The treatment of prisoners of war during the American Revolution, and how issues surrounding that treatment helped escalate the conflict’s violence, is the topic of a talk on March 5 at Washington College. Cole Jones, assistant professor of history at Purdue University, will speak on “The Problem of Prisoners of War in the American Revolution.”
Sponsored by the Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience and Washington College’s Department of History, the event at 4:30 p.m. in Hynson Lounge is free and open to the public. Jones will be discussing the research that has gone into his new book, Captives of Liberty: Prisoners of War and the Politics of Vengeance in the American Revolution (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020).
Jones will take listeners from the meeting rooms of the Continental Congress to the prison camps of Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, revealing the factors that coalesced to transform the conflict into a war for vengeance and precipitously escalate its violence. During the eight-year conflict, American forces captured over 17,000 British and allied Germanic soldiers, as well as thousands more loyalist civilians and British mariners. The number of enemy prisoners in American custody often exceeded that of American soldiers in the Continental army. These prisoners proved increasingly burdensome for the new nation as the war progressed, creating a series of thorny political issues that compounded the logistical difficulties of confining, housing, feeding and caring for them.
A National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the New York Historical Society in 2015-2016, Jones is also the author of Loyalist Rising: The Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge (under contract, Westholme Press), as well as “Violence and Trauma” in The Cambridge History of the American Revolution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2021), and “Citizen for Citizen: The Problem of Political Prisoners in the American Revolution” in From Colonial Encounters to the Iraq War: Prisoners of War and their Place in American History (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, forthcoming 2020).
About Washington College
Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 39 states and territories and 25 nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.
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