Jonathan Carpenter's Diary

From the Carpenter Family News-Journal Volume 5, No. 3 December 1975 (This is source of information provided below)

The following material provided below was furnished by Mrs. Alene Vogel, P. 0. Box 1151, Bozeman, Montana 59715. Mrs. Vogel is a Jonathan Carpenter descendant. She and husband Rudy C. Vogel have 3 children, Douglas Rudy, SheryZ Ann and Linda Kay, wife of David Seiler.

The original Jonathan Carpenter diary is in the possession of the Vermont Historical Society at Montpelier. There is some question as to its authenticity since a diary authored by another American prisoner in England contains identical entries. It also is apparent that Carpenter wrote many of his entries much later than they were dated. There is no doubt that this is his diary--the question is whether he copied some of the material. Discussion of the controversy and a transcript of diary entries appear in Vol.XXXVI, No.2 of "Vermont History," publication of the Vermont Historical Society.

(Following is only a scant selection of entries from the Jonathan Carpenter diary. These entries concern his capture by the British and his years of imprisonment in "'England, and his adventures when he first went to Vermont.)

1774 Sept. ye 27th--The King's troops begin to fortify on Boston neck and use the Inhabitents with Severity, which causes great uneasyness in town & Country concerning the Governments and Duties the British King and Parliment are about to inflict upon the Colonies in America--and ye bad Success that Detested article Tea has met with, by which they thought (by making us pay a Duty upon it) to Binde on the Chain they have a long time ben preparing to bring America under everlasting Slavery to Great Briton--but the duty was deny'd them and the Tea destroy'd in Boston harbour--and the Inhabitents are resolute and ready to De-o fend their owne rights and Libertyes even to Blood if Cause Should require, which by Circemstances cannot long be avoided as is Generaly thought the Despute must end by force of Armes.

1775 January ye 9th--A Town meeting and Election of oficers &c at Rehoboth—about this time inlisted a Company called Minute-men to Stand ready to march at a Minutes warning to protect the Glorious Cause of Liberty.

1776 July ye 4th--This Day is one of the most Memorable Aeras that ever took Place in America. Then to the most universal joy of the Inhabitents of this Country The Therteen United States were Declared free and Independant.

 (February) ye 19 (1778)--Having got acrosst the gulf Stream at Day light we saw a sail which our Capt. imprudently chased for near tow [sic] hours but find-ing his mistake put about but She came up with us atl2 o'clock which proved to be the Unicorn a 20 Gun Ship in ye Service of the Tyrant King of Great Briton Commanded by John Ford--but we are no longer our own men but have a New we must go on bord of a new Ship (i.e., the Unicorn) and be put in irons & crouded Down betwizt Decks half Starv'd like Poor devils (or Rebels) as they caul'd us--in this Languishing condition we were obliged to Stay Suffering all that those Devils on earth (or rather Hell a float) could inflict until the 7 of March when we were brought into Rhode island harbour and put on bord the Clibborn a Prison Ship riding at Anchor.

(March 7 - April 16, 1778)--Now we enter another Scene which is not much better for our alowance (on the prison ship) is very short (and) Poor in Quality as 41 well as quantity. 150 men in a small ship...But being loth to Die & by the help of kind Providence we tuff'd it out until the 13th of April when we were got to be very Sickly but all that were able taken & distrabuted on board a fleet of 24 sail of Marchent ships distined for England. I was not well but nothing would do but I must go & finally went on bord the Myrtle (commanded by) Capt. Goldenbottom. My friend Cabel (Caleb?) Carpenter & one Thompstone of Virginia were with me, 3 being the Complyment for each Ship.

April ye 16 (and following)--We Sailed for Portsmouth in England where we arived the 12 Day of May after a Prosperous Passage of 28 Day--but I was sick almost all our Passage but by the blessing of him who rules by Sea & land I got my health again not by any favour or Attendance from ye bold britons...

May ye 13--We haul'd into the harbour at Portsmouth in the County of Hampshire in Great Briton.

