there British emissaries were very busy among them, to persuade them to enlist in their new corps. About the same time a supply of clothing, and some money to procure necessaries, arrived from the Congress for the use of the prisoners.


Mr. Fisher, our commissary, was prevented from distributing the clothing, and the prisoners were informed it was a deception, for no supplies had arrived for their use. Their motive was, that by the complicated distress of nakedness and imprisonment, their patience would be exhausted, and enlistment with them would ensue.


To prevent this, means were found to have several bales of the clothing brought to the picquets which inclosed the barracks, and in sight of our soldiers; this measure established the fact.


Disappointed from this quarter, the British Commandant or his ministers determined to observe no measures but what would accomplish their own purposes. All the soldiers in the barracks, including the convalescents, were paraded and harangued by Fraser, the British deputy commissary, and one Low, a recruiting officer for one of the British corps. The conclusion of the affair was, that such as chose to enlist with the British should leave the ranks, and the remainder go on board of the prison ships. A few who had been previously engaged withdrew from the ranks; the large majority that stood firm, after three different solicitations without effect, had this dreadful sentence pronounced by Fraser, 'that they should be put on board of the prison-ships, where they could not expect any thing more but to perish miserably; and that the rations hitherto allowed for the support of their wives and children, from that day should be withheld; the consequence of which would be, they just starve in the streets.'


Human nature recoiled from so horrid a declarationfor a few seconds the unhappy victims seemed stupefied at the dreadful prospect; a gloomy and universal silence prevailed. This was followed by a loud huzza for Gen. Washington; death and the prison-ships was the unanimous determination.


The hospital at this time was reduced to the greatest distress imaginablethe sick without clothing, covering, or any necessary but one pound of beef and breadvery little sugar, no wine, and rarely a small allowance of rum.


We had no resources, and the British would only furnish the absolute necessaries of life. The officers of the hospital, on the mildest representation, were threatened and insulted, frequently prohibited from visiting the sick, once I remember for three days.


It was scarcely possible for men to support such an accumulated misery; but when least expected, a relief was administered to us. A subscription for the support of the sick was filled by people of every denomination with amazing rapidity. Several of the ladies of Charleston, laying aside the distinction of whig and tory, were instrumental and assiduous in procuring and preparing every necessary of clothing and proper nourishment for our poor, worn-out and desponding soldiers.


Thus, sir, I have furnished you with some of the most material occurrences of that unhappy time. I have not exaggerated or written a single circumstance from hatred or prejudice. I could furnish you with a long detail of cruelty and distress exercised on individuals. Major Bocquet's case, exposed in an open boat for twelve hours in a violent fever, with a blistering plaster on his back, extended at length in the bottom of the boat, then put in the dungeon of the Provost with the vilest felons and murderers, left to languish under his complaint until his death seemed certain, only released from his confinement from the dread of a just retaliationthe moment his recovery seemed probable, again hurried back to the Provost, there to remain until the general exchange released him from their power.


This instance of severity exercised on an individual, whose only crime was a steady attachment to the cause of his country, and a determined resolution to keep sacred the solemn oath he had taken in its cause, would appear as nothing, were I to enumerate the scenes of woe and distress brought on many citizens of this once happy country, by British cruelty and unnecessary severity. I am sure every breast would be softened, even tears would fall from British eyes.


I am, sir, with esteem, yours, &c.


Condition of prisoners on board ships


John M'Namara Hays, physician to the British army, a person who had been taken by the Americans on the capture of Burgoyne, who had received the politest treatment from the Americans when a prisoner, and who had the generosity to acknowledge the usage he had met withthis person was ordered to report on the state of the prisonersto my astonishment, I was informed his report was, that the prison-ships were not crowded, perfectly wholesome, and no appearance of infections disorders amongst the prisoners.


I then determined to make one more effect for the relief of these unhappy personsfor this purpose I had two of the dead bodies kept in the area of the hospital, and, upon Dr. Hays' daily visit to our hospital, I marked to him the appearances of the subjects, whose bodies were highly tinged with a yellow suffusion, petechied over the breast and trunk, with considerable ecchymosis from extravasated or dissolved blood about the neck, breast and upper extremities. I inquired if it was possible a doubt could remain respecting the nature of their disorder, and expressed my surprise at the report he had made. The words of his reply were, 'that the confinement of the prisoners in prison-ships was the great eyesore, and there was no help for that, it must be done.' The disorder in consequence continued until the cold weather; the number of deaths, joined with the number that were compelled by this treatment to enlist with the British, removed in a great measure the cause. Hitherto a number of our prisoners who were tradesmen had been permitted to remain in the barracks, or in the city, where they were employed by the Britishabout the month of January 1781, they were all confined to the barracks, and there British emissaries were very busy among them, to persuade them to enlist in their new corps. About the same time a supply of clothing, and some money to procure necessaries, arrived from the Congress for the use of the prisoners.


