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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 1


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Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0154

Author: Smith, Isaac Sr.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1775-06-24

Isaac Smith Sr. to John Adams

[salute] Mr. Adams

Long before this will reach you, you will have an Account of the Action, att Charlestown, in which though the regulars have gaind an Advantageous Cituation have paid for itt very dearly, which loss in Millitary Accheivements is lookt upon as trivial. The distruction of Charlestown is a most Melancholy seen, as Three quarters of the Inhabitants have lost there, all. Brother Kent house, W. house, as likewise sister Austin houses are all destroyed,1 and Although the Cheif of the people had removed and there Effects yet there were Considerable of Value in the Town, and likewise a great many things, belonging to Boston people, which had been left in homes to be transported into the Country not expecting any such a devastation would take place so suddenly and not being Able to get Carts have lost them, all, Among which was Doct. Mathers,2 who's daughters came Out the day before.
You will be informed of the state of Our Affairs, by those who have the Management of them, but as we have had several times since the Engagement people who have liberty to go up, by which, some people get a chance down—One three days past and One Yesterday, a Capt. of a ship being up there to see his Owner Mr. B——, was a spectator from the begining a saturday Morning and while there being connected with many of the friends of Govermt. falsly so-called, by which his Account beleive to be as good as any One's. He says he was on Cops { 228 } hill when the orders came for the burning the Town which was about the same time the Troops landed—and was att the seeing the Wounded brought back (the dead ther's, as well as Ours were buried, on Charlestown side). The talk was that they had lost and wounded about a Thousand about 300 of which was killed. Amongst which Numbers of a Thousand, about 80 Officers were killed and wounded, 30 of which Number were dead and many more since Amongst which was besides Majo. Pitcarn and Williams, Colo. Abbercrombie, (the latter Yesterday, Intelligence brings) haveing dyed after geting to Boston. Itt was said Majo. Sh[ . . . ] 3 fell but he was not there. On the Other side the loss of Doct. Warren is great, and itt was a great pitty, that ever there was the least thoughts of bestowing the late honor upon him, being more wanted in Other Capacities. He was buried in Charlestown buriing place, itt is said that Offers were made that any of his friends att Boston might attend his funeral.—Yesterday Morning a Transport Arrived and landed her Troops said to be One ordered back from N York of 16 sail bound there and itts supposed a vessell has been sent to stop them from going to N York, so that itts likely we shall have them all here in a few days which iff so hope the Connecticut forces will come this way, as itt now takes a great many to secure the different passes.—Since the Marshal law has been Established in Boston the people dare not Open there Mouths scarsely. Poor Shrimpton Hunt your late Neighbour, Only saying a Saturday, that he hopt Our people would get the better was taken up and Confined itts said in gaol. A son of my late Neighbour Gore calling Over the way to his sister to see a funeral come along the paul holders left the Corps, itts said tho beleive not true and whent and put him under gaurd six hours—suppose by his fathers influence he got Clear. No person was Allowed to be On there houses, to look Out a sabbath day. None of the select Men are Allowed to come Out. T.B.4 still remains there. Mrs. Gill got Out the day I did. Your brother Smith was not in the late Engagement, being confind to his Chamber, not being well. Doct. Cotton I here has been confined with the Rheumatism and Other disorders.—We are Obstructed in business by the M[en of] Warr and Cutters, so that I have had Vessells designed here, Obliged to go round to Ipswich, which goods must be carted from thence here—but in a few days we must expect more. The people, since the last battle are removing there household goods from this Town.

[salute] I am with,5 wishing your Counsels may be conducted by An Overruleing Providence, for the purpose of a lasting Tranquility, Your hume. servant,

[signed] Isaac Smith
{ 229 }
[Added on cover:] July 1st. A person yesterday from Boston says Jemmey Lovell is confined in gaol in the dungen for Nobody knows what. The Inhabitants have no Wood, an Account has been taken of those that are still in Boston which amount to about 5,000. The same person who says he had the best information that the Number of Officers kil'd and wounded, is rather more [than] the 84 mentioned and that 102 Sargents were kil'd and wounded, and that the 52d Rigement had lost 2 Capts. returned or 2 officers, forget which. I here the Officers say that the battle of Menden did not exceed itt.—I hope Our New Assembly or the General will make a demand of all the Inhabitants and there Effects, of those who by Contract Ought to come Out.—There is a Military Watch kept by the friends of Goverment. Martyn Gay One of the Captns.—Yours by Doct. Church have received.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To John Adams Esqr. a Member of the Continental Congress Philadelphia”; postal marking: “Camb Post paid 1/”; docketed “June 24. 1775” in a hand the editors believe is probably that of Rev. William Gordon (1728–1807), of Jamaica Plain (Roxbury, Mass.), the historian of the American Revolution. Docketings in the same hand appear on some scores of letters received by JA from this date through the following fifteen months (until early Oct. 1776), after which they disappear. The only possible explanation of these (if they are indeed in William Gordon's hand) is that Gordon somehow gained access to at least a portion of JA 's letter files at some point after the latter date. Since in 1775 JA thought Gordon vain, talkative, and injudicious ( Diary and Autobiography , 2:174), and since no external evidence is yet known to the editors of Gordon's using JA 's files—indeed JA replied evasively when Gordon asked for assistance on his History (Gordon to JA , 27 March 1777, Adams Papers, MHS, Procs. , 63 [1929–1930]:338; JA to Gordon, 8 April 1777, LbC , Adams Papers, JA, Works , 9:461–462)—it is very surprising to find traces of his hand in the Adams Papers. The identification of persons by their handwriting being a treacherous business, the editors' conclusion that Gordon consulted and docketed some of JA 's early Revolutionary correspondence is put forth tentatively and in the expectation, or at least the hope, that it will be confirmed or disproved by evidence still to be found. But Gordon's spidery hand is highly individualistic and not easily mistaken for anyone else's. He was also a very pertinacious man and investigator, as shown by his letters gathered and edited by Worthington C. Ford (MHS, Procs. , 63 [1929–1930]: 303–613) and by the references to privately owned materials in the preface, text, and notes in his 4-volume History, eventually published in London in 1788. He had, moreover, something of a habit of marking up the papers he examined when preparing his book. (For an example in the Washington Papers, which he inspected at Mount Vernon in 1784, see Benjamin Rush, Letters , 1:185.) And it may be pointed out, finally, that references in his correspondence show that Gordon and his wife visited AA in Braintree on a rather familiar footing at times when JA was absent. Light on this and on more important matters would doubtless be obtainable if Gordon's own papers survive and could be found. He spent his last years, died, and was buried at Ipswich in England. With { 230 } the exception of a single letter (Jefferson to Gordon, 2 July 1787, in Jefferson's Papers, ed. Boyd, 11:525), the present editors, though they have made extensive inquiries, have found no traces of what must once have been a formidable mass of correspondence and other MSS in Gordon's possession. Apparently they were not dispersed. But if not, were they entirely destroyed, or do they lurk somewhere more or less intact?
1. Thus in MS . “Brother Kent” was Ebenezer Kent, who had married the writer's sister Anna. “Sister Austin” was Mary Smith, wife of Ebenezer Austin. See Adams Genealogy. “W. house” very likely means warehouse, Kent being a merchant.
2. Rev. Samuel Mather, Harvard 1723, “last and least of a great dynasty,” minister of the Tenth Congregational Society in Boston, where, though not a loyalist, he remained throughout the siege (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 7:216–238).
3. Illegible. Probably Maj. William Sheriff is meant.
4. Thomas Boylston.
5. Thus in MS . Word or words omitted?

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0155

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1775-06-25

Abigail Adams to John Adams

[salute] Dearest Friend

My Father has been more affected with the distruction of Charlstown, than with any thing which has heretofore taken place. Why should not his countanance be sad when the city, the place of his Fathers Sepulchers lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire, scarcly one stone remaineth upon an other. But in the midst of sorrow we have abundant cause of thankfulness that so few of our Breathren are numberd with the slain, whilst our enimies were cut down like the Grass before the Sythe. But one officer of all the Welch fuzelers remains to tell his story. Many poor wretches dye for want of proper assistance and care of their wounds.
Every account agrees in 14 and 15 hundred slain and wounded upon their side nor can I learn that they dissemble the number themselves. We had some Heroes that day who fought with amazing intrepidity, and courage—

“Extremity is the trier of Spirits—

Common chances common men will bear;

And when the Sea is calm all boats alike

Shew mastership in floating, but fortunes blows

When most struck home, being bravely warded, crave

A noble cunning.” Shakespear.

