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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0168

Author: Cranch, Richard
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1775-07-24

Richard Cranch to John Adams

[salute] Dear Bror:

Sister Adams informs me that you complain that your Friends this way neglect writing to you. I believe a share of the Blame belongs to me, and shall now endeavour to make some amends.
We have lately had several little Expeditions from this quarter against the Enemy, a particular account of which, as near as I can collect it from those who were present, I shall give you.—On the 11th. Inst. in the evening, about 400 Men (partly from the Camp at Roxbury, and partly of the Guards on our Shore) went off from Germantown in 47 Whale Boats, in order to sweep Long Island then surrounded with Men of War. Landed on the Island at 10 o Clock at Night, parted into two grand Divisions and march'd to the House. Majr. Tuppham [Tupper] commanded, and Capt. Shaw who lately liv'd on Deer Island, conducted him to the House. Shaw burst in a Window and enter'd and Tuppham after him; the Men in the mean time being properly station'd. They expected to have catch'd some Tories there, but found none of any Note. Our People came on so secretely that they were not known to be on the Island untill they enter'd the House; they demanded of the Man who was in the House “what People were on the Island?” and were answer'd that a number were in the Barn who had been sent from Boston to cut the Hay and make it. Upon which our People enter'd the Barn and seiz'd them all Prisoners before they knew they were in danger. Among the Prisoners in the House was a Lady, perhaps une Fille de joie, who pretended to be on the point of Marriage with a Capt. of one of the Transports. 15 Prisoners, about 30 Cattle, a Horse, and about 100 Sheep were brought off that Night undiscover'd. Next morning about 10 Whale Boats went on again in broad Day, from Dorchester to Burn the Barns and Hay on the Island (suppos'd to be about 70 Ton). These Boats were discover'd immediately by the Men of War which surrounded the Island, and Barges and Cutters were sent to cutt them off. Our People, however, burnt the House and Barns and gott off without a Man being Kill'd or wounded in the Boats or on the Island tho' a most heavy fire was Kept up from the Men of War from above and below { 259 } the Island, whose Shot both ways swep't across the Island where our Men were, and tho' our Boats were pursue'd by the Barges and Tenders continually firing on them so near that they were sure of taking a number of our Boats as they tho't, yet we escap'd. Capt. Gould of Weymouth, who was most expos'd, was told by the Officer of the Man of War to “yield for he was his Prisoner,” Gould answer'd “not yet” and discharg'd his Musquet full at him, and encouraging his Men to pull up, he escap'd with the Skin of his Teeth. When some of our foremost Men were landed at the Head of the Moon, they fir'd briskly on the Enemy's Barges, and kept them off so as to secure the landing of the hindermost which were so hotly pursued. In this engagement one of our Men (Mr. Clarke of Stoughton) was Kill'd.
Another Expedition has been from hence to Nantaskett and the Light House. Not many Days ago a small Man of War drew up close to the Houses at Nantaskett within the Gutt, and afterwards paraded it by coming up as far as Pig Rocks by Hoffs Neck, and then lying off Hingham Cove [ . . . ], and then returning to Nantaskett again. These movements made our People conclude that the Man of War was sent to secure to Gage's Army, the Grain then ready to cutt on the lands at Nantaskett; especially as the Barge had seized Mr. Milton of Nantaskett and his Cart and Oxen and carried him and his Oxen to the Admiral, where the Oxen were kept but the Man after much examination releas'd. Under this perswasion, last Tuesday Night our men from Germantown and the neighbouring shore to the amount of about 400, Guards, Mowers &c. pass'd over to Hingham in Boats, and from thence by land to Nantaskett, having engag'd a number of Carts to come over the long Beach. They with great expedition mow'd and sent off the Grain to the amount of 70 Cart Load, and having done that, on Thursday morning a Company commanded by Majr. Vose of Milton, went over to the Light House, took down and bro't off the Lamps, brought off 1 Barrell of Gun Powder, sever all Tierces of Oil, a quantity of old Cordage, Severall Boats &c. and then Burnt the Light House, (but not the Dwelling House) then returning to Nantaskett they found that the Burning of the L: House had alarm'd the Men of War, and that their Barges and Cutters were sent down to attack our People, which they accordingly did, 7 of their Barges being lash'd together for that Purpose. A Hot Fire ensu'd for near an Hour but none of our Men were Kill'd and only two wounded. Our People try'd to draw them on Shore by seeming to run from them, but to no purpose, the men-of-War's-men seem'd evidently afraid to come near them; and at last put off so as to be out of the reach of our Musquetts.1 When Mr. Milton was carried on board the Admiral, he examin'd { 260 } him very strictly about the Whale Boats that lately appear'd in the Harbour, what their Number was? where they were kept? whether he could Pilot his People to them &c.? To all which he made such answers as gave the great Man no Satisfaction, especially when he told him that he understood that our People kept the Whale Boats drawn up into the Woods.

