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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 1


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.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0156

Author: Thaxter, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1775-06-28

John Thaxter to John Adams

[salute] Dear Sir

One of the many brave and gallant Actions that have graced our Arms, I take the Liberty of writing you an Account of. The most important Transactions, since your Abscence, you are undoubtedly already informed of; but as this, I am about to relate, is just come to hand, I embrace the Opportunity of sending you an Account of it by the Express.
Not long before the Date of this, General Gage dispatched two Sloops with Provision to Machias, under the Convoy of a Tender—this Provision was to be exchanged for Lumber and other Articles. Stephen and Ichabod Jones the Contractors had made Application to the Town to supply the Army and Navy with Lumber—one of the Traitors was taken Prisoner, the other fled to the [ . . . ][in]1 Imitation of the Colonel perhaps. The Contractors being made Prisoners, the Captain of the Tender threatned instant Demolition to the Town, if there was not an immediate Resignation of them and Springs were put to the Cables for that End. The Inhabitants, neither intimidated by the Abuses they had previously recieved from the Sloops Crews, nor the brutum Fulmen of the Captain, retained the Prisoners—upon which a few Martial Civilities passed between both Parties—but finding our Fire too hot, they put to Sea. The Machias People, determin'd on a Capture of the Tender, boarded the Sloops, armed them with Implements of War and Husbandry, and sailed after her, and soon came up with her, when an Engagement ensued, in which our Men, as usual, proved victorious. The Tender had twelve Swivels it is said. The Captain and three Men, besides many wounded, fell on their Part; also Robert Avery of Norwich a Prisoner was unfortunately killed; two or three, with several { 234 } wounded, fell on our Part. What Men remained on board the Tender were taken Prisoners. This was the tragical End of their intended Exchange.2
A few Days agone arrived at Nantucket, after seven Weeks Passage, a Vessel from England. One of the Passengers, Viz. Mr. William Palfray brought Letters from some of our Enemies in England for our Refugees—he carried them to Watertown and they were read in Congress.3 There was one from that infamous Parricide H[utchinso]n, to his Son, wherein he says, “he hopes the Contest will soon be settled, that he may come and spend the Remainder of his Days at Milton.” This Letter is secret and confidential, it is to be supposed.
Mr. Blowers and Bliss write to Leonard, Taylor, the Amorys and others. They lash us with Infatuation, Delusion and Cowardice. They prophecy no Resistance at all [ . . . ] and an ineffectual one, as will be crushed with the greatest Facility. Their P[rophecy will not?] become History.—In the same Vessel came one Camel an Ensign of [ . . . ][regi]ment who, upon a Narrative of the Battles, utterly refused to go to Boston—he was told, he might be exchanged for one of our Men a Prisoner in Town. No he would not—he says he did not come to fight. At present he is at Watertown, complimented with a guard.4 Mr. Duncan Ingraham another Passenger says, they are very peacable in England now; but gives it as his Opinion, when the News of the Lexington Battle reaches there, it will throw the Nation into the greatest Convulsions imaginable.
We hear General Washington is expected very soon. Almost every Tongue is applauding the Wisdom of the Appointment, and almost every Arm is expanded to recieve him. From present Appearances, We have Reason to believe there will be such a Reception, as will give a most weighty Confirmation to the Appointment.—Master C[leverl]y “duplices tendens 2d Sydera Palmas,” exclaims, as usual, against Congresses, Novanglus's Pieces &c. The least justification of them, or of one Measure that has been adopted, will close his Eyes, and set his Head vibrating. Desponding Fears have not yet seized him. The Prospect of your Meadow as a Gratuity for his Bigotry and persecuting Zeal, buoys up his Spirits.5
I am sorry to inform you that our Company does not continue their Exercise. Not once have they met since your Abscence. We want you, Sir, to animate us.
My Father and Mother send their Respects to you and wish you better Health.
Please to accept this and my Wishes for a Restoration of your Health, { 235 } and the following Toast lately given by Coll. Orne, “may the Justice of Britain disarm every American.”

[salute] From, Sir, your most obedient Servant,

[signed] J. Thaxter
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To John Adams Esqr. at Philadelphia— To the Care of the Committee of Safety”; postal marking (“Cambr 2/ stg”) is heavily lined out and replaced by the word “Free”; docketed by William Gordon(?): “J. Thaxter June 28. 1775.”
1. Here and below, MS is torn by seal.
2. The action of 11–12 June resulting in the capture of the British vessel Margaretta by the mariners of Machias was the first sea fight of the Revolution, and much has accordingly been written about it. See French, First Year, p. 360–361.
3. Palfrey presented these letters to the Provincial Congress on 29 June (Mass. Provincial Congress, Jours., p. 419, 420).
4. On Ensign Robert Campbell's unhappy adventures (he was only 17), see same, p. 405, 407, 410, 419, 420.
5. Joseph Cleverly, Harvard 1733, JA's old schoolmaster; he was a devout Anglican and was strongly loyalist in his politics, but despite some threats against him he was not forced to leave Braintree during the Revolution (JA, Diary and Autobiography, passim; Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 9:285–288).
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/