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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 4

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0193

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Greene, Nathