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Thrilling Incidents In American History

• Title
• Preface

Revolutionary War
• Opening Of The Revolution
• The Boston Massacre
• Affair of the Sloop Liberty
• Affair of the Gaspee
• The Tea Riot
• The Boston Port Bill
• The First Continental Congress-Consequent Parliamentary proceedings
• Organization of the Minute-Men
• Patrick Henry-Second Provincial Congress-First Military Enterprise
• Battles of Lexington and Concord
• Battle of Bunker's Hill
• Capture of Ticonderoga
• Second Continental Congress-Washington's Appointment
• Siege of Boston
• Incidents at the Evacuation of Boston
• Burning of Falmouth
• Arnold's Expedition to Quebec
• Siege of Quebec, and Death of Montgomery
• Scenes at Quebec during the Siege
• Expedition against Charleston
• The Declaration of Independence
• The Battle of Long Island
• Washington's Retreat through New Jersey-Capture of General Lee
• Battle of Trenton
• Battle of Princeton
• Capture of General Prescott
• Battle of Brandywine
• Battle of Germantown
• Battle of Red-Bank
• Attack on Fort Mifflin-Retirement of the Army to Valley Forge
• Battle of Bennington
• Murder of Miss M'Crea
• Battle of Stillwater
• Battle of Bemis' Heights, and Retreat of Burgoyne
• Capture of Forts Clinton and Montgomery
• Surrender of Burgoyne
• The Treaty with France
• Attack on Savannah, and Death of Pulaski
• Storming of Stony Point
• General Sullivan's Campaign against the Mohawks
• Tarleton's Quarters
• Battle of Camden, and Death of De Kalb
• Arnold's Treason
• The Loss of the Randolph
• The British Prison-Ships
• Capture of the Serapis
• Putnam's Feat at Horseneck
• Battle of Eutaw Springs
• Wayne's Charge at Green Spring
• Capture of the General Monk
• The Mutinies
• Battle of the Cowpens
• Capture of New London
• Massacre of Wyoming
• Surrender of Cornwallis

War With France
• Capture of L'Insurgente
• The Constellation and Vengeance

War With Tripoli
• Burning of the Philadelphia
• Bombardment of Tripoli
• Loss of the Intrepid
• Expedition of General Eaton

Second War With England
• Battle of Tippecanoe
• Capture of the Guerriere
• Tragical Affair of an Indian Chief
• Battle and Massacre at the River Raisin
• Captain Holmes's Expedition
• Capture of the Caledonia and Detroit
• The Wasp and Frolic
• Gallant Conduct of Lieutenant Allen at the Capture of the Macedonian
• Capture and Destruction of the Java
• Siege of Fort Meigs
• Capture of York, and Death of General Pike
• Defence of Sackett's Harbour
• Defence of Fort Stephenson
• Battle of Lake Erie
• Battle of the Thames
• Gallant Action of Commodore Chauncey under the guns of Kingston Citadel
• The Sacking of Hampton
• Capture of the Peacock
• Massacre at Fort Mimms
• Surrender of Weatherford
• Battle of Niagara
• BattIe of New Orleans

War With Mexico
• Battle of Palo Alto
• Battle of Resaca de la Palma
• Capture of Monterey
• Battle in the Streets of Monterey
• Thrilling Scenes in the Battle of Buena Vista
• Bombardment of Vera Cruz
• Battle of Cerro Gordo
• Battles of Contreras and Churubusco
• Storming of Chapultepec


IN many instances during their wars with the United States, the British have behaved with a degree of cruelty and ferocity, which must ever stamp their character with a heartlessness, suitable only for the savage. This was the case, in an especial manner, during the revolutionary contest, when they considered themselves warring against rebel mobs, entitled to no respect and no quarter. Even when the stormy battle had rolled by, and the passions had had time to subside, the rancour of established malice broke forth upon the unfortunate ones, whom the vicissitudes of war had placed in their hands. In all countries and armies, prisoners of war have a just claim on the duties of humanity. From the moment of their capture, the sword should be sheathed; hostilities should cease. Being themselves disarmed, no arm can of right be lifted against them; but while they conduct themselves in a manner becoming their condition, they are entitled to lenient treatment, and every necessary comfort.