Mr. Fisher, our commissary, was prevented from distributing the clothing, and the prisoners were informed it was a deception, for no supplies had arrived for their use. Their motive was, that by the complicated distress of nakedness and imprisonment, their patience would be exhausted, and enlistment with them would ensue.


To prevent this, means were found to have several bales of the clothing brought to the picquets which inclosed the barracks, and in sight of our soldiers; this measure established the fact.


Prison Ships


Pack-Horse, Concord, Prince George, Success-Increase, Torbay


Prison Ship Torbay Prisoners

Papers of the Continental Congress M246-175 i155 v2 pg 218

National Archives & Records Administration

Transcribed by Billy Markland

Prison Ship Torbay, Charles Town Harbour the 18th May 1781


We have the honour of inclosing [sic] you a Copy of a letter from Colonel Balfour Commandant of Charles Town, which was handed us immediately on being put on board this Ship: The Letter speaking for itself needs no comment; Your Wisdom will best dictate the notice it merits - We just beg leave to observe that should it fall to the Lot of all, or any of us to be made victims, agreeable to the menace therein contained, we have only to regret that our blood cannot be disposed of more to the Advancement of the Glorious Cause to which we have adhered. A seperate [sic] Roll of our names attends this letter.

With the greatest respect we are Sir

Yr. most Obedient and most H'mble Servants

Stephen Moore Lieut. Col. No. Carolina Militia

John Barnwell Major So. Carolina Militia

Major Genl. N. Greene

For ourselves and one hundred & thirty other Prisoners

Torbay Prison Ship, Charles Town Harbour 18th May 1781

Axson William Junr. Exd.

Ashe Samuel

Arthur George

Anthony John

Atmore Ralph

Barnwell John Major

Baddily John Major

Barnwell Edward Capt.

Bonnetheau Peter Capt.

Bembridge Henry

Black John Lieut.

Branford William

Ball Joseph

Barnwell Robert

Bee Joseph

Blemdell Nathl.

Bricken James

Bailey Francis

Basqum William

Clarke Jonathan

Cockran Thomas

Cooke Thomas

Calhoone John (protection)

Cray Joseph Capt. 16th Aug. 80

Conyers Norwood

Cox James

Cominins Richard

Cohen Jacob

Dorsius? John

Dewar Robert

Dessanscare William

Dunlap Joseph

Edmunds Reverd.

Eveliegh Thomas

Edwards John Junr.

Edwards John Warren

Elliott Thomas Senr.

Elliott Joseph Junr.

Evans John

Eberly John

Egan John (protection)

Elliott William

Guerard Benjamin

Gibbons John

Grayson Thomas

Guerard Peter

Graves William

Geir Christian

Gadsden Phillip

Graves John

Glover Joseph

Grott Francis

George Mitchel

Harvey William Lieut.

Henry Jacobs [sic]

Hamilton David

Holmes John B.

Holmes William

Hughes Thomas

Howard James

Harris Thomas

Hornby William

Jones George

Jacobs Daniel

Kent Charles

Kennon Henry

Kain John

Lockhart Samuel Capt. 16th Aug. 80

Libby Nathaniel

Liston Thomas

Lee Stephens [sic] Lieut.

Legare Thomas

Lesserne John

Leybert Henry

Meyers Phillip

Michl. John

Minott John Senr.

Moncrief John

Magdalen Charles

Minott John Junr.

Miller Samuel

Moore Stephen Colo. 16th Aug. 80

Murphy Williams [sic]

Monks George

Morgan Jonathan

Moss George Doctr.

Marriett Abraham

Miller Solomon Lieut.

Neufville John Junr.

Neufvelle William

Owen John

Priolian Samuel

Priolian Phillips [sic]

Pinkney Charles Junr.

Poyas James

Palmer Job

Robinson Joseph

Revin Thomas

Rhodes Daniel

Righton Joseph

Scott John Senr.

Snelling William

Stephenson John Junr.

Stephens Daniel

Snyder Paul

Smith Samuel

Seavers Abraham

Singleton Rippely

Scotton Samuel

Sayle William (protd. 61 yrs. of age does not to be exchanged) [sic]

Shrewsbury Stephen

Tousiger James

Tandus John

Taylor Paul

White Leml.? Lieut.

Wigg William

William James

Warham Charles Adjt.

Waring Thomas Senr.

Waring Richard

White Isaac

Welch George

Wheeler Benjamin

Waties John Junr.

