Papers of John Adams, volume 3

From William Tudor, 26 June 1775 Tudor, William JA From William Tudor, 26 June 1775 Tudor, William Adams, John
From William Tudor
26 June 1775 Dear Sir

You will doubtless before the Receipt of this have heard of the bloody Engagement at Charlestown. For a particular Account of it I must refer You to a Letter I last Week wrote our Friend Collins.1 The ministerial Troops gain'd the Hill but were victorious Losers. A few more such Victories and they are undone. I cannot think our Retreat an unfortunate one. Such is the Situation of that Hill that we could not have kept it, expos'd to the mighty fire which our Men must have received from the Ships and Batteries that Command the whole Eminence. 800 Provincials bore the Assault of 2000 Regulars and twice repuls'd them, but the Heroes were not supported, and could only retire. Our Men were not us'd to Cannon Balls and they came so thick from the Ships, floating Batteries &c., &c. that they were discouraged advancing. They have since been more us'd to them and dare encounter them. The American Army are in great Spirits, and eager to recover their late Defeat. I wish we had more Discipline But Genl. Washington we hear is coming, and we expect much from his Conduct and Experience. The Colony Forces have thrown up very extensive Lines to secure Cambridge and there are four different Entrenchments in Roxbury. The Regular Troops cannot again fight under the like advantages they did at Charlestown. They have dearly paid for one Mile's Advancement, and before they get another I much doubt if they will have Soldiers enough left to maintain it.

The lower Part of the Province has been in much Confusion and Distress. It is suppos'd 20,000 People from Boston and its Environs have deserted their Habitations, yet I hear of Nobody that thinks of any Thing less than Submission. The universal Voice is, if the Continent approve, and assist we will die or be free. The Sword is drawn 49and the Scabbard thrown away, till it can be sheath'd with Security and Honour.

I wish I could be near eno' to my worthy Colonel, to congratulate him on his late Proscription. If anything had been wanting to secure to him and Mr. Adams the Hearts of their Countrymen, Genl. Gage's Proclamation would have amply effected it. The Man must surely have felt ridiculous to order martial Law to take Place through a Province, one Town alone of which he had any Command in.2

The Loss of Dr. Warren is irreparable, his Death is generally and greatly lamented. But

Dulce et Decorum est pro Patria mori.

This is the Day of Heroes. The Fall of one will inspire the surviving glorious Band to emulate his Virtues and revenge his Death on the Foes of Liberty and our Country. Yours, with great Affection and Respect

Wm. Tudor

RC (Adams Papers);addressed: “John Adams Esq Philadelphia”; docketed by JA in a late hand: “Tudor 26. June 1775.”


Stephen Collins, Quaker merchant and whig, whom Tudor probably met on his trip to Philadelphia in the fall of 1774. See JA to Joseph Palmer, 5 July (below).


On 12 June, Gen. Gage issued a proclamation declaring martial law and offering a pardon to anyone who would lay down his arms except for Samuel Adams and John Hancock, “whose offenses are of too flagitous a nature to admit any other consideration than that of condign punishment” (Force, Archives , 4th ser., 2:968–970). Gage probably held little hope for success, for in a letter to Lord Dartmouth on 12 June he mentioned only the declaration of martial law, not the offer of pardons (Gage, Corr. , 1:404–405).

To James Warren, 27 June 1775 JA Warren, James To James Warren, 27 June 1775 Adams, John Warren, James
To James Warren
Phyladelphia June 27. 1775 My dear Friend

I am extreamly obliged to you for your Favour of the 20th. of June. The last Fall, I had a great many Friends who kept me continually well informed of every Event as it occurred. But, this Time, I have lost all my Friends, excepting Coll Warren of Plymouth and Coll Palmer of Braintree, and my Wife.

Our dear Warren, has fallen, with Laurells on his Brows, as fresh and blooming, as ever graced an Hero.

I have Suffered infinitely this Time, from ill Health, and blind Eyes at a Time when, a vast Variety of great objects were crowding upon my Mind, and when my dear Country was suffering all the Calamities of Famine, Pestilence, Fire, and Sword at once.

At this Congress We do as well as we can. I must leave it to some 50future opportunity, Which I have a charming Confidence will certainly come, to inform you fully of the History of our Debates and Resolutions.

Last Saturday night at Eleven O Clock, an express arrived from the worthy Govr. Trumbull, informing of the Battle of Charlestown.1 An hundred Gentlemen flocked to our Lodgings to hear the News. At one O Clock Mr. H. Mr. A. and myself, went out to enquire after the Committee of this City, in order to beg some Powder. We found Some of them, and these with great Politeness, and Sympathy for their brave Brethren in the Mass, agreed, to go that night and send forward about Ninety Quarter Casks, and before Morning it was in Motion. Between two and three O Clock I got to bed.

