This specific post will address the commissioned officers, both naval and marine, who were captured along with the rest of the crew and marines of the frigate South Carolina and carried as prisoners-of-war into New York City on December 23-24, 1782. The 18th century was a time when the affairs of nations were directed by the "gentlemen" class of society. In the military, both the army and the navy, this also was the case. Men who were captured and of this status were considered "gentlemen" and were treated as such by their captors, even though they were officially "rebels". But, those of the NCO and enlisted ranks were considered representatives of the lower echelons of society and were also treated accordingly and with much more disdain and outright brutality by their captors. An officer's or "gentleman's" confinement might be tedious or boring but, for those of the non-commissioned or enlisted ranks, confinement could be deadly.
An excellent example of this situation is garnered from the source entitled Diary of a Common Soldier in the American Revolution, 1775-1783: An Annotated Edition of the Military Journal of Jeremiah Greenman, (Bray, Robert C. and Paul E. Bushnell, editors. Northern Illinois University Press, 1978). Jeremiah Greenman is a rather remarkable individual for at least two reasons, even though he has no connection with the frigate South Carolina. First, he served through out the entire course of the American Revolution - eight years! But, second, and more importantly for the purposes of this post, he enlisted as a private soldier in 1775 and concluded the war as an officer. He experienced captivity in both conditions - enlisted as well as commissioned and, again for our purposes, illustrates the dual nature of captivity and treatment by the enemy.
As a private with Colonel Benedict Arnold in 1775, he was one of those captured after the failed assault on Quebec, Canada on December 31, 1775. He noted that he and the rest of his detachment were imprisoned in a Jesuit seminary within the walls of Quebec. He states in his journal that "...hear we were very much crowded. No room for us to stur and very cold", (Bray and Bushnell, page 24). His journal goes on the speak of bad, spoiled food; overcrowding that often became more severe as new captives were added; lack of adequate clothing to protect them from the cold; lack of adequate bedding; fellow prisoners dying of wounds or sickness; and outbreaks of disease, especially smallpox. This is very common treatment for enlisted personnel and characterized the remainder of Greenman's captivity in 1776.
By five years later, Jeremiah Greenman had risen through the ranks to attain officer status. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant on May 14, 1781. That very day, Greenman and his guard at Pines Bridge were surprised by a body of cavalry and infantry of DeLancey's Corps of Refugees, a loyalist unit operating in Westchester County, and, being outnumbered, surrendered himself and his guard. The next day, May 15, 1781, he and his men were "...paraded & marched into New York - my Men all put into the Sugar House myself paroled to Mrs. Wheaton's in Clefts Street a house prepared for the reception of any Officer that might be made Prisoners 'till they got their parole", (Bray and Bushnell, page 208). The journal goes on to say that "...he soon discovered, New York was not Quebec, and a lieutenant was not a private: parole was soon granted, along with billeting privileges and the freedom of the Gravesend area of Long Island. This time he was in a prison without walls..." (Bray and Bushnell, page 201). He used terms like "sedenatary" and "tedious" to describe his parole while his men suffered in the land-locked hell of the Sugar House where conditions existed like those described at Quebec for Greenman's first imprisonment as a private soldier in the above paragraph. Greenman's captivity lasted until he was exchanged on October 24, 1781. He never experienced captivity again during the final two years of the American Revolution.
(Note: If Lieutenant Greenman's captivity had continued for slightly over another year before he was exchanged, he could have possibly met some of the paroled officers of the frigate South Carolina. But, he was released from his captivity almost fourteen months before the capture of the frigate South Carolina and her crew in late December 1782.)
Now, to return to the captive crew and marines of the frigate South Carolina, just arrived in New York City harbor on December 23-24, 1782. All the situations and information described in the above paragraphs concerning the two captivities of Jeremiah Greenman were played out with the same degree of sedentary tedium for the officers and almost hell-like conditions for the NCOs and enlisted men of the crew and marines of the frigate South Carolina. All of the former would experience parole and release back to American hands at the official end of hostilities in late 1783. Many, many of the later would only find their way to a shallow grave along the eroding shores of Wallabout Bay, NY.
