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Sunday, December 31, 2006

December 31. 1777
Tomorrow the act committing us to this prison passed by Parliament in February will expire. Considerable discussion and speculation runs through the yard about what will happen to us next. There are rumors that we shall be soon exchanged. Others anticipate that Parliament will renew the act and that we shall remain here indefinitely. However, with the capture of Burgoyne’s army it seems that our situation is changed and that we may be considered prisoners of war rather than rebels and pirates. Our treatment has started to improve of late. Perhaps we shall leave this place yet with our lives.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

December 30. 1777
Clothing was handed out to those of our company in need. I gratefully received a hat which I have been in want for these past months. Some of the men and boys were nearly naked having traded away their clothing for food. Those of us who are more industrious have been able to earn some extra money thereby keeping ourselves fed without jeopardizing the clothes on our bodies. We look forward to the coming New Year and the promise of a swift return to our homes.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

December 26. 1777 St. Stephens Day
Today is overcast. We were made a present of 100 penny loaves by Mr. Tolcher, grandfather of the Lord Mayor of Plymouth. These were well received.

Monday, December 25, 2006

December 25. 1777 Christmas Day
Today dawned fair after several days of rain leaving the yard a muddy mess. The butcher and baker are in a charitable mood on this Christmas day so our fare today was much better than one year ago. We have white bread instead of brown, mutton, turnips, salt and oatmeal for our soup. Some Newbury men also invited us to share their plum pudding and so we are better fed than I can remember while here in Mill Prison.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

December 24. 1777
It has been one long year to the day since we were captured by the Raisonable off the Spanish coast. Never did we expect to be spending a second Christmas Eve in captivity.

Although we have little money several of the messes including ours are sending out for additional supplies to celebrate the Christmas holiday tomorrow.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

December 23. 1777
Today Cowdry mustered us into the yard where new regulations of conduct sent from the Commissioners were posted. We were warned that these must be strictly observed.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

December 20. 1777
We hear that Lord North has made a petition before parliament calling for peace but he was overruled since he was the one calling for war in the first place.

6 men have come out of the Black Hole after forty days.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

December 17. 1777
Yesterday a newspaper was brought to us by some friends from outside that gave us further details of the defeat of Burgoyne’s army. This paper has been passed throughout the prison and read aloud for the benefit of those who cannot read.

Four days past we were mustered into the main prison yard to have our clothing inspected to see who was in want.

Monday, December 11, 2006

December 11. 1777
Today we received confirmation from Captain Henry Johnson’s brother, recently come from London, that Burgoyne’s army was totally defeated near Saratoga. We could not rely on earlier reports but this news seems solid and has greatly raised our spirits.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

December 9. 1777
Two days ago Mr. Cowdry informed us of a letter that he had received from the Board in London instructing him to place us all on half allowance until the man guilty of planning the latest failed escape was given over. We took up a collection to be applied to pay a volunteer who would be committed to the Black Hole. This volunteer came forward today and is committed to the Black Hole for 40 days. Mr. Cowdry shows uncommon humane behavior by allowing him as many indulgences as possible within the bounds of his instructions.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

December 2. 1777
We have word that Philadelphia is taken but that the Americans destroyed a British 74 which was in the river near Philadelphia.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

November 30. 1777
Last night I was prepared to escape from this prison along with many of the other people. Our plan was to dig a hole under the back wall of the Long Prison and escape through the adjoining field during stormy weather. However, when we first broke through the turf outside the wall we found a lamppost nearby illuminating the surrounding area and thought better of it. I was detemined to go along with Joseph and Guppy despite our lack of currency to pay our way. We have heard that there are a number of British citizens that sympathize with our American cause and would aid us in our flight.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

November 25. 1777
One year ago this day we sailed from Portsmouth for a 3 month cruise. We all fully expected to return to our home ports with pockets full of prize money. Instead one year hence we remain forgotten in this hole of a prison with little hope of seeing our wives and families again but rather the end of a hangman’s noose or the muzzle of a British musket.

Our bread is so bad that most of us would swear it be made from straw, not flour. We complained about it to little effect as the prison master is a tyrant who we are convinced is lining his pockets while letting us starve.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

November 15. 1777
It is one year to the day since the Dolton sailed from Newburyport and the Newbury men have spent much of the day remembering their families and homes amongst themselves. We could not have imagined a year ago that we would find ourselves in such circumstances one year hence. We still have no indication whether we shall see the end of a hangman’s noose or our homes.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

November 14. 1777
Today the guards discovered our hole in the Long Prison and then treated several of our number roughly when they did not answer quickly enough.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

November 11. 1777
Yesterday six men from the other yard were sent to the black hole after being discovered in their attempt to escape by digging their way out of a drain.

Today two of the guards who had become friendly to us were dismissed from their duties.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

November 5. 1777
Two days ago a newspaper was smuggled into the prison telling of General Burgoyne losing 2000 men. This is our first major victory against British army and we are greatly encouraged by it.

We have had more trouble with theft and a youth was caught and punished by being made to run the guantlet today.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

November 2. 1777
The guards told us today that the British navy is pressing 1500 men into service.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

October 31. 1777
Today is sunny warm weather after several days of storm. We have been outside in the yard taking the fresh air and sun after confining ourselves to the long prison for the past few days.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

October 29. 1777
Mr. Cutler and Mr. Morris made their escape the night before last and have not been heard from since. May they make their way home successfully.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

October 18. 1777
The men who came here yesterday brought news that Dr. Franklin who is now in France has been corresponding with the English Ambassador on our behalf to negotiate a prisoner exchange. This is the first hopeful thing I have heard in months and it has raised the spirits of us all.
October 18. 1777
The men who came here yesterday brought news that Dr. Franklin who is now in France has been corresponding with the English Ambassador on our behalf to negotiate a prisoner exchange. This is the first hopeful thing I have heard in months and it has raised the spirits of us all.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

October 17. 1777
Seven more American prisoners were brought to the prison today from the Blenheim. Several belonged to the schooner Hawk’s prize and several to the privateer Oliver Cromwell.

Three more lamps in the yards were lighted to make it more difficult for us to escape over the walls undetected in the cover of darkness.

Monday, October 16, 2006

October 16. 1777
Mr. Cutler has taken a census of the prison again and it now stands at:
233 in the Long Prison
17 “ Itchy do.
14 “ Burnells do.
6 “ Hospital.
5 “ Black Hole
For a total of 275 American prisoners.

We were also visited by a Marblehead man who has served on a British Man ‘O War since the beginning of the war and he says that a number of Marbleheaders are on the Blenheim.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

October 15. 1777
It is ten months to the day since the Dolton sailed over the bar at Newburyport and all of us wonder what our fate shall be. The Newbury men spent a large part of this day remembering their families and lives before being placed in these current circumstances.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

October 14. 1777
Yesterday we were able to buy a seventeen gallon bag of potatoes for much less than they are retailed to us at the gate.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

October 12. 1777
The weather has been pleasant for this time of year and reminds me of autumn at home. I have no word from my family and I spend much of my time wondering about their condition.

Yesterday our friend Captain Bowyer of HMS Burford and another captain came to pay a visit with our officers. He is truly one of the most kind gentlemen I have met.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

October 5. 1777
One of the prison guards was tried by Court Martial today under suspicion that he took a bribe to allow Capt. Boardman, Captain Lee, Mr. Morris, Mr. Cutler and Mr. Shoemaker out of the itchy ward for their escape. However, the Court could not obtain sufficient evidence against him and he was released. One William Smith who escaped on the 20th of September was returned to the prison this day and committed to the Black Hole. The remainder of the Lexington’s men were brought here today with the exception of the Frenchmen who were also part of the crew.

Friday, September 29, 2006

September 29. 1777
According to our keepers today is Michaelmas day. This is a holiday with which I am not familiar but the keepers tell us that it is some sort of old Papist feast to the saints celebrated in England. Our bread is so bad that I am sure the saints themselves would not be able to feast on it.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

September 27. 1777
Ten of the Lexington’s company were brought to the prison today. Most of us crowded about them as they told us in great detail of the battle that was fought. It lasted five hours, with six of their crew killed including the sailing master and lieutenant of the marines. Three of the cutter’s crew were killed. Lexington struck her colors after expending all of her shot. Their ship was unable to manuever having had much of its rigging shot away. After the engagement they met with better treatment than we did and were allowed to keep their personal belongings and clothing. Captain Johnson was allowed to keep his money and turned it over to the agent who will provide him with a regular allowance of it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

September 26. 1777
Today was a busy day. Captain Henry Johnson and his crew were brought here to the prison. He and his officers came in high style, arriving in a coach after being examined at the Fountain Tavern in Dock. The Lexington was taken off Ushant on the 19th instant. Six of his men were killed during the engagement. He and his six officers put in the other prison with our Captain Johnston, Captain’s Burnell, Lee and Kess.

Commissioner Bell was here today to address our grievances. He has requested additional clothing for us as winter is approaching. He has also requested additional beef for each man each day. We are not allowed newspapers though and those on half allowance in the Black Hole will not be allowed donations from friends without. A hog that was allowed into the yard and was robbing us has been removed.

Will Ford was committed to the new Black Hole this day for his attempted escape yesterday.
September 26. 1777
Today was a busy day. Captain Henry Johnson and his crew were brought here to the prison. He and his officers came in high style, arriving in a coach after being examined at the Fountain Tavern in Dock. The Lexington was taken off Ushant on the 19th instant. Six of his men were killed during the engagement. He and his six officers put in the other prison with our Captain Johnston, Captain’s Burnell, Lee and Kess.

Commissioner Bell was here today to address our grievances. He has requested additional clothing for us as winter is approaching. He has also requested additional beef for each man each day. We are not allowed newspapers though and those on half allowance in the Black Hole will not be allowed donations from friends without. A hog that was allowed into the yard and was robbing us has been removed.

