Armbruster, Eugene L. The Wallabout Prison Ships, 1776-1783. (n.p., 1920 - modern publication by: Kessinger Legacy Reprints).
Bowman, Larry G. Captive Americans: Prisoners During the American Revolution. (Ohio University Press, 1976).
Burrows, Edwin G. Forgotten Patriots: The Untold Story of American Prisoners During the American Revolution. (Basic Books, 2008).
Dandridge, Danske. American Prisoners of the Revolution. (n.p., 1910 - modern publication by: Editora Griffo).
Dring, Thomas. edited by David Swain. Recollection of Life on the Prison Ship Jersey. (Westholme Publishing, 2010).
Lewis, James L. Neptune's Militia: The Frigate South Carolina during the American Revolution. (The Kent State University Press, 1999).
This information is meant to supplement the information in the first post pertaining to the prison "hulks" moored in Wallabout Bay, NY but, especially the prison "hulk" Jersey on board of which most of the prisoners-of-war from the captured crew and marines of the frigate South Carolina were incarcerated. The additional information concerning the various different prison "hulks" and hospital ships moored in Wallabout Bay, NY will be presented first. Afterwards, all the additional information concerning the prison "hulk" Jersey will be cited.
This information pertaining to the various different prison "hulks" and hospital ships in Wallabout Bay, NY primarily comes from Armbruster, The Wallabout Prison Ships, 1776-1783, pages 26-27 and is as follows:
Whitby - was moored near Remsen's Mill on the shores of Wallabout Bay, NY. According to Armbruster, The Wallabout Prison Ships, 1776-1783, page 26, she was the first prison ship to be stationed there in October 1776 and "...she is said to have been crowded, having 250 Prisoners aboard".
Prince of Wales - first stationed in the North River in January 1779 as a prison ship.
Kitty - was joined by another unnamed ship, both of "...which together took over prisoners from [the] Whitby." As earlier noted, the Kitty burned in mid-October 1777 and the other unnamed ship burned in 1778. According to Dandridge's work, American Prisoners of the Revolution, page 124, the following advertisement appeared in Gaine's periodical Mercury on July 1, 1780 - "For Sale. The remains of the hospital ship Kitty, as they now lie in the Wallebocht, with launch, anchors, and cables."
Good Hope - she had been lying in the North River as of October 1778. She was converted to a prison ship and, together with Prince of Wales, were stationed in the North River as prison ships in January 1779. According to Armbruster, The Wallabout Prison Ships, page 26, in August 1779, the "...sails and rigging of Good Hope were offered for sale; masts, spars and yards 'as good as new'." The Good Hope was moved to Wallabout Bay, NY in January 1780 where she burned on March 5, 1780. Again, according to Armbruster, The Wallabout Prison Ships, 1776-1783, page 26, states that "...the burnt hulk sank near what was known as Pinder's Island".
(Note: According to Armbruster, The Wallabout Prison Ships, 1776-1783, page 26, it states that after the burning of the Good Hope "...transports were lying near by and Prisoners were put aboard the Woodland, where they remained a short time , until the Strombolo and Scorpion were gotten ready". This is the only mention of the Woodland in terms of a prison ship and it is clear that this vessel was not designated as a prison ship/hospital ship but, it was actually a transport. Bowman's work, Captive Americans, page 42, cites the Woodlands, as a prison ship that served in Wallabout Bay, NY between 1776-1783. But, there is no mention of the Woodland in Burrows's work, Forgotten Patriots, as a prison ship/hospital at all. Thus, she was not indeed a prison ship/hospital ship per se but, only a secure place of convenience to place prisoners-of-war while new prison ships were being "hulked" and readied for their future charges. Thus, Bowman may have misidentified the Woodland/Woodlands as an actual prison ship and not as a transport which is what she may well have been at that time.)
(Note: Bowman's work, Captive Americans, page 42, cites the name of the receiving vessel mentioned above as the Woodlands. Armbruster's work, The Wallabout Prison Ships, 1776-1783, page 26, cites this same vessel as the Woodland. This is obviously the same vessel but, the question remains as to which is the correct spelling of the name of the vessel.)
Jersey - according to Armbruster, The Wallabout Prison Ships, 1776-1783, pages 26-27, in December 1778, the Jersey "...was lying at Franklin, near Tolmie's Dock, East River." She was first used as a prison ship while still in the East River in 1779. She was removed to Wallabout Bay, NY at the end of April 1780 and there used as the receiving ship for incoming prisoners. Initially, the Jersey had 400 prisoners-of-war on board of her but, this number rose to 1200 eventually.
