6 Replies Latest reply on Feb 3, 2021 10:48 AM by Jason Atkinson

    Were there prison ships near Quebec, Canada?

    Ronda Coleman Newbie

      Did the British hold American POWs in the Revolutionary War on prison ships, near Quebec, Canada? I know they did around New York, but I cannot find anything about their use of prison ships near Quebec. I have found that some American POWs were taken to the Quebec public jail, and the Jesuits' College and detained. I have an ancestor, Captain Amos Huntington who was supposedly held on a ship near Quebec after being taken prisoner during the Battle of Hubbardton in 1977, by the Brunswick Germans under Major General Friederich Adolphus. I do have a record of his "exchange" in later 1777, but no details as to where near Quebec he was actually detained. Any information or resources would be appreciated.

        • Re: Were there prison ships near Quebec, Canada?
          Elliot Schneider Ranger

          Ms. Coleman,


          Here is some information not sure you have this or not. Make sure you click on image to enlarge. Also found where he is buried. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/63860637/amos-huntington


          Look at the diary of a prisoner of war 1776 Quebec 


















          Hope this helps,


          Elliot Schneider

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            • Re: Were there prison ships near Quebec, Canada?
              Ronda Coleman Newbie

              Mr Scneider,

              Thank you for your time and attention to detail. I do have most of this information, but I appreciate your attempts to help.

              The story, and documentation of Amos Huntington being help as a POW in 1777 was known to me. Curiosity got the better of me when it was revealed that a historian who wrote some of the early Huntington books has been proven to be a fraud, so I thought I would try to cite some of this information more closely. It is without a doubt that he was held captive in Quebec, but my biggest curiosity is that it seems that the prison ships that held American POWS in the American Revoltion were all near NY. I see that prison ships in Canada were used in the war of 1812, but I cannot find any evidence of their use during the American Revolution.

              Maybe I am asking for to much to have the fine details of the story told. I believe he was not held on a prison ship but instead, at the Quebec jail, or Jesuit Home. The ship mentioned in his return--the Andrew Cap Gier--I cannot find any information about. This could have been an American or British ship that merely returned him to NY for exchange. He was paroled to NY. For me this is not proof that he was actually held on a boat.

              I might be asking to much?

              Thanks again,

              Ronda Coleman

                • Re: Were there prison ships near Quebec, Canada?
                  Elliot Schneider Ranger



                  Please copy and paste link into your web browser. It talks about a man being held captive for 10 days in a dungeon an was given the opportunity to wait for British to be tried for treason or to join the British cause. Thought it made for some other interesting read.




                  Canada and Elsewhere

                  In Canada, prisoners were kept in Quebec and Halifax. Most of the captives were remnants of the 1775-76 invasion of Canada led by Richard Montgomery, or prisoners taken by Indians on raids into New York, Pennsylvania and New England, or men taken during General John Burgoyne's invasion of the Hudson River valley in 1777. [xxx] In the city of Quebec, the public jail and the facilities at the Jesuits' College were used to hold prisoners. In Halifax, a large one-story building on Hollis Street was used for American captives.


                  From the end of 1777 until the summer of 1778, the British Army captured and occupied Philadelphia. Prisoners were kept in the public jails and officers were billeted in the state capitol. In 1778, the British started keeping American prisoners in St. Augustine, Florida. After the British Army captured Charleston in 1780, large numbers of men from South Carolina militia units were incarcerated in St. Augustine. The regular, Continental forces captured at Charleston were placed in prisons in and around the city. A special prison camp was set up outside Charleston at Haddrell's Point. [xxxi] A few of the soldiers but most of the American naval personnel were placed aboard prison ships anchored in Charleston harbor. A similar prison system existed in Savannah, Georgia, when that city was taken in 1778. Several American soldiers were held in prisons outside of North America. In January of 1777, sixteen Americans were sent from Quebec to Senegal in Africa. Benjamin Franklin sent several letters of protest, while serving at his diplomatic post in Paris. [xxxii] Dozens of prisoners were sent from the American Colonies to Antigua in the West Indies and as many as four hundred American captives were transferred from South Carolina to England in 1780. [xxxiii] This number of men sent outside the US was relatively small but was deeply resented and bitterly attacked by American military and political figures.


                  Prisoner Exchanges

                  On December 3, 1776, General William Howe, the Commander in Chief of British forces in America, recorded that his command held no less than 4,430 American troops as prisoners of war resulting from the New York and New Jersey campaigns of that year. [xxxiv] They were faced with the problem of providing food, clothing and shelter for over 4,000 captives during the winter of 1776-77. General Howe tried to exchange 43 officers and 848 enlisted men before the winter set in. Although, Washington was willing, he couldn't get the New England governments that held most of the British prisoners to part with them. [xxxv] Through Washington's recommendation, the Congress appointed Elias Boudinot as Commissary General of Prisoners. The only money that Boudinot could obtain was Continental currency, which had little or no value in New York City. Congress added to the problem by allotting 2.5 pounds per barrel of flour when flour had risen to 6 pounds per barrel. Despite these problems, Boudinot arrived in New York in Feb. 1777 and Aid for American captives began to arrive. After Burgoyne's surrender at Saratoga in the fall of 1777, specie became available and was funneled to New York to relieve some of the suffering. John Beatty replaced Boudinot when the latter fell ill and his tenure is noted for paying off some of the debt incurred by American officers living on parole. Beatty struggled to promote exchanges of prisoners and improve the lot of Americans sitting in British prisons.

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              • Re: Were there prison ships near Quebec, Canada?
                LOC Manuscript Division Tracker

                Dear Ronda Coleman,

                If you haven't already, you might want to dive into the Haldimand papers, made available online via Canadiana. Sir Frederick Haldimand served as Governor of the Province of Quebec from 1778-1786.The navigation can be a bit tricky, but this collection consists of a variety of Haldimand's papers documenting events in North America during the pivotal period beginning with the Seven Years' War and ending with settlement of the Loyalists after the American Revolutionary War. The originals of these papers are located in the British Museum.

                You might also take a look at the following publication, available to borrow on HathiTrust: Rebel prisoners at Quebec, 1778-1783 : being a list of American prisoners held by the British during the Revolutionary War by Chris McHenry.

                Reference Staff,
                Manuscript Division
                Library of Congress

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                • Re: Were there prison ships near Quebec, Canada?
                  Theodore Spickler Newbie

                  A famous patriot was placed onto a British prisoner ship near Quebec. His name is Ethan Allen of the "Green Mountain Boys". There is a biography of him that includes detail of his involvement in a raid on Quebec that resulted in his capture and confinement on a British prisoner ship near Quebec. A detailed description of his imprisonment is so awful I am amazed that he lived through it. He ended up in England as a prisoner. I do not remember the name of the book but it contains a lot of information about the ship and prisoners.

                  2 people found this helpful
                  • Re: Were there prison ships near Quebec, Canada?
                    Jason Atkinson Ranger

                    Dear Ms. Coleman,


                    Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


                    In addition to the sources already recommended, we suggest you contact the Library and Archives of Canada and the The National Archives of the United Kingdom for records regarding British military activities in Canada.


                    We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!