Will Ford was committed to the new Black Hole this day for his attempted escape yesterday.

Monday, September 25, 2006

September 25. 1777
The prison master ordered that the wall be raised by five feet to prevent others from going over. Meanwhile, Beauty, a negro from the Sally’s crew was captured in Mrs. Mays garden after using the workman’s staging to make his way out. He was put in the Black Hole on his return. William Ford, a trouble making Virginian from our Dolton crew, was also detected trying to get over the wall today and committed to the Black Hole.

We hear that the American privateer Lexington, sixteen guns, Captain Henry Johnson, was taken by a British cutter of inferior size.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

September 21. 1777
Will Smith, an Irishman from our Dolton crew, was one of the 3 who escaped yesterday and has not yet been retrieved.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

September 20. 1777
It being dark and rainy this evening six people went over the wall at dusk but 3 were caught and brought back and committed to the Black Hole. They nearly made it undetected but the last man over was spotted by a guard who raised the alarm. The prison has been all in a commotion since. The other 3 have not yet been found.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

September 19. 1777
Mr. Bell came again today. He ordered the prisoner keeper to return our knives to us. He also forbade the guards and others retailing goods and food sold to us at high prices. Instead he will allow us to have an open market at the gate of the prison. Perhaps I was wrong about him.

Monday, September 18, 2006

September 18. 1777
Mr. Cutler told me today there are 5 persons with the itch, 6 on half allowance, 11 sick in the hospital and 210 in the Long Prison for a total of 232 prisoners.

I heard that yesterday Mr. Bell kept put a stop to the extra rations being sent from some friends outside of the prison for those on half allowance. I am skeptical that he will bring any good to us. Some others think it is a good sign that he is here and that we are not being forgotten.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

September 17. 1777
Mr. Bell came again yesterday to take the measure of our beer allotment. He told us he would return again to check the weights and measures used for our food. I should think it would be easy enough for him to see by our appearance that our treatment is terrible. Many of our people are forced to sell their clothes to purchase food to supplement our meager rations. None of us look to be in the health we were when we set sail from America.

Mr. Buntin and three others were put back on to full rations yesterday.

Some old country men in our number petitioned to be released from prison and enter service in the British fleet. I should just as soon see them go.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

September 13. 1777
Yesterday Mr. Bell, a commissioner from the Commission of Sick and Hurt Seamen, came from London to visit us and address grievances and complaints made known to them by our officers. He came to the prison at the time of our provisions being dished out to see for himself our actual allotment and our condition. Mr. Bell informed us that we were free to make our complaints known to the Commission at any time. Today we wrote up a detailed list of grievances, including the ill treatment by our keeper Mr. Cowdry and his turnkeys. This letter was read in the yard under a gray sky before all of the American prisoners and then sealed and presented to Mr. Bell to be taken back to London with him. I wonder if we shall see benefit or suffer for this action.

Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11. 1777
Yesterday after the discovery of the hole the guards turned us all out and did a careful search of our quarters. The took a number of items that they found including tools, ink and paper. Fortunately, my journal was not found.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

September 10. 1777
The guards detected our hole today which caused quite a commotion.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Sunday September 7. 1777
Our guards found the prison orders posted in the yard torn up and on the ground this morning. This set our keeper in a bad mood with result of his threatening to put us all on half allowance if we did not give up the guilty one. So far no one has come forward.

We have started a new hole.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

September 6. 1777
Twenty two of those who had been on half allowance for escaping have been moved to the upper prison.

I feel much better and take opportunities to get fresh air in the yard during the day. There is talk of starting a new hole and I will apply myself to this effort.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

September 5. 1777
Mr. Cowdry expects that we will attempt more escapes. Today he ordered the carpenters to rehang our hammocks away from the outer walls of the prison to make it easier to detect any holes started in them.

William Smith and Henry Lunt have completed their 40 days in the black hole and were removed to the upper floor of this prison and are now back on full allowance.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

September 3. 1777
This day Gideon Warren who was in the prison hospital with me died from the putrid fever and small pox. He was a Berwick man and the sixth of our number to die since being taken.

The masons have started work on a new black hole in the corner of our yard. The existing black hole was not large enough to keep all of those who have been committed.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

August 31. 1777
Someone smuggled a newspaper into the prison today from which we have the sad confirmation that Ticonderoga and Philadelphia have truly fallen.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

August 29.1777
Today the doctor sent me back to the Long Prison. I am still lame and weak but much better than just a few days past. Guppy and Joseph will tend to me as I recover.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

August 24. 1777
Today Daniel Cottle, a negro from our crew died of the small pox. He had volunteered to work in the small pox ward to tend to our sick but was taken instead. He is the sixth member of our crew to die since our arriving here in England. He will be missed.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

August 22. 1777
Today we had disheartening news that Fort Ticonderoga has fallen to the British, also that the frigate Hancock, 36 guns, Capt. Manley is taken.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

August 19. 1777
The prison surgeon tells me I should be discharged from the hospital in about a week.

Our clerk, Samuel Cutler is also in the hospital. He has tallied the total number of American prisoners to be 234. Of these 188 are in the Long Prison, 26 on half allowance do, 16 in the hospital with us and four in a separate prison with Capt. Burnell.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

August 17. 1777
I continue in the prison hospital and feel somewhat better.

Captain Lee and his crew from the Brig Fancy have been brought to the prison over the past several days. The Fancy was owned by the Tracy’s of Newburyport but sailed from Marblehead. The Fancy was taken by the Foudroyant having been driven on shore by said ship at Mount’s Bay. Before her capture she had taken four prizes.

Monday, August 14, 2006

August 14. 1777
I continue in the prison hospital. My pox have come out but not so bad as with some others and although painful I cannot complain overly. Samuel Lambert from Martha’s Vineyard has lost his eye to the pox. There are eleven of us in the hospital suffering from this ailment.

I hear word that a number of new prisoners are brought to Mill Prison, having recently been captured on American privateers. Also, many of those that escaped on the 9th instant have been captutred and returned to the prison.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

August 9, 1777
I am in the prison hospital with smallpox, but only lightly, having received an innoculation from the surgeon of the Charming Sally. While I have been in the hospital 32 of our number escaped through the hole started in the Long Prison. A number of those who escaped have already been caught and brought back to be committed to the Black Hole.

Friday, July 28, 2006

July 28. 1777
Three of our crew were put on half allowance for not properly answering the call at muster this morning.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

July 26. 1777
We have the good news that the Hancock has taken the British frigate Fox.

Daniel Cottle a negro from our crew was sent to the prison hospital to assist Black Will as nurse for all of our men who are now sick with the small pox.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

July 25. 1777
Henry Lunt, William Smith and James Dean were captured near Falmouth 30 miles to the east and returned here to be committed to the Black Hole and half rations for forty days. Dr. Smith still has his freedom.

12 more of our men were committed to the prison hospital having gotten the small pox after being innoculated.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

July 23. 1777
Last night several British transports arrived from America with 600 wounded marines. I am sorry for these men but I am glad to see that our American forces can punish the British

I consider having myself innoculated against the small pox. I observe that those who have done so do not suffer so severely as those that get it the natural way. Guppy is still layed up but improving every day from his bout with it

Saturday, July 22, 2006

July 22. 1777
Yesterday Mr. Little was brought back to Mill Prison having been retaken nearly 50 miles to the east after escaping the itchy ward on the 12th instant. Edward Spooner was sent to the prison hospital today.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

July 19. 1777
Guppy was returned from the prison hospital today. His face and body are badly scarred and scabbed from the small pox. He is very lame and cannot get himself around very well but his appetite is returned which signals to me that he will recover just fine. Guppy is a tough old cod and he does not want any special attention but Joseph and I will tend to him for a while.

We have now got a hole started in the Long Prison wall. I have been working with the others to dig out the stones and then the dirt. The hole is very tight, only large enough for one man at a time to crawl through which makes the digging very difficult. Each one of us can only spend a little time in the hole digging before we must come out to be relieved. Several of the men in prison still have their sea chests and we use them to hide the dirt once removed from the hole. When we are done the stones from the wall are replaced so that the sentries have no idea what we are about.

Monday, July 17, 2006

July 17. 1777
Pleasant weather. About 40 of our men have come down with the small pox in the past few days, all of whom had innoculated themselves from those who had gotten it naturally. It is said that those innoculated in this way will not have so severe a bout as those who get it naturally. The prison doctor tells me that Guppy should return to the prison tomorrow.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

July 16. 1777
We received grievous news today that Thomas Rines, one of our Berwick men, has passed on from the small pox at the Royal Hospital. He had been there for many weeks. He is the fourth of the Dolton’s company to succomb since we sailed from Portsmouth in November.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

July 15. 1777
The occupants of the itchy ward divulged how Henry Lunt made his escape the other day. As a consequence the agent restored their rations to full allowance. It is my thought that several of the occupants in the ward have no strong loyalty to the American cause and would rather watch out for their own welfare and their own benefit without regard for the rest of us.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Sunday July 13. 1777
Today Cowdry placed the occupants of the itchy ward on half rations for refusing to reveal how Henry Lunt escaped yesterday. He also placed a guard outside their quarters so that we could not secret them any of our rations. This evening Mr. George was returned after his short elopement. We hear no word of the others who escaped yesterday.

I was told by the prison Doctor that Guppy has come through the worst of his bout with the small pox. He is very lame and scarred but should be returned to the Long Prison soon.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

July 12. 1777
When mustered out of the prison this morning for roll call there was considerable confusion and alarm amongst the guards as it was found that several men went missing. Our surgeon Dr. Smith, Francis Little, James Dean and William Smith who were in the prison hospital, Henry Lunt who was in the itchy ward and Mr. George who was confined to the black hole all escaped through a drain that runs from the hospital down to the river edge. Mr. Cowdry, the prison keeper, came into the yard and questioned everyone. Then he went to the itchy ward to ask those there how Henry Lunt was able to make his escape. He did not receive a satisfactory answer from anyone and was considerable angry when he departed from the yard.

