George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Samuel Holden Parsons, 17 February 1781

From Major General Samuel Holden Parsons

Camp Highlands [N.Y.] 17th Feb: 81

Dear General

Last Night Six prisoners were brought to the Provost Guard in Fishkill; who belong to the State of Connecticutt, three of them viz: Jos. Easton Trowbridge Henry Gibbs and Benja. Prescott were sentenced last October to be confind in Symsbury Mines Eighteen Months,1 the two former escapd on their Way & joind the Enemy[.] Prescott, a Brother in Law to Roger Sherman Esqr. made Interest through his Brother for a Pardon which he obtaind and immediately fled to New York: One Willson one of the Number, has been guilty of putting of[f] very large Sums of Counterfeit Money which I am able to prove against him but he has had no Trial.2

Major Brush & Capt. Conklin have been long confind in the Provost in New York and there appears very little prospect of their consenting to exchange them unless some Characters of repute with them are given for them—these Gentlemen are Persons who deserve the Attention of every Friend to his Country;3 and I am inclind to beleive Smith who is a Captain of their Militia & Trowbridge who has a Commission for One of their Whale Boats, would be accepted for them:4 if they may be offerd for these Two Men, who are confind in a most rigorous Manner and have long sufferd in Confinment, your Excellency will releive the Distresses of Two numerous Families suffering greatly by the Absence of these Gentlemen.5 I am dear Sir Yr most Obedt Servt

Saml H. Parsons

ALS, DLC:GW. GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman wrote on the docket: “Genl Parsons requesting the Exchange of some prisoners taken by Capt. Brewster.”

1Connecticut officials had used abandoned mines at Simsbury, Conn., “as dungeons” to confine Loyalists (“Clinton’s Secret Record,” description begins “Sir Henry Clinton’s Original Secret Record of Private Daily Intelligence.” Contributed by Thomas Addis Emmett, with an Introduction and Notes by Edward F. DeLancey. Magazine of American History with Notes and Queries 10 (1883): 327–42, 409–19, 497–507; 11 (1884): 53–70, 156–67, 247–57, 342–52, 433–44, 533–44. description ends 10:500).

2For the capture of Joseph Easton Trowbridge, Henry Gibbs, and Thomas Wilson, see Caleb Brewster to GW, 14 Feb., and n.2.

Benjamin Prescott (1757–1839) was a brother of Roger Sherman’s wife Rebecca Prescott Sherman. For his release from prison in October 1780, see Conn. Public Records description begins The Public Records of the State of Connecticut . . . with the Journal of the Council of Safety . . . and an Appendix. 18 vols. to date. Hartford, 1894–. description ends , 3:204. In 1793, he formed a business partnership with Sherman’s son Roger Sherman, Jr.

3Cornelius Conkling (c.1727–1791) had left his home in Huntington, N.Y., for Connecticut when the British occupied Long Island in 1776. Before his capture, he had commanded a privateer boat on Long Island Sound (see Benjamin Tallmadge to GW, 11 Dec. 1778; see also Mather, Refugees of 1776 description begins Frederic Gregory Mather. The Refugees of 1776 from Long Island to Connecticut. Albany, 1913. description ends , 300).

Thomas Brush also left Long Island for Connecticut when the British took that island in 1776. He rose to major in the Connecticut militia and was captured by the British in 1780 while on a raid to Long Island (see Mather, Refugees of 1776 description begins Frederic Gregory Mather. The Refugees of 1776 from Long Island to Connecticut. Albany, 1913. description ends , 285).

4Thomas Smith received a commission in August 1779 as a captain in the King’s Militia Volunteers, a group of raiders made up of New Jersey Loyalists. In June 1783, he became a first lieutenant in the New York City Associated Loyalist Militia. The British government awarded Smith an annual pension in 1787.

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