George Washington Papers

To George Washington from General William Howe, 27 February 1777

From General William Howe

Head Quarters at Brunswick, 27th February 1777.


Some Days having elapsed since the Conference between Lt Col. Walcott and Lt Col. Harrison without hearing from You for the further Prosecution of the Business relative to Prisoners of War, I am to trouble You with my Request to have a second Meeting at the same, or at any other Place You shall appoint, and to desire You will vest Lt Col. Harrison with proper Powers for reducing to the Form of a regular Cartel, the Agreement already concluded between us, for the Exchange of Prisoners.

With much Reluctance I am to remonstrate against the Treatment of Lt Col. Campbell of the 71st Regiment, who, Instead of being exchanged, to which he has an indubitable Right, is, I am credibly informed, put into close Confinement at Concord in the Massachusetts Bay, contrary to the Tenour of his Parole, which is binding to both Parties.1

Serjeant McConkie and Serjeant Andrews are also, I hear, still in close Confinement in that Province.

These Grievances requiring Your immediate Interposition, I am hopeful You will give them the speediest Redress, and that All Prisoners of War at present in Your Possession, will be returned without further Delay; Their Detention being contrary to the Agreement subsisting between us. I am Sir, your most obedient humble Servant

W. Howe

LS, DLC:GW; copy, enclosed in GW to Hancock, 6 Mar. 1777, DNA:PCC, item 152; two copies, P.R.O., 30/55, Carleton Papers; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169. A docket on the copy in DNA:PCC, item 152, reads in part “Read March 12th.”

1Lt Col. Archibald Campbell of the 71st British Regiment wrote to GW on 4 Feb. 1777 to complain about his treatment while confined in the gaol at Concord, Mass.: “I am Lodged in a dungeon of about 12 or 13 feet square Doubly Planked & spiked on every side, black with the Grease and Litter, of Successive Criminals and completely hung round with Cobwebs. Two small windows or Port Holes, not Glazed but strongly grated with Iron on the inside and well Barricaded with shutters on the out, introduce a gloomy light to the apartment—Two doors doubly Planked & Lockd, shut me out from the Prisoners yard, and the Goaler has received express orders against my going into it, even for the necessary calls of nature, and a hole near the middle of these doors serves either to admit my Victuals or gratify the Gaping curiosity of Spectators. In the corner of the room, boxed up to the Partition a woden Necessary house stands uncovered which does not seem to have been emptied since the first hour of its being consecrated to the natural ease of Malefactors and a more Loathsome Black Hole decorated with chains, & Iron Rings well Revetted & Clinchd, is granted me for my Inner Chamber, from whence a notorious Fellon was but the moment before removed to make way for your humble Servant and in which his Litter and his excrement still actually remain—This noisy Malefactor occupies the dungeon on my left, and a few Highlanders of the 71st Regiment under the same restrictions and hardships with myself, for having refused to work for the Americans, without pay, are my quieter neighbours on the right—I am even refused from Council the attendance of a Single Servant on my Person, & every kind of intercourse or correspondence denied except what Passes thro the medium of the Goaler—In short Sir to Complete the whole, such is my situation, was a fire to take place in any one of the Chambers, which are all of Wood, except the mere chimney stacks, the whole of its inhabitants must perish before the Goaler could go thro the ceremony of unlocking the doors; notwithstanding I think him a man of humanity—Because! his house is so remote from the Goal, any call or noise from within, might be difficult, especially in stormy weather, to be heard” (DLC:GW).

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