Today we also had word that Benjamin Sheckle of the sloop Charming Sally died in the prison hospital at 6am.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

July 9. 1777
Warm, very pleasant weather. We are now allowed no visitors and can only converse with our gaolers. There is some talk among our people of attempting escape from this prison by way of tunnels dug through the walls and underground.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

July 8. 1777
Today sailed from the Sound the fleet of transports for America and along with it my message to Rebecca. Little could I have imagined I would wish a British fleet well as it sailed for America.

Last night the sentries burst into the prison at about 3AM as they heard several of our men talking, laughing and singing. Mr. George was taken out of the prison and committed to the Black Hole where he is to be put on half rations and isolated from the rest of us for forty days. Very harsh treatment indeed and served to cause no little grumbling among the people once the sentries departed.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Sunday July 6. 1777
It being Sunday many of the local people came out from Plymouth and Dock to visit but the guard kept the outer gate closed to prevent them from seeing us. One of our enterprising boys was able to hang a cloth bag by a string out of a small window from the second floor on the back side of the Long Prison. Some of the people placed 6 shillings in the bag for us but the guards found them out and later confiscated the money from us. Last night the lamps recently installed about the walls of the yard were lit.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

July 5. 1777
Unexpected but very welcome guests came to Mill Prison today. I was visited by William Clark and Benjamin Hodgson both of Portsmouth and good friends of my father. I have known them since I was a young boy running about the shipyard. They were forced into service of the British Navy as they were in England at the outbreak of the war and they are now both sailing masters of transport ships that put in here yesterday and are now windbound. Having learned of our condition and having some time they came on shore. To my great comfort they have promised to get word of my condition to my Rebecca when they return to America. They also inquired after Guppy Studley, another old Portsmouth acquaintance, and found that he was with the small pox in the prison hospital.

Before they departed they gave those of us they know from Portsmouth some money for relief. To me, they gave two guineas. One for me and one for Guppy. Their kindness is very welcome indeed as our regular daily rations are not nearly enough to sustain us, being hardly enough for a single meal.

Their fleet now laying in the Sound sailed from London three weeks past and consists of 32 merchant vessels, and four men o’ war convoys -two two-deckers, a frigate and a sloop o’ war. Mr. Hodgson says they carry 4000 troops bound for Canada.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

July 4. 1777
One year ago America declared its independence from Britain. Little did any of us know that we should be fully dependent on the British, on their soil, in this prison one short year later. Despite our plight we were all cheered to hear news that John Knowlton, our cashier, and Mr. Smith, master of the Charming Sally regained their independence by making their escape from the Royal Hospital on the 2nd instant.

A fleet of transports consisting of 40 sails bound for America put in here at Plymouth harbor today facing a stiff headwind and unable to make any progress in the channel. They will remain here until the wind becomes favorable.

Monday, July 03, 2006

July 3. 1777
Continued rainy. Benjamin Shackle, an Englishman from the Charming Sally’s crew, was sent to the prison hospital with pleuretic fever today.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

July 2. 1777
It rains very hard today so that we must keep inside the prison.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Sunday June 29. 1777
I tried to get word of Guppy’s condition today but with no success.

Despite cold damp weather workers came into our yard today and installed twelve lamps around the walls of the yard. I guess our keepers feared we would attempt an escape over the walls in the dark of night. Forty soldiers of the 13th regiment have come to guard us with 13 soldiers on guard at a any time.

Through the fog we saw the Burford, our old floating prison, sail up the sound today after completing a cruise.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

June 28. 1777
Today the prison doctor examined Guppy and, as I feared, declared that he had small pox and must be sent to the prison hospital. We shall miss our friend but there is nothing more we can do for him and he should be better off in the hospital. Francis Little our officer of the Marines was sent there also by the doctor. Black Will, a negro from the Sally’s crew, volunteered to go with them to tend to all of our sick that are now there.

Captain Ross, a Dolton prizemaster received a gift of bread and cheese from someone outside of the prison today.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

June 27. 1777
Guppy Studley gets more sick with each day. He complains of pain in his head, his back and generally throughout his body. I fear he may have the smallpox. A man from one of the other ships crews was sent to the prison hospital today. Our weather has been wet these past few days with the cold dampness inside this stone prison making it unpleasant for the healthy men and torment for our sick.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

June 24. 1777
My friend from Portsmouth, Guppy Studley is not feeling well and has kept inside today.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Sunday June 23. 1777
Fair weather today.

Will Horner, an Irish boy from our Dolton crew, has entered into the British service. There is murmuring among some of the others that they might do the same, especially among those not born on American soil. This does not sit well with we native-born Americans and begins to cause some diagreement in our ranks.

We find the sentries have placed a box on the outer prison gate to collect money from curious local people who wish to view us. These visitors were made to understand the collection was to be for our benefit but instead we hear that the guards are distributing it among themselves with none for us. Today being Sunday a great number of well meaning people came out to see us and the guards gained 15 shillings at our expense. We have since taken in our own charity box in protest. Our purser counted out the money in our box from which we will share a total of 17s. 4 1/2 which amounts to one penny per man when divided up.

Monday, June 19, 2006

June 19. 1777
One of our Americans has taken ill with the small pox.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

June 18. 1777
The weather has turned pleasant. Four packs of playing cards were donated to us today by someone from outside of the prison. These are well received by some while others were happy to receive several books also donated to us. Several of the men sold some of the wooden items they have worked on.

We have word that Robert Burgoyne, one of our crew from Boston, made his escape from the Blenheim on the tenth of June, swam for shore and has not been seen since. Some suppose that he drowned in his attempt.

We also have ten more prisoners brought here after release from the Royal Hospital. Our number held captive here has now reached 158.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Sunday June 15. 1777
It has rained hard all day. Some generous person from outside the prison donated two fully cooked quarters of veal today. When divided among us all it amounted to very little but was still very welcome. We had some excitement last night as the sentry called out an alarm thinking he heard someone attempting to make their escape but it was all for nought.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

June 14. 1777
Raw and cold again. Ten prisoners are brought here from the Blenheim. They were part of the Lexington’s prize crew who were later risen upon by their prisoners and then brought here to Plymouth by the Fordryant.

Our prison yard measures about 250 feet by 150 feet. The yard slopes downhill to the south affording us a prospect of Plymouth Sound. Our two story Long Prison sits on the north side of the yard with windows facing on to the yard. We are all of us, officers and people all confined to this one structure.

There is a lamp post in the middle of the yard which is lit at night so that the sentries can make sure we do not make our escape over the wall. The walls are too high for a single man to make his own way over the top to escape. We are guarded by local militia men.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

June 13. 1777
There has been a bit of a break in the rainy weather today and we have spent some time in the yard although it is very muddy. We are now receiving contributions to our charity box which amount to very little yet are still better than nothing. We have elected one of our men to be our purser to watch over this money.

Today Mr. Cowdy read to us the regulations by which we are to abide, as drawn up by The Commission for Sick and Hurt Seamen. In summary we should behave properly and not insult our keepers, we should not fight or attempt to escape, we should not damage the King’s property within the prison, we should keep ourselves clean and we should keep the prison and the yard clean. It seems that violation of any of these regulations will result in a half allowance of food to serve as punishment for our bad behavior or to repay whatever damage might be caused. For the worst offenses, such as attempting escape half allowance of rations will continue for forty full days, and closer confinement (whatever that might be).

Monday, June 12, 2006

June 12. 1777
The weather continues wet and raw. We keep to our quarters much of the day. I am applying my carving skills whittling wood spoons and ladles. Many of us are employed at this work for which we hope to be able to sell our wares to visitors at the prison gates for a few shillings. This effort is certainly better than sitting by idle as some of our people do.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

June 11. 1777
Rainy weather. Some the men have constructed a charity box to place outside the gates of the prison to collect money for our relief.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

June 10. 1777
Ten more Americans were brought from the ship to prison today.

Friday, June 09, 2006

June 9. 1777
We stay inside the prison all day today as it rains and the yard is very muddy. I have taken up the making of wooden boxes with hopes that I can earn a few shillings with which to buy some extra food. Each mess assigns someone each day to draw the rations for the group. Our regular allowance for each man each day is ¾ pound of beef which boils down to a very small amount, a pound of bread, a quart of beer and greens. This is surely not enough to sustain me for very long.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Sunday June 8. 1777
This being the Lord’s Day we could hear the church bells ringing in Plymouth this morning and afterwards a large number of well meaning people from town came to the prison gates to donate money for us. Many of our men are ill fed and some have already traded away nearly all of their clothing in exchange for food. Some our more industrious men have taken to carving wooden utensils and making boxes to sell. I too plan to take up this occupation to avoid the state that some of the men are in.

We are allowed out of the Long Prison to walk in the yard from ten to noon. The turnkeys lock us down in the Long Prison from noon until three when we are allowed back out until evening. However, yesterday before I arrived from my examination the men here were locked down all day due to one of the guards being insulted by an American. I have seen the Keeper of this Prison, William Cowdry, and I can tell that he will be trouble for us.

Our yard is quite large with the Long Prison making up a portion of the north wall. The Long Prison is two stories high with windows on both floors facing to the south with a good view of the Sound. We can watch the ships beating up and down the Sound from the Long Prison and from certain places in the yard. We are issued hammocks which hang from the low rafters on both floors of the prison. We are also dividing ourselves into messes as were were on our ships before our capture. The captains of our ships have already begun to impose shipboard discipline among the men.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006



June 7. 1777
This morning my name was called along with 11 others from the Dolton’s crew to go on shore for our examination. My friend Joseph Shillaber was also included in this number but Guppy Studley was not. We each gathered up our few belongings and were taken upon the quarter deck by the sentries. We were then carried by boat to shore at the town of Dock. At the pier the boat’s crew handed us over to some soldiers while several of the midshipman from the Blenheim continued on with us. We must have made quite a spectacle as they marched us up the sloping road to the Fountain Tavern where the examinations are conducted. People from the town would stop to stare at us and insult us as we passed them by. We did make a pretty picture with our ragged clothes, beards and, our stooped bodies from poor food and confinement below deck for so long.

