While both prisoners of war in New York City during the American Revolution, John Adlum, a private in the Pennsylvania Flying Camp recounts pleasant evenings passed with Ethan Allen fueled by copious quantities of alcoholic drink. Adlum describes Allen as an engaging raconteur, entertaining his fellow prisoners with stories of his assault on Fort Ticonderoga and his brutal captivity in England.
“Allen had lately returned from England and Ireland and he gave a history &c of his voyage to England &c and back again mixed with his observations and interlarded with anecdotes that the company was so amused that they sat at table until pretty late in the night.”¹
Adlum offers one of the most personal descriptions of Allen, especially one from a non-participant in the land dispute between Vermont or New York.
“Col. Allen was always a very welcome guest at our quarters. His manner of telling a story, his fund of anecdotes, his flashes of wit, and the force of his observations never failed of having an attentive and amused audience.”²
With his storytelling, Allen provided brief respite to the horrific conditions of the British New York City prisons. Eventually both Allen and Adlum would be paroled and go onto accomplish greater successes – Adlum as a land surveyor and Allen as a founder of the new State of Vermont.
It would be fascinating to share a meal and a drink with Ethan Allen! I bet some of his stories have been lost to history.
¹Adlum, John. Memoirs of the Life of John Adlum in the Revolutionary War. Edited by Howard H. Peckham. (Chicago: The Caxton Club, 1968), 100