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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0008-0001-0007

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1778-02-19

Feb. 19. Thursday.

Arose at 4 O Clock. The Wind and Weather still fair. The Ship rolls less than Yesterday, and I have neither felt, nor heard any Thing of Sea Sickness, last night nor this Morning.
Monsr. Parison, one of General Du Coudrais Captains, dined with us, Yesterday, and made me a present of a Bottle of a nice French Dram, a Civility which I must repay. He seems a civil and sensible Man.
The Mal de Mer seems to be merely the Effect of Agitation. The Smoke and Smell of Seacoal, the Smell of stagnant, putrid Water, the Smell of the Ship where the Sailors lay, or any other offensive Smell, will increase the Qualminess, but do not occasion it.
C[aptain] Parison says, that the Roads from Nantes to Paris are very good, no Mountains, no Hills, no Rocks—all as smooth as the Ships Deck and a very fine Country: But the Roads from Bourdeaux to Paris, are bad and mountainous.
In the Morning We discovered three Sail of Vessells ahead. We went near enough to discover them to be Frigates, and then put away. We soon lost sight of two of them: but the third chased Us the whole Day. Sometimes We gained upon her, and sometimes she upon Us.1
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1.
Tucker, Log (MH), 19 Feb.:
“Att 6 A.M. Saw three Large Ships bearing East they Standing to the Northward I mistrusted they where a Cruizeing for me. I hauld my wind to the southward found they did not Persue. I then Consulted my Offercers to stand to the Northward after them. We agreed in opinions. Wore Ship Run one hour to the Northward then I Discoverd that one was a ship Not Less than ourselfs, one out of sight to the Northward and the other appeared to me and offercers to be a twenty gun ship. The man att the mast head Cauld out a ship on the weather Quarter—at that time the other two Under our Lee and Under short Sail. I then Consulted the Honble. John Addams Esq. and my offercers what was best to do not knowing how my ship may Sail. One and all Consented to stand to the southward from them. Att 10 A.M. I then wore ship to the southward and stood from them. The two that was Under my Lee before I wore Imediately wore and stood affter me. Att 12 on Meridian Lost sigh[t] of the small ship and the other was about three Leagues Under my Lee Quarter.”
The vessel in pursuit was the Apollo (Ambrose Serle, American Journal, ed. Edward H. Tatum, Jr., San Marino, Calif., 1940, p. 315).

Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0008-0001-0008

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1778-02-20

Feb. 20. Fryday.

In the Morning nothing to be seen, but soon after another Sail discovered ahead, which is supposed to be the same.1
1.
Tucker, Log (MH), 20 Feb.:
“This 24 hours begins Very Pleasant the Ship Still in Chase. I being Poorly mand dare not attactk her and many other Principal Reasons. Att 2 P.M. Satt fore and main topmast stearing Sails found I Left the Ship att 6 P.M. It being dark Lost sight of the Ship in Small Sails and hauld my wind. The Cruizer supposing I bore away to stear the Course I was going When she saw me first Bore away and run ESE while I for six or Eight hours had being [been] Runing four Points more southerly att the Rate of seven knots brought her in my oppinion to bear of me ENE Distance about Eleven and half Leagues. Then the wind headed me. I fell off to ENE then Runing att the Rate of 6 knots for three hours. Saw the Same Ship Direct a head standing to southward & westward about 5 Leagues Distance. Hove in stays after makeing of her Plain and stood to the westward because I Could not Weather her on the former tack after Runing three hours to the westward. The wind favoured me. I then hove in Stays and Came to windward of the frigate about four miles and was Intirely Sattisfyd it was the Same Ship about four Miles Under my Lee Quarter. They again Tackt ship and Continued Chaseing that day—but I found I rather Left my Enemy.”

Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0008-0001-0009

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1778-02-21 - 1778-02-23

Feb. 21. Saturday, 22. Sunday, and 23d. Monday.

Exhibited such Scaenes as were new to me. We lost Sight of our Enemy it is true but We found our selves in the Gulph Stream, in the Midst of an epouvantable Orage, the Wind N.E. then N., and then North West.
It would be fruitless to attempt a Description of what I saw, heard and felt, during these 3 days and nights. To describe the Ocean, the Waves, the Winds, the Ship, her Motions, Rollings, Wringings and Agonies—the Sailors, their Countenances, Language and Behaviour, is impossible. No Man could keep upon his Legs, and nothing could { 276 } be kept in its Place—an universal Wreck of every Thing in all Parts of the Ship, Chests, Casks, Bottles &c. No Place or Person was dry.
On one of these Nights, a Thunder bolt struck 3 Men upon deck and wounded one of them a little, by a Scorch upon his Shoulder. It also struck our Main Topmast.1
1.
Tucker, Log (MH), 22 Feb.:
“... heavy gales and a Dangerous Sea Runing; one thing or another Continually giving away on board Ship.... Att half Past 3 A.M. Discoverd our fore sail was split in the Larbourd Leach but Could not Prevent it att that time for the Distress we wear at that time in; I Little Expected but to be Dismasted as I was almost Certain I heard the mainmast spring below the Deck. Afterwards Discoverd the truth of it. Still Continues an Extremity of Weather. So Ends this day. Pray god Protect Us and Carry Us through our Various troubles.”
As for the seaman struck by lightning, “he lived three days and died raving mad” (William Jennison Jr., “Journal,” PMHB, 15: 102 [April 1891]). Jennison was a lieutenant of marines aboard the Boston, and his journal adds a few details concerning this voyage not found elsewhere. See also JA's Autobiography under 20 Feb. 1778.
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/