Our guard ushered us into a small room on the tavern’s first floor where we waited to be called. After some time they called us to a large upper floor room where we stood before the three justices seated at a long table, dressed in their powered wigs. They asked us each where we were from, whether we were entered on the Dolton, whether we were captured by the Raisonable and whether our ship had a commission from the American Congress. We were then taken below to wait in the small room again. Then I was called up by myself to answer each of these questions again, as were the other men in our group. Lastly, they brought us back up as a body and our commitments read to us.

Jacob Nutter, your are guilty of the crime of high treason and committed to prison until the time of your trial. This same sentence was read to each of us.

Althogether these examinations took about four hours. Then two constables and ten soldiers marched us east on the road from Dock to Mill Prison, a distance of several miles through open rolling country void of any trees, where we arrived late in the afternoon. Near the end of our march we passed close by the Royal Hospital where many of our men had been sent and some had died. Mill Prison is located only about one quarter mile to the west of Plymouth Town. Six months ago I would have made this march in an hour but we are now ill conditioned after confinement below decks, poor food and recovering from sickness. When we started this march the sun was still visible but by the time we reached the prison gates clouds had moved in from the Sound carrying with them a heavy drizzle. The gloomy weather matched our gloomy dispositions. We were brought through the outer gates of the prison and then through an inner yard where we passed through another set of gates to a large inner yard to be greeted by our shipmates and those from the other captured American privateers. We are all quartered in a long, two story stone building, which is where I now sit writing this entry. I must be careful not to be found out having a pen and paper. How long shall I remain here and will I leave this place alive? God only knows.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

June 6. 1777
Ten more prisoners sent on shore today. I believe my time to go on shore will be soon coming. We of us remaining on the Blenheim grow restless.

Monday, June 05, 2006

June 5. 1777
Pleasant weather. None of our people were sent from the Blenheim to the prison today. Instead some of the Sally’s crew who had been at the Royal Hospital were examined and committed to Mill prison. Some of the others from the Hospital were returned to this ship. We also hear that the Charming Sally has been purchased and converted to brig rigging, mounting 16 guns, and will be used as a privateer against America. She sailed today in company with the Prince of Wales which had recently returned to this port with sprung mainmast.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

June 4. 1777
This day being a holiday to celebrate King George’s Birthday no business was done and none of our company were sent on shore for examination. At noon cannons throughout the harbor were fired in salute to the King and bells were rung in the town of Dock

Saturday, June 03, 2006

June 3. 1777
Nine more of our Dolton’s crew were sent on shore for prison today including Samuel Cutler our clerk, John Knowlton – cashier, Henry Lunt, Cutting Lunt and five others.

Friday, June 02, 2006

June 2. 1777
This morning officers of our crew were sent on shore to Mill Prison including Captain Eleazer Johnston, First Lieutenant Anthony Knapp, 2nd Lieutenant John Buntin, Francis Little, Dr. Powers, Moses Cross, Joseph Brewster and Captain Boardman, all from Newburyport.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Sunday, June 1. 1777
The weather was exceptionally nice today but little good it did for us as we continue our confinement below decks. It being Sunday none of our prisoners on board the Blemheim were sent on shore today.

We hear that the Experiment, 50 guns, Capt. Wallace commander sailed for Portsmouth today. She had been at dock in this port receiving repairs after having been badly knocked about by Fort Sullivan in South Carolina. She brought to Plymouth 19 prisoners who had been taken by the Fordroyant, 80 guns.

Twelve of the Privateer Freedom’s people were brought on board this ship today, they having manned a British prize which was then captured by the Fordroyant. Included in this number is Captain Thomas Brown of Marblehead. Captain John Adams was also brought on board the Blenheim today having been captured by the Fordroyant during passage from Boston to France. Six other prisoners were taken in a merchantman bound from France to So. Carolina.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

May 31. 1777
Today, two Massachusetts men from the Brigantine Freedom’s prize, two men from Philadelphia captured on the Lexington’s prize and four Massachusetts men including Captain Southard from the Sturdy-Beggar’s prize were sent to Mill prison.

The weather is now warm and the air in the hold of this ship is so foul as to be nearly unbearable. With these conditions and all of us confined below decks for most of the day I fully expect many more will become sick unless we are sent on shore soon. I truly look forward to setting foot on shore and breathing fresh air again even though I should be confined to prison.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

May 30. 1777
Six more Sally’s were sent on shore today.

Monday, May 29, 2006

May 29. 1777
Nine more of the Sally’s crew were sent on shore to the prison this day.

We hear that the Belleisle which returned to this port on May 20th has been laid under quarentine with the crew all sick from the yellow fever.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

May 28. 1777
Today, Doctor Powers, and five others of the Charming Sally crew were sent on shore for examination and commitment to Mill Prison. It is with some satisfaction that we hear that Captain Brown made his escape yesterday during a break in his examination. We can only hope that he makes his way successfully back to America to bring word of our condition to our families. The joy expressed by the Sally’s crew was tempered by news that one of their mates, an old man named James Jutson, died two days ago at the Royal Hospital. He was well liked and will be missed by his friends.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

May 27. 1777
Finally the rumors that our people will be sent on shore to Mill Prison prove to be true. A marine guard came today and took Captain Brown, his sailing master, gunner, Dr. Hotchkiss, Mr. George (a volunteer) and 2 of the crew from the sloop Charming Sally, on shore to be examined before commitment to Mill Prison. The rest of us now wait here on the Blenheim in anticipation of our own examination.

Friday, May 26, 2006

May 26. 1777
It is six months since the Dolton sailed from Portsmouth and still I have not set foot on dry earth. I ponder on my family’s welfare and my own fate.

Today sailed our old home the HMS Burford upon a cruise.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

May 25. 1777
Today HMS Carrysfort frigate, 28 guns, sailed down the Sound on a cruise for America.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

May 24. 1777
Today returned the Prince of Wales having sprung her mainmast in heavy weather. We are not allowed any contact or news from the outside. I must keep my pen and paper well hidden otherwise they will be taken away and I will be punished.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

May 20. 1777
Captain Dowell from South Carolina and Captain Rankin from Philadelphia were set free today since they were both masters of merchant ships. The Belleisle returned with her crew all sick.

Friday, May 19, 2006

May 19. 1777
Lt. Brustis was happy to tell us that three of our men at the Royal Hospital attempted an escape over the wall last night but were soon enough captured and returned to their ward.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

May 18. 1777
I grieve at hearing that my friend Samuel Scriggins of Kittery died of small pox at the Hospital. This is very sore news and his family will be much distressed at this loss. He is the third member of our crew to die at the Hospital. A young man from the Charming Sally, Ebenezer Willis, also died of the pox at the Hospital yesterday.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

May 16. 1777
There are still perhaps 20 of our men at the hospital but many have been returned to this ship. The weather has been fair but little good it does us since we are confined below decks most of the day.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

May 10. 1777
Captain Dowell was brought on board the Queen today. He commanded a merchantman in passage from South Carolina to France when taken by the HMS Raisonable, the same ship which took us prisoner.

Our treatment on board this ship is more severe than on the Burford. We are locked down in the lower deck gun deck at sunset and are not allowed up until 8 o’clock in the morning. The gun ports remain shut and at this time of year the air becomes quite warm and stuffy by morning. We have six armed sentries guarding us at all times. We are not allowed pen or paper and therefore I must keep my my journal hid from the guards. We are also not allowed any kind of newspaper. We sleep on the deck again without the comfort of a hammock. The officers and crew of this ship do not show the same Christian charity as we were recently accustomed to.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

May 9. 1777
Today the brother of our surgeon, Doctor Samuel Smith, came on board the Queen for a visit. Dr. Smith had just been returned from the Royal Hospital after a severe bout of the itch. Josiah Smith was on board the ship Franklin bound for France when she was taken by HMS Albion and brought here. Since Mr. Smith was a passenger only he was given his liberty.

We spend much of our waking hours in conversation with our new mates comparing stories, learning of common acquaintances and considering our fate. I find the Sally’s are in much better condition than we. Our men have experienced many more ills and vermon and our clothing has suffered during our time in captivity. By comparison the Sally’s appear to be healthy and well fed with most still possessing their sea chests.

I continued my conversation with Thomas Chase today. He described the sailing of the Sally from the Vineyard. His crew was not informed of Captain Brown’s intention to cruise off the coast of Europe until they had sailed. Just like the Dolton crew, some expressed alarm while others were encouraged by the opportunity to strike at the heart of the British trade routes.

Monday, May 08, 2006

May 8. 1777
Today I met one Thomas Chase, crewman of the sloop Charming Sally, from Martha’s Vineyard. We began exchanging stories and soon we had a large group of both Dolton’s and Sally’s listening and adding their own parts to the story. I find that their story closely resembles our own. Mr. Chase told us the Sally sailed from Martha’s Vineyard on the 27th of November last under the command of Captain Francis Brown. She was somewhat more successful than the Dolton, making prize of the Schooner Betsy from Gaspee bound for Jamaica with a cargo of fish and oil on the 8th of December. She also made prize of the Brig Hannah from St. Johns Newfoundland on the ninth of January, she being bound for Lisbon with a cargo of fish. 9 prize hands were sent aboard to sail her for America.

