« PreviousContinue »
the conquerors) exhorting\hem to fortitude, and repeatedly et\treating them never to surfer family attachments to interfere with the duty they owed to their country. Such exemplary patriotism excited in several British officers a mean resentment, which put them upon employing the negroes in rude insults on those distinguished heroines. When the successes of general Greene afforded the latter an opportunity, they adopted a genteel retaliation i>y dressing in green and ornamenting their persons with green feathers and ribbons, and thus parading the StreetS'in triumph.
The gentlemen, who had been removed from Charleston fp St- Angustine as has been already related, obtained their release by the general exchange, and were delivered at Philadelphia.—« They had sufferedgreatlysince they were sent off". Lieut, gov. Gadsden, to express his indignation at the ungenerous treatment he had met with, refused to accept an offered parole in St. Augustine; and with the greatest fortitude, bore a close confinement io. the castle for forty-two weeks, rather than give a-second parole to a power which-he -cosidered as having plainly violated the engagement contained in the first- The other gentlemen re* newed their paroles and had the liberty -ofthetown, but were treated with much indignity. As if no dependence could be placed on their honor, they were ordered every day to appear on the public parade, and to answer to their names at roll-calling.— For upward Often months they were debarred from corresponding with their wives and families, unless they would subject every letter to examination. 'Destitute of gold and silver, they could scarcely support themselves; and were less able to provide for their connections, who were left in want and in the power of the conquerors. The earliest alleviation of their sorrows, after the cartel had been settled, was denied to them. Though their wives and children, who had'been left inCharreston, were ordered to Philadelphia at-the same t-imewith themseives,BaIfour gaveexpress direction that they should not be suffered to touch at Charleston. More than a thousand persons 'were, by the measures-of the eornmandant, exiled from their homes, and thrown on the charity of strangers for their support. Husbands and wives, parents and children, some of whom had been for several tnonths separated from each other, were doomed to have their -first interview in a distant land. To alleviate the distresses of fhese and similar sufferers, congress passed the preceding resolu-, tion. The propriety <#f it was still more apparent some time affer, when what had been transacted at Charleston was known.' Several of the exchanged persons were owners of landed property in that town i and by the capitulation had an undoubted right
to dispose of it for their own advantage. They were howevee • debarred that liberty by the following order, issued on the \ 1 th of July—" The commandant is pleased to direct, that no person living under the rebel government, shall have liberty, or grant pow-r er to other for so doing, to let or lease any house within this tows' without a special licence for so doing, as it is intended to take all such houses as may be wanted for the public service, paying tc» the owners or those secured by the capitulation a reasonable rent for the same, as by this means government will be able to-re* instate its firm friends in possession of their own houses within a short space of time." In consequence of this mandate, the exchanged sufferers could make no present advantage of their pro-?
Eerty in Charleston, and were subjected to the pleasure of the ritish for any future compensation.
When the general exchange took pjace in June, out of 1900
Srisoners taken at the surrender of Charleston, on the 12th of lay, 1780, and several hundreds more taken afterward at Camden and Fishing Creek, on the 16th and I8thi of August, only 740 were restored to the service of their country. The unfortunate men were crowded on board the prison ships in such numbers, that several were obliged to stand up for want of room to; lie down. Congress could not command hard money for their relief. Wine, and such like comforts, particularly necessary for the sick in southern climates, could not be obtained from the British hospitals. Many died. But it was not by deaths alone tha^ the Americans were deprived of their soldiers. Lord Charles Greville Montague inlisted 530 of them for the British service;ift Jamaica. • -i
The exchange brought relief to the continental officers taken at Charleston. They were confined at Haddrellrs Point and its'i vicinity. Far from friends and destitute of hard money, tbeff<-, were reduced to the greatest straits. Many of them, though boity in affluence and habituated* to attendance, were compelled to doj > not only the most menial offices for themselves, but could scajfce^ ly procure the plainest necessaiies of life. During a captivity o£ thirteen months, they received nomoiefrom their country thags nine days pay. They were debarred the liberty of fishing for theip support, though their great leisure and many wants made it an-ob--; ject not only as an amusement, but as a mean of suppying.$heiti,necessities. After bearing these evils with fortitude, they were}- informed in March, by iieutenant-colonej Balfour, that by positive orders from lord Cornwallis, he was to send then? to son?}** Qne of the West-India islands, Preparations .wore made for th&
■ ■ ■ -.l, ....execytkiSL s-. exection of the' mandate ; but the general exchange of prisoners rendered them abortive.
It appearing to congress from the representation of the American gov. Clinton and other information, that commissions had been granted by the gov. of Connecticut, authorizing the persons to whom they were given, among other things, to go on LongT Island, and other islands adjacent, and seize the goods and merT chandise they should there find, the property of British subjects; and tbatthesaidcommissionswereattended withmanyabusesdangerous to the public, as vveil as distressing to the citizens and friends of these United States, inhabiting the said islands, some of whom, under pretext of the powers contained in such commissions, had been plundered of their property, and otherwise badly treated; arid that the further continuance of the said commissions wou|d impede the public service .in that quarter—they, " Therefore resolved [August 7.] that the gov. of Connecticut be, and he is hereby, desired immediately to revoke such commissions, as far as! tbey authorise the seizure of goods on Long-Island, or elsewhere, on land not within the state of Connecticut." It was high time to revoke them, for under their cover a set of unprincipled plunderers committed greater ravages upon many of the fast friends of America, than the words of Congress fully express.
