10 facts about prison ships

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10 facts about prison ships

The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn: An Untold Story of the American Revolution by Robert P. Watson

The most horrific struggle of the American Revolution occurred just 100 yards off New York, where more men died aboard a rotting prison ship than were lost to combat during the entirety of the war.

Moored off the coast of Brooklyn until the end of the war, the derelict ship, the HMS Jersey, was a living hell for thousands of Americans either captured by the British or accused of disloyalty. Crammed below deck--a shocking one thousand at a time--without light or fresh air, the prisoners were scarcely fed food and water. Disease ran rampant and human waste fouled the air as prisoners suffered mightily at the hands of brutal British and Hessian guards. Throughout the colonies, the mere mention of the ship sparked fear and loathing of British troops. It also sparked a backlash of outrage as newspapers everywhere described the horrors onboard the ghostly ship. This shocking event, much like the better-known Boston Massacre before it, ended up rallying public support for the war.

Revealing for the first time hundreds of accounts culled from old newspapers, diaries, and military reports, award-winning historian Robert P. Watson follows the lives and ordeals of the ships few survivors to tell the astonishing story of the cursed ship that killed thousands of Americans and yet helped secure victory in the fight for independence.
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F'd Up Things About Prison Nobody Knows About - r/AskReddit

Launched as a gun sloop at Rotherhithe in , the ship served as a convict hulk from until scrapped in February Prison hulk HMS Success at Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. A prison ship, often more precisely described as a prison hulk, is a current or former seagoing .. In fact, the prison ships were largely moored off Upnor in the neighbouring.
Robert P. Watson

Prisons and Prison Ships

Guards posted on the Jersey shot prisoners when they tried to escape. This 18th-century British sea service musket was recently acquired by the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation for the Yorktown collection. Patriots taken as prisoners of war by the British Army in America often were confined aboard prison ships. Using ships as prisons was a common 18th-century British practice, since the Crown always seemed to have plenty of surplus naval vessels that could be converted to prisons cheaply and easily. The most notorious of the British prison ships in American waters was HMS Jersey , an obsolete British naval vessel that was used to confine thousands of American prisoners in New York harbor from to

An inevitable facet of warfare is prisoners. During the American Revolution, thousands of soldiers and sailors were captured by each side and the prisoners suffered in many ways. The impact of these captures extended far beyond immediate manpower concerns, compelling each side to confront unwanted, huge logistical considerations concerning their feeding, clothing, housing and guarding, as they also sought to exploit their use as human capital for bargaining purposes. For the lonely captured, they battled hunger, cold, illness and boredom, finding ways to mitigate their struggles by working, rioting and escaping. There are as many stories as there were prisoners, but some common factors affected most of them. Some were typical of the era while others were specific to this war which had many distinctive attributes that made the handling and fate of prisoners different than what either side was accustomed to.

From to , the British forces occupying New York City used abandoned or decommissioned warships anchored just offshore to hold those soldiers, sailors and private citizens they had captured in battle or arrested on land or at sea many for refusing to swear an oath of allegiance to the British Crown. Some 11, prisoners died aboard the prison ships over the course of the war, many from disease or malnutrition. In mid, in the early months of the Revolutionary War, the British government sent General William Howe to New York with some 34, troops and a large fleet. Howe was authorized to negotiate for peace with the Americans; when these negotiations failed, he invaded Long Island, soundly defeating the rebel forces of General George Washington on August Though Continental forces bounced back with victories at Trenton and Princeton that winter, the British would occupy New York for the remainder of the war, with their troops leaving only in November During their occupation, British forces captured or arrested thousands of soldiers and civilians, some after battles fought around New York and some for simply refusing to swear allegiance to the Crown. In addition, the Continental government had authorized a number of privately owned, armed ships to serve on behalf of the patriotic cause; some 55, American seamen would eventually serve as merchant marines or privateers.

Use these resources in the classroom

The lot of the Revolutionary War prisoner was hard, not solely because of deliberate policy, but also as neither the British nor the Americans were prepared in to take care of those they caught. Normal jail facilities soon were filled with political prisoners, both Whigs and Loyalists.

The aim of this lesson is to get students to engage with original documents relating to prison hulks. Students will look at various records relating to the year old James Butler and more generally in relation to the physical conditions on board. They will also form an appreciation of the conditions on board prison hulks and dispel the myth that women were not detained on hulks. After studying the documents the student task is to write a case study on James Butler. They can record their findings using the documents as a:. As part of the task, there are some further questions to prompt the students to consider the nature of the sources themselves and respond to a final question asking them to explain why life was so harsh onboard the hulks. This can be done in a number of ways depending on size of group, ability of pupils, and teacher preference, so here is one suggestion:.

In the outbreak of the American Revolution halted the transportation of felons to the colonies. Convicts awaiting transportation were put to hard labour on the shores of the Thames and stationed on floating prisons knows as hulks. Prison hulks were decommissioned warships, stripped of their masts, rigging and sails. The subject of my own doctoral research, hulks occupy an interesting position in the history of the nineteenth century British prison system. Hulks were moored up along the Thames and Medway estuaries, as well as at Portsmouth, Bermuda and Gibraltar. In these locations, the work of convicts increased the efficiency of dockyards. Yards were in a constant state of evolution and needed to keep up to date with the latest technologies, such as the advent of steam power and iron-hulled ships.

1 thoughts on “The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn: An Untold Story of the American Revolution by Robert P. Watson

  1. Source for information on Prisons and Prison Ships: Encyclopedia of the atrocities, and escapes, precise facts and accurate figures about prisoners during some seven thousand to ten thousand Americans died on these ships during the.

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