The Sally met her misfortune on the 16th of January when she was taken by the HMS Nonesuch Man O’ War, 64 guns, Captain Walter Griffis, Esq. Master. Most of the Sally’s crew were sent on board the Nonesuch while 30 British sailors and the Nonesuch’s first mate took command of the Sally. The Nonesuch arrived here at Plymouth on 20th of February. Their treatment was much better than ours during their time aboard the Nonesuch. The Sally’s were allowed to keep most of their belongings and they were not forced into the cable tier. After their arrival here the Sally’s were transferred from ship to ship as were we.

After their arrival at Plymouth the Sally’s were confined together with a prize crew of six from the American Schooner Lexington, Henry Johnson, Master. The prisoners on the Lexington’s prize rose up and took the ship back from the Americans and brought it in to Plymouth. A prize crew of the American ship Freedom was taken in like manner. We also find held prisoner here Captain Southard of Salem having been taken on the Sturdy Beggar’s prize.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

May 7. 1777
Rumors proved true and after 82 days the British removed us this morning from the Burford to the Blenheim, 90 guns, Capt. Hartwell. The Blenheim was moored nearby and we were transferred in groups by boat. Soon after arrival on the Blenheim we found the crew of the privateer sloop Charming Sally, 10 guns, Francis Brown commander, was also being transferred this morning to this ship from the HMS Queen. In addition there are other Americans who are collected on this ship. The Queen is converted to a guardship for the 180 American souls held captive here. We shall miss the kindness extended to us by Captain Bowyer and his officers on the Burford. We are not allowed hammocks on this ship as we were previous. We find Lt. Paul Brustis, former first Lieutenant of the Raisonable is now second Lieutenant aboard this ship. On the night of our capture this scoundrel assured us that our personal gear would be returned when in fact it was stolen never to be returned. Many a man in our crew would be happy to give equal return to this thief. Despite this I find it good to see some more of my fellow countrymen and look forward to hearing any news they might bring.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

May 6. 1777
Yesterday the Lizard Frigate sailed on a cruise. It is said she is bound for America. Today the Bainfeisant, 64, sailed on a cruise. Some of the Burford crew were on shore today and they brought back news that one of our men admitted at the Royal Hospital, Joseph Hatch, died yesterday of the small pox. He is the second of the Dolton crew to die at the hospital. Today we also hear rumors that we are to be removed from this ship to another as the Burford is preparing to sail.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

May 2. 1777
Nothing exceptional. The weather is overcast and squally these past couple of days. Those of us who are fit find little enough to keep us occupied.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

April 27. 1777
Today the doctor came on to the Burford to tend our sick. He informed us that on the evening of the 21st three of our company at the Royal Hospital made their escape from the itchy ward but were retaken on the 23rd.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

April 26. 1777
The Dolton’s clerk Samuel Cutler has recorded the names of those in our company having been committed to the Royal Hospital during the month of April. He has allowed me to take a copy of his list.
John Abbot – Portsmouth
John Atwood
Benjn Babb – Portsmouth
Thomas Bayley – Newburyport
Elias Blake
Jo. Burnham – Block Point
Nathl Bayley – Newburyport
Jo Choat – do
Danl Cottle – do
Zebulon Davis – New Gloucester
Will. Ford – Virginia
Geo. Furnald – Kittery
Will Horner – Ireland
John Hatten
Charles Herbert – Newburyport
Timo Harris – Old York
Jo. Hatch – Boston
- Jenkins
John Key – Newburyport
Dan l Knight – Kittery
Dan l Lane – New Gloucester
Francis Little – Newburyport
Will Lewis – Kittery
Thoms Mahony – Kittery
John Perkins – do
Nath l Porter – Cape Pursue
Jos. Poor – Newburyport
Thom s Rines – Berwick
Ja s Sellers – Old York
Edwd Spooner – Newburyport
Benj Stubbs – Portsmouth
John Smith – Newburyport
Nathl Staples – Kittery
Will Smith – Ireland
Joseph Shillaber – Portsmouth
Saml Scrigins – Kittery
Andrew Templeton – Windham
Peter Toby – Kittery
- Walker
Saml Woodbridge – Newburyport
Andrew Witham – Berwick
Asa Witham – New Gloucester
Johna Whitmore – Newburyport
Winthrop Willie – Kittery
Jacob Wyman – Cape Pursue

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

April 25. 1777
Today sailed from Plymouth Sound HMS Liverpool for New York carrying General Clinton. We were on deck taking the air when his ship sailed down the Sound. It is said he carries money to pay the British troops there and the Liverpool will join the American blockade. We only seem to hear bad news from America. Early last year we were encouraged when the British were forced to evacuate Boston under the threat of cannon brought from Ticonderoga by Henry Knox but then the British reappeared to take New York and rout General Washington’s Continental Army. Our only heartening news has been Washington’s raid on the Hessians on Christmas Eve last.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

April 23. 1777
Today sailed upon a cruise the Boyne, Alboine and Prince of Wales, each of these three decker seventy fours. Some amongst our people speculate they sail for America and blockade duty but none of us really knows for sure. With our idleness everyday also comes much idle speculation and false rumors.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

April 22. 1777
We are not as free and do not have as much space to move about now that this ship’s crew is nearly at full complement. However, nearly a third of the Dolton people are now already on shore at the hospital. We are still allowed time for fresh air and sun on the quarter deck each day but we receive heckling from some of the new British crew and their visitors which makes our time on the quarter deck unpleasant. Some seem not aware that we Americans are of British stock and seem surpised that they can understand our speech. We are continually told that our new lodgings will be soon ready at Mill Prison but after a while this news becomes stale although most of us would welcome prison walls on solid ground after close confinement in the hold of a man o’ war.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

April 19. 1777
On this day two years past the British marched out of Boston on Lexington and Concord to seize the powder and arms stored there. The Massachusetts militia stood their ground against the British regulars and pushed them back to Boston taking a bloody toll. A rider brought the news to Portsmouth early the following day, raising the alarm. I was at work at the boatyard when I heard the news. We could discern few details but there was more news in the New Hampshire Gazette the next day.

Ever since our raid on Fort William and Mary in December we surely expected hostilities to commence somewhere in New England. Now that it had happened the leaders in Portsmouth were concerned the British would attempt to take Portsmouth as well and they immediately mobilized our militia. Many of our young men went to Cambridge to join the seige under General Washington but I having a young family chose to remain in Kittery. In July I formally enlisted as a full time private in Captain Shapleigh’s company at Kittery Point where we stood watch over the north side of the approach to Portsmouth Harbor. I reenlisted into this company in November under Colonel Cutts. We continually expected an attack by British men o’ war but it did not happen. Perhaps our only excitement was in October when the British ship Prince George mistakenly entered Portsmouth Harbor thinking it was Boston. The ship came under the guns of Captain Salter at Fort Washington at Pierce’s Island and was promptly taken as prize by men from the fort. In January of ’76 I enlisted in Captain Salter’s company at Fort Washington and trained as mattrose learning how to handle heavy cannon.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

April 18. 1777
We are quite idle each day now. There are no odd jobs for us to apply ourselves to on board this prison ship as the British crew is nearly at its full compliment. My mind wanders and floats as does this ship at its mooring with the ebb and flow of the tides.

Today I was reminded of our raid on Fort William and Mary at Newcastle Island in December of ‘74. On the evening of the twelfth of December Paul Revere arrived in Portsmouth with news that the British planned to send a garrison of British regulars to the fort and would possibly remove the powder, cannons and stands of muskets stored there for fear they would be turned on the British at some point in the future. The Portsmouth Committee raised the alarm and close to 400 of us marched on the fort on December 14th and subdued the Provincial soldiers at guard there. The Provincials were grossly outnumbered but they did put up a fight by firing at us with muskets and three cannon. We took away 100 barrels of powder, kegs of bullets and flints and loaded them onto gundalows and moved upriver. It was very cold and ice in the river made this transport difficult. We also hauled down the British flag that flew over the fort. Our force retreated that night to the local taverns in Portsmouth. As the evening wore on there was a general call to return to the fort again the next day to take the cannons. By 10 PM of the 15th about one thousand local men were gathered and marched again on the fort to take away 70 heavy guns. Nearly the entire night was required to load the cannon into gundalows and carry them up the Piscataqua River. At the request of Governor Wentworth the British regular marines arrived from Boston on the HMS Canceaux on the 17th and the HMS Scarborough on the 19th, but too late. This dampened our spirits and our force gradually disappeared but not before hiding the powder and cannons. For the people of Portsmouth the war started in December of ’74.

Monday, April 17, 2006

April 17. 1777
It is now 5 months since the Dolton put in at Pepperil Cove to recruit our Piscataqua men to supplement the Newbury crew. Men from all about the region were recruited, from towns such as Portsmouth, Kittery, Cape Porpoise, Old York, Berwick, and Hampton. Most of our men were recruited as able seamen, having much experience at sea and several with experience on fighting ships or other privateers. It is a shame to see so many of these good and patriotic men layed so low and our fight for liberty cut so short. However, I am convinced there are other opportunistic men in the crew who would take an opportunity to be pressed into the British Navy given any chance.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

April 15. 1777
There are now 24 of the Dolton’s crew admitted to the Royal Hospital with a variety of ailments including small pox, but most of them with the itch. Joseph has described the hospital to me. It is situated about two or three miles to the east of Plymouth Dock. The hospital consists of ten buildings laid out in a formation shaped as the letter U. The opening of the U faces to the southwest closed off by a wall with a gate at its center. The buildings and the wall enclose a large grassy common crisscrossed with paved walkways between the buildings. Each building is three stories high and has 2 wards per floor with each ward holding up to 25 patients. There are wards set aside for the small pox patients and others set aside for those with the itch and other more common ailments.

Joseph was admitted with the itch. He was placed on half-diet which consisted of a half pound of mutton, a pound of bread, a pound of potatoes and a pound of greens every other day. His treatment consisted of a dose of sulphur and honey every morning and evening along with application of ointment to relieve the itch. He commented on his good treatment by the nurses of the hospital.