In consequence of instructions of August the 3d gen. Washington wrote on the 21st—" The almost daily complaints of the severities exercised towards the American marine prisoners in New-York, have induced the congress to direct me to remont scrate to the commanding officer of his British majesty's ships upon the subject. The principal complaint now is, the inadequacy of die room in the prison ships, to the number of prisoners confined on board them, which occasions the death of many, and is the occasion of most intolerable inconveniences and distresses to those who survive." He had written early in the spring to Sir H. Clinton. "The very healthy condition, in which all prisoners have been returned by us since the commencement of the war, carries with it a conviction, that they have been uniformly and comfortablyaccommodatcd and fed on wholesome provisions. So conscious have I been, that the situation in which we always kept prisoners of war would hear inspection, that I have never been averse to having them visited by an officer of your own, who might be a witness to the propriety of their treatment. A request of this nature was a very little time ago refused to us by the officer commanding the British navy in the harbor of New-.York."
On August the 21st, congress authorised gen. Washington to go into a full exchange of gen. Burgoyne, ami ail the remaining;
officers of the Saratoga convention; and resolved that the prisoners taken by the British at the Cedars, should be considered as subjects of exchange. That day week they ordered the board of war to make a sale of certain cannon and stores in the state of Rhode-Island, for specie only. This may be considered as a declarative act on their part against the further circulation of a paper currency. It has indeed ceased by common consent. Without it the Americans could not have carried on the war to the present period. The public benefit it has been of in this instance, will compensate in the estimation of patriotic politicians, for the immense evils of which it has otherwise been the occasion. The tender laws on one hand, and depreciation on the other, rendered it the hane of society. All classes were infected. It produced a rage for speculating. The mechanic, the fanner, the lawyer, the physician, the member of congress, and even a few of the cler-» g v, in some places, were contaminated, and commenced merchants and speculators. The morals of the people were conupted beyond any thing that could have been believed prior to the event All ties of honor, blood, gratitude, humanity and justice were dissolved. Old debts were paid in several states when the paper money was more than 10 for one in hard cash ;-and in Virginia when at 300 for one. ■ Brothers defrauded brothers, children parents and parents children. Widows, orphans and others, who had lived happily on their annual interest, were impoverished by being obliged to take depreciated -paper for the specie principal that had been lent; creditors were frequently compelled to receive their debts in that currency, from men whoconfessedbefore wit. nesses, that the cash they borrowed saved them and their families from ruin. A person who had been supplied with specie in the jail at Philadelphia, while the British had possession of the city, repaid it in paper afterward at a tenth part of its value.'— No class of people suffered more by the depreciation than salary-i men, and especially the clergy, particularly in the New-England states. They were reduced to the greatest difficulties, and were much injured, by having their annual incomes paid them in paper, without having the badness of its quality compensated in the quantity allowed them. When in the beginning of the year, some compensation was voted to them in certain places, the increased depreciation, before the salary was paid, destroyed in a great measure the efficacy of the vote. It has been observed by some, that the quakersand methodises in Pennsylvania, werefaitta ful to their old engagements, and were not corrupted by handling paper money. Though these denominations excelled, there weae many individuals in all religious-societies thro' the United States
that preserved their integrity. As a striking instance of the nature and defects of a depreciating paper currency, the following is related out of many. A merchant of Boston sold a hogshead of rum for twenty pounds, cask included. The purchaser did not settle for it till after the seller applied to him for an empty hogshead, for which he was charged thirty pounds. When they came to settle, the merchant found upon examining,,that he had to pay a balance of ten pounds on that very cask which, with the rum it contained, he had sold for twenty..
The extinction of the paper has occasioned, no convulsions ■„ and the specie which the French army and navy have already introduced, which the trade now opening with the Spanish and French West-India islands will furnish, and which the loan from Fiance will supply; this joint quantity, added to what will now fee brought into use by those whose precaution led them to store up their hard money, will prevent the mischiefs that must otherwise have ensued from a total want of a circulating mediumThe extraordinary, ehangs of this-medium, without shaking the United States to the very foundation, intimates a peculiarity irt the^circumstances and disposition of the Americans, distinguishing them from the inhabitants of old countries.
A few detached particulars remain to be related before the present letter is forwarded.
•On the 1.1th of August 3000 German troops arrived at Nev*York from Europe. The same day the American frigate Trumhull was. carried in by one of the king's ships.. This capture has seduced the naval force of the United States to two frigates, the Alliance and the Deane. A number of fine privateers have als<x heen taken by the royal navy; but there are still a great many from the different states, which have been very successful.
By various channels, and particularly the arrival of a French, frigate from Brest on the 15th of August, certain advice has beerv received of the French having captured a number of ships from Statia. It seems that France, determining to profit from the absence of the British grand fleet, equipped 1 or 8 ships of the line at Brest, which were sent out in the beginning ofMav, under M. de Ja Motte Piquet, in order to intercept the Statia convov, freighted with the mostvaluable commoditiestakenat thatisiand,as welt as a rich fleet on its way home from Jamaica. Mr. Piquctsuccceded in-the first part of the design. Commodore Hothamhad only, four .ships for the protection of the Statia convoy. Fourteen of the merchantmen were taken; but the men of war, with the remainder of the convoy, sheltered themselves in some of the western, ports-of Ireland. The French commander, considering the num.*