Adams Family Correspondence, volume 2

Mary Palmer to John Adams, 15 June 1776 Palmer, Mary JA Mary Palmer to John Adams, 15 June 1776 Palmer, Mary Adams, John
Mary Palmer to John Adams
Sir Germantown June 15th 1776 Saturday

You will wonder at recieving a Letter from one who is very far from being Sufficiently qualified to write to a Member of the Grand Congress but I am under parental injunctions to do it, which every good Child ought to obey.—The Affair of fortifying the Harbour of Boston has long been in Agitation and tho' repeatedly urged by the Honourable Members of the Congress, and almost universally by the People of the Sea Coasts hereabouts, and by many others yet it has been delay'd by the Court from what Motives they best know who hinder'd its being done. Papa was one of those in its favour, and exerted himself as much as possible to get it done, the Council were for it but the House were afraid of Expences &c. There is now a New House of which he is a Member.—This House consented after some difficulties to let it be done immediately. I think this was last Saturday, and as the greatest Secressy was necessary in Order to prevent our Enemies having knowledge of our proceedings, (as there was too much reason to think they dayly reciev'd News of all our proceedings) the Time appointed for taking possession of the Heights was not known even to the House till the Day for its execution which was Thursday. 700 of the Continental Troops were Order'd to Long Island and Moon Island, 700 of Colony Troops and Militia to Nantasket, and 700 ditto to Pettucks Island and Spears Hill.—The Cannon, Military Stores, &c. were to be at their destinations at 9 OClock that Night, but as many of them, came by Water in Lighters which were becalmed, and some Missing their Way they did not bring the Cannon time enough to take possession of Pettucks or Nantasket that Night, which was a great Mortification to the Commanders at those places.—At this time there 10were about 10 or 12 of the Enemies Vessels lying near Georges Island some of considerable Force, and the Commodore a Sixty Gun Ship1 had moved nearer to Pettucks, and as they had within the Week reciev'd recruits of Soldiers to the Amount of at least 700, it was fear'd they wou'd take possession of that Hill or Nantasket that Night, which our People cou'd not prevent for want of Cannon, their feelings may be better immagin'd than express'd—they were dreadful.—The Night was dark and so still that our People cou'd hear the Sound of the Voices on Board the Ships in their common conversation.—Papa was to command at Pettucks and Spears Hill, and went over to the former with his Aid de Camps and 180 Men about 10 oClock and Staid till two waiting for Recruits and Cannon to no purpose. Had the Enemy known of their being there they say they cou'd have taken or kill'd them all but providence order'd it otherwise. At two they returnd to Spears Hill.—In the Mean Time the Fort at Long Island was carrying on briskly so that before Seven in the Morning, they began to fire upon the Ships.—Upon the first firing the little Vessels hoisted Sail, but the Commodore and larger Ones stood it for about an Hour or more, 'tho without returning the fire as it was to no purpose I suppose, the Advantage being so much greater on the high land than on the water. Before 9 oClock the Commodore tho't proper to set sail with all his Ships and Small Craft, after having stood a continued fire from Long Island all that time, 2 as it was calm they Sail'd but Slowly and bro't to by the Light house, which they dismantled and blew up, taking all their Soldiers from that place with the Cannon. This was about one oClock Yesterday. Soon after they continued their Course outwards, tho not without some disagreable Salutes from Nantasket which was then furnish'd with Cannon, and fired about 30 Balls at them as they pass'd, some of which it is tho't struck the Commodore and other Vessels.—About 5 or 6 OClock they were all out of Sight.—Some of the Ships fir'd a few Guns as they past Nantaskett but without doing any Damage.—There is little probability that any Lives were lost during the whole of this Affair. Our Harbour is now entirely clear of the Enemy, and it was entertaining to see the Privateers and little Lighters parading it in the very places so long Usurp'd by the British Navy.—The Day was clos'd by the discharging of Cannon and Small Arms, in Token of Joy for their deliverance, by our People in Boston, and the Forts. As this News will be agreable to you tho' told in a very imperfect and faulty Manner, I the rather hope for your generous Allowances in the behalf of the writer, whose Abilities are far from being equal to the Subject. I shou'd not have presum'd so far, had 11Mrs. Adams been at Home, but she set out for Plimouth, Thursday Morning, and so cou'd not have the Opportunity of writing so particularly as if she had been in Town at the Time of this Evacuation.—Papa is so taken up in Planing and executing the Plans of the Forts, in the Harbour especially Nantasket where he is now in person that he can't get a Moments Time to write, or even to Answer a Question, so that I can't tell certainly who the commanders were at the several places, and am at a Loss for other particulars.—My letter is too long already and I will not add to it by a Multitude of excuses. Your pardon for inaccuracies, Blots &c. I depend on and I believe you to possess too much good Nature, to expose the faults of an illiterate Girl.

