Papers of John Adams, volume 11

28 From Thomas Digges, 9 January 1781 Digges, Thomas JA From Thomas Digges, 9 January 1781 Digges, Thomas Adams, John
From Thomas Digges

London 9 January 1781. RC Adams Papers. printed: Digges, Letters , p. 348–349.

This letter, written “Tuesday night late,” quoted verbatim an account of the French attack of 6 Jan. on the Island of Jersey that appeared in the London Gazette Extraordinary of Tuesday, 9 Jan., but see also a report taken from the Courier de l'Europe and referred to in Edmund Jenings' letter of 18 Jan., below. The French force landed successfully and captured St. Helier, the island's capital. In the battle that followed, the French were defeated by a force of British regulars and local militia led by Maj. Francis Peirson, who was killed at almost the moment of victory. The failure of the invasion mirrored an equally unsuccessful effort against the island in May 1779 (vol. 8:49). The battle and its outcome inspired John Singleton Copley to paint The Death of Major Peirson. When Abigail Adams saw Copley's work in 1784 she wrote that she had never seen “painting more expressive than this” ( Adams Family Correspondence , 5:376, 385).

Digges also included an account from the Royal South Carolina Gazette of 27 Nov. 1780 that appeared in the London newspapers of 10 and 11 January. The report concerned the battle at Blackstock Plantation, S.C., on 20 Nov., and declared that a British force led by Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton had routed American troops under Gen. Thomas Sumter. In fact, the Americans held their ground and Tarleton's losses were much greater than Sumter's (London Chronicle, 9–11 Jan.; Christopher Ward, The War of the Revolution, ed. John Richard Alden, 2 vols., New York, 1952, 2:746–747).

RC (Adams Papers). printed: Digges, Letters , p. 348–349.

From Joshua Johnson, 9 January 1781 Johnson, Joshua JA From Joshua Johnson, 9 January 1781 Johnson, Joshua Adams, John
From Joshua Johnson
Sir Nantes 9 Jany. 1781

My last was on the 29 July1 since which I am deprived of any of your ever esteemed favours. Inclosed I forward you an American News Paper of the 3d. November which contains matter of the greatest consequence to us and which I most seriously hope will proove true.2 I most certainly should have addrest you before this on a subject interesting to myself had I been furnished with your address on your arrival in Holland and for which at present I am indebted to my very worthy Friend Mr. Jenings, on hearing from you in reply to this and knowing that my Letters will reach you safe, I will trouble you on that subject. The Lady Lee, by whom I rec'ed the Inclosed Paper will return in a few Weeks for Annapolis, if you have any Letters to send forward them and every care shall be taken of them. Capt. Dashiel commander of the aforesaid Vessell informs me that he left the Capes of the Chesapeak on the 15 Novem. and that the Enemy had embarked from Portsmouth and returned to New York.

I am in expectation of the Doves Arrival every Day by her I hope 29for a confirmation of the News from the Southward and which you may depend upon my handing you by the first Courier in the mean time I am with the greatest respect & esteem Sir Your most Obedt. Hbl. Serv.

Joshua Johnson

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “The Honble. John Adams Esqr. Amsterdam.”


Not found.


Since Johnson indicates that the Lady Lee was returning to Annapolis, it is likely that the enclosed newspaper was the Maryland Gazette. The issue of 3 Nov. contained several items that would have interested Johnson and JA, most notably the account of the American victory at King's Mountain on 7 Oct., an erroneous report that 6,000 French troops had landed at Sunbury, Ga., and that Cornwallis was in full retreat. It is likely that JA sent the newspaper to Jean Luzac for publication in the Gazette de Leyde, for the issue of 23 Jan. contained the account of the French landing taken from the “Gazette de Maryland” of 3 Nov., while that of 26 Jan. included the report on King's Mountain taken from the same source. For the publication of these items and other material received by JA in mid-January, see Jean Luzac's letter of 22 Jan., below.