French and American Prisoners of War at Dartmoor Prison, 1805-1816. The Strangest Experiment
This book explores the history of Dartmoor War Prison (1805-16). This is not the well-known Victorian convict prison, but a less familiar penal institution, conceived and built nearly half a century earlier in the midst of the long-running wars against France, and destined, not for criminals, but for French and later American prisoners of war. During a period of six and a half years, more than 20,000 captives passed through its gates. Drawing on contemporary official records from Britain, France and the USA, and a wealth of prisoners? letters, diaries and memoirs (many of them studied here in detail for the first time), this book examines how Dartmoor War Prison was conceived and designed; how it was administered both from London and on the ground; how the fate of its prisoners intertwined with the military and diplomatic history of the period; and finally how those prisoners interacted with each other, with their captors, and with the wider community. The history of the prison on the moor is one marked by high hopes and noble intentions, but also of neglect, hardship, disease and death.