We fear this was a rose-colored view of the matter, though there is no doubt that our commissaries did what they could to alleviate the miseries of captivity. Onderdonk quotes from Gaine's Mercury an advertisement for nurses in the hospital, but it is undated. "Nurses wanted immediately to attend the prison hospitals in this city.
In Gaine's paper for August 4th, 1781, appears the following advertisement: "One Guinea Reward, ran away a black man named Richmond, being the common hangman, formerly the property of the rebel Colonel Patterson of Pa. "Wm. Cunningham." After nearly four weeks imprisonment the friends of Adrian Onderdonk procured his release.
The New Jersey Gazette of June 4th, 1780, says: "Thirty-five Americans, including five officers, made their escape from the prison ship at New York and got safely off." "For Sale. The remains of the hospital ship Kitty, as they now lie at the Wallebocht, with launch, anchors, and cables." Gaine's Mercury, July 1st, 1780. New Jersey Gazette, August 23, 1780.
Gaine's Mercury declares that "the Strombolo, from August 21st to December 10th, 1781, had never less than 150 prisoners on board, oftener over 200." "Captain Cahoon with four others escaped from a prison ship to Long Island in a boat, March 8, notwithstanding they were fired on from the prison and hospital ships, and pursued by guard boats from three in the afternoon to seven in the evening.
These men are intended to act in the next campaign in America, and our ministry plume themselves much in the thought of their being a complete match for the American riflemen." From Gaine's Mercury, a notorious Tory paper published in New York during the British occupancy, we take the following: "November 25th, 1776. There are now 5,000 prisoners in town, many of them half naked.
Thus situated and connected, you become the unintentional mechanical instrument of your own and their overthrow. The king and his ministers put conquest out of doubt, and the credit of both depended on the proof. To support them in the interim, it was necessary that you should make the most of every thing, and we can tell by Hugh Gaine's New York paper what the complexion of the London Gazette is.
The prisoners in New York were very sickly, and died in considerable numbers." "Feb. 11, 1777. Joshua Loring, Commissary of Prisoners, says that but little provisions had been sent in by the rebels for their prisoners." Gaine's Mercury. Jan. 4th. 1777. "Seventy-seven prisoners went into the Sugar House. N. Murray says 800 men were in Bridewell.
Tempted into Gaine's bookstore by the display of volumes, he chanced upon a friend who called him by name. And old Hugh Gaine, turning slowly about at the sound of a name he knew so well, stared at the enemy he had never seen: "Is your name Freneau?" he asked. And the poet answered: "Yes, Philip Freneau."