I hear that General How should say the Battle upon the plains of Abram was but a Bauble to this. When we consider all the circum• { 231 } stances attending this action we stand astonished that our people were not all cut of. They had but one hundred foot intrenched, the number who were engaged, did not exceed 800, and they [had] not half amunition enough. The reinforcements not able to get to them seasonably, the tide was up and high, so that their floating batteries came upon each side of the causway and their row gallies keeping a continual fire. Added to this the fire from fort hill and from the Ship, the Town in flames all round them and the heat from the flames so intence as scarcely to be borne; the day one of the hottest we have had this season and the wind blowing the smoke in their faces—only figure to yourself all these circumstances, and then consider that we do not count 60 Men lost. My Heart overflows at the recollection.
We live in continual Expectation of Hostilities. Scarcely a day that does not produce some, but like Good Nehemiah having made our prayer with God, and set the people with their Swords, their Spears and their bows we will say unto them, Be not affraid of them. Remember the Lord who is great and terible, and fight for your Breathren, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your houses.
I have just received yours of the 17 of june in 7 days only.1 Every line from that far Country is precious. You do not tell me how you do, but I will hope better. Alass you little thought what distress we were in the day you wrote. They delight in molesting us upon the Sabbeth. Two Sabbeths we have been in such Alarms that we have had no meeting. This day we have set under our own vine in quietness, have heard Mr. Taft, from psalms.2 The Lord is good to all and his tender mercies are over all his works. The good man was earnest and pathetick. I could forgive his weakness for the sake of his sincerity—but I long for a Cooper and an Elliot. I want a person who has feeling and sensibility who can take one up with him

“And in his Duty prompt at every call

Can watch, and weep, and pray, and feel for all.”

Mr. Rice joins General Heaths regiment to morrow as adjutant. Your Brother is very desirous of being in the army, but your good Mother is really voilent against it. I cannot persuaid nor reason her into a consent. Neither he nor I dare let her know that he is trying for a place. My Brother has a Captains commission, and is stationd at Cambridge. I thought you had the best of inteligence or I should have taken pains to have been more perticuliar. As to Boston, there are many persons yet there who would be glad to get out if they could. Mr. Boylstone and Mr. Gill the printer with his family are held upon the { 232 } black list tis said. Tis certain they watch them so narrowly that they cannot escape, nor your Brother Swift3 and family. Mr. Mather got out a day or two before Charlstown was distroyed, and had lodged his papers and what else he got out at Mr. Carys, but they were all consumed. So were many other peoples, who thought they might trust their little there; till teams could be procured to remove them. The people from the Alms house and work house were sent to the lines last week, to make room for their wounded they say. Medford people are all removed. Every sea port seems in motion.—O North! may the Groans and cryes of the injured and oppressed Harrow up thy Soul. We have a prodigious Army, but we lack many accomadations which we need. I hope the apointment of these new Generals will give satisfaction. They must be proof against calumny. In a contest like this continual reports are circulated by our Enimies, and they catch with the unwary and the gaping croud who are ready to listen to the marvellous, without considering of consequences even tho there best Friends are injured.—I have not venturd to inquire one word of you about your return. I do not know whether I ought to wish for it—it seems as if your sitting together was absolutely necessary whilst every day is big with Events.
Mr. Bowdoin called a fryday and took his leave of me desiring I would present his affectionate regards to you. I have hopes that he will recover—he has mended a good deal. He wished he could have staid in Braintree, but his Lady was fearful.
I have often heard that fear makes people loving. I never was so much noticed by some people as I have been since you went out of Town, or rather since the 19 of April. Mr. W[inslo]ws family are determined to be sociable. Mr. A——n4 are quite Friendly.—Nabby Johny Charly Tommy all send duty. Tom says I wish I could see par. You would laugh to see them all run upon the sight of a Letter—like chickens for a crum, when the Hen clucks. Charls says mar What is it any good news? and who is for us and who against us, is the continual inquiry.5—Brother and Sister Cranch send their Love. He has been very well since he removed, for him, and has full employ in his Buisness. Unkel Quincy calls to hear most every day, and as for the Parson, he determines I shall not make the same complaint I did last time, for he comes every other day.
Tis exceeding dry weather. We have not had any rain for a long time. Bracket has mowed the medow and over the way, but it will not be a last years crop.—Pray let me hear from you by every opportunity till I have the joy of once more meeting you. Yours ever more,
[signed] Portia
{ 233 }
P.S. Tell Bass his father and family are well.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed in John Thaxter's hand: “To John Adams Esqr. Philadelphia To the Care of the Committee of Safety.”
1. AA unquestionably means JA 's letter of 18 June, above.
2. Rev. Moses Taft, Harvard 1751, a neighboring minister in what is now Randolph, Mass. (Weis, Colonial Clergy of N.E. ).
3. Samuel Swift, Harvard 1735, not a relative but a brother lawyer and close friend of JA ; see JA's Diary and Autobiography , 1:293 and passim.
4. Perhaps “Allen,” but not now identifiable.
5. This homely passage, along with much else in the present letter, was omitted by CFA in his several editions of AA 's letters.