George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Samuel Holden Parsons, 19 February 1777

From Brigadier General Samuel Holden Parsons

Lyme [Conn.] 19th Feby 1777

Dear General

The Friends of Capt. Wells of Glassenbury in the State of Connectt have applied to me to procure Him exchangd & releasd from his Imprisonment; As tis not a Matter I am impowerd to transact I have referd them to your Excellency Capt. Wells’s Case is perhaps as distressing as that of any Prisoner, A Numerous Young Family, his Wife an Invalid; his Parents very aged these are the Persons who Depended on Capt. Wells When at Home, his Presence is exceedingly wanted with his Family they propose that Capt. Luke of the 55th should be exchangd for Capt. Wells Capt. Luke is now a Prisoner confind in Glassenbury; if tis your Excellency’s Pleasure that Capt. Luke or any other Officer be exchangd for Capt. Wells I think it cannot be easier made than on the East End of Long Island, in this or any other Concerns I shall be happy in receiving & executing your Excellency’s Order.1

The Inhuman Treatment our Prisoners receivd from the british Officer in New York has provd the Death of much the greater Part of those who came out of the City in this Part of the Country I believe about Three Quarter Parts are dead since they returnd Home, the remaining few burn with Rage against the Enemy & exceedingly desire to ingage again in the Service of their Country, but say they came out on their Parole & that some of their Officers are holden as Hostages for the Fulfilment of it; Whether any who are out are yet unexchangd I do not know, perhaps they are all at Liberty to reinlist This is undoubtedly known to your Excellency if they are at Liberty ’twill make A meterial Ods in recruiting. I am yr Excellency’s Obedt hl. Servt

Saml H: Parsons


1Parsons enclosed an unidentified letter from Maj. Jonathan Welles of Glastonbury in Hartford County, Conn., written on behalf of his nephew, Capt. Samuel Welles (1727–1800) of Col. Fisher Gay’s Connecticut State Regiment, who was taken prisoner on 15 Sept. 1776 during the retreat from New York and not exchanged until the spring of 1778. Jonathan Welles (1732–1792), who began serving on committees responsible for assisting the families of Connecticut prisoners as early as 1775, was a captain in the Connecticut militia before being promoted to major in December 1776 and placed in command at New London, Groton, and Stonington (Hinman, Historical Collection description begins Royal R. Hinman, comp. A Historical Collection, from Official Records, Files &c., of the Part Sustained by Connecticut, during the War of the Revolution. Hartford, 1842. description ends , 182, 192, 259, 266). GW confused Samuel Welles with Maj. Levi Wells of the 22d Continental Regiment, who was captured at the Battle of Long Island on 27 Aug. 1776 and exchanged in January 1777 (see GW to Parsons, 6 Mar. 1777). John Luke, who had served as a captain in the 55th British Regiment since December 1764, was captured at the Battle of Princeton on 3 Jan. 1777 and exchanged in March 1777 (see Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., to GW, 10 Mar. 1777).

Index Entries