Wilcocks William

Warham David

Wilkie William

You/Yon? Thomas

Yeadon Richards [sic]

“Last March being a prisoner of war on board the SUCCESS-INCREASE in Charlestown harbour, Captain Cook, British commissary of Prisoners, attended by a Sergeant Brown and four or five captains of transports, came on board and asked the prisoners if any would go to London in the fleet, where they would be set free. The prisoners declined his offer, upon which Captain Cook told them if they did not go voluntarily they would be forced on board; the captains of the transports then made choices of the men, upon their appearing very much adverse to go into the boats, Sergeant Brown beat and abused them in the most barbarous manner; particularly one of the men, whom he threw from the gunwale of the ship into one of the boats. I was among those who were thus forced on board the boats and was sent on board a transport brigatine with the others, where I was kept for five days with a few other prisoners who were distributed among different vessels, I went to Charlestown on promising to enlist in the British Cavalry; I heard Captain Cook declare, to the above transaction, that if the prisoners did not enlist in thirteen days in the British service, they would all be sent to the West Indies, where they would be put on board ships-of-war.”


In fact, the British did not always wait for American captives to agree to switch sides. As early as March 1781 Americans on the prison ships saw the heavy hand of impressment swing at them. On board the prison ship Prince George, a British party announced that two dozen of the captives were to be forced into the Royal Navy. Some inmates complained that “they thought it hard Congress should find sailors for the King,” but those who refused were ordered to be tossed “into the boat alongside the ship.” Others were threatened that if they did not go quietly, they would be put on a warship, the most dreaded fate of all. That dire prospect forced the men “with great seeming reluctance” to leave. On the Success-Increase one captive was “caned and kicked ... very severely and forced ... with a number of others, into the boats.” Another of the Americans was actually tossed from the prison ship's deck into a waiting boat, and others were beaten “in the most barbarous manner.” Again, the threat of a naval ship, instead of a transport, stopped most resistance. Finally, on the Esk, those prisoners who “displayed any backwardness to go were beaten by the guard with their swords and the butts of their muskets ... and were ... driven by force into the boats.”(78) Moultrie's complaint to Balfour about the violent impressment went unanswered.(79)


During March 1781 serious talks between the British and the patriots in the South over a cartel to exchange prisoners were underway, a development welcomed by Cornwallis. “The expense and inconvenience of keeping them being intolerable,” he was eager to get rid of them.(80) To speed up the negotiations, Balfour, obviously bluffing, threatened to send the Charleston captives to the West Indies. When Moultrie assured him that such a tactic would provoke retaliation against British prisoners, Balfour quickly switched their supposed destination to New York. That transfer did not happen either. Finally, on 3 May 1781, the exchange agreement was signed.(81)



Letter Concerning Treatment of Prisoners of War

(The same subject is more particularly stated in a letter addressed to Dr. D. Ramsay by the Hon. Peter Fayssoux, M. D., member of the council of the State of South Carolina, who served his country during the late war in the character of chief physician to the American hospitals in the Southern department, which was in the following words):


CHARLESTON, March 26, 1785.

Sir:

In compliance with your request, I now send you some of the most remarkable facots relative to the treatment the American prisoners, the sick in particular, have received, during their captivity in Charleston, from the British. The director general having been confined by the British, the immediate charge of the American hospitals devolved on me, I can therefore answer for the truth of this account, as every circumstance was within my own knowledge. From the surrender of Charleston to the period of Gen. Gates' defeat, I do not think we had any material cause to complaint.


The regulation for the government of the hospital, the supplies of medicines and diet, were in general prescribed by ourselves and acceded to by the British.


After the defeat of Gen. Gates our sufferings commenced. The British appeared to have adopted a different mode of conduct towards their prisoners, and proceeded from one step to another until they fully displayed themselves, void of faith, honor or humanity, and capable of the most savage acts of barbarity.


The unhappy men who belonged to the militia, and were taken prisoners on Gates' defeat, experienced the first effects of the cruelty of their new system.


These men were confined on board of prison-ships, in numbers by no means proportioned to the size of the vessels, immediately after a march of one hundred and twenty miles, in the most sickly season of this unhealthy climate.


These vessels were in general infected with the Small-Pox; very few of the prisoners had gone through that disorder. A representation was made to the British Commandant of their situation, and permission was obtained for one of our Surgeons to inoculate themthis was the utmost extent of their humanitythe wretched objects were still confined on board of the prison-ships, and fed on salt provisions, without the least medical aid, or any proper kind of nourishment. The effect that naturally followed, was a Small-Pox with a fever of the putrid type; and to such as survived the Small-Pox, a putrid dysenteryand, from these causes, the deaths of at least one hundred and fifty of the unhappy victims. Such were the appearances, and such was the termination of the generality of the cases brought to the general hospital after the eruption of the Small-Poxbefore, the eruption, not a single individual was suffered to be brought on shore. If any thing can surpass the above relation in the barbarity, it is the following account:


STEPHEN MOORE,

Lieut. Colo. No. Carolina Militia

JOHN BARNWELL,

Major So. Carolina Militia

For ourselves and one hundred and thirty other Prisoners.