[salute] I fear you will be tir'd with the length of this Scrawl unless reliev'd by believing it to be design'd for your amusement, by your most affectionate Bror.,

[signed] R:C
PS Please to give my best Regards to Mr. S: Adams and tell him that I saw his Wife and Daughter at Dedham last Thursday, and heard from his Son, they are all well. Your Family and all the Circle of our Friends are as well as usual.
I have heard lately from Mr. Paine's Family who were then well; please to give my kind Regards to him.
A few Days ago Mr. Jno. Roulstone Watch Maker and his Family procur'd a Pass to come out of Boston, who is the only one that I have heard of that has had a Pass since the Battle of Charlestown. He landed at Ruggles's (now Bent's) and came to see me, he says it is Sickly among the Inhabitants, and more so among the Troops: That the Inhabitants are treated with great Rigour, 3 Men were committed to Jail for only going up into a Steeple to look out; That he was threaten'd for daring too look out from the top of his own House. That a Provost Major terrifies like the Holy Office, no one knowing who is the Victim 'till too late to escape if that was Possible. Poor Mr. Jas. Lovell, Mr. Leech, and Mr. Hunt the Publisher are in Jail. Jno. Cotton Dep: Secy: is Dead.
RC (Adams Papers); docketed in an unidentified hand.
1. The raid on Nantasket occurred on the 18th; that on the Brewsters on the 20th. The Boston lighthouse was (and still is) located on Little Brewster, formerly often called Beacon Island. The British took prompt steps to repair the light, and on 31 July another raiding party under Capt. Benjamin Tupper wrecked it again and captured a detachment of marines. See AA to JA, 31 July–2 Aug., below; also William Tudor to JA, 31 July, and James Warren to JA, 31 July–2 Aug., both in Adams Papers, the latter printed in Warren-Adams Letters, 1:95–99.

