“The Most Cruel Disappointment”

After all this was done we armed ourselves and steered away for St. Jago, a Spanish port on the Island of Cuba.

My comrade and myself now had full command, and felt ourselves free. We took turns in watching the crew, and every thing went on well until the next morning, when our hopes of freedom were suddenly blighted, even when we were in plain sight of, and but three miles from, the port to which we were steering, by being retaken by the same sloop which had taken us the day before. They immediately put us in irons, which they kept on us for fifteen days thereafter. Thus we were doomed to the most cruel disappointment. We were now put on board the sloop, which sailed for Kingston, on the Island of Jamaica; but she had sailed but a few days before she gave chase to an American privateer. A running fight was kept up between these two war vessels until towards night, when the British sloop had her main-top-mast shot away. This took some little time to repair, after which we steered for our place of destination, where we arrived in about three days. While making the port we run aground and were not able to get off until about four o’clock next morning, and then by the aid of a British man-of-war, which was lying at Port Royal.

The captain of the sloop kindly kept us on board his vessel for two weeks; after which we were sent on board of a prison ship, where we remained eight months. While here we fared very poorly, having only half a pound of meat, a pound of bread and a gill of peas per day. There were nine hundred American prisoners confined in this vessel, shut out from home and all its many endearments. Many of them were sick with yellow fever, and met here their final exit far from friends and home.

After the expiration of the above time, six of us got away, by swimming about a fourth of a mile to a vessel which lay at anchor in the harbor, the jolly boat of which we made bold to take into our possession, and steered out of the port through a great number of men-of-war in safety.

Early the next morning, we captured a small fishing canoe manned by five slaves, from which we took a turtle, four fish, a sail and three paddles. Immediately afterwards we heard the alarm guns fired aboard of the ship from which we had but just made our escape. We then made for shore, drew our boat into a swamp, and lay concealed all of that day. When night came, we drew our boat to the water and pulled away for St. Domingo. The next day we discovered an English Drogger, manned with slaves, seventeen in number, and loaded with porter and cheese. This craft we boarded and took possession of, after putting the slaves aboard of our craft and giving them a small part of the loading of the vessel. We then steered away for New Orleans, but ill luck again attended us, for we had not had possession of her but a few hours before an English man-of-war gave chase to, and compelled us to run ashore to save being retaken. But we had not been on shore long before we were again taken by some soldiers and marched about thirty miles back into the country, and lodged in a stone jail, where we remained 25 days. Then we were marched down to the sea shore and put aboard the Sea-Horse frigate, and carried back to Port Royal, where we were put in irons and again placed on board the prison ship. Thus were all our hopes of freedom again destroyed, when we thought our liberty was almost within our grasp. After this we were kept on half the usual quantity of provisions for about a month, to pay us for our love of liberty and fresh air, and hard pay we thought it was too.


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