We are contriving every Way we can think of to get you Powder. We have a Number of Plans for making Salt Petre and Gentlemen here are very confident, that We shall be able to furnish Salt Petre and Powder of our own Manufacture, and that very Soon. A Method of making it, will be published very soon by one of our Committees.2

Before this reaches you, Gen. Washington, Lee, &c will arrive among you. I wish to god, you had been appointed a General Officer, in the Room of some others. Adams and Adams Strove to get it done. But, Notions, narrow Notions prevented it—not dislike to you, but fear of disobliging Pomroy, and his Friends.

Your Government was the best We could obtain for you.3 We have passed some Resolutions concerning North Carolina, which will do a great deal of good. We have allowed them to raise 1000 Men, and to take Care of Trayters, if necessary.4 This must be kept secret.

We are sending you, Ten Companies of Rifle Men. These, if the gentlemen of the Southern Colonies are not very partial and much mistaken, are very fine fellows.5 They are the most accurate Marksmen in the World: they kill with great Exactness at 200 yards Distance: they have Sworn certain Death to the ministerial officers. May they perform their oath.

You will soon find that the Continental Congress are in, deep enough. The Commissions to the officers of the Army; the Vote for your Government; the Votes about North Carolina; and a Multitude of other Votes which you will soon hear of will convince you.

I have inclosed you an Hint about salt Petre.6 Germans and others here have an opinion that every stable, Dove house, Cellar, Vault &c is a Mine of salt Petre. The inclosed Proclamation, coincides with this opinion. The Mould under stables &c may be boiled soon into salt Petre, it is said. Numbers are about it here.


RC (MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.); addressed: “To the Hon. James Warren Esqr President of the Provincial Congress at Watertown These”; docketed: “Mr. J.A. Lettr June 1775.”


Although Palmer, Warren, Gerry, and Winthrop all wrote soon after the event describing the Battle of Bunker Hill (see their letters, 19–21 June, above), it was the dispatch from Trumbull arriving on 24 June that brought the first news and spurred JA and the rest of the delegation to action. The dispatch contained a letter from Trumbull to the congress that briefly mentioned the battle, and that was read to the members on 26 June, but more important, it also included a detailed account written by Elijah Hide of Lebanon, Conn., who had been a spectator on Winter Hill during the battle (PCC, No. 66; JCC , 2:107; Pennsylvania Gazette, 28 June). JA's account in his Autobiography dates the arrival of Trumbull's dispatch as 23 June, the day that Washington left for Cambridge—an indication that JA did not consult the records of the congress or a letter he wrote to AA on 23 June ( Diary and Autobiography , 3:324; Adams Family Correspondence , 1:226–227).


Probably the pamphlet entitled Several Methods of Making Salt-Petre; Recommended to the Inhabitants of the United Colonies by Their Representatives in Congress, Phila. and Boston, 1775 (Evans, Nos. 14584, 14585).


On 9 June, the congress had resolved that Massachusetts owed no obedience to a Parliamentary act that illegally changed the charter of the province, and that the Provincial Congress should call for elections to a House of Representatives, which would choose a Council. Until a royal governor was willing to abide by the charter, the offices of governor and lieutenant governor should be considered vacant, the powers of governor being exercised meanwhile by the Council ( JCC , 2:83–84). JA was not entirely happy with this solution. Years later he explained that “Although this Advice was in a great degree conformable, to the New York and Pensilvania System, or in other Words to the System of Mr. Dickinson and Mr. Duane, I thought it an Acquisition, for it was a Precedent of Advice to the separate States to institute Governments, and I doubted not We should soon have more Occasions to follow this Example” ( Diary and Autobiography , 3:353–354). Still, at the time, JA remained somewhat uneasy about the advice that had been given Massachusetts. In letters to the Warrens, he pointedly asked how the government was going on (JA to James Warren, 20 June; to Joseph Warren, 21 June, above).


On 26 June the congress resolved that North Carolina should be allowed to raise a body of 1,000 men that would be considered part of the Continental Army with their pay provided by the congress ( JCC , 2:107).


But see James Warren to JA, 11 Sept. (below). On 14 June the congress voted to raise six companies from Pennsylvania and two each from Maryland and Virginia, and on 22 June two additional ones from Pennsylvania ( JCC , 2:89, 104).


The enclosure has not been found, but see the recipe in JA's hand and the explanatory note written on Joseph Palmer to JA, 19 June (above).