Docno: ADMS-04-01-02-0169

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1775-07-25

Abigail Adams to John Adams

[salute] Dearest Friend

I received yours of July 7 for which I heartily thank you, it was the longest and best Letter I have had, the most Leasurely and therefore { 261 } the most Sentimental. Previous to your last I had wrote you and made some complaints of you, but I will take them all back again—only continue your obliging favours whenever your time will allow you to devote one moment to your absent Portia.
This is the 25 of July. Gage has not made any attempts to march out, since the Battle at Charlstown. Our Army are restless and wish to be doing something to rid themselves and the land of the Virmin and Locusts which infest it. Since I wrote you last the Companys stationd upon the coasts both in this Town, Weymouth and Hingham were orderd to Nantasket to reap and bring of the Grain which they accomplished, all except a field or two which was not ripe, and having whale boats they undertook to go to the light House and set fire to it, which they effected in open day and in fair sight of several men of War. Upon their return came down upon them Eight Barges, one cutter, one Schooner, all in Battle array, and pourd whole broad sides upon them, but our Men all reached the shore and not one life lost, two only slightly wounded in their legs. They marchd up a Hill and drew into order in hopes the marines would land, but they chose rather to return without a land engagement, tho tis Thought they will burn the Town down as soon as our forces leave it. I had this account from Capt. Vinton who with his company were there. These little Skirmishes seem trifling, but they serve to innure our Men and harden them to Danger. I hear the Rebels are very Wroth at the distruction of the light House.
There has been an offer from Gage to send the poor of Boston to Salem by Water, but not complied with on our part. They returnd for answer they would receive them upon the lines. Dr. Tufts saw a Letter from Deacon Newall1 in which he mentions the Death of John Cotton, says tis very sickly in Town. Every Fishing vessel is now obliged to enter and clear out as tho she was going a foreign Voyage, no inhabitant is sufferd to partake, but obliged to wait till the Army are supplied, and then if one remains they are allowed to purchase it. An order has been given out in Town that no person shall be seen to wipe their faces with a white hankerchief. The reason I hear is, that tis a Signal of Mutiny. General Burgoine lives in Mr. Samll. Quincys House. A Lady who lived opposite says she saw raw meat cut and hacked upon her Mahogona Tables, and her superb damask curtain and cushings exposed to the rain as if they were of no value. How much better do the Tories fare than the Whigs? Suppose this worthy good Man was put in with all confidence that nothing should be hurt. I was very much pleased with Generals Lees Letter, and really entertaind a more favorable opinion of Burgoyne than I before had im• { 262 } bibed from his Speach,2 but a Late letter from London wrote to Mr. Josiah Quincy and in case of his absence to be opened either by you or Mr. Samll. Adams or either of the Warrens has left me no room to think that he is possessd either of Generosity, Virtue or Humanity. His character runs thus—As to Burgoyne I am not Master of Language sufficient to give you a true Idea of the Horrible wickedness of the Man. His designs are dark, His Dissimulation of the deepest die, for not content with deceiving Mankind he practices deceit on God himself, by Assuming the Appearance (like Hutchinson) of great attention to Religious Worship when every action of his life is totally abhorant to all Ideas of true Religion, Virtue or common Honesty. An Abandoned Infamous Gambler of Broken fortune and the Worst Most detestable of the Bedford Gang who are wholly bent on Blood, tyrany and Spoil, and therefore the darling Favorite of our unrivalled Ruler Lord Bute.—The character of How is not drawn much more favourably, But Clintons General character very good and tis said he does not relish the Service he is sent upon.3
I am ready to believe this of Clinton as I have never heard of any Speaches of his since his arrival, nor scarcely any mention of him. That such characters as Burgoynes and Hows should engage in such a cause is not to be wonderd at, but really to be lamented when a Man possessd of one spark of virtue should be drawn aside, and disgrace himself and posterity by adding one more to the already infamous List.—Suppose you have heard of Darbys arrival, and the intelligance he brings. I could not refrain wishing them everlasting fetters. “The News received with some symptoms of pleasure” and “our Friends increased” and a few more such sugar plumbs.4 Were they suffering as we are, could Americans sit thus coldly whilst Brittons were a Bleading? How is it posible that the love of Gain and the Lust of domination should render the Humane mind so callous to every principal of honour, Generosity and Benevolence.
May that day be far distant from America when trade's unfeeling train shall usurp this land and dispossess the Swain.

“Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey

Where wealth accumulates, and men decay:

Princes and Lords may flourish, or may fade;

A Breath can make them, as a Breath has made

But a bold peasantry, their Country's pride,

When once destroyed, can never be supplied.”

