In 1780, some privateer friends and relations of Samuel Smedley found themselves jailed within the notorious British prison ship Jersey at what is now the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It was enough to get their Irish up. From the journal of William Wheeler:
The winter of 1780 was much the severest that had occurred in 40 years, the Snow filled the roads from side to side, & the air was proportionately keen. In one of the coldest nights of that dreary winter, 7 captives having got out of the Ship (one of them, Ebenezer Bartram, our neighbor, had his toes frozen) waited on the ice for about 40 more. They not coming, they took to their heels, amidst a shower of bullets which were fir’d from the surrounding guardships, & made for the land.
When they arrived at Long Island they came to a house where they were dancing & went in.
A British officer present sent off for a guard to secure them & placed himself at the door to obstruct their retreat, but their comrade, a huge Irishman, with one blow felled him to the floor.
After further adventure and evasion, the party safely returned to Connecticut.
As the saying goes: violence may not be the answer — but it sure cuts down the questions. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!