A Prisoner of the Americans

1776 to 1778

Campbell's imprisonment did not go as well as he had expected when he arrived in Boston Harbour. In December 1776, the American General, Charles Lee, was captured. Word spread that he - along with Ethan Allen and other patriot prisoners - was being mistreated by the British. Citizens called for revenge. Congress ordered all British prisoners to be placed in 'safe and close custody.' An excellent and exhaustive study of this whole event can be found in an article by Robert McGeachy, "The American War of Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Campbell of Inverneill" and also one by D. Michael Ryan, Historian with the Concord Minute Men, etc, "Concord Gaol."

To General Howe, Campbell wrote the following outraged letter, from Concord Jail, 14 February 1777:

"I am lodged in a dungeon of twelve or thirteen feet square, whose sides are black with the grease and litter of successive criminals. Two doors, with double locks and bolts, shut me up from the yard, with an express prohibition to enter it, either for my health or the necessary calls of nature.

"Two small windows, strongly grated with iron, introduce a gloomy light to the apartment, and these are at this hour without a single pane of glass, although the season, for frost and snow, is actually in the extreme. In the corner of the cell, boxed up with the partition, stands a ... which does not seem to have been cleared since its first appropriation to this convenience of malefactors. A loathsome black-hole, decorated with a pair of fixed chains, is granted me for my inner apartment, from whence a felon was but the moment before removed, to make way for your humble servant, and in which his litter to this hour remains. The attendance of a single servant on my person is also denied me, and every visit from a friend positively refused."

There ensued complaints and correspondence between Howe and Washington. George Washington intervened in March, Congress protested that it had not intended to cause undue suffering, and by May, Campbell was living in the jailer's tavern, although it was noisy and filled with rowdy people. Soon afterward, he was granted total freedom within the confines of the town of Concord. Note also that during these years as a prisoner of war, he purchased Knap Estate. He was finally exchanged for Ethan Allen, 6 May 1778.

By September of that same year, Campbell was leading a successful attack on Georgia!

These two drawings will be of interest to fans of Campbell of Inverneil:

Buttons According to John Kay, "The drawing, from which the Print is taken, was done by Colonel Campbell, while confined in prison in America, after the Treaty of Saratoga. Through a small hole - the only aperture for light in his dungeon - the Colonel had frequent opportunities of seeing General Buttons; and notwithstanding the gloomy nature of his situation, he could not resist the impulse of making a sketch of such a remarkable military figure." It is entitled "General Buttons Marching to Saratoga with Plunder."

Concord Jail Drawing The sketch to the right portrays his prison. It is owned by the Concord library, and I copied it from Walcott's book. Tradition maintains that it too, was done by Col. Campbell.

The next page deals with Campbell becoming Britain's "Hero of Georgia"; his time as Governor of Jamaica, and finally, as Governor of Madras. Archibald Campbell of Inverneill was definitely a very competent and admirable servant of the British Empire.