Your address5 meets with general approbation here, your petition• { 263 } ing the King6 again pleases (forgive me if I say the timid and the weak) those persons who were esteemed the Luke Warm, and who think that no Works of Supereragation can be performed to Great Brittain—whilst others say you heap coals of fire upon the Heads of your Enimies. You know you are considerd here as the most perfect body—if one Member is by any means renderd incapable of acting tis supposed the difficency will be made up. The Query is why your president left the Congress so long as to make it necessary to chuse an other Member, whether he declined returning to you again?7
Suppose you have a list of our Counsel.8 It was generally thought that Gage would make an attempt to come out either Election Day or upon the Fast, but I could not believe we should be disturbed upon that Day, even the Devils believe and tremble, and I really believe they are more affraid of the Americans prayers than their Swords. I could not bear to hear our inanimate old Batchelor.9 Mrs. Cranch and I took our chaise and went to hear Mr. Haven of Deadam,10 and We had no occasion to repent Eleven miles ride. Especially as I had the pleasure of spending the day with my name sake and Sister Delegate.11 Why should we not assume your titles when we give you up our names. I found her comfortably situated, in a little Country cottage with patience, perseverance and fortitude for her companions, and in better Health than she has enjoyed for many months past.
I fear General Thomas being overlooked and Heath placed over him will create much uneasiness. I know not who was to blame, but it is like to make a great and fatal Gap in the Army. If Thomas resigns all his officers resign; and Mr. Thomas cannot with honour hold under Heath. The Camp will evince to every Eye how good an officer he has been—but this is out of my Sphere. I only say what others say and what the general disposition of the people is.
I believe you will not complain that I do not write often enough and lengthy enough. When you are tired tell me. Pray make my complements to Mr. Barrel for his great civility to Portia. I really feel very anxious to be exposed to any Eyes but yours whose partiality I have so often Experienced to cover a multitude of faults that I rely upon it with the utmost Security.—You will not faill letting me hear from you by every opportunity. All our little folks send duty to pappa. Johnny says do you think Mamma pappa will write to me—has not he so many things to do that he will forget me. Brother and Sister Cranch send their Love. My Mother says I must always remember to add hers to you when I write. I need not say how much I want to see you, but no one will credit my story of your returning in a month. I hope to have { 264 } the best of proofs to convince them—it cannot need any to convince you how sincerely I am your most affectionate
[signed] Portia
1. Timothy Newell was a deacon of Brattle Street Church and a Boston selectman. His diary during the siege of Boston, April 1775–March 1776, is printed in MHS, Colls., 4th ser., I (1852):261–276.
2. For Burgoyne's “Speach” see The Speech of a General Officer in the House of Commons, February 20th, 1775 [London?, 1775]. This was probably reprinted in Boston after Burgoyne's arrival there late in May; see T. R. Adams, “American Independence,” No. 155a–b. For Charles Lee's exchange with Burgoyne, see same, No. 179a–c, and French, First Year, p. 306–307, with references there.
3. All of this appears to be taken from a passage in a letter to AA from Mercy Warren, 17 July (Adams Papers), which states that these “characters” are in a letter dated at London, 2 May.
4. Quotation marks editorially supplied in this sentence. Capt. John Derby of Salem had carried the first news of the engagement of 19 April to England and had returned to Salem on 18 July (Mass. Spy, 26 July 1775).
5. An Address to the Inhabitants of Great Britain, adopted by the Continental Congress on 8 July and ordered to be published (JCC, 2:162–170).
6. The second or “Olive Branch” Petition to the King, instigated and written by John Dickinson, also adopted by Congress, to JA's chagrin, on 8 July (same, p. 158–162). AA could not have seen the text because it was not printed; see Isaac Smith Sr. to JA, 26 July, below.
7. Peyton Randolph, the president, had left Congress late in May to assume his duties as speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses; on 24 May John Hancock was elected to succeed him (JCC, 2:58–59).
8. Among those elected to the Council on 21 July was JA (Mass., House Jour., 1775–1776, 1st sess., p. 6).
9. Rev. Anthony Wibird.
10. Rev. Jason Haven, Harvard 1754, minister at Dedham since 1756 (Weis, Colonial Clergy of N.E.).
11. Mrs. Samuel Adams, the former Elizabeth Welles.
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/