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H.M.S. Prison Ship "Jersey"



Anne Marie Black Ryan Page:

The Prison Ships were a hell on earth!

To be held prisoner on a British ship, on your own American coast by a British Government.

The seamen were forced to join the British Forces and fight against there own families in their own

Back yards or be placed on the Prison Ships.

Ships captured at sea by the British and towed into Wallabout Bay, New York ,

where the Brooklyn Navy Yards now stand.

The H.M.S. Jersey was the most infamous of the prison ships.

The American soldiers were held captive until their release or death.

Conditions were inhuman to say the least, most died from malnutrition and disease.

Their bodies were dropped overboard into the sea, by the thousands.

The Revolutionary Mariners and Privateers

were a large part of the war and should not be forgotten.


American Prisoners of the Revolution "JERSEY" by Danske Dandridge
Have book and will do lookups.


Poem written in 1809 by Joel Barlow:

Published in the Columbaid page 368:

No. 37 Book 6 Line 35


See the black Prison Ship's expanding womb

Impested thousands, quick and dead, entomb.


Poem by Philip Freneau 1752-1832

Written in 1781.

"The British Prison Ship"

The various horrors of these hulks to tell, These Prison Ships were pain and horror

dwell, Where death in tenfold vengeance holds his reign, And injur'd ghosts, yet

unaveng'd, complain; This be my talk--ungenerous Britons, you Conspire to murder

those you can't subdue.


The Long Island Historical Society Markers and Monuments

In Fort Greene Park is the tomb and monument dedicated to the martyrs of the prison ships anchored in Wallabout Bay during the Revolution 1776 to 1783. From the plaza entrance on Myrtle Avenue and St.

Edwards Street a broad flight of steps leads up to the monument. In the center of the steps is the entrance to the tomb in which the remains of the martyrs were placed in 1873. This vault replaced is on Hudson

Avenue just outside the Navy Yard wall, where the remains were originally placed with ceremonies on May 26, 1808. The monument is a tall granite column designed by Stanford White and erected in 1908.

It was dedicated on November 14, 1908, by President Taft to the Unknown Dead.

Two bronze cannon dating from the Civil War are placed at the top of the steps and the plaza surrounding

the shaft is decorated with corner posts of granite with bronze eagles made by A. A. Weinman.




From the Revolution A History of Continental Marines in the American Revolution 1775 - 1783

By Charles R. Smith Charleston, 1780.

The frigate Confederacy was taken over off the Delaware Capes by the British Orpheus and the Roebuck.

The Confederacy submitted without a chance to the British colors.

The British frigates then triumphantly towed the captured American into New York where she was later

taken into the Royal Navy under a slightly altered name the Confederate.

Her Captain Harding and Marine Lieutenant Samuel Holt were paroled and send to New London in a cartel. The crew was confined on the Jersey prison ship until exchanged or released.


The frigate Trumbull also off the Delaware Capes ran into trouble with squally weather, the foretopmast and the maintopmast were swept off, forcing the ship to leave the rest of her fleet behind. She was then taken over by the British frigate Iris, formerly the American frigate Hancock, she was towed into New York and left to rot. As in the case of the Confederacy, the officers and the men of the Trumbull were either paroled or confined on the Jersey prison ship where they languished until they were either released by their captors or died.


From the Rebels Under Sail The American Navy during the Revolution

By William M. Fowler, Jr. In the Forecastle.

In the fall of 1776 the British began to hold prisoners in Wallabout Bay.

In April 1778 the most infamous of the death fleet the Jersey was brought to shore.

The Jersey was a former sixty four gun ship built in 1736.

Americans also had prison ships at the mouth of the Thames River in New London.

The American prison ships were small sized and one of them was named Retaliation.


From the Ships and Seamen of the American Revolution

By Jack Coggins

The ship Protector was taken over by British frigates and some of its crew members were sent to the Jersey.

Also in the Wallabout Bay other prison ships were afloat; Whitby, Scorpion, Prince of Wales,

John, Stromboli, Good Hope, Falmouth and the Hunter.

The British had other prisons also; The Mill Prison at Plymouth, Forton Prison at Portsmouth,

Halifax Prison at Nova Scotia and the Antiqua in the West Indies.


From the Ships of the World An Historical Encyclopedia

By Lincoln P. Payne

The HMS Jersey was built in Devonport Dockyard, Plymouth England 1736.

The Jersey's first encounter was in October of 1739 at the War of Jenkins Ear .

Her next encounter was in the Seven Year War, the French and Indian War.

In March of 1771 the Jersey was dismantled. She was officially classed as a

Hospital Ship. During the Revolution she was used a Prison Ship for captured

Continental Army Soldiers. The British surrendered at Yorktown in September of

1783 and two months later the British evacuated New York and the Jersey was abandoned.



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