Adams Family Correspondence, volume 2

Nathan Rice to Abigail Adams, 27 July 1776 Rice, Nathan AA Nathan Rice to Abigail Adams, 27 July 1776 Rice, Nathan Adams, Abigail
Nathan Rice to Abigail Adams
Mrs. Adams Ticonderoga. July 27th. 1776

When I reflect on that Tranquil State, and agreable Scituation which I was in, while I had the Honour of being one of your Family, and compare it with my present, the Contrast appears so great and my Scituation so widely different, that the Reflection of past Pleasure, raises Desires, unbecomeing the Character of a Soldier; especially one fighting for every thing dear and valuable. Were I to attempt a Description, or Relation, of the Scituation and Sufferings of this Northern Army, Time as well as Words would fail me. Many I trust have been the Reflections which have been cast at us since the Retreat from Quebec, with how much Justice the World must Judge when they know the Circumstances which you in New England did not, if I may judge from the public Prints, which were filld with the most pompous Accounts of Victories gained by our Army. The Enemy might, and would, had they not been Paltroons, have forced our Army to have raised the Seige of Quebec any Day, the whole of the Winter. After the Defeat on the 31st of Decembr. we could never muster 700 Men fit for Duty: at the Time of the Retreat we could muster scarsely 400, not two Days Provisions in the Stores, nor twenty Rounds of Amunition for our Cannon, which did not exceed Nine Peices, among Inhabitants who were ready to cut our Throats when Opportunity might offer, without Money that would pass. Add to this, the small Pox raging and Destroying, and no Medicines for the Sick. In this Scituation I found our Army, when I came to Canada. Our Regiment (by an Order from Genl. Arnold) were inoculated as were a number of others, at Montreal. In the mean Time Genl. Thomas died with it. Genl. Sullivan arriving and taking the Command, proceeded to Sorel, 45 Miles from Montreal, with some Troops he brought with him, which joind with some of ours already there made him near four thousand strong; about 2 thousand of them Commanded by Genl. Thomson1 went down to Three Rivers; to attack the Enemy, but by some bad Conduct proved unsuccessfull, himself being taken with some others by the Treachery of the Canadians. The Regulars soon proceeding up the River, and Genl. Sullivan knowing his weekness thought best to retreat, which he did at the Head of 6000 Men; 3000 and upwards of which were then unable to help themselves, and Nothing for Subsistance but Pork and Flower; very little of the latter. After distroying the Forts left behind; we retreated with all the publick 65stores, as far as Crown Point over Lake Champlain, 110 Miles: Upon a Council of Wars being holden after the Arrival of Genl. Gates, it was determined we should retreat to Ticonderoga, at the Head of the Lake; where we now are.—That we have been obliged to make this Retreat thro the Neglect of some Man; or Body of Men, is most certain. Whose it is, I shall not pretend to say. This I can say, that the Northern Army has been most scandalously neglected and abused. We have had an Army without Men, Commissarys without Provisions, Pay masters without Money, Conductors of Artilery and Quarter Masters without a Single Article in their Departments. Thus Madam the War in Canada has been carryed on: till we have lost 1400 Men or upwards. Indeed to say the truth such Conduct has made me sick of the Army. I hope however we shall be able to make a Stand where we now are. Our Army is upon the Recovery, trust we shall make a respectable Figure yet. Rejoice to hear of your peaceable State in the Massachusetts—hope you may enjoy it still. My Respects to Mr. Cranches Family, and Friends, Mr. Smiths in particular. Regards to the Gentlemen. Love to your little Folks.

Wishing you all the Happiness possible in the Absence of Mr. Adams, I subscribe myself, with the greatest Respect your very humble Servant, N Rice

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Abigail Adams in Braintree New England”; docketed in an unidentified hand.


Brig. Gen. William Thompson of Pennsylvania (Heitman, Register Continental Army ).

Abigail Adams to John Adams, 29 July 1776 AA JA Abigail Adams to John Adams, 29 July 1776 Adams, Abigail Adams, John
Abigail Adams to John Adams
Boston july 29 1776

