Prisoners of war presented an enormous challenge for patriot forces during the American Revolution. Patriots captured more than seventeen thousand enemy soldiers during the war. At times the prisoners in American hands outnumbered the Continental Army. At the outset of the war, Americans treated British prisoners in accordance with the conventions of eighteenth-century warfare, but the inhumane treatment inflicted on American prisoners in British hands and the logistical difficulties of housing, feeding and caring for a growing number of enemy prisoners led to gradually more severe treatment of captives.
Video courtesy of C-SPAN’s American History TV
About the Speaker
T. Cole Jones is an assistant professor of history at Purdue University. Captives of Liberty: Prisoners of War and the Politics of Vengeance in the American Revolution (2020) is his first book.