George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Samuel Huntington, 12 January 1781

From Samuel Huntington

Philadelphia January 12. 1781


Your Excellency will be informed by the enclosed Copies No. 1 & 2 of the 8th Inst: that Brigadier General Hand is appointed Adjutant General1—And also of the Measures Congress have adopted to procure Speice for the Use of the Prisoners in New York & its Vicinity.2

I have also enclosed the Deposition of George Bateman No. 3, giving an Account of the Manner in which our People Prisoners with the Enemy are treated.3 I have the Honor to be with the highest respect & Esteem sir your most obedient & most humble Servant

Sam. Huntington President

LS, DLC:GW; LB, DNA:PCC, item 15. GW acknowledged this letter when he wrote Huntington on 23 January.

1The enclosed copy of the resolution of 8 Jan. on Congress’s election of Brig. Gen. Edward Hand as adjutant general is in DLC:GW (see also JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 19:39). For GW’s recommendation of Hand as adjutant general, see his letter to Huntington, 28 Nov. 1780; see also Nathanael Greene’s second letter to GW, 19 Nov., postscript, and Lafayette to GW, 28 Nov., and n.5.

2The enclosed congressional resolution of 8 Jan. 1780 “earnestly recommended” that the states (except South Carolina and Georgia) raise dollar amounts, in specie or bills of exchange on New York, specified in the resolution and forward the money to the treasurer of the United States by 1 March for the use of the officers in captivity in the New York City area. The total amount was $80,000 (DLC:GW; see also JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 19:38).

3In the enclosed deposition of George Batterman, a “passenger on board the brigantine Providence,” given at Boston on 19 Dec. 1780, he testifies “that he was captured the fifteenth of September last by the Intrepid a sixty four gun Ship belonging to the british King … and on the 28th of said month put on board of the prison ship at New York where we were served about eight ounces of condemned Bread per day and about eight ounces of meat per Week from thence transported on board the Jersey a sixty four gun Ship where there was supposed to be eleven hundred Americans on board where we were told that we were now in a Kings Ship and that if we ran away that we should be brought to the gangway and floged according to the Articles of War where we were supplied with the same quantity of bread and Meat though neither of them fit to eat. And after we were on board there a few days there came on board recruiting Officers and finding that our Officers perswaded our people not to inlist or enter into their service they came on board and told all the officers that they should give their Names to be exchanged. The day following there came on board several boats and took them on shore where we were informed they were sent to the provost then telling the people that they never would be exchanged. … after they found that this scheme would not take They took a new method made another draught of Officers and sent them on board of the Yarmouth a sixty four gun Ship where they informed us that they were sent to England and that all Officers of Commisson’d Vessels should be sent to England. … before we came away on the 5th day of December we were served l pint of water when there was seventy five puncheons in the hold. They have taken this method of starving us for the want of water to kill us or to make us enter into their service. They never allow a man that is sick to go to the hospital ship till that they are so weak and low that they often expire before they get out of the Ship. … The commanding Officer on board told us that his orders were that if the Ship took fire that we should all be burned below and perish in the flames which we experienced one day. By accident the Ship took fire in the Steward⟨s⟩ room the commanding Officer ordered the Hession guards to turn us below and if we offered to resist that they should fire among us and if any of us should get into the water they should fire on us and kill us if possible” (DLC:GW).

Congress had already resolved to retaliate on British prisoners of war (see Huntington to GW, 6 Jan.).

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