Friday, April 14, 2006

April 14. 1777
Our former prison ship Torbay recently came out of the docks and yesterday she sailed upon a cruise. We hear that a fleet is preparing to sail to America with British troops and foreign mercenaries.

Two days past eight of our men were sent off to the Royal Hospital, most with the small pox. Some were so sick they were again hauled out of the hold by net.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

April 11. 1777

This morning more items were found to be missing. Our young thief was accused again and again he denied it. Captain Johnston decided that his earlier punishment was not so severe as to dissuade him from thieving again so his new punishment was increased to that of a grown man. His back was laid bare and he was tied to the mast while the boatswain applied two dozen lashes with the cat. He was in a very poor condition after this treatment. I am not so sure the lad is responsible for these most recent thefts and I am suspicious that someone else is taking advantage of the boy’s poor reputation, but I cannot prove it.

Monday, April 10, 2006

April 10. 1777
Today Joseph Shillaber was returned from the Royal Hospital in company with 2 of our other men. He is weak but is on the mend. He speaks of good treatment at the hospital. I am glad to have my friend back. Three more of our men were sent on shore to the hospital today with the small pox. It seems this plague will run through all of us before it is finished.

We hear word the ship Nancy of Newburyport was taken and recently brought in to Plymouth. Her crew is held prisoner on the Ocean, the Admiral’s flag.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

April 9. 1777
This morning more items were discovered missing and immediately our thief was accused of the crime although no one caught him stealing this time. A trial of sorts was conducted by Captain Johnston at which the youth strongly denied his participation but he was judged guilty by a near unanimous vote among the crew by virtue of his previous actions. He was again forced to run bareback through the gauntlet. More small pox appears to run through our people.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

April 6. 1777
Today is Sunday and we heard a sermon preached on board this ship. There were also prayers said and many will be needed as another of our crew has broken out in the small pox.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

April 5. 1777
The plan to move us on shore as told to us yesterday did not come to pass today and proved to lack credibility as so many other things that we are told. However, we learn from a newspaper secreted on board to us today by a friend, of heartening news from home. The account in the paper related the heroic efforts of General Washington and his Continental Army in taking nine hundred of Hessian troops in New Jersey on Christmas Eve last. Washington was able achieve this great feat by crossing the Delaware River in the dead of night while the Hessian mercenaries slumbered after considerable merriment and took them utterly by surprise. Despite our present condition this was very welcome news and raises our spirits considerably.

All who can read desire to view this account themselves but we must be careful as we are not allowed newspapers or news from the outside and must hide it from our sentries.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

April 4. 1777
Yesterday the Admiral of the fleet and his wife in the company of several other ladies visited this ship perhaps with news for the ship's captain for today the Burford bends her sails and will be soon sailing upon a cruise. As a consequence, this evening the Master at Arms told us that we would be sent on shore tomorrow morning. We are also told that three of our American privateers visited the Irish coast to provide themselves with provisions and water. We find this to be cheering news. However, two days past another of our company was sent on shore to the hospital with smallpox. Who can tell whether this plague will take us all.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

April 1. 1777
Several of us including Captain Johnston tried to reason with our young thief and change his ways. Captain Johnston also explained the necessity of maintaining harsh discipline within a ship’s crew. The youth would not speak to us excepting to tell us to leave him alone. Any friends or acquaintances he once had in the crew now shun him and he skulks by himself all day long at the aft end of the lower gun deck.

Friday, March 31, 2006

March 31. 1777
Just about five months past at the end of October, Guppy ran up to me at the boatyard where I was about my work. He waved the New Hampshire Gazette in my face all excited by the notice it contained. It read something to the affect of,

The private armed Brig Dolton of Newburyport, Eleazer Johnston, Esq. Commander, will put in at Kittery Point on or about Nov. 15th. She is preparing for a 12 week cruise and will sail on Nov. 25th. Any gentlemen volunteer or others who wish to enter on board said ship should apply to Captain Johnston at the public house on Kittery Point.

Guppy is my old friend and I have sailed with him before and he knew this would be a good opportunity to strike back at the British and make some money at the same time, just as many of our other Piscataqua men have recently. We both are familiar with Capt. Johnston who is a fine sailor and I thought this a good plan. My only misgiving was my promise to Rebecca to give up the sea life and work on shore. But the cruise was for a limited time and it certainly provided more opportunity for action and prize money than my recent militia service at Fort Washington or Kittery Point defending the approach to Portsmouth. There was initial excitement at the beginning of the war with rumor the British would attempt to take back Portsmouth but since that time they had made no attempt and we in the militia had sat by idly without contributing to the war effort. I broached the subject with Rebecca and after long discussion she agreed reluctantly to my plan.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

March 30. 1777
The rumors we heard yesterday were true and the Apollo did indeed sail today. We watched as she ran down through Hamoaze into Plymouth Sound with General Burgoyne on his way to bring a pay day to his troops.

We are turned down to the lower gun deck every night at the evening gun and as I lay in my hammock it becomes increasingly difficult to sleep with the coughing and moaning coming from our sick. More of our men fall ill every day with several more being sent up to the Royal Hospital. I have been remarkable healthy since the fever I had recently but I fear I will be stricken with something more serious.

The lad caught stealing several days ago was caught again last night rummaging through the belongings of some of the sick who had been sent up to the hospital. He was made to run the gauntlet again today.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

March 29. 1777
I spoke with Samuel Cutler our ship’s clerk today. He informed me that General Burgoyne will be sailing for Halifax tomorrow with a large sum of money to pay his troops who are stationed in Canada. He sails aboard the 32 gun frigate Apollo. Would that one of our privateers should capture his ship. That would make a fine prize.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

March 28. 1777
As with many other rumors told us by our British sentries the one told us yesterday concerning our move on shore to Mill Prison proved to be false. Many of us were almost viewing this as a positive thing, providing us a change and perhaps more room to move about. Instead we are to remain aboard this ship indefinitely with little contact to the world.

Monday, March 27, 2006

March 27. 1777
We are told that we will be sent up to Mill Prison tomorrow but this has not been confirmed by Captain Bowyer or our Captain Johnston. We continue to be in a sickly way. This past week one of our men broke out with small pox and was sent up to the Royal Hospital. About forty of us have the itch now but William Smith, Francis Little, and John Abbot one of our Portsmouth men were bad enough for the surgeon to send them up to the hospital. He visits us twice a day, morning and evening. I am trying to get word on Joseph’s condition.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

March 26.1777
It is four months since sailing from Portsmouth New Hampshire. How bold and confident we were that day when we sailed on the ebb tide down the swift waters of the Piscataqua. H0w full of good cheer and goodwill we were on the night that Captain Johnston conducted his recruting party at the inn in Kittery. We raised our cups to the good health and good luck of each man many times that night. Now half of us are sick, we have little hope of going home again and even smaller hope of good fortune. With tight quarters and idle time tempers grow short and disputes little and big break out nearly every day.

Friday, March 24, 2006

March 24. 1777
Our thief was caught last night, a youth aged 13 caught while attempting to steal some leftover food. He was caught in a trap intentionally layed for him. Some of the men earlier in the evening had mentioned their stock of food layed by the way. After lights out several remained awake. In the near pitch black of the night they could hear someone quietly rummaging through their stock and they set up the alarm which brought the sentry and other marines. The youth was caught by the neck until the guards came. This morning the first lieutenant conferred with Captain Johnston and he has allowed us to punish the young thief ourselves. Captain Johnston informed him that stealing in a ship’s crew was a serious crime and could not go unpunished. The shirt was stripped from his back and we formed two lines along the length of our deck and made him run the gauntlet twice with each of us thrashing his back with nettles given us by the British. I dare say he will not sleep on his back tonight while the rest of us sleep soundly.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

March 23. 1777
Our diet is none too bad as Captain Bowyer allows us the same rations as the common ship’s hand. Throughout the week we have pork and peas, birgu and cheese, beef and pudding, and small beer. We are not allowed rum which is probably just as well considering some of the trouble makers in our company.

I miss my conversations with Joseph however I have made the acquaintance of a number of the Newbury men and I have been friends with many of the Piscataqua men for years. I find most of us were motivated by patriotic concern for America and desire to earn ourselves extra money when we signed onto the Dolton. In fact several of our Portsmouth men set their name to the Association Test in March of last year, pledging their loyalty to the United American Colonies and promising to risk their lives against the British army and navy. This resolution also moved to disarm all who were not loyal to the American cause. I would have signed this too had I still resided in Portsmouth but Rebecca and I removed ourselves to Kittery during the previous year. Most of the boys were looking for adventure. But it becomes plain now there are others in our number that were only motivated by profit and would just as soon take an American vessel as British if it would profit them. I do not trust them and will watch my speech around them as they would likely turn informant on us to improve their condition. I cannot abide those that would betray America for a few shillings.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

March 22. 1777
Our sentries tell us some of the new recruits recently pressed into service on this ship have come down with the small pox. We are all quite afraid that it will spread into our company but there is little we can do to avoid it. Some of our people particularly those from larger towns such as Boston have already survived this scurge but many of us from smaller towns have not faced it yet.

To add to our troubles there is a thief in our midst but we have not caught him. Several men have found small things missing and are growing angry over it. We are all now keeping a sharp lookout for this thief and when we catch him he shall be properly punished.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

March 21. 1777
We have passed now into the Spring season from Winter. The weather was pleasant today as I worked on deck at some odd jobs for the Master at Arms. While on deck I had the opportunity to survey our surroundings here at Hamoaze and Plymouth Dock. We are told that Plymouth Dock, or Dock as the locals call it, lays about three miles west from Plymouth Town. Dock’s population numbers thirteen thousand which is about the same as Plymouth Town. The King has built a large naval yard here and there are a large number of businesses on shore to service the fleet. We are also told that Dock serves as one of the Navy’s headquarters in addition to those located to the east at Portsmouth. From the Burford we can see much constant activity on shore and a steady stream of boats running from shore to the ships in the harbor. Several boats have come out to the Burford today bringing new crew for this ship as well as provisions. The Hamoaze runs down to a narrow channel to Plymouth Sound and then the English Channel. The Hamoaze is on the lee side of a hill called Mt. Edgecombe which protects the harbor from weather coming off the Channel. The hills and surrounding countryside are extremely green for this time of year by comparison to New England.

