Changes and Trouble

By the end of 1781, it appears that many of Burgoyne’s troops had accepted their confinement and became friendly with the Americans. One by one they were permitted to leave the stockade and move into the huts with their families. They were also permitted to establish cottage industries, such as making lace, buckles, spoons, pins and other items. If they were considered trustworthy, the prisoners were allowed passes to go into York to sell these items to the local residents.

There are also accounts of some of the prisoners being used by local farmers as indentured servants. Sometimes, though, this relative lax on the part of the Americans resulted in trouble. One example of the potential problems is recorded in Gibson’s History. According to him, there was a gallows on the site of the prison (which remained until the mid-19th century), constructed by two cropped trees with a crosspiece between them. The story of the gallows was that one night a party of prisoners, left out of the camp on passes, came to the door of William Morgan, and called for something to eat. Morgan perceived they were prisoners, and shut the door on them. The prisoners fired through the door and injured Morgan. A neighbor rode to the camp and gave information about the shooting to the officer in charge. Roll call was taken and the missing men were quickly identified. When they returned to the prison they were detained, and ultimately tried and hung.