As a result of the Revolutionary War, the British Army took so many prisoners that they quickly ran out of space to hold them all. Prisons in New York, like Bridewell, were full, so the British took to using sugar houses and pro-rebel churches in the city.
In the harbor, decommissioned war ships were put to use as prison ships, the most well-known being HMS Jersey. The Jersey had – and earned – the nickname "Hell." Conditions below decks (where the prisoners were kept) were crowded – a thousand men crammed together without light, sanitation, or proper ventilation.
In 1782, the Assassin Connor infiltrated HMS Jersey, where he overheard a conversation between the captain and Charles Lee's mercenaries, who were trying to acquire soldiers for their master. Connor assassinated the captain without anyone noticing and then escaped from the prison ship.