To obtain a correct idea of the situation of the prisoners in British ships, we must imagine them torn from home, from the felicity of health, comfort, and domestic enjoyment, in the very prime of life, and when the mind was buoyant with wild dreams of hope and ambition. They had gazed on the prospect of liberty, on the blessings it would bestow upon their trampled country, until the fervour of patriotism thrilled their bosoms; and they rushed to the battlefield in order to wrestle and suffer for the glorious treasure. They were the men who had sternly faced death at Lexington and Concord, and drove back the emissaries of oppression before their withering fire. But the price of victory was to be paid. They were captured, one by one, party by party, some at Boston, some at their homes, and others by the quiet roadside. They were eagerly seized by the minions of Britain, and hurried to General Howe, at New York. Here every sympathy turned from them. Friends who had smiled in happier hours now frowned with scornful vengeance; and a traitor's name, precursor of a traitor's fate, followed their weary journey. Without trial or hearing, they were packed in the holds of vessels, prisons of the vilest of the vile, of the felon and midnight assassin. The atmosphere of these awful abodes, thick and dark with stagnation, and blazing with the fires of dissolution, insinuated itself among the delicate textures of vitality, and at the first inspiration blasted health and spirits. Here, amid utter darkness, company after company of those brave young spirits, the unfortunate defenders of their country's liberty, were crowded, and the doors closed. Then arose a scene at which humanity shudders. Accustomed to active movements in the open air, some sank at once amid heaps of putrefaction, and expired. Others crowded and crushed toward the air-holes, withering their last energies in fruitless efforts. Some sat down and wept; while in another place a convict would smile in demoniac despair at the vain exertions which he himself had so often tested. In a few hours disease and fever commenced their work, and the sufferings were terrible beyond description. Here and there were wretches moaning for water, while shrieks, imprecations, and the howlings of agony, mingled in one frightful uproar. Amid the dead and dying, a few bowed down their heads and wept for home; and then that same deep meaning word of home came wildly out amid the ravings of the maniac. Hearts that had nerved up against all suffering until that word was pronounced, now were crushed and broken. Gradually they sank down, the dying and the dead together. In the last wild struggle with death, the groaning spirit prayed and agonized for one gasp of air, one ray of light. The wretch tossed and foamed amid putrid bodies, while suffocation stifled his utterance, and the fevered blood tore and rattled along his shattered lungs. Afar from this scene the cheering heavens were making to the giddy world the changes of night and day; but no night, no day visited the American sufferers. For seventy-five hours many lay in those charnel-houses amid every variety of misery, without having one drop of water or a particle of bread. In a few weeks fifteen hundred died. Their bodies were dragged from the ships, and placed in piles, each about large enough to fill a cart. One pile after another was dragged away, thrown into ditches, and covered with mud and offal. Over that grave no sister was present to weep, nor clergyman to dedicate the soul to heaven. Youth and manliness, and early pride, and the high throbbings of manhood's early dream, were there buried in disgrace, and buried for ever, because they had been devoted to freedom.

For want of opportunity, some of the prisoners were not treated quite so rigorously. There being a scarcity of prison-ships, these were placed in ruined churches, dilapidated dwellings, and open sugarhouses; where, in consequence of the deficiency of roofing, it Was impossible to deprive them of fresh air. Still, without fire, and almost without clothing, they were exposed to piercing cold, heavy rains, hunger and thirst. These bodily sufferings were augmented by the insult and tantalization of British officers, who pronounced them the just punishment of rebellion. These honourable assurances were seconded by the tories, whose common language was: "You ave not yet received all you deserve, nor half you shall receive; but if you will enlist in his majesty's service, you shall have victuals and clothing enough." In one instance, four wounded American officers of respectable rank were placed in a common cart, and paraded through the streets as objects of derision, amid the jeers of the beholders.

Such were the sufferings of the American captives in the commencement of the struggle for independence. Menaced by hostile armies, and threatened with the halter, they rose to maintain their rights. Citizens as they were, they commenced their preparation for a campaign on the battle-field; and, after rolling back the enemy, prepared to follow up their victory. When captured, they were offered life and affluence to forsake their cause; but scornfully refused, and marched to prison and slavery with proud independence. The sequel has been told. Now no monumental epitaph marks their graves, nor have even their names been handed to us. Yet with them were buried the hopes and happiness of families, the long-cherished expectations of parents and relatives; and their fearful sufferings have stamped their oppressors with everlasting infamy.