It is nearly four months since we sailed from Portsmouth on our cruise. I often think of Rebecca and my children and how they are getting on. I trust that my cousin William Treadwell will watch after them per his promise to me. I have written a message to Rebecca informing her of my condition and circumstances. I hope to send this note back to Kittery at my first opportunity.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

March 19. 1777
Joseph Shillaber is very sick with the fever and the surgeon ordered that he be sent up to the hospital with several others. Joseph is one of my best friends from the time that I was a boy in Portsmouth. I fear for his well being as he is not that strong. I was surprised when he appeared at the inn the night Captain Johnston started recruiting for crew members of the Dolton since he is better with book keeping than sea going ways. However, he insisted in participating in the war against the British and the prize money would assist him since his father’s business was faltering due to the blockade of the American coast. When we left Portsmouth I took it upon myself to watch after him and show him the ropes. I will care for his few possessions while he is gone. Guppy and I shall miss him while he is gone.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

March 17. 1777
Nothing exceptional. After several weeks on the Burford we are now getting into a routine. Each morning we are mustered out and counted by our sentries. We continue to be divided into the messes we had aboard the Dolton. Each day one of our messmates is appointed to draw our rations and bring them back to the mess. Our officers reside above decks but we confer with them nearly every day to see what news they have heard. At times we still receive a newspaper from friends among the Burford crew which we share througout our people but the news generally bodes ill for us. To keep up our spirits those of us who are well enough play at games during the day with balls fashioned from old cloth and rope ends. My friend Joseph Shillaber has taken sick and is laid up with our other sick at the far end of this deck. I look in on him several times a day to check on his condition. We are not allowed candles or lamps in the evening and therefore we are asleep soon after dark.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

March 15. 1777
Several of us are discussing plans for escaping this ship. We are moored several cable lengths from shore which makes swimming very difficult, especially with the cold water at this season. Very few of us are capable of swimming such a distance and most are not capable of swimming at all. We also have considered commandeering one of the ship’s boats during the night but we have observed the sentries to be vigilant and this to not be an option. With poor health, little clothing and no money or friends on shore it would be impossible for us to make our way to safe haven in France. One or two individuals might possibly make their escape and we may sponsor one or two volunteers when the time is right to carry messages for us back to America.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

March 14. 1777
Today the Raisonable in company with the Augusta sailed upon a cruise. One of our boys spied her from an open port and called several others over to look. At the sight of her they set up a chorus of boos and insults to such an extent that it alarmed our sentries, they thinking that we were getting up a riot or attempting an escape. Several armed marines came down to our deck and our people were promptly quieted.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

March 12. 1777
I have been quite sick with fever these two days past. Although I am still weak I feel that I am on the mend and my appetite is returning. Some friends provided me with tea to go with a light breakfast which is all I can manage. The Burford surgeon came to see us and upon examining me he confirmed that I should be fully recovered in several days. Others in our company are not recovering and the doctor ordered them sent on shore to the hospital. Several of them could not walk and they were loaded into nets justs as so much cargo and hauled directly out of the hold through the main hatch and placed into boats to take them on shore. On shore they will be put into carts and taken the two miles or so to the hospital. The weather is squally with rain and wind so their trip will not be pleasant.

Friday, March 10, 2006

March 10. 1777
I have taken ill today with aches over my entire body, fever and loss of appetite. Guppy Studley said he had never seen me devoid of hunger before therefore I must truly be sick and not looking for an excuse for him to wait on me. Our surgeon, Dr. Smith, told me I must move to an area in our quarters reserved for our sick. There are now quite a few of our number in the same condition. He told me the Burford’s surgeon will be inspecting us in two days and if I am not on the mend I may be sent on shore to the Royal Hospital. My friend Joseph Shillaber, a Portsmouth man, has loaned me his blanket to help relieve my chills.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

March 9. 1777
News has reached us that Mill Gaol located between Plymouth and Dock is being specially prepared for our occupation by the Commissioners for Sick and Hurt Seamen. We are told this prison has been in use off and on for nearly 100 years as a place of internment for prisoners of war.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

March 8. 1777
Nothing exceptional today. The weather has been mild the past two days. The Captain continues to employ us at various tasks as he continues to be short of his own crew. Several of us have been busy at reworking some rigging. Others of our number are at work fashioning boxes and chests for the Master at Arms.

We hear that the Dolton was condemned and sold to be pressed into service as a privateer for the British. This is an unfortunate turn of fate for her and for us. The Somerset, 74 guns, has sailed for the America station. We saw her run down the Sound the day before yesterday while we were about our tasks on deck. There is more activity in this harbor than I ever did witness anywhere on the North American coast.

Prayers were read by the Captain on board ship last Sunday and our people were allowed to attend. I have not been a regular attender of church since I was a boy and was forced by my mother to go. Sitting for hours in my father’s pew caused me great distress as I found it impossible to sit still. However in the present circumstances I find great comfort in hearing the gospel and I will make a bargain with the Lord to become a regular attender should I ever find myself a free man at home again.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Feb 27. 1777
Capt. Bowyer asked for volunteers from our company to assist getting the guns from the Boyne on board the Burford. The Boyne returned to Plymouth last night having lost one of her masts in a storm. The Burford is short of hands so those of us who were well enough were pleased to assist in this request. With my experience as a mattross moving guns about at Fort Washington I was given charge of a gang of men to rig and haul up the guns into the Burford which took most of the day. It is a relief to perform some physical labor, even in the service of the King. Extra rations were the reward for our effort.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Feb 26. 1777
A newspaper provided to us by a friend was discreetly circulated amongst us today. In it we read that Parliament has passed a motion by 112 to 35 declaring us guilty of high treason. We are to be committed to prison without bail until January 1, 1778 at which time we we shall be put on trial. It is three months since we sailed from Portsmouth and if all had gone according to plan we should be soon returning to that port with full pockets and resting again in our own beds. Instead, we are condemned to wait for nearly a year before we face trial and then likely the end of a noose. Without my liberty I can do nothing for my family or for my country in this position and shall take any opportunity to make my escape before I face trial.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Feb 24. 1777
The Master at Arms of this Ship, Mr. Holland, informs us that one of our crew, Ebenezer Hunt of Newburyport, died four days ago of fever at the Royal Hospital. This was a severe blow to his Newbury friends. Given the present state of our people I fear he will not be the last of our number to succomb on these shores.

Feb 21. 1777
The Raisonable dropped down from the dock to her moorings today in preparation for sailing. Viewed from this vantage she is a handsome ship but after passing through her her bowels for so long with such ill treatment I can only hope she and her commander will rot in hell.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Feb 19. 1777
In the past two days Capt. Bowyer fulfilled his promise and has provided our company with clothing and bedding. Some of our number were nearly naked and this will ease their discomfort. We were told to throw our old clothes overboard in an attempt to rid us of the vermin that plague us all. The bedding is a relief to us after sleeping on bare boards and cables for the previous two months. Today the first lieutenant of the ship confirmed to us that Capt. Bowyer acquired these items at his own expense. His Christian charity will not soon be forgotten.

Doctor Smith the Dolton's surgeon is kept busy all day tending to our sick which grows in number despite our improved conditions. Other than a cold I have been remarkably healthy and now assist him where I can. The Burford's surgeon visits us every few days to examine our health and consults with Dr Smith.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Feb 15. 1777
A number of our men are sent on shore to the Royal Hospital by order of Capt. Bowyer. Some are gravely ill. Mr. Cutler is keeping a record of men sent and allowed me to take down his list.

Thos. Bayley Newburyport
Nath'l Bayley Newburyport
Eben'r Hunt Newburyport
Will Horner Ireland
Jos. Clark Boston
Dan'l Lane New Gloucester
Dan'l Cottle Newburyport
Rueben Tucker Newburyport
Jona. Whitmore Newburyport

Some of these are the agitators that have caused trouble since we sailed from Portsmouth.

Also this day sailed the Boyne 74, Torbay 74, Alboine 74, Bellisle 64 and Thetis 32 on a cruise.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Feb 13. 1777
We are moved from the Torbay to the Burford, 70 guns, Capt. George Bowyer. also laying at moorings at Homoaz. Capt. Bowyer shows us much consideration in comparison to our previous circumstances. He is greatly surprised to learn of our earlier treatment by Capt. Fitzherbert and promises us better conditions and has ordered bedding and clothing for all of our people who are in need. Mr. Cutler our ship's clerk believes these items are ordered at Capt. Bowyer's own expense. We are very greatful for his compassion. We are also allowed much more space to move about on the Burford than our little pen on the Torbay as there are only a few officers and crew on board at present.

Monday, February 27, 2006


Feb 12. 1777
This day our captors brought a newspaper telling of a bill presented before parliament by Lord Germain on Feb 6th.

A Bill to empower his Majesty to secure and detain Persons charged with, or suspected of, the Crime of High Treason committed to North America, or on the High Seas, or the Crime of Piracy.

One of the Torbay’s officers explained to us that we are considered to be pirates and this act will authorize the King to detain us indefinitely without need of trial. We will not be offered the same consideration as common English thieves.

