As found in the book, "American Prisoners of The Revolution", By Danske Dandridge.


Such of the prisoners as escaped after months of suffering with health sufficient for future usefulness in the field often re-enlisted, burning for revenge.

Mr. Scharf, in his "History of Western Maryland," speaks of Colonel William Kunkel, who had served in Prussia, and emigrated to America about the year 1732. He first settled in Lancaster, Pa., but afterwards moved to Western Maryland. He had six sons in the Revolution. One of these sons entered the American army at the age of eighteen. Taken prisoner he was sent on board the Jersey, where his sufferings were terrible. On his return home after his exchange he vowed to his father that he would return to the army and fight until the last redcoat was driven out of the country. He did return, and from that time, says Mr Scharf, his family never heard from him again.

Mr. Crimmins in his "Irish-American Historical Miscellany," says: "An especially affecting incident is told regarding one prisoner who died on the Jersey. Two young men, brothers, belonging to a rifle corps were made prisoners, and sent on board the ship. The elder took the fever, and in a few days became delirious. One night as his end was fast approaching, he became calm and sensible, and lamenting his hard fate, and the absence of his mother, begged for a little water. His brother with tears, entreated the guard to give him some, but in vain. The sick youth was soon in his last struggles, when his brother offered the guard a guinea for an inch of candle, only that he might see him die. Even this was denied."

The young rifleman died in the dark.

"Now," said his brother, drying his tears, "if it please God that I ever regain my liberty, I'll be a most bitter enemy!"

He was exchanged, rejoined the army, and when the war ended he is said to have had eight large and one hundred and twenty-seven small notches on his rifle stock. The inference is that he made a notch every time he killed or wounded a British soldier, a large notch for an officer, and a small one for a private.

Mr. Lecky, the English historian, thus speaks of American prisoners: "The American prisoners who had been confined in New York after the battle of Long Island were so emaciated and broken down by scandalous neglect or ill usage that Washington refused to receive them in exchange for an equal number of healthy British and Hessian troops. * * * It is but justice to the Americans to add that their conduct during the war appears to have been almost uniformly humane. No charges of neglect of prisoners, like those which were brought, apparently with too good reason, against the English, were substantiated against them. The conduct of Washington was marked by a careful and steady humanity, and Franklin, also, appears to have done much to mitigate the war."

Our task is now concluded. We have concerned ourselves with the prisoners themselves, not much with the history of the negotiations carried on to effect exchange, but have left this part of the subject to some abler hand. Only a very small part of the story has been told in this volume, and there is much room for future investigations. It is highly probable that if a systematic search is made many unpublished accounts may be discovered, and a great deal of light shed upon the horrors of the British prisons. If we have awakened interest in the sad fate of so many of our brave countrymen, and aroused some readers to a feeling of compassion for their misfortunes, and admiration for their heroism, our task has not been in vain.

[ American Prisoners of The Revolution ]