(June 4, 1778?)--After Shuffeling me about from one Ship to another till they were weary they put me on board of the Princis Amelia a 20 Gun Ship lying as a guard Ship at Spithead where I staid until next Day we were Sent on Shore at Hasler hospital where there was upwards of 1700 men belonging to ye Shiping & Staying there till ye 4th of June we were Sent back to ye guard ship.

Ye 19 of June--We were again Sent on Shoar where we were Examined tryed & com-mitted to Prison (at Forton--which Carpenter always misspelled "Fortin"— near Portsmouth) as Rebels & Pirates taken on the high Seas--it being my birth Day the very Day I Should have had my freedom, but to get clear from cruel masters I rejoiced at an Opportunity to go to Prison where I found 175 Prisoners. Some of them had ben there a year and were in good heart but ex-pected a long imprisonment &c.

June ye 25th 1778--Jeremiah Thirber, one of our Privateer's crew from Rehoboth, 4 Died at Hasler Hospital with the Small Pox.

1778 July ye 6--There was 64 more committed to Prison...also there is great talk of our being exchanged by way of France very Soon which we call good News if it be true--likewise we hear that the British troops have evaquated Philadelphia & retired to N. York--there are 27 Sail of ye Line lying at Spithead waiting for a fair wind to put to Sea their Distination unknown.

July ye 13--Admirel's fleet returned in again having seen a fleet in the Channel big enough to eat 'em. ha,ha. Now the Press is very hot in the country so that a man is not Safe in his bed for robbers and Press gangs. (This is a          reference to the British custom of forcing men to join the Royal Navy.)

July 24--This Day 10 of our officers made there escape and got of clear--both fleets are out we expect soon to hear of a battle--Admiral Keepels fleet con-sists of the Victory of 100 Guns & 5 of 90 guns 18 of 74 guns 7 of 64 guns making 31 Sail of ye line & 6 Frigates--ye French have 32 Sail of the Line & 15 frigates.

July ye 30--About 12 o'clock at night we were Discovered in our work which was diging a hole to make our escape which would have ben done in 2 hours we had dug about 15 feet under ground--it is reported in the Newspaper that the fleets in the Cannel have had a Battle. Admiral Keeple Lost 350 men killed & di twice that Number wounded when both fleets retired ye French into Brest & English disabled Ships into Plymouth &c. &c.

Sept. ye 8--Last night there was a breach made out of ye Prison into the high way by undermining about 35 feet underground by which about 50 officers got off, but 20 of them taken up & Put into the black hole &c & the rest got 40 over to France--we was kept locked up till noon & broke the dare lock & the Devil to pay...

December ye 10--Last night 5 of our men made their escape joy go with 'em. They tell us we shall soon be exchanged but I sopose they Lie as they used to do--our Money is Reduced to is pr Week we have had 2 heretofore ever since I have bin in this troublesome Scene in high Life below Stairs.

December 17--The Men of War's officers came and took away the men they had in-listed in the yard being 15 only. (The British tried to talk American prisoners into joining the Royal Navy.)

1779 Jan. 1st--This morning there is ice as thick as window glass all the frozen weather we have had was 1 week.

Jan: 12--We hear to Day that 130 of our fellow Prisoners have made their Jacks by giving Leg bail to Mill Prison at Plymouth where there is upwards of 300 to whom Heaven send Deliverance in Due time.

Feb: (18 or 19)--By kind Providence we are very healthy we have lost but 9 men Died in this place since the first Prisoners were committed which is almost 2 years but upwards of 100 has broke Prison and got clear.

March ye lst--I was inoculated with the Small Pox & 26 more being all that never had it

Ye 12--I broke out with the pack & went into ye Hospital &c.

March 25--Bartholomew White a prisoner in the yard was Shot through the boddy by a Corporal of ye Guard which consists of 60 of the Westminster Militia--he died in 24 hours after. The Corporal was tryed by a Jury and Cleared. Proved (but very falsly) to be an accident.

March 27th--I came out of ye Hospital clens'd of ye Small Pox--also have a Letter from Mill Prison which says that 100 of them have actually imbarked on board ye Carteel Ship for France &c. and expect 100 to go from this place next which is joyful news.

