Adams Family Correspondence, volume 2

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 18 June 1777 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 18 June 1777 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
Philadelphia June 18. 1777

We shall have all the Sages and Heroes of France here before long.

Mr. Du Coudray is here, who is esteemed the most learned Officer in France. He is an Artillery Officer.


Mr. De la Balme is here too, a great Writer upon Horsemanship and Cavalry. He has presented me with two Volumes written by himself upon these subjects, elegantly printed, bound and gilt.1

Mr. De Vallenais is with him, who speaks very good English.2

The inclosed Papers will give you all the News. You get Intelligence sooner and better than We.

We are under no more Apprehensions here than if the British Army was in the Crimea. Our Fabius will be slow, but sure.

Arnold, You see will have at them, if he can.

RC (Adams Papers). Enclosed newspapers not found or identified.


Augustin Mottin de La Balme (1736–1780), a French cavalry officer and writer on cavalry tactics, had left France against orders from Vergennes by disguising himself as a physician. He bore letters of introduction from Franklin to Hancock and from Deane to Washington. In Philadelphia he presented to JA copies of his Essais sur l'équitation, Amsterdam and Paris, 1773, and Elémens de tactique pour la cavalerie, Paris, 1776, which are still among JA's books in the Boston Public Library; the titlepage of the Essais is reproduced among the illustrations in the present volume. On 8 July 1777 Congress commissioned La Balme colonel and inspector of cavalry ( JCC , 8:539), but he did not gain Washington's support in this post and retired from it early in 1778. The next year he campaigned as a volunteer on the Penobscot and elsewhere, and thereafter among the old French settlements in the West; in Nov. 1780 he and his men were massacred near Miami, Ohio, by a party of Little Turtle's Indians. Most of the information above is drawn from Lasseray's excellent sketch of La Balme in Les français sous les treize étoiles , 2:329–336.


Of this officer, whose name was spelled in a great variety of ways, little is definitely known beyond an entry in JCC for 8 July 1777 (8:539): “Resolved . . . That Mons. Vallenais be appointed an aid to Mons. de la Balme, with the rank and pay of captain of cavalry.” See also Lasseray, 2:462–463.

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 21 June 1777 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 21 June 1777 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend Philadelphia June 21. 1777

It would give Pleasure to every Body your Way but the few, unfeeling Tories, to see what a Spirit prevails here.

The Allarm which How was foolish enough to spread by his March out of Brunswick, raised the Militia of the Jersies universally, and in this City it united the Whiggs, to exert themselves under their new Militia Law, in such a Degree that nobody here was under any Apprehensions of danger from Hows March. It seemed to be the general Wish that he might persevere in his March that he might meet with certain Destruction.

But the poor Wretches have skulked back to Brunswick.—This is a great Disgrace. It will be considered so in Europe. It is certainly 269thought so by our People, and it will be felt to be so by their own People—the poor Tories especially.

It will dispirit that Army in such a manner, that Desertions will become very numerous.

The Tories in this Town seem to be in absolute Despair. Chopfallen, in a most remarkable Manner. The Quakers begin to say they are not Tories—that their Principle of passive Obedience will not allow them to be Whiggs, but that they are as far from being Tories as the Presbyterians.

The true Secret of all this is, We have now got together a fine Army, and more are coming in every day. An Officer arrived from Virginia, this day, says he passed by Three Thousand continental Troops between Williamsbourg and this Town.—I am with an Affection, that neither Time nor Place can abate, Yours, ever Yours.

RC (Adams Papers).