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Memoir, Correspondence, And Miscellanies, From The

Philip Dejean and William Lamothe


They

have seen that the conduct of the British officers, civil and military, has in the whole course of this war, been savage, and unprecedented among civilized nations; that our officers taken by them, have been confined in crowded jails, loathsome dungeons, and prison-ships, loaded with irons, supplied often with no food, generally with too little for the sustenance of nature, and that little sometimes unsound and unwholesome, whereby such numbers have perished, that captivity and death have with them been almost synonymous; that they have been transported beyond seas, where their fate is out of the reach of our inquiry, have been compelled to take arms against their country, and, by a refinement in cruelty, to become murderers of their own brethren.

Their prisoners with us have, on the other hand, been treated with humanity and moderation; they have been fed, on all occasions, with wholesome and plentiful food, suffered to go at large within extensive tracts of country, treated with liberal hospitality, permitted to live in the families of our citizens, to labor for themselves, to acquire and enjoy profits, and finally to participate of the principal benefits of society, privileged from all burdens.

Reviewing this contrast, which cannot be denied by our enemies themselves, in a single point, and which has now been kept up during four years of unremitting war, a term long enough to produce well-founded despair

that our moderation may ever lead them to the practice of humanity; called on by that justice we owe to those who are fighting the battles of our country, to deal out, at length, miseries to their enemies, measure for measure, and to distress the feelings of mankind by exhibiting to them spectacles of severe retaliation, where we had long and vainly endeavored to introduce an emulation in kindness; happily possessed, by the fortune of war, of some of those very individuals who, having distinguished themselves personally in this line of cruel conduct, are fit subjects to begin on, with the work of retaliation; this board has resolved to advise the Governor, that the said Henry Hamilton, Philip Dejean and William Lamothe, prisoners of war, be put into irons, confined in the dungeon of the public jail, debarred the use of pen, ink, and paper, and excluded all converse, except with their keeper. And the Governor orders accordingly.

Arch. Blair, C. C.

[NOTE B]--IN COUNCIL, September 29, 1779.

The board having been, at no time, unmindful of the circumstances attending the confinement of Lieutenant Governor Hamilton, Captain Lamothe, and Philip Dejean, which the personal cruelties of those men, as well as the general conduct of the enemy, had constrained them to advise: wishing, and willing to expect, that their sufferings may lead them to the practice of humanity, should any future turn of fortune, in their favor, submit to their discretion the fate of their fellow creatures; that it may prove an admonition to others, meditating like cruelties, not to rely for impunity in any circumstances of distance or present security; and that it may induce the enemy to reflect, what must be the painful consequences, should a continuation of the same conduct on their part impel us again to severities, while such multiplied subjects of retaliation are within our power: sensible that no impression can be made on the event of the war, by wreaking vengeance on miserable captives; that the great cause which has animated the two nations against each other, is not to be decided by unmanly cruelties on wretches, who have bowed their necks to the power of the victor, but by the exercise of honorable valor in the field: earnestly hoping that the enemy, viewing the subject in the same light, will be content to abide the event of that mode of decision, and spare us the pain of a second departure from kindness to our captives: confident that commiseration to our prisoners is the only possible motive, to which can be candidly ascribed, in the present actual circumstances of the war, the advice we are now about to give; the board does advise the Governor to send Lieutenant Governor Hamilton, Captain Lamothe, and Philip Dejean, to Hanover court house, there to remain at large, within certain reasonable limits, taking their parole in the usual manner. The Governor orders accordingly.


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