Scorpion - originally, she was a sloop of 4 guns. She was employed as a prison ship and had a prisoner capacity of 120-300. According to Dandridge's work, American Prisoners of the Revolution, page 124, in Rivington's periodical Gazette at the end of 1780, there appeared this advertisement - "...the 'hulks' of his Majesty's sloops Scorpion and Hunter are advertised for sale. Also the Strombolo fire-ship, now lying in the North River. It appears, however, that there were no purchasers, and they remained unsold. They were still in use until the end of the year 1781."
Strombolo - originally, she was a fire ship. She was employed as a prison ship and had a prisoner capacity of 150-200. The information contained in the above entry for the Scorpion also pertains to the Strombolo.
Frederick, Perseverance, Bristol Packet - all three were hospital ships and had their "..hulls offered for sale..." in 1783.
Again, all of this is additional information concerning the earlier entries of these ship's data posted on "06/01/2015". Hopefully only new information has been cited here, though there may be some repetition of minor information.
An interesting fact that this writer has observed is that the list of prison ships as contained in Bowman's work, Captive Americans, page 42, differs from the citations of prison ships contained in Burrows's work, Forgotten Patriots, as well as the list contained in Armbruster's work, The Wallabout Prison Ships, 1776-1783, pages 26-27. Bowman, in his work, Captive Americans, page 42, cites that "...there is solid evidence of the existence of twenty-six ships which wee converted into prisons between 1776 and 1782." He then cites the names of twenty-five ships, one short of his stated number of prison ships in Wallabout Bay, NY. Yet, the same prison ships located in Wallabout Bay, NY cited by both Burrows's work, Forgotten Patriots, and Armbruster's work, The Wallabout Prison Ships, 1776-1783, pages 26-27, name many of the same vessels but, not all of them. The ships whose names are cited in Bowman's work but, not in Burrows's work or Armbruster's work are Glasgow, Preston, Lord Dunlace, Chatham, Woodlands, Scheldt, and Clyde. The answer to this dilemma may be resolved in the passage from Armbruster's work, The Wallabout Prison Ships, 1776-1783, page 26, in the entry for the burning of the Good Hope and cited in the note above. The passage states that "...transports were lying near by and Prisoners were put aboard the Woodland..." As cited in the note above, the Woodland was a transport ship and not a prison ship. She offered a convenient place of temporary incarceration for these prisoners-of-war until more permanent, Royal Navy accommodations could be found for them. Some of these other "...transports...lying near by..." could have been these same vessels named by Bowman on page 42 of his work, Captive Americans.
(Note: Likewise, in Bowman's work, Captive Americans, page 42, he cites twenty-six prison ships as being located at one point or another in Wallabout Bay, NY but, only lists the names of twenty-five of these ships. This could easily be an error on the author's part but, there may also be another explanation for this discrepancy. In Dandridge's work, American Prisoners of the Revolution, pages 188-189, is cited the account of one Alexander Coffin of whom already a great deal of information is contained in this blog. He is the very same Alexander Coffin who served as a midshipman on board the frigate South Carolina until she docked in the Havana "...in June, 1782..." at which time he was discharged from the ships' company. This date is erroneous because by June 1782, the frigate South Carolina was firmly moored in Philadelphia, PA. In any case, after leaving the frigate, Alexander Coffin signed onto several merchant vessels until one of these vessels was captured by the British frigate, HMS Ceres in September 1782. According to Dandridge's work, American Prisoners of the Revolution, page 189, Coffin states that "...we arrived about the beginning of October  in New York and were immediately sent on board the prison ship in a small schooner, called, ironically enough, the Relief, commanded by one Gardner, an Irishman." The vessel is identified as the schooner which "...plied between the prison ship [Jersey] and New York, and carried water and provisions from that city to the ship." It is possible that the "small schooner....the Relief..." may have been numbered among the prison fleet in New York City harbor and thus be Bowman's twenty-sixth prison ship in Wallabout Bay, NY.)
There is a bit of additional information concerning the naming of ships-of-war by the Royal Navy. According to Armbruster's work, The Wallabout Prison Ships, 1776-1783, page 25, "it was the custom to apply the old name to a new ship of the same class, if the older ship was lost to an enemy, by foundering, fire, or else was retired for any other reason". Several of the names of prison ships or hospital ships in Wallabout Bay, NY between 1776 and 1783 had predecessors in the Royal Navy. If the above statement is true, then we might be able to catch a glimpse of the size and previous naval function of the ships to which American prisoners-of-war were consigned in Wallabout Bay, NY. For instance, according to Armbruster's work, The Wallabout Prison Ships, page 26, in 1664, the Good Hope was built as a ship-of-war that "...carried thirty-four guns, when she was captured in that year by the Dutch, the same name was applied to a new vessel." The Hunter was built in 1660 as a single-masted sloop. The John was built in the same year, 1660, as a ketch, which was a heavily-built, two-masted vessel, with both masts being rigged fore-and-aft. Interestingly, this same source and page number cites that the Strombolo was built in 1696 but, there is no description of the vessel given. Again, according to Armbruster's work, The Wallabout Prison Ships,1776-1783, page 26, "taking it for granted that the ships found at the Wallabout between 1776 and 1783 were of the same class as the ships bearing the same names a century earlier, we have a base to work upon". This information, coupled with the cited prisoner capacities of the individual ships in Armbruster's work, The Wallabout Prison Ships, 1776-1783, pages 26-27, gives us some idea of the size of these ships which held the American prisoners-of-war. But, it must also be remembered that these ships were frequently very overcrowded with prisoners-of-war.
