Primary tabs

Memorial from the British Prisoners at Hartford to the Continental Congress



[Read May 7, 1776.]

Hartford, Connecticut, March 21, 1776.

The undersigned, Officers of his Majesty' s Troops, prisoners at Hartford, in Connecticut, beg leave to make the following representation to the honourable Continental Congress:

Captain Williams, Lieutenant Smith of the Royal Artillery, and Captain McKay, made prisoners at St˙ John' s, desire to join Major Preston, and that garrison, at Lancaster, or elsewhere.

Captain Williams; late commanding officer of the Artillery at St˙ John' s, represents that, in consequence of capitulation, he went to Montreal, as Quartermaster of Artillery, and Lieutenant Smith marched with Major Preston and the


rest of the garrison at Albany, and came into this Province, where Captain Williams joined them about five weeks since on his return from Montreal. That he applied to the Committee at Hartford to forward him and the Artillery to Lancaster, and also wrote to Major Preston to apply to the honourable Continental Congress for that purpose; but, having received no answer from Major Preston, he apprehends his letter miscarried. He also begs leave to represent that he is informed it is not the desire of Congress to allow any of the prisoners (at least those under capitulation) to inlist in the Continental service; notwithstanding which, two matrosses of St˙ John' s garrison, after taking an unfair advantage by receiving their clothing, subsistence, &c˙, have inlisted, and several others have sold their clothing. He presumes that these abuses arise from the Artillery (though few in number) being dispersed about the country, so far beyond the narrow limits of the six miles assigned to him, that an officer can take no charge of them. By this means, the spirit of the St˙ John' s capitulation is entirely defeated in respect of that article which provides for the garrison being together, and which would have been the case had not the above mistake happened.

He further represents (as well as the undersigned officers, also prisoners at Hartford) that, notwithstanding it is their earnest wish and design to avoid giving any just and reasonable cause of offence to the inhabitants in their neighbourhood, yet the most trivial incidents are industriously misrepresented and maliciously propagated through the country, insomuch that their personal safety is actually endangered by mobs, there being none of the Continental Troops here to grant them a safeguard. They have only to add, that, in case the honourable Continental Congress shall think proper to comply with their request, (the cheapest way moving them being by water,) they would apply to his Majesty' s Admiral-in-Chief to grant a passport for that purpose.

They take the liberty of enclosing a paragraph from the last Hartford paper, by which the honourable Continental Congress will see another method made use of to inflame the minds of the people against them.

EDWARD WILLIAMS, Capt. of Artillery.
JOHN ROTTON, Ensign 47th Regt.
BENJAMIN HILL, Lieut. 5th Regt.
JOSEPH MOLAND, Ensign 26th Regt.
THOMAS McDERMOTT, volunteer 16th Regt.
JOHN SMITH, Lieut˙ of Artillery.