American prisoners of war, 1812-1815

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Americans taken prisoner during the 1812 War

Americans taken prisoner during the 1812 War

The detailed personal information on these men recorded in the General Entry Books is the richest single source of data relating to early American seafarers
Ira Dy2006 recipient of the Samuel Eliot Morison Award for excellence in US Naval history

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Learn about the Americans caught by the British in the War of 1812

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These prison ship records show how prisoner populations were managed at Plymouth and Dartmoor in the early 19th century. There is a gap in the Plymouth records from May 1814 to January 1815. However, the Dartmoor General Entry Books appear to be complete and nearly all prisoners received in Plymouth by 1814 were sent on to Dartmoor. There may have been Americans held at other locations, but these were where most would have been held. The different entry book types cover prisoners to be held in England, those in transit, the ill or wounded, the paroled, and the dead.

Contents

American prisoners of war, 1812-1815...

Containing 5,932 pages belonging to 45 documents housed in 10 volumes...

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Volumes

Prison Ships and Depots in England - Chatham, 1812-1814

These records reveal that the average prisoner held at Chatham was from 21 to 26 years old and was native...

Prison Ships and Depots in England - Dartmoor, 1813-1815

These records reveal that the average prisoner held at Chatham was either from 21 to 24 or from 30 to...

Prison Ships and Depots in England - Plymouth, 1812-1815

These records reveal that the average prisoner held at Plymouth was aged from 18 to 25 years old; with most...

Prison Ships and Depots in England - Portsmouth and Stapleton, 1812-1814

The records for Portsmouth reveal that the average prisoner held at Portsmouth was aged from 24-34 years old; with most...

Insights

  • Each of these lists is a standard form which contains details of which ship captured the named prisoners, from which vessel, and when.
  • The lists relating to prisoner transfer also state where the named prisoners were exchanged and if an unnamed 'cartel' was involved.
  • The names and dates of ships taken by the British enable the reader to see how the number of ships captured each month changed during the 1812 war.
  • The lists relating to prisoner deaths include the causes of death as well as locations and dates. The reader can use this information to identify the most common causes of death for American prisoners.
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