On this Memorial Day we honor those who died fighting for us in war. Capt Abraham Van Dyke of New York militia was imprisoned on a British ship following the Battles of Long Island and of Fort Washington during the Revolutionary War.

About 1700 Continental soldiers were imprisoned on ships in conditions horrific and rank. Hundreds succumbed to disease and neglect. Blankets not to be had even though it was winter time. Food scarce and foul.

The Captain refused an offer of freedom because he would not take his liberty if the men of his company remained behind imprisoned. The only option offered by the British was to fight on the side of the English.

Many soldiers of the New York patriots (like him) had been forced to flee their homes in New York City when the British took control there.

Abraham died on board the prison ship, March 1777, possibly of smallpox. Most of his fellow prisoners also perished with only  surviving to see freedom. Abraham’s wife and young daughter, living as refugees, also passed away that year. Only an infant son survived and was raised by his brother, Nicholas Van Dyke and his wife Charlotte of Delaware.

Abraham’s story is only one of the many who died in wartime.

To them — may we remember


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