Papers of John Adams, volume 3

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).

From James Warren, 27 June 1775 Warren, James JA From James Warren, 27 June 1775 Warren, James Adams, John
From James Warren
Watertown June 27. 1775 My Dear Sir

I feel great reluctance in suffering any Opportunity to pass without writeing to you. I can easily suppose your Anxiety as well as Curiosity make you sollicitous to hear every thing that passes here.


Since my last nothing material has taken place. The military Operations have Consisted in a few movements and a few Shot Exchanged with very little Effect, sometimes on the side of Roxbury, and sometimes on the side of Charlestown. Our Army have taken every precaution in their power for their defence, and future operations. They are heaving up lines from Charles to Mystick River, and have them in great forwardness. They are Carried across Temples Farm, and his beautiful Groves of Locusts have fallen a sacrifice to the necessity of the Times. At Roxbury they have fortified themselves in a manner almost as Impregnable as Gage has done in Boston. We want but one Article to Enable us to Act offensively, and make a vigorous Campaigne.1 Men in fine Spirits well provided with every thing but the one I mention. The Generals Appointed give us great satisfaction, especially the first and the third,2 whose Characters have for a great while been such as to fix our Esteem and Confidence. Your attention must be fixed on the Article of powder, or I will say no more. I cant but Hope you will make some suitable provision for our General Thomas.3 His Merits in the military way have surprised us all. I cant describe to you the Odds between the two Camps. While one has been Spiritless, sluggish, Confused, and dirty, I mean where Genl. Putnam, and our Friend Warrens Influence have not had their Effects. The other has been Spirited, Active regular, and clean. He has Appeared with the dignity and Abilities of a General. We have no Intercourse with Boston. Get no Intelligence from there but by those who steal out. From them we have certain Accounts of the Amazeing Slaughter made in the last Action. Thier men die of the slightest wounds, oweing to the manner of Living they are reduced to, so there will in the End be but little Odds between being killed or wounded, and we may reckon perhaps 14 or 1500 killed. I am told Genl. Howe says the Army shall not return to Boston but by the way of Roxbury, a very pretty march. It is with Confidence said that Burgoine has not been seen since the Action, and it is given out that he is gone Home. We are not without our Hopes that we shall have little trouble from his Enterprising Genius. With regard to us We are as Busy as you ever Saw Pismires on a mole hill. Our Attention is principally fixed on the Army, to Equip, regulate, quiet, and Inspirit them, and enough it is at times for us. Genls. Washington and Lee I dare say will relieve us. The Inclosed Letter I presume will tell you Mrs. Adams is well.4 You will remember I had not a line from you by the two last Conveyances. My compliments to all that know me; perticularly to my good Friend Adams who must Excuse my not writeing. Tis not for 53want of Esteem or Affection. He can hardly Conceive of my hurry. I wish you every happiness, and am yr. Sincere Friend &c

James Warren

I have not been able to Obtain the pamphlet you mentioned and Indeed after seeing it advertised in a York Paper have been less solicitous, supposing you would have it from there.5

RC (Adams Papers); docketed by JA: “Warren June 27 1775.”


Compare James Warren to JA, 20 June, note 5 (above).


Gens. Washington and Lee, not Artemas Ward, the second in command, whose incompetent leadership is mentioned by Warren below.


Gen. John Thomas was appointed the sixth brigadier on 22 June, an appointment that caused problems in Massachusetts because Thomas was senior to William Heath in the provincial service, but Heath was made fourth brigadier in the Continental Army ( JCC , 2:103; Adams Family Correspondence , 1:237–238, note 1).


Presumably AA's letter of 25 June ( Adams Family Correspondence , 1:230–233).


Warren may be referring to JA's request of 21 May for a complete copy of The Group, since the one published in Philadelphia was incomplete. If so, Warren is referring to the edition of the play published in New York by John Anderson, which would not have met JA's needs since it was also incomplete, omitting the second and third scenes of Act II (Evans, No. 14612).