One final, brief, yet important, point should be made before concluding with the various other prison "hulks" and hospital ships that were stationed in Wallabout Bay, NY between 1776 and 1783. Several ships are named in all of these sources as having been assigned prison ship or hospital ship duty in Wallabout Bay, NY during the course of the American Revolution. But, never were all of them located there at the same period of time. As seen above, at least a few of them were offered for sale, mostly unsuccessfully. Others may well have been broken up for the good wood that was still incorporated in them. At least one of them, the Jersey, as we will see later, was simply abandoned there in Wallabout Bay, NY and allowed to finally break up and sink. But, according to Armbruster's work, The Wallabout Prison Ships, 1776-1783, page 25, "...there were never more than five ships stationed at the Wallabout at one time, including the receiving ship Jersey".
This brings us to the final topic of this specific post - the ultimate fate of the prison ship Jersey. This topic was tentatively addressed in the earlier post dated "06/01/2015". But, definitive evidence has been located as to what exactly happened to the prison ship that has become the defining point of human misery and degradation during the American Revolution. The earlier post cites that in 1902, the remains of the prison ship Jersey were located by work crews while they were working to deepen the floor of Brooklyn Navy Yard, which is located in what used to be Wallabout Bay, NY. Thus, there was the conjecture that she must have been left behind by the evacuating British forces. According to Dandridge's work, American Prisoners of the Revolution, page 177, cites the individuals by name who commanded her "...until the 9th of April, 1783, when all the prisoners remaining in her were released, and she was abandoned. The dread of contagion kept visitors aloof. She was still moored in the mud of the Wallabout by chain cables, and gradually sank lower and lower. There is a beam of her preserved as a curiosity at the Naval Museum at Brooklyn." Almost an exact recitation is contained in Thomas Dring's memoir, Recollections of Life on Board the Prison Ship Jersey, page 122, which cites that "I cannot drop the subject, however, without a few further remarks up, on the final destiny of the old Jersey after the peace of 1783. At the expiration of the war, when the American remnant of prisoners was set at liberty or released from their confinement, the hulk was totally abandoned and then considered of no use, and the well known infection, which they knew adhered to her putrefied ribs, struck our former foes with dread. None was willing even to approach her, and she was abandoned entirely to the rats and vermin within her putrefied bowels filled with pestilential air, and [she was] avoided as a pestilence by the passers by. While the worms were doing their duty upon her disgraceful bottom, diligently at work as if conscious of the stain she had brought upon the British nation and even on common humanity itself, they soon accomplished this desirable event, and [with] the water flowing into her putrefied bowels, she sank at the Wallabout into her watery elements, and the eye was relieved from the sight of this disgusting object. Yet a part of her remains are yet to be seen at low tide, [which] leaves a testimony of the event..." According to Dandridge's work, American Prisoners of the Revolution, pages 150-151, an oration was being delivered by Johnathan Russel in Providence, RI, on July 4, 1800. In the course of the oration, mention was made of the prison ship Jersey - "on board one only of these Prison ships above 11,000 of our brave countrymen are said to have perished. She was called the Jersey. Her wreck still remains, and at low ebb, presents to the world its accursed and blighted fragments. Twice in twenty-four hours the winds of Heaven sigh through it, and repeat the groans of our expiring countrymen; and twice the ocean hides in her bosom those deadly and polluted ruins, which all her waters cannot purify." Perhaps the most fitting benediction for the prison ship Jersey is cited in Dandridge's work, American Prisoners of the Revolution, page 150, when it states that "...she remained at Wallabout Bay, until she was abandoned at the close of the war, to her fate, which was to rot in the mud at her moorings, until, she sank, and for many years her wretched worm-eaten old hulk could been seen at low tide, shunned by all, a sorry spectacle, the ghost of what had once been a gallant man-of-war." Thus, ended the prison ship Jersey, moored in Wallabout Bay, NY. Fin.
There are two interesting historical "tidbits" of information that the writer of this blog feels should be shared if the story of the prison ships of Wallabout Bay, NY is to be complete. So, these two vignettes will serve as a final statement on a subject which is completely forgotten in the American public mind today. I am sure that New Yorkers have most probably heard of Brooklyn Navy Yard but, how many of them know its earlier name, Wallabout Bay? How many know of the prison ships that were moored in her quiet waters and carried such a fearsome reputation among American patriots? And, do bones still wash up on the shores surrounding the Brooklyn Navy Yard after a storm, age-old bones of men who perished there more than 225 years ago, there in that very bay? Now, for the two vignettes -
First, only one man of the captured crew and marines of the frigate South Carolina ever claimed to have escaped from the prison "hulk" Jersey. His name was William McMurray. According to Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, page 203, n. 27, it cites that "the only prisoner from the South Carolina claiming to have escaped Old Jersey is William McMurray, who said he did so in March 1783, just weeks before he would have been released." Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, the section entitled "Appendix: Crew and Marines of the South Carolina", pages 135-170, give no indication as to the "position" William McMurray held on board the frigate South Carolina. William McMurray's name appears on page 157 of the "Appendix" but, no "position" is listed next to his entry. He appears to have filed no claim against the state of South Carolina for services rendered during the American Revolution. His pension application, "Pension Application Of William McMurray S41862" is brief and to the point but, crammed with all kinds of action at crucial locations during the American Revolution. Like Isaac Dade and Robert Faucett, William McMurray also served at the battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777, and, like Robert Faucett, was also at the battle of Germantown on October 4, 1777. He survived the Paoli Massacre on the night of September 21, 1777 and escaped though wounded in the encounter. He was honorably discharged at Valley Forge in June 1778. He did indeed have extensive service in the Pennsylvania Line before signing on board the frigate South Carolina. As to the escape from the prison ship Jersey he states in his pension application that after the capture of the frigate South Carolina, "...he was taken from this Vessel, put into a Prison Ship at New York confined for 3 months, suffering many and great hardships until he effected his escape by stratagem --" The last sight we catch of William McMurray was when he filed his pension application in Jefferson County, Ohio on April 28, 1818 at the age of 65 years old. He truly lived an eventful life.
(Note: According to Revill's work, Copy of the Original Index Book, page 234, a "William McMurray" does appear as having filed a claim against the state of South Carolina for services rendered during the American Revolution. His stub indent entry is cited as being among those in "Return Number 12". But, without further research, there is no way of knowing if this is the same William McMurray who served on board the frigate South Carolina and claims to have escaped from the prison ship Jersey in March 1783.)
The second bit of historical information is very curious in nature. As cited in the post dated "06/01/2015" and within this post, the first ship to be stationed in Wallabout Bay, NY as a prison ship was the Whitby. According to Burrows's work, Forgotten Patriots, page 52, near the end of October, 1776, the Whitby was moved "...to a new anchorage in Wallabout Bay on the Brooklyn side of the East River. There she was reduced to a hulk by the systematic removal of her ordinance, masts, rigging, and other reusable equipment." Other sources cite that one of those pieces of "reusable equipment" frequently was the rudder. This all took place shortly before the end of the year 1776. Yet, according to Robert S. Davis's work, Georgia Citizens and Soldiers of the American Revolution, (Southern Historical Press, 1979) there may be more to the continuing story of the prison ship Whitby.
In the early 1780s, two depositions were sworn to and filed in the office of the County General Auditor, John Wilkinson, state of Georgia. The first one chronologically was that of Edward Davies sworn on November 9, 1782 in Savannah, GA before David Montaigut, Justice of the Peace. The second was that of John Lindsay sworn on July 25, 1783 in Richmond County, GA before Zachary Fenn, Justice of the Peace. Both of these sworn statements indicate quite clearly that each of these subjects were prisoners on board "...the prison ship Whitby...at Cockspur..." John Lindsay states that he was a prisoner-of-war beginning on December 29, 1778 and Edward Davies states that he was a prisoner-of-war from December 30, 1778 to March 18, 1779, both imprisoned on board the prison ship Whitby, moored in the Savannah River at Cockspur.
Was this the very same Whitby that had been the very first prison ship to be moored in Wallabout Bay, NY? It does seem unlikely. If one refers to the Burrows's work, Forgotten Patriots, page 52, the process of "hulking" the vessel would have rendered it unseaworthy. But, could it have been towed from New York City harbor to Savannah, GA and moored in the river there? If the Whitby had her rudder removed as a part of the "hulking" of her in New York City harbor, would she still be capable of being towed that kind of distance? Yet, is it not interesting that both of these ships named the Whitby were both utilized as prison ships, one in Wallabout Bay, NY and the other in the Savannah River at Cockspur? Further research may well reveal the true extent of the story. If this research illuminates any part of this saga, it will be noted in this blog.