April ye 5--We receiv'd a letter from Plymouth which tells us that the Carteel Ship Saild from there 25 of March for Nantz. Likewise Mr. Hertly one of the Parliament was here & tells us that the Carteel Shall come to this place for the next Draught & c.

April ye 14th--We had half of this Day's alowance of Provisions stopt by the Agent to pay for Damages done the Prison in trying to make our escape &c.

May 8--Today we have a letter in the yard from Mill prison which Says they are very Sickly in that Prison...

A May ye 10--This Day we had a general washing & clensing ye Prison.

May ye 25th--The Guard is releav'd today by the Lincolnshire Melitia of 100 men--Thomas Haly died with ye small pox--

Ye 29th--Our agent tell us that he expects the carteel in every Day also he has sent our Names to London for his Majestie's Pardon, on which commenc'd a Dialogue:

Prisoners--Pardon; D--n his Majesty & his pardon too who wants any of his pardons what murder or treason have we done Prey.

Agent--Why you impudent Rogues don't you know that you are Rebels and were committed to Prison as pirates for Murdering & plundering his Majestys Subjects. The Laws of ye Nation would Swing every dog of ye...

Prisoner--Overpower & Subdue America--ah thats the least of my concern. You have not done it yet nor won't till the Devil's blind & his eyes an't sore yet and if we wait here for that our heads will be as grey as woodchucks & then twill be as great Shame for you to hang us as it was for your Troops to run through with their bayonets our inofenceve aged Grand Fathers & grand Mothers who could not get out of their beds and romes but lay at your mercy beging their Lives--

Agent--When was that done.

Prisoner--When your Troops went out to Concord in April 1775, Sir and likewise your officers or Comander in Canada gave a bounty on Scalps to incourage ye Indians & hessions &c. to kill our harmless women and children...Turnkey, you lye D--n ye.

1779 Saturday June ye 19th--...this day is the Annuation of my imprisonment & birth day &c. but hope I Shall not Stay here much longer.

June ye 21st--It is in the Newspaper to day that the Carteel. Ship arrived at 0 Spit-head last night which we hope is true--

1779 Wednesday June ye 30th--120 of our names were called and order'd to keep ourselves in readyness to go on bord ye carteel which will be in a short time.

Fryday July ye 2nd--This morning we were called to be in readiness and in the afternoon march'd off through Gosport, and went on bord the Milford carteel Ship laying at Spit-head &c. The day long wished for is come at last Huzza--I having ben in Fortin Prison one year & 12 Days.

July ye 7--We weigh'd anchor at Spit-head & set sail for ye river of Nantz &c.

July 22--We are Dismiss'd from the Carteel & set on Shore at Penbeef at our Liberty which Seems very agreeable, but Strange to walk the streets at Pleas-4k ure I having ben in Captivety 17 months & 3 Days--And in ye afternoon enterd on bo'rd the General Jiflen (called the General Miflin in a later entry) an American Privateer of 20 Guns George Wade Badcock Commander bound on a cruice towards America for about 3 months &c--

 (A few months after returning to America, Jonathan Carpenter Jr. set out for Vermont.)

(May) ye 13 (1780)--Then I & David Carpenter Bargain'd for & bought a lot of 100 acres of Land--for 12s pr acre--of John Winchester Dana Esq. of Pomfret having travil'd about 416 miles in 21 days.

May ye 15--We began to chop and made the first stump on our land.

Ye 20th--On our wild land we've wok'd a week have built a house that's strong & neat and it will serve tho' it is Low, for kitchen, hall, & Palace too--  Planted Potatoes corn & beans which some may take for foolish schemes


July ye 10th--It begins to be warm weather. People are 1/2 hilling I corn—have chop't about 8 acres of own land in 6 weeks, Successively which has almost tired me of that fun no wonder neigher ha. Also we had a training at Pomfret inlisted 25 men which will start in one Days time in case of an Invation which is some expected from ye Indians.


August ye 10th--This morning at 1 o'clock we were alarm'd with news that ye Indians had come into Bernard & had taken 3 Men & Plunder'd ye houses and went off were followd by 50 men from Bernard but could not overtake them.

Aug't 15th--I ingaged to go into ye Service for ye town of Pomfret 3 months.