Many of our people are now very sick. There has been snow these past few days and we find our pen is continually wet and cold. Most of us have no blankets or coats to keep warm.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Feb. 7 1777
Today we are moved from the Bellisle to the Torbay, 74 guns, Capt. St. Johns Esq. We are told the Bellisle will be sailing very soon. We are moved by boat to the Torbay which is laying at her moorings at Hamoaz. We dropped south from Plymouth Harbor into Plymouth Sound coming round past the Citadel to our starboard side, running west past an area called the Hoe and Millbay also on our starboard side and coming round to the north to enter Hamoaz where lies many of His Majesties naval ships. Plymouth Dock is a large port town that resides on the slopes running down to Hamoaz. The crew of the Torbay tell us Plymouth Dock provides much of the services needed by the Navy for provisioning and maintaining the fleet. When viewing the might of the King’s navy sitting at anchor here I wonder that America should ever survive this war.

We are confined in an area between decks that has been constructed in a manner like a sheep pen. Apparently they miscalculated the size necessary for there is not enough room for all of us to lay out straight to sleep. We ought to be thankful for the presence of two ports that allow in fresh air, but thankfullness is not in our hearts. We are hearing rumors that prisons on shore are being repaired to accept the many American sailors that are being captured and that a number of other Americans are held captive on other ships here at Plymouth and the number is growing everyday.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Feb. 6 1777
We learn today that we are not the only people held against our will aboard this ship. The press gangs have brought 100 unwilling volunteers from the local district to serve in the King’s Navy on the Bellisle. Some of them look to be picked up from the local ale houses, others look like poor farmers plucked directly from their fields. Althogether they make a sorry picture and can only be rated as landsmen at best. Before coming here we had no idea that England had such trouble recruiting sailors for their Navy. There is rumor floating among our people that we also shall be pressed into the British Navy. Some of our people express an interest in this possibility if it is offered rather than await an uncertain fate and possible execution. These are mostly men who were born in the old country or some of our more impatient boys and young men. We find many Colonials serving the King, having been pressed into service when taken from American merchant ships. I myself could not abide serving in the British Navy against my own country and would sooner face the gallows.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Feb. 5 1777
Today is payday for the Bellisle crew. They are not allowed on shore for fear that many will desert once they reach Plymouth. In consequence Captain Brooks has allowed a great market to be held on board ship today. Many local merchants have come out by boat carrying goods and food such as fresh roasted mutton, beef, chicken, bread and drink. Groups of us are sent on deck to take air as usual but we are not allowed to purchase goods at the market, and most of us could not for lack of money. We are confined to the after part of the quarterdeck. Some generous sailors give donations of food which are much appreciated but not nearly enough to fill the holes in our stomachs, a result of partial rations of ships food for more than one month. Along with the merchants have come wives and friends of the crew. It has become a regular party above and below decks. There are also many women from the local brothels dressed in bright colors and painted faces come on board to sell their wares. We are much the spectacle to these people from town; dirty, unshaven Colonials, our clothes are ragged and some of us now half naked. Despite our lowly state some of these women try to offer us their services but are put off by the sentries. This display shocks the pious sensibilities of some of our younger New England men and boys, although there are not a few of our people who would accept these offers but for the restraint of the sentries and want of a shilling in their pocket.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Feb 1. 1777
Nothing exceptional today. Thick weather, blustery and cold with rain showers. Until this day the weather has been unseasonably warm compared to our New England winter. I cannot account for the weather being so warm in this more northerly latitude. I imagine the snow is drifted against the back of my house in Kittery now. It is near to maple sugar season, the sap will be running soon in the trees up the hill behind my house.

The cable tier offers us little room to move about. The air remains foul. I am not used to this inaction and I can do nothing to relieve this situation. For the first time in my life I find I am not my own master. We are each greatly infested with lice and many suffer from the itch. All of us are quite bored and dull now. In the dim light we cannot easily read. I have just enough light to scratch out these notes. One of our few amusements is to tell stories and tall tales.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Jan 30. 1777
This day Capt. Brown of the Sloop Charming Sally, of New Haven was brought to this ship with several others. They inform us that they were taken by the None-Such, 64 guns, Capt. Griffis after a chase of nearly six hours. They sailed from Martha’s Vineyard on November 27th. 1776, and Dartmouth on November 28th with a crew of 70. The Charming Sally had more success than the Dolton having made prizes of the Schooner Betsy and the Brig Hannah before striking to the None-Such on January 19th. Most of their crew was moved to the None-Such while the Charming Sally was manned by 30 English hands. They arrived at Plymouth on January 20th. They have met with rather better usage than we since their capture, being allowed a full ration of food and retention of their clothing and personal belongings. We asked them for news of home but they were at sea as long as we and could offer us nothing new. After captivity of more than one month it is good to see some other Americans. By comparison the Dolton’s crew now appears more more ragged than these new faces. Our people are becoming sickly, many with colds and coughs. Even our trouble makers are laid low and quiet. Some of our men begin to trade clothing for extra rations.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Jan 19. 1777
This day we are moved from the Raisonable to the Bellisle, Capt. Brooks, 64 guns. We find a little better treatment here than on the Raisonable. We remain quartered in the cable tier of this ship but we are provided boards to lie on. We were moved between ships on boats in groups of 12 guarded by armed marines. During our move between ships I had opportunity to survey our surroundings. Our temporary prison ships lay at moorings in Plymouth Harbor. Plymouth Town lays to the north with a citadel protecting the harbor laying to our west. Plymouth Sound lays to our south with the English Channel beyond. This harbor is quite active. There are a number of ships at anchor in this harbor, many of them warships making preparations to sail. Yesterday was the Queen’s birthday and these ships saluted her with a 21 gun salute. Never did I think that I would see England.

Monday, February 20, 2006


Jan 16. 1777
Yesterday our officers were brought back on board the Raisonable after questioning by the British. Rumors circulate every day that we soon will be tried and hanged for treason but we know nothing about the truth of these rumors. We have not yet been able to speak to our officers to learn what they know about our fate. Troubling news also arrived yesterday that Fort Washington on the Hudson River north of New York was taken with the loss of many Americans. Although we are not allowed newspapers our captors were happy to share this news with us. This is a blow for our American cause and drives our spirits to new depths.

I lament our present situation and the circumstances that have brought us here. We were certain that our captain’s plan would work to our advantage and put us in a better situation upon return to our homes. It seemed a better choice than sitting at the coastal defensive works at Kittery Point or Pierce’s Island as I had done these past months since the war started with the only the tide to watch and no hope of inflicting any real damage on the British from that vantage. I reflect on the choices that have brought me here and I cannot but think there was very little other option. I could not support my family on my meager militia pay and I am a sailor not a soldier ny trade and by nature.

My thoughts often return to Rebecca and our children including my youngest child Jacob whom I have hardly seen since his birth last year. I worry about their welfare yet Rebecca is strong in spirit and our family and friends will help to support her. I wish to send word to her that we are still alive but we are not afforded this luxury by the British. I will make every attempt to do so if there is opportunity.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Jan 15. 1777
We are now held captive on board HMS Raisonable, 64 guns, Capt. Fitzherbert at Plymouth England. We are poorly treated, most of us having been turned down into the cable tier since our capture on Dec. 24th. The weather is continued warm and the air here is stifling and nearly unbearable with stench from the ship’s cables and the close confinement of our people for three weeks. We are forced to lie directly on the bare cables making a very uncomfortable bed. We are allowed but a short period of time each day to take fresh air on the quarter deck. There are several sentinels that watch over us every watch. Our food rations have been very meager and we are become weak for lack of nourishment. I have been unable to write since our capture until this day when some of our people obtained pen, ink and paper from one of the Raisonable’s crew that showed some compassion for us. This compassionate treatment is unusual. All of our belongings but what we had on our persons when captured has been stolen from us contrary to the promises made to us by Captain Fitzherert at the time the Dolton was taken.

We were taken on Dec. 24th at about 10 P.M. The Raisonable had been in chase since early afternoon. After evening fell it was clear we had little hope for escape. The moon was near full and the weather clear. The Raisonable approached and fired a gun. She then spoke us warning that we should be sunk if we did not let her board us to check our papers. Their first lieutenant with a compliment of marines boarded the Dolton with swords drawn. He demanded of Captain Johnston to see the Dolton’s papers. They went to the Captain’s cabin for some time and when they came out the Raisonable’s lieutenant declared that we were American pirates, traitors to the crown and should be taken immediately into custody despite the letter of marque issued by the Honorable Continental Congress. Several boats from the Raisonable were employed to take us off the Dolton and bring an English crew to man the Dolton. We had no time to collect our personal possessions and were assured they would be returned to us once on board.

Charles Herbert, one of our young Newbury men reported the Raisonable crew informed him we had missed by one day the opportunity to approach a poorly protected convoy of English transports bound for America. If we had sailed from Portsmouth on our originally appointed day we should have had our pick of prizes. But we were delayed by the misconduct of the gang from Newburyport. Instead we are now held prisoner and we know not when or if we shall ever see our families and home again.

Dolton taken by HMS Raisonnable

Friday, February 17, 2006


Dec 24. 1776Today we are near our planned cruising station being about 300 miles west of Cape Finistre. Weather fair, continued warm with light breezes from the south. At about 2 o’clock in the afternoon our lookout at the masthead spied a large 3 masted ship to the south, on a northerly course. At the first we could not make out whether she was a merchantman or a man o’ war. After a short while she altered course in our direction. We soon ascertained that she was a man ‘o war and had taken up chase after us. We have been running all afternoon to the N.W. but she continues to gain on us having significant advantage in sail in these light breezes. Our prospects are growing dim as there is no sign of a change in weather. Also to our disadvantage is a near full moon this evening. Captain Johnston ordered that we all eat a good meal for supper as we know not when we will have opportunity again. We are about to be beat to quarters and I will take up station with my crew at the great gun. Captain Johnston has been in the maintop with his glass and informs us the ship is a 2 decker warship showing the British ensign. . Unless Providence sees fit to intercede in our behalf I fear we shall be captured or dead by morning.