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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 1

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).

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0157

Author: Tufts, Cotton
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1775-07-03

Cotton Tufts to John Adams

[salute] Dear Sr.

You have no Doubt long before this heard of the unhappy Fate of Charlestown, its Destruction by Fire, the forcing of our Entrenchments there by the ministerial Troops and the Loss of our valuable Friend Doct. Warren who was shot through the Breast and soon expir'd. The Entrenchments were unfinishd the work of but one Night. However, they were gallantly defended and by all Accounts, there was an amazing Destruction amongst the british Troops; a Victory bought at the dearest Rate—and if all their Victories are thus bought, they will exactly resemble the Soldier who conquers but in the Contest recieves a Wound of which he afterwards dies. The lowest Accountt of their Loss amounts to 1000 Killd and Wounded and the greater part of those who have come out of Boston since the Engagement report from 13 to 1400 and some have gone as far as 1800. On our Side about 50 were killd, from 25 to 30 Prisoners mostly wounded, 100 and upwards wounded who returnd from the Battle. Of the Killd, Wounded and those that were made Prisoners I believe they dont exceed 200—which considering the amazing Disadvantages they were under surrounded almost on every side, exposed to the Fire of the Army, Ships and Floating Batteries, blinded and choaked with the Smoak of the Town that it seems almost miraculous so few were killd and wounded. Not above 800 or 900 of our Men were engag'd in this { 236 } Battle and the British Troops were from 3 to 5000 according to the best Accounts We Can get. Could You my Friend send us a Recipe for the Destruction of those Vermin that float on the Watre and spit out their Venom, Fire and Rage at us, it is probable we should maintain our Ground, and make a pretty good Figure amongst the Warriors and Heroes of this Age. But they sadly worry us. All our Harbours are seald. No Provision Vessell enters. Quere How are Ordnance Stores to get in.—Since the Engagement Our Forces have been very industrious in entrenching and fortifying at Roxbury, Cambridge and in the Environs of Charlestown.
This Morning We hear from McNeal a Rope maker who got out of Boston Yesterday—That in the late Battle 90 Commissiond and 180 or 190 non commission'd officers of the British Troops were wounded and slain. What must then be the Number of Privates! Col. Bruce, Majr. Pitcairn, Majr. Small, Majr. Sheriff are said to be amongst the Dead. These are mentiond by those that come from Town. But all Accounts from that Quarter are to be receiv'd cum Grano Salis. For the Inhabitants of the Town (at present) are in the most abject State imaginable, under military Law, insulted, afraid to stir, move or ask Questions.—However what I have mentiond in the former part of this Letter relative to the Destruction of the British Troops is perhaps well grounded as it is supported by Accounts from J. Bradford, King, Cockran (Bartlet and John Thomas of Plimouth), McNeal and sundry others who have come out at different Times since the Engagement and by Hartly from Hospital Island who was sent here last Week by the Selectmen of Boston (at the Desire (as they say) of 25 Prisoners from the Country and many of them dangerously wounded) for fresh Provision. By the advice of Congress some Fresh Provision was sent. This same Hartley (alias his Wife) has been at Weymouth twice since the Engagement and confirm the above Accounts.
Having told You what there seems to be pretty good Authority for, I will mention some Things that I cannot vouch for but are commonly talkd off—Viz. that Genl. Burgoine has not been seen since the Battle—some say that He was slain, others that He immediately embarked for England.—That 250 Soldiers Widows were sent to England or Ireland in a Transport Ship, Gen. Gage not being able to support them in Boston. If true, methinks these will be weighty Preachers.—That 40 or 50 Ton of Powder has got into New York.—That the Rhode Islanders are fitting out Privateers—&c. &c. We were not long since told that in that Vessel, which was brought in to Philadelphia with { 237 } Col. Skeene, were 70 Chests of Arms. Pray let me know whether it was a Fact.
You complain in a Letter to your Bosom Friend that your former Correspondents have forgot You. You see by this, that one (at least) bears You in Remembrance, and if You will accept this as it is without being transcribed, and with its Length, I'll promise you a shorter one if Life and Health permits, by future Conveyance. My Health has been declining. The Alarms we have had Here and the multiplicity of Care and Business That devolvd on me in Consequence of them, with the Infirmities of Body have almost destroyd me. This Fortnight past I have recruited much. A General Time of Health. No reigning Disorder Except the Rash which is in almost every Town. The Season has been very dry—from Boston to Scituate on the Sea Shore extending about 10 Miles back—in Weymouth not more than half the Hay on Upland that was produc'd last Year. Your Land produces Hay in plenty, dry or wet, That I trust You will have enough for Yourself and some for your Neighbours. Your's, your Father Smith's and my Family are well. It would be agreeable to hear from You, and to be inform'd what is in Agitation in your grand assembly &c. That Heaven may inspire You all with Wisdom and make You happily instrumental of the Salvation of America is the Ardent Wish and Prayer of Dear Sr.

[salute] Yr. Friend & Humb. Servt.,

[signed] Cotton Tufts

[salute] Dear Sr.

I am this moment informd that your Congress, in Settlement of the Generals have made Col. H[eat]h superior in Command to General Tho[ma]s—A measure which has given great Concern to the most sensible and judicious and probably you will have Applications for the reversal of it. The Latter is said to be judicious, steady and unruffled— the former a Theoretical Officer and further they say not. I heard this from a Gentleman direct from Head Quarters, well acquainted with the Sentiments of the most discerning and is himself a Man of distinguishd Abilities and a Warm Friend to the Cause. Indeed the Sence of the Congress upon this Point may be fully collected in their late appointment of Doct. Warren to a Command in the Army superior to Col. H[eat]h.1 Yrs. ut supra.
RC (Adams Papers); docketed in the hand of William Gordon(?).
1. Of the eight Continental brigadier generals appointed by Congress on 22 June, three were Massachusetts men: Seth Pomeroy (ranking first), William { 238 } Heath (ranking fourth), and John Thomas (ranking sixth) (JCC, 2:103). This meant that Heath had been jumped over Thomas, his senior in the Massachusetts service. Happily Pomeroy, a tired old veteran, never took up his Continental command. On the recommendation of Washington and by motion of JA, Congress on 19 July promoted Thomas to Pomeroy's place as first brigadier general (same, p. 191; JA to James Warren, 23 July, Warren-Adams Letters, 1:85–86). See also French, First Year, p. 295, 304–306, 753–754.
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, 2018.