The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #67594   Message #1139460
Posted By: The Stage Manager
17-Mar-04 - 05:42 PM
Thread Name: oral tradition - 'celtic' singing in usa
Subject: RE: oral tradition - 'celtic' singing in usa
Uncle Jaque

The battle of Dunbar took place During the English Civil War. This was essentailly between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians. This was the only time England got anywhere near being a Republic!

The Scots were mostly on the side of the Royalists, who were of course the Stuarts, first monarchs to have family claim to both the Scottish and English Thrones. ...All this was to end up with Bonnie Prince Charlie and Colloden 90 odd years later.

The Parliamentarians wre led by Oliver Cromwell, a man renowned for his hatred of Catholicism, and Scots and Irish in particular.

The Covenanters on the Scottish side were a bit of a cheerless lot as well. Between them if they sang anything it would probably have been psalms.

Anyway here are a few bits and pieces that I hope might be of interest

The battle


While Dunbar was commemorated as a glorious victory, the fate of the Scottish prisoners was one of the less glorious episodes in English military history. Of the 10,000 captured, half were released immediately due to their wounds or sickness. Not wanting the others to join up with Leslie and rearm, the rest were marched 118 miles south to Durham with the aim of sending them to the American colonies as labour. Given little food or medical help, and prisoners who tried to escape offered no quarter, only 3,000 staggered into Durham on the 10th of September. Once there, the food intended for the prisoners was stolen and sold by their guards so that two months later, only 1,400 were still alive. Of these, 900 were sent to the colonies and 500 indentured to fight in the French army.

From a Scottish Q & A page:

Is there information on soldiers that were captured in the battle of Dunbar?

The battle of Dunbar took place on 3rd September 1650 during the civil war. Cromwell (after having his men sing the 117th psalm) led his troops in a ruthless destruction of the Scottish troops led by General Leslie. Between 3,000 and 4,000 Scots died on the battlefield and 10,000 were taken prisoner. Around 8,000 Scots escaped, half of whom re-joined Leslie during the following few days.
An excellent account of the whole conflict is given in John D. Grainger, Cromwell Against the Scots, the Last Anglo-Scottish War 1650-1652, Tuckwell Press, East Linton, 1997 (ISBN 1 86232 064 0) from which I took the following quote: "On the day after the battle, in the midst of writing his victorious letters, Cromwell had released the wounded Scots prisoners, which disposed of half of them ... But he could not simply release the fit men to fight again. So the unwounded - about 5,000 men were then ordered south to be held by Haselrig [governor of Newcastle] at Newcastle ... The prisoners were rank and file, separated from their officers. A considerable number simply ran away, as soon as they could, before the English guards were organised ... The rest refused to move at first, until several were 'pistolled on the spot'. No food was provided for their journey ... There were still some thousands who reached England. At Morpeth they were turned into a cabbage field for the night. They were so hungry that they devoured the cabbage raw, roots and all. Sickness inevitably spread amongst them. In Northumberland they were the responsibility of Sir Arthur Haselrig..." (p55)
No-one was sure what to do with the prisoners. Cromwell asked that 'humanity be exercised towards them'. In true British fashion a committee was set up to consider the problem. In the meantime the men continued to die. By the end of October Haselrig reported that of the 5,000 prisoners sent south by Cromwell, only around 3,000 had arrived at Durham. He mentions 600 healthy men and 500 sick. he does not say whether the other 2,000 were living or dead.
The committee suggested using the men as labour in the coal mines or transporting them to America, France or Ireland. In preparation for this the prisoners were moved to London. On November 11th Haselrig was told to deliver 150 prisoners to Augustine Walker, the master of the ship 'Unity' who would take them to New England. Walker sold his cargo for £20 to £30 per man. 60 men went to the Saugus iron works at Lynn (the first iron manufactory in N. America) and 15 men were sent to Berwick, Maine (a few others, exact number not given, went to nearby York). This accounts for about half of Walker's cargo, we have to assume that the rest either died or escaped.
The last mention of the prisoners by the committee was that some of the sick men should be sent to the Blackwall pest house where the proprietor should be responsible for their keep and their recovery.

Your Family History looks to be spot on Uncle J.