Forgotten Patriots: The Untold Story of American Prisoners During the Revolutionary War

Front Cover
Basic Books, Nov 11, 2008 - History - 360 pages
Between 1775 and 1783, some 200,000 Americans took up arms against the British Crown. Just over 6,800 of those men died in battle. About 25,000 became prisoners of war, most of them confined in New York City under conditions so atrocious that they perished by the thousands. Evidence suggests that at least 17,500 Americans may have died in these prisons—more than twice the number to die on the battlefield. It was in New York, not Boston or Philadelphia, where most Americans gave their lives for the cause of independence.

New York City became the jailhouse of the American Revolution because it was the principal base of the Crown's military operations. Beginning with the bumper crop of American captives taken during the 1776 invasion of New York, captured Americans were stuffed into a hastily assembled collection of public buildings, sugar houses, and prison ships. The prisoners were shockingly overcrowded and chronically underfed—those who escaped alive told of comrades so hungry they ate their own clothes and shoes.

Despite the extraordinary number of lives lost, Forgotten Patriots is the first-ever account of what took place in these hell-holes. The result is a unique perspective on the Revolutionary War as well as a sobering commentary on how Americans have remembered our struggle for independence—and how much we have forgotten.


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User Review  - marshapetry - LibraryThing

Excellent book. A few places dragged but overall this was a wonderful book, explaining the (sometimes horrific) conditions in the early jails and what life was like as a prisoner in early america. The ... Read full review

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User Review  - HistReader - LibraryThing

Forgotten Patriots embarks on the dark topic of prisoners-of-war and their inevitable maltreatment. Most never think of the Revolutionary War as a civil war, but it was just that! British Loyalists ... Read full review


Destined to the Cord
The Stool of Repentance
A Cry of Barbarity Cruelty
Sweet Liberty
War ad Terrorem
The War of Words
Dead Reckonings
Forgotten Patriots
Forgotten Again
Cunninghams Confession
List of Abbreviations and Note on Sources
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About the author (2008)

Edwin G. Burrows is Distinguished Professor of History at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. He is the co-author of Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898, which won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for History, and has received awards also from the Municipal Art Society, the St. Nicholas Society, and the New York Society Library, among others. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani named him a “Centennial Historian of New York.” For the past five years Burrows has been a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians, and he serves on the board of the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum in Manhattan. He lives in Northport, New York.

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