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Browsing: Diary of John Adams, Volume 2


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.

Docno: ADMS-01-02-02-0008-0001-0010

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1778-02-24 - 1778-02-26

Tuesday 24. Wednesday 25. Thursday 26.

Tuesday We spyd a Sail and gave her Chase. We overhawled her, and upon firing a Gun to Leeward, and hoisting American Colours, she fired a friendly Gun and Hoisted the French Colours of the Province of Normandy. She lay to for us, and We were coming about to speak to her, when the Wind sprung up fresh of a sudden and carryed away our Main top Mast. We have been employed ever since in getting in a New one, repairing the Sails and Rigging much damaged in the late Storm, and in cleaning the Ship and putting her in order. From the 36 to the 39. deg[rees] of Lat. are called the Squawly Latitudes, and We have found them to answer their Character.
I should have been pleased to have kept a minute Journal of all that passed, in the late Chases and turbulent Weather, but I was so wet, and every Thing and Place was so wett—every Table and Chair was so wrecked that it was impossible to touch a Pen, or Paper.
It is a great Satisfaction to me however, to recollect, that I was myself perfectly calm during the whole. I found by the Opinion of the People aboard, and of the Captain himself that We were in Danger, and of this I was certain allso from my own Observation, but I thought myself in the Way of my Duty, and I did not repent of my Voyage.
I confess I often regretted that I had brought my son. I was not so clear that it was my Duty to expose him, as myself, but I had been led to it by the Childs Inclination and by the Advice of all my Friends. Mr. Johnnys Behaviour gave me a Satisfaction that I cannot express— fully sensible of our Danger, he was constantly endeavouring to bear { 277 } it with a manly Patience, very attentive to me and his Thoughts constantly running in a serious Strain.
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/