To Major Gen’l N. Greene


FORBAY PRISON SHIP, CHARLES TOWN, HARBOUR,

18th May, 1781

Roll of the Militia Prisoners on board said Ship:

Axson, Williams, Junr. Dorsious, John

Ash, Samuel, Dewar, Robert

Arthur, George Dessaussure, William

Anthony, John Dunlap, Joseph

Atmore, Ralph Edmunds, Rever

Barnwell, John, Major Eveliegh, Thomas

Baddily, John, Do., Edwards, John, Junr.

Barnwell, Edward, Capt., Edwards, John Warren

Bonnethean, Peter, Capt. Lt. Elliott, Thomas, Senr.

Bembridge, Henry Elliott, Joseph, Junr.

Black, John, Lieut. Evans, John

Branford, William Eberly, John

Ball, Joseph Ezan, John, (protection)

Barnwell, Robert Elliott, William

Blumdell, Nath’l Guerard, Benjamin

Bricken, James Gibbons, John

Bailey, Francis Grayson, Thomas

Basqum, William Guerard, Peter

Clarke, Jonathan Graves, William

Cockran, Thomas Geir, Christian

Cooke, Thomas Gasden, Phillip

Calhoone, John (protection) Graves, John

Cray, Jos, Cap. 16 Aug, ‘80 Glover, Joseph

Conyers, Norwood Grott, Francis

Cox, James George, Mitchel

Commius, Richard Harvey, Wm., Lieut.

Cohen, Jacobs Henry, Jacobs

Holmes, William Hamilton, David

Hughes, Thomas Holmes, John B.

Heward, James Prioleau, Samuel, Senr.

Harris, Thomas Prioleau, Phillips

Hornby, William Pinkney, Charles, Junr.

Jones, George Pogas, James

Jacobs, Daniel Palmer, Job

Kent, Charles Robinson, Joseph

Kain, John Revin, Thomas

Lockhart, S., Capt.16 Aug.‘80 Rhodes, Daniel

Libby, Nathaniel Righton, Joseph

Liston, Thomas Scott, John, Senr.

Lee, Stephen, Lieut, Snellling, William

Legare, Thomas Stephenson, John, Junr.

Lessesne, John Stephens, Daniel

Legbert, Henry Snyder, Paul

Meyers, Phillip Smith, Samuel

Michl, John Seavers, Abraham

Minott, John, Senr. Singleton, Rippily

Moncrieff, John Scotton, Samuel

Magdalen, Charles Sayle, William

Minott, John, Junr. Protection, 61 years of age does not mean to be exchanged.

Miller, Samuel

Moore, St’n Col. 16 Aug, ‘80 Shrewsbury, Stephen

Murphy, William Tousiger, James

Monks, George Tandirs, John

Morgan, Jonathan Tayloe, Paul

Moss, George, Doct. White, Sime., Lieut

Marriett, Abraham Wigg, William

Miller, Solomon, Lieut. Williams, James

Neufville, John, Jun. Warham, Charles, Adj’t.

Neufville, William Waring, Thomas, Sen’r

Owen, John Waring, Richard

White, Isaac

Welch, George

Wheeler, Benjamin

Waties, John, Jun’r

Wilcocks, William

Warham, David

Wilkie, William

You, Thomas,

Yeadon, Richard

(Note: These were doubtless prisoners mostly of the battle of Camden, Aug, 1780. Those of the two States cannot be separated, but the list is of interest in itself.



Aboard the Success-Increase British Prison Ship


Private Thomas Duffey

"Last March being a prisoner of war on board the SUCCESS-INCREASE in Charlestown harbour, Captain Cook, British commissary of Prisoners, attended by a Sergeant Brown and four or five captains of transports, came on board and asked the prisoners if any would go to London in the fleet, where they would be set free. The prisoners declined his offer, upon which Captain Cook told them if they did not go voluntarily they would be forced on board; the captains of the transports then made choices of the men, upon their appearing very much adverse to go into the boats, Sergeant Brown beat and abused them in the most barbarous manner; particularly one of the men, whom he threw from the gunwale of the ship into one of the boats. I was among those who were thus forced on board the boats and was sent on board a transport brigatine with the others, where I was kept for five days with a few other prisoners who were distributed among different vessels, I went to Charlestown on promising to enlist in the British Cavalry; I heard Captain Cook declare, to the above transaction, that if the prisoners did not enlist in thirteen days in the British service, they would all be sent to the West Indies, where they would be put on board ships-of-war."