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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.