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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.