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One thing I must remark in favor of the Hessians; and that is, that our people who have been prisoners, generally agree, that they received much kinder treatment from them, than from the British officers and soldiers.



I am informed, that General Putnam sent to Philadelphia, in irons, Major Stockton, taken upon the Raritan, and that he continues in strict confinement. I think, we ought to avoid putting in practice what we have so loudly complained of, the cruel treatment of prisoners.

I desire, that, if there is a necessity for confinement, it may be made as easy and comfortable as possible to Major Stockton and his officers. This man, I believe, has been very active and mischievous; but we took him in arms, as an officer of the enemy, and, by the rules of war, we are obliged to treat him as such, and not as a felon.



I enjoy too much pleasure in softening the hardships of captivity, to withhold any comfort from prisoners; and I beg you to do me the justice to con

* General Howe.

clude, that no requisition of this nature that should be made, will ever be denied.


Unnecessary severity, and every species of insult, I despise; and, I trust, none will ever have just reason to censure me, in this respect.




Your indulgent opinion of my character, and the polite terms in which you are pleased to express it, are peculiarly flattering. I take pleasure in the opportunity you have afforded me, of assuring you, that, far from suffering the views of national opposition to be embittered and debased by personal animosity, I am ever ready to do justice to the merit of the man and soldier, and to esteem where esteem is due, however the idea of a public enemy may interpose.

You will not think it the language of unmeaning ceremony, if I add, that sentiments of personal respect, in the present instance, are reciprocal.

Viewing you in the light of an Officer, contending against what I conceive to be the rights of my country, the reverses of fortune you experienced in the field cannot be unacceptable to me; but, abstracted from considerations of national advantage, I can sincerely sympathize with your feelings as a soldier, the un

* General Burgoyne.

avoidable difficulties of whose situation forbade his success; and as a man, whose lot combines the calamity of ill health, the anxieties of captivity, and the painful sensibility for reputation exposed, where he most values it, to assaults of malice and detraction.



I shall ever be happy, to relieve the anxiety of parted friends; and where letters are calculated either to this end, or to effect matters of mere private concern, they will have the earliest conveyance.



The conduct of Lieutenant-Colonel Brooks, in detaining John Miller, requires neither palliation nor excuse. I justify and approve it. There is nothing so sacred, in the character of the King's Trumpeter, even when sanctified by a flag, as to alter the nature of things, or to consecrate infidelity and guilt.

He was a deserter from the army under my command; and whatever you have been pleased to assert to the contrary, it is the practice of war and nations, to seize and punish deserters, wherever they may be found. His appearing in the character he

*Sir William Howe.

did, was an aggravation of his offence, inasmuch as it added insolence to infamy.

My scrupulous regard to the privileges of flags, and a desire to avoid every thing that partiality itself might affect to consider as a violation of them, induced me to send orders for the release of the trumpeter, before the receipt of your letter; the improper and peremptory terms of which, had it not been too late, would have strongly operated to produce a less compromising conduct.

I intended, at the same time, to assure you, and I wish it to be remembered, that my indulgence, in this instance, is not to be drawn into precedent; and that, should any deserters from the American army hereafter have the daring folly to approach our lines, in a similar manner, they will fall victims to their rashness and presumption.



Were an opinion once to be established, (and the enemy and their emissaries know very well how to inculcate it, if they are furnished with a plausible pretext,) that we designedly avoided an exchange, it would be a cause of dissatisfaction and disgust, to the country and to the army, of resentment and desperation to our officers and soldiers.

To say nothing of the importance of not hazarding our national character but upon the most solid

grounds, especially in our embryo state, from the influence it may have on our affairs abroad, it may not be a little dangerous to beget in the minds of our countrymen a suspicion, that we do not pay the strictest observance to the maxims of honor and good faith.


Imputations of this nature would have a tendency to unnerve our operations, by diminishing that respect and confidence, which are essential to be placed in those who are at the head of affairs, either in the civil or military line. This, added to the prospect of hopeless captivity, would be a great discouragement to the service. The ill consequences of both would be immense, by increasing the causes of discontent in the army, which are already too numerous, and many of which are, in a great measure, unavoidable; by fortifying that unwillingness, which already appears too great, toward entering into the service, and of course impeding the progress both of drafting and recruiting; by dejecting the courage of the soldiery, from an apprehension of the horrors of captivity; and finally, by reducing those, whose lot it is to drink the bitter cup, to a despair, which can only find relief, by renouncing their attachment, and engaging with their captors.

The effects have already been experienced in part, from the obstacles that have lain in the way of exchanges. But if these obstacles were once to seem the result of system, they would become tenfold.

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