I write you now, thanks be to Heaven, free from paine, in Good Spirits, but weak and feeble. All my Sufferings produced but one Eruption. I think I can have no reason to be doubtfull with regard to myself as the Symptoms run so high and my Arm opperated in the best manner. The small pox acts very odly this Season, there are Seven out of our Number that have not yet had it, 3 out of our 4 children have been twice innoculated, two of them Charles and Tommy have not had one Symptom. I have indulged them in rather freer living than before and hope they will not long remain doubtfull. Mrs. Cranch and Cotton Tufts have been in Town almost 3 weeks and have had the innoculation repeated 4 times and can not make it 66take. So has Mrs. Lincoln. Lucy Cranch and Billy1 are in the same State. Becky Peck who has lived in the same Manner with us, has it to such a degree as to be blind with one Eye, swell'd prodigiously, I believe she has ten Thousand. She is really an object to look at; tho she is not Dr. Bulfinches patient. Johnny has it exactly as one would wish, enough to be well satisfied and yet not be troublesome. We are ordered all the Air we can get, and when we cannot walk we must ride, and if we can neither walk nor ride, we must be led. We sleep with windows open all Night, and Lay upon the Carpet or Straw Beds, Mattrass or any thing hard, abstain from Spirit, Salt and fats, fruit we Eat, all we can get, and those who like vegetables unseasond may Eat them, but that is not I.—This doubtfull Buisness is very dissagreable as it will detain us much longer, but there are several instances now of persons who thought they had had it, and were recoverd, and lived away freely, and now are plentifully dealt by. Mr. Joseph Edwards wife for one, and queer work she makes of it you may be sure. The Doctors say they cannot account for it, unless the free presperation throws it off. Every physician has a number of patients in this doubtfull State. Where it does take and the patient lives any thing free, they have a Doze of it. Cool weather is much fitter for the small pox. I have not got rid of any terrors of the small pox but that of not being liable to it again, which you will say is a very great one; but what I mean is that I should dread it more now than before I saw it, were I liable to it. If we consider the great numbers who have it now, computed at seven thousand, 3 thousand of which are from the Country, tis very favorable, tho not so certain as it was last winter with many patients. Mr. Shaw who was innoculated at the same time when I and 3 of my children were out of the same Box, and has lived lower by his account than we have, has a full portion of it for all of us. There is no accounting for it. We did not take so much phisick as many others neither. If this last does not take I shall certainly try them with some wine.

Dr. Sawyer of Newbury Port lost a child 9 years old last week with the Distemper, and Coll. Robinson of Dorchester lies extreem bad with a mortification in his kidneys. Some such instances we must expect among such a variety of persons and constitutions.

I rejoice Exceedingly at the Success which General Lee has met with. I believe the Men will come along in a short time. They are raising, but the Massachusets has been draind for Sea Service as well as land. The Men were procured in this Town last week; we have taken a vessel from Halifax bound to New York, which we should 67call a prize but that it containd about 14 Tories among whom is that infamous Wretch of a Ben Davis the Ginger Bread Robber. How many little ones can say I was an Hungry and you gave me no Bread, but inhumanely took what little I had from me.2 I wish the Sea or any other Element had them rather than we should be tormented with them. Friends and connextions are very bad things in such times as these. Interest will be made, and impartial Justice obstructed, we catch flies and let the wasps go.—Hark a General Huzza of the populace, these wretches are just committed to jail.

The Continential Troops are near all gone from this Town, all I believe who are in a Marching State. The small pox has been General amongst them and exceeding favourable.

I have requested of Judge Cushing to write you an account of his circut and he has promised to do it.3 Both he and his Lady are under innoculation. When I came into Town I was in great hopes that if we did well we should be able to return in about 3 weeks, and we should have been able to have effected it, if it had opperated as formerly. Now I fear it will be 5 weeks before we shall all get through but I must not complain. When I cast my eye upon Becky whose Symptoms were not half so high as mine or some of the rest of us, and see what an object she is I am silenced, and adore the Goodness of God towards us.

Her Dr. says she is not dangerous. Col. Warren has sufferd as much pain as I did, but has more to shew for it, he is very cleverly spatterd. Mrs. Warren is now strugling with it, to one of her constitution it opperates in faintings and langour. It did so upon Betsy Cranch, yet when it found its way through, it opperated kindly.—I believe you will be tired of hearing of small pox, but you bid me write every post and suppose you are anxious to hear how we have it. The next post I hope to tell you that they all have it, who now remain uncertain.

I am at all times and in all States unfeignedly yours.

RC (Adams Papers); addressed in John Thaxter's hand: “To The Honble: John Adams Esqr. at Philadelphia To be left at the Post Office”; postmarked: “BOSTON 29 IY”; endorsed: “Portia.”


This is the first mention, individually, in these letters of William Cranch (1769–1855), Harvard 1787, a nephew of AA who will often be mentioned later and will have his own part in the Adams Family Correspondence. He was to enjoy a long and distinguished career as a federal judge in the District of Columbia and as a reporter of cases in his own court and the U.S. Supreme Court. See Adams Genealogy.


Just what lay behind this remark by AA is not now known. Benjamin Davis Sr. (1729–1805) and his son Benjamin were captured at sea by the armed schooners Hancock and Franklin. Davis Sr. was a Bostonian, a Sandemanian, and a man of wealth, though in the 68List of Addressers of Hutchinson in 1774 he is entered as a “Huckster” of Town Dock. During the siege of Boston he served in the Associated Loyalists. After his capture he remained imprisoned in Boston until June 1777, when he was exchanged and made his way to New York. Proscribed by the General Court in 1778, he settled after the war in Shelburne, N.S., but returned to Boston before his death. See Boston Gazette, 5 Aug. 1776; MHS, Procs. , 1st ser., 11 (1869–1870):392; Col. Soc. Mass., Pubns. , 5 (1902):269–270; 6 (1904):126–127; Jones, Loyalists of Mass .


Judge William Cushing did so in a letter of this date full of valuable information on the reopening of the Superior Court in Essex co. and the “eastern circuit” in Maine ( Adams Papers).