I am Sir, Your most humble Servant, Polly Palmer

Since I wrote the above, Papa has given me some Minutes, which I shall copy off just as they are—

500 Colonial Troops at Nantasket Hill 200 Militia from Lovels Regt. at Point Alderton All these commanded by Colo. Lovel. 500 Continental and Colonial Troops at Pettucks Island 200 Militia from Bass's Regt. at Hoffs Neck All these commanded by Palmer. 500 Continental Troops at Long Island 200 Militia from Gills Regt. at the Moon All these Commanded by Wadsworth as I think—with Cannon &c. to each place.
17th. Monday

Yesterday several of our Privateers fell in with and engag'd a large Ship of Force and a Brig. The two latter Maintain'd a kind of runing fight from Seven in the Morning till late at Night, still standing in for the Harbour which they were permited to enter followed by the Privateers. About 11 oClock at Night the Engagement was renew'd between the Vessels with great fury. I think I never saw such firing before. The flashes were almost without Intermission. At 12 they Yeilded to us having both run Aground during the fight. They had 200 Highlanders belonging to Frasiers Regt.

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “The Honble. John Adams Esqr. Philadelphia”; endorsed: “Miss P. Palmer. an. June 5” (error for July 5); to this 12endorsement was later added the date “June 15. 1776” in the hand of William Gordon(?).


That is, Capt. Francis Banks, R.N., in the Renown.


MS worn and torn at bottom edge.

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 16 June 1776 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 16 June 1776 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
June 16. 1776

Yesterday was to me a lucky Day, as it brought me two Letters from you, one dated May 27. and the other June 3d.

Dont be concerned, about me, if it happens now and then that you dont hear from me, for some Weeks together. If any Thing should injure my Health materially, you will soon hear of it. But I thank God I am in much better Health than I expected to be. But this cannot last long, under the Load that I carry. When it becomes too great for my Strength I shall ask leave to lay it down and come home. But I will hold it out a good while yet, if I can.

I am willing to take the Woodland Sister mentions, and the Watch and the sword. As to the Lighter, it cost more than five hundred Dollars in hard Cash.

I wish our Uncle Norton Quincy had as much Ambition, as he has Virtue and Ability. A Deficiency of Ambition is as criminal and injurious as an Excess of it.—Tell him I say so.—How shall We contrive to make so wise and good a Man ambitious? Is it not a sin to be so modest. Ask him how he can answer it? So! then it seems the Brigadier Joseph Palmer was obliged to step down Stairs in order to keep my Brother, out of the lower Room. . . .1 I am sorry for it.

Thanks for your Quotation from Sully. It is extreamly appropos.

I am very glad you are so well provided with Help. Give my Respects to Mr. Belcher, and his Family. Tell him, I am obliged to him for his Kind Care of the Farm. I wish I could go out with him, and see the Business go on, but I cant.

Thank your Father, and my Mother, for their kind Remembrance of me. Return my Duty to both.

Charles's young Heroism charms me. Kiss him. Poor Mugford. Yet glorious Mugford.—How beautifull and sublime it is to die for ones Country.—What a fragrant Memory remains!

The Rumour you heard of General Gates, will prove premature. I endeavoured both here and with the General, to have it so, and should have succeeded, if it had not been for the Loss of General Thomas. 13Cruel small Pox! worse than the sword! But now I fear We must part with Gates for the sake of Canada.

Mrs. Montgomery is a Lady like all the Family, of refined Sentiments and elegant Accomplishments. Her Letter, as you quote it, is very pathetic.

Do you mean that our Plymouth Friends are in Trouble for a disordered son! If so, I am grieved to the Heart. God grant them Support under so severe an Affliction. But this World is a scene of Afflictions.

Rejoice to hear that the Enemy has not fortified. Hope they will not be suffered to attempt it.

Dont think about my Cloaths. I do well enough in that Respect. As to your House at Boston, do with it, as you please. Sell it, if you will, but not for a farthing less than it cost me. Let it, if you please, but take Care who your Tenant is—both of his Prudence to preserve the House, and his Ability to pay the Rent.

Your Brother, I hope will be promoted. He is fit for it, and has deserved it. If his Name comes recommended from the General Court, he will have a Commission for a Field Officer, and I will recommend him to the General for his Notice.

My Pupil, if he pleases, will do Honour to his Preceptor, and important service to his Country. I hope his Zeal and Fidelity will be found equal to his Abilities.2

I will endeavour to relieve your Head Ach if I can.

I send you all the News, in the Papers. Great Things are on the Tapis. These Throws will usher in the Birth of a fine Boy. We have no Thoughts of removing from hence—there is no occasion for it.

RC and LbC (Adams Papers).


Suspension points in MS.


See JA's fatherly letter of advice to Oakes Angier, 12 June 1776 (LbC, Adams Papers; JA, Works , 9:394–395).