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Parsons, Samuel Holden (1737-1789) to Thomas Mumford

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00496.075.08 Author/Creator: Parsons, Samuel Holden (1737-1789) Place Written: Redding, Connecticut Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 25 April 1780 Pagination: 3 p. : address : docket ; 25 x 18 cm.

Summary of Content: Written by Parsons as a Major General in Continental Army to Thomas Mumford, a merchant from Groton, Connecticut. Mumford was also the brother-in-law of Parsons's staff officer Silas Deane. Tells Mumford his son was waiting at home after having escaped from a prison ship in New York Harbor. Mentions that he was grossly abused and "closely confined" on board. After 14 days of confinement he was liberated to the city by a Mr. Walter and just as he was about to board Joseph Chew's ship, which was to take him to New London, Connecticut, for a prisoner exchange, he was taken away and carried to another prisoner ship, the Russell. There the Commodore told him that Americans treated British prisoners harshly and that he planned to show no leniency. Parsons's son then told the Commodore that "all the Irons he or his Master could load him with should not deter him from doing his Duty & defending his Country." He was allowed on shore with Mr. Walter who vouched for him, but he had to report to the ship occasionally. Security was lax on shore and he was able to escape with the help of Whigs in New York and his Tory friends. After talking to his son Parsons says, "The Prisoners are treated in the most barbarous Manner four Hundred confind in a Ship not more than 200 Tons." Mentions that a Captain Bell was paroled and hopes Mumford can provide employment for him on one of his ships. Sends along speculation about troop and fleet movements.

Full Transcript: … he told the Commodore he had been in the Service of his Country since he was able to bear Arms, that he had ever treated Prisoners with Humanity which had ...fallen in his Way & that his Father had ever practic'd in the same Way. The Commodore told him we had conducted in the most inhuman Manner with our Prisoners and he was determined to shew no Lenity to any American who should fall into his Hands and that he should be put in [2] Irons & committed to close Custody; he replied that he believd we were able to put as many in Irons as they were, and all the Irons he or his Master could load him with should not deter him rom doing his Duty & defending his Country when he again should be at Liberty. he was again orderd on Shore & Mr Walter's Word taken for his Appearance next Day & so from Day to Day, until the Monday of last Week, when he was orderd on Board the next Day but no Security was taken from any Person, nor his own promise for abiding the order; and on Advice with the Whigs in New York & his Tory Friend there he found himself at Liberty …
[3] The prisoners are treated in the most barbarous Manner[.] four Hundred confind in a Ship not more than 200 Tons: Mr. Fosdick was well Cpt. Bell was parold to Jamaica - he will soon come Eastward & call on you in the mean Time I wish to know if any place presents for him in your Service - he says another Embarkation is taking place said to be for Quebeck but from circumstances he is inclind to believe they intend desultory Expeditions on the Coast[.] a Vessel arrivd [inserted: at New York in Eleven Days passage] from Savanna 14th of Apl. & ssays the Enemy had not possesd. themselves of Charlstown when she saild; this was all the publick news she brought, but it was whispered in the City that they had been in repuls'd with great Loss in two assaults on the Town: The Cork Fleet which have arrivd in S. Carolina & the Merchants who had gone with Goods to that Country, it is said were orderd to New York, which occasions Speculation & much Concern amongst our Tory Friend there
I am Dr Sr
yr. much obliged Friend & Sert.
Sam H. Parsons
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People: Parsons, Samuel Holden, 1737-1789
Mumford, Thomas, 1728-1799

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: Revolutionary WarContinental ArmyMilitary HistoryPrisoner of WarChildren and FamilyNavyPrison CampLoyalistWhigsAtrocityOffice SeekerMaritime

Sub Era: The War for Independence

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