Ye 25th--I went out on a Scout for 4 Days in company with 14 men of Bernard in Serch of some tories that have ben Sculking about & have taken 2 men from Weathersfield. We went up ye south Branch of White R. & over heighths of Land to Pitsford fort on Ottercrick about 30 Miles Course West, some good land on ye crick and in Chittendon east of Pittsford, & came home ye 28. Ye Prisoners are retaken with 2 tories at Weathersfield.

Sept. ye 21--Two men were taken from their work at Bethel, by ye Enemy... Oct. ye 3--A light snow fell about 3 inches deep, but soon gone--frost about this time which soon Strips the trees &c.

1780. Oct.16--This morning we were alarm'd by inteligence that the enemy were burning & Plundering at Royalton and it was Supposed that ye woods were full of them. I went out in a Scout round ye north part of Bernard about 10 Miles & in again but Discovered nothing by this time some of ye Inhabitents had come into the Garrison & a Party went to meet the enemy--or at least look for them--at about 12 O'clock at Night I went out in a party of 11 men, with Lieut Green, with 4 Days provisions we march'd by night to bethel fort from whence upwards of 100 men had just gone under Capt. Safford to Royalton.  The attack occurred on Oct. 16. For a lengthier recounting, see Benjamin Hall, History of Eastern Vermont (2 vols., Albany, 1865) and Zadock Steele's Narra-tive of the Captivity & Sufferings of Eadock Steele (Montpelier, 1818).

Ye 17th (Oct., 1780)--From thence we march'd to Colonel Woodwards at Middlesex (now Randolph) about 15 miles from Bernard fort & 8 from Bethel fort. It snowed almost all Day. There we were join'd by 10 more & sot off towards ye height of Land in hopes of coming across our main boddy, & coming to a house in Middlesex, burning which we judged to have ben fired by the Enemy about 4 hours--we took their trail & follow'd into Brookfield & finding our men didnot follow, we incamped that night but ye Middlesex men returned, back but ye next morning

ye 18th we follow'd on about 4 miles further onto ye heighth of Land & finding we should not be join'd by more men, & our party but 14 which we thought to small a number to ingage whom we judged to be 300 by ye parth they made which was very easy to follow in ye night--we left ye chace & returned that Day to colonel Woodwards--having march'd over as fine level a tract of Land as I have seen in this Country. We went thro Brookfield Dearfield & into Northfield--light timber'd withmaple Beach Birch &c.--at Colonel Woodwards we heard that the Enemy had burnt and Destroy'd Royalton, & some houses in Sharon & Middlesex &c and have taken off upwards of 20 prisoners and killed 7, Notwithstanding they were fired upon by ye advance guard of upward of 400 men, which indeed put them to great Confusion but they killed 2 prisoners & fled while the Cowardly Colo' House was forming his men, hooting with a mock pretence of having a field fight with Indiens in the Bush, which gave them time to get off--they were commanded by one Colonel Peters a Tory.

1780. Oct. ye 19--We returned home in peace, some moving off over Connet River, and our savage Enemy gone with flying Coulers into Canida which is a poor story for a Whig to tell.

Ye 20th--We hear that the aforesaid enemy were atached (detached?) for Cowasafter Major Whitcome, &c but find their Mistake, took it in their heads to Plague us--also that there are 1500 Indiens landed from the Lake on the other side of ye Mountain and have taken fort ann &c.

Ye 20--Part of ye Companies from Windsor & Woodstock Melitia join'd us for 10 Days.

Ye 27--Cool ye Sun Eclips'd &--

Ye 29--Melitia Dismis'd &c--

Nov. ye 1--Snow fell about 4 inches D.

Ye 2nd--The fort at Barnard was Christned by ye Name of Defiance. We had a false alarm how the Enemy were at Grape brook, &c Ye Melitia of Rockingham Dismiss'd.

Nov. 5th--I went out on a Scout up S. branch of white R. for 2 Days. Ye 11--Cold frozen weather. Moon Eclips'd &.

Nov. 15--I was Dismis'd from fort Difiance at Barnard, & sot off for Pomfret.