George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Robert Digby, 5 June 1782

Head Quarters 5th June 1782


By a Parole granted to two Gentlemen, Messrs Osborn & Bowen, I perceive that your Excellency has granted them permission to come to me with a Representation of their Sufferings of the American naval Prisoners at N. York.

As I have no Agency in naval Matters, this Application to me is made on mistaken Grounds--But Curiosity leading me to enquire into the Nature & Cause of their Sufferings, I am informed that the principal Complaint is, that of their being crouded, especially at this Season in great Numbers on Board of foul and Infectious prison Ships, where Disease & Death are almost inevitable. This Circumstance, I am persuaded needs only to be mentioned to your Excellency, to obtain that Redress which is in your power only to afford, & which Humanity so Strongly prompts.

If the fortune of War Sir! has thrown a Number of these miserable people into your Hands, I am certain your Excellencys feelings for fellow Men must induce you to proportion the Ships (if they must be confined on Board Ships) to their Accomodation & Comfort--and not, by crouding them together in a few, bring on Disorders which consign them by half Dozens a Day to the Grave.

The Soldiers of His Britanic Majesty, prisoners with us, were they (which might be the Case) to be equally crouded together into close & confined prisons at this Season, would be exposed to equal Losses & Misery.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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