(Note: The captive lists for each of the British men-of-war that brought prisoners from the captured frigate South Carolina into New York City harbor on December 23-24, 1782 are posted under the name of the British man-of-war on which they were transported to New York. The HMS Diomede captive list is posted on "03/24/2015". The HMS Quebec captive list is posted on "03/25/2015". The HMS Astrea captive list is posted on "03/26/2015". These lists contain all the prisoners-of-war transported on board the three British men-of-war.)
Indications are that all of the officers, both naval and marines, and, at least, some of the men designated as "gentleman" were paroled and experienced the same types of imprisonment that Jeremiah Greenman experienced once he had been promoted to officer status. In Middlebrook's work, The Frigate "South Carolina": A Famous Revolutionary War Ship (The Essex Institute, 1929), the captive lists appear for each of the British men-of-war that captured the frigate South Carolina on December 20, 1782 and carried her captive crew and marines into New York City harbor, arriving between December 23-24, 1782. These lists have special notations in the margins of each list disclosing what is known of each man's disposition after his arrival in the harbor. These special notations include evidence of the manner in which each officer was treated by the British. The dispositions of these individual officers are as follows:
The following officers, both naval and marine, as well as "gentlemen" were transported on board the HMS Diomede to New York City. According to records found in Middlebrook's work, The Frigate "South Carolina", the prisoners-of-war were all discharged on parole or into prison ships between December 26-31, 1782. The officers and "gentlemen" carried on board this British man-of-war were:
Nathaniel Marston 1st Lieutenant discharged December 29, 1782 on Long Island
John Blair midshipman --------------
B. S. Henry midshipman discharged December 28, 1782 on Long Island
Greenberry Hughes midshipman discharged December 28, 1782 on Long Island
John Henderson Lieutenant of Marines discharged December 28, 1782 on Long Island
John Stoy Volunteer, Lieutenant of Marines discharged December 28, 1782 on Long Island
Gustavus Henderson 2nd Surgeon discharged December 28, 1782 on Long Island
David Porter Purser discharged December 28, 1782 on Long Island
The above cited information indicates that all the officers and "gentlemen" of the frigate South Carolina who were carried into New York City as prisoners-of-war on board the HMS Diomede were discharged or paroled on Long Island on December 28, 1782 with one exception, that being Nathaniel Marston, 1st Lieutenant, who was paroled the next day, December 29, 1782, also on Long Island. The anomaly in this list is the disposal of John Blair, midshipman. His name is literally the last name on the list included in with a group of enlisted men who were assigned to a prison ship on December 26, 1782. But, John Blair was indeed a midshipman and would normally have been included with the rest of the officers in their disposal by the British.
The following officers, both naval and marine, as well as "gentlemen", were transported on board the HMS Quebec to New York City. According to records found in Middlebrook's work, The Frigate "South Carolina", the prisoners-of-war were all discharged or paroled between December 23-28, 1782. The officers and "gentlemen" carried on board this British man-of-war were:
John Joyner Captain, frigate South Carolina on parole December 28, 1782
Thomas White 1st Lieutenant on parole December 28, 1782
James Bennet midshipman on parole December 27, 1782
Samuel White midshipman on parole December 27, 1782
James Carpenter Lieutenant of Marines on parole December 27, 1782
Henry Roymer Lieutenant of Marines at Headquarters December 26, 1782
John Walters Lieutenant of Marines on parole December 27, 1782
James Johnson Secretary on parole December 27, 1782
The above cited information indicates that all of the officers and the single "gentleman" of the frigate South Carolina who were carried into New York City as prisoners-of-war on board the British man-of-war HMS Quebec were paroled on either December 27 or 28, 1782 with the single exception of Henry Roymer. As indicated in an earlier post dated "05/21/2015", some of the captured crew and marines of the frigate South Carolina were sent to headquarters. The vast majority of these were German-speaking Pennsylvanians who the enemy was either keen to recruit or wanted to investigate further in an effort to find out if these men had served earlier in either the British or Hessian forces in North America. It is completely feasible that Henry Roymer was one of these speakers of German and was under investigation by the British authorities as to why he spoke German.
The following officers, both naval and marine, as well as "gentlemen" were transported on board the HMS Astrea to New York City. According to records found in Middlebrook's work, The Frigate "South Carolina", the prisoners-of-war were all discharged or paroled on December 27, 1782. The HMS Astrea carried the fewest number of American prisoners-of-war, so this task could easily be accomplished in a single day. The officers and "gentlemen" carried on board this British man-of-war were:
Thomas Fitzgerald 3rd Lieutenant ------------------
Robert Coram 4th Lieutenant ------------------
John Blair midshipman ------------------
Augustus Brown midshipman -------------------
Gilbert Wall midshipman --------------------
Richard Wall midshipman ---------------------
William White landsman, midshipman ---------------------
William Thompson Lieutenant of Marines -----------------------
Patrick Duffy Volunteer ----------------------
Edward Scully Volunteer -----------------------
John Somervill Volunteer ------------------------
The glaring anomaly here is that none of the indicated officers or "gentlemen" have any information given as to how they were disposed of by the British authorities. Beside their names appears a bracket that is labelled "Discharged 27 Dec 1782 Prison Ship New York". This was a fate reserved for the lower ranks and not for officers and "gentlemen". Almost certainly, there is some sort of mistake here. Quite possibly, the secretary on board the HMS Astrea, for some unknown reason, was inaccurate or slovenly in recording his information as concerns the disposal of the prisoners-of-war on board his assigned vessel. It is possible that the "Gentlemen" volunteers may have been culled out and placed on board one of the prison "hulks" in Wallabout Bay, NY but, this would have certainly been a fate unusual and cruel for the other commissioned officers.
In none of the pension applications filed after the conclusion of the American Revolution nor in their individual citations contained in Moss's work, Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution, is incarceration by the British after the capture of the frigate even mentioned by any of these officers or "gentlemen" who served on board the frigate South Carolina. The exception to this is Richard Wall, midshipman on board the frigate South Carolina when she was captured on December 20, 1782. He was transported into New York City on board the HMS Astrea. After the end of the American Revolution, he would file a pension application, "Pension Application of Richard Wall S22032", on December 19, 1832. His pension application mentions that he had been imprisoned earlier by the British in Forton Prison in England while he was serving under John Paul Jones on board the Bon Homme Richard. He was in prison in England when the famous encounter between the Bon Homme Richard and the HMS Serapis took place. The citation for him in Moss's work, Roster, makes mention that "after being released, he became a midshipman on the frigate South Carolina and was captured when the ship was taken, but he was exchanged." The source for this citation is "McCrady, I, 219". His pension application only briefly cites the capture of the frigate South Carolina in stating that "after his discharge from prison [Forton Prison in England] the said Richard Wall entered on board the frigate South Carolina and served in the capacity of midshipman - until she was captured." Further on in his pension application, it mentions that "...he was exchanged in April 1783..." A number of these officers and "gentlemen" cited above are mentioned in citations in Moss's work, Roster, but, none of them mention their parole/incarceration on Long Island or in New York City after the capture of the frigate South Carolina.
This was the disposition of the officers and "gentlemen" of the captured frigate South Carolina when the three British men-of-war arrived in New York City harbor on December 23-24, 1782. Theirs' would be an incarceration characterized by boredom, sightseeing around New York and Long Island, reading, keeping their uniforms mended, and otherwise occupying themselves as best they could. They would eventually be exchanged or released at the end of the war. But, for their NCOs and enlisted ranks of the frigate South Carolina, survival itself was in question during their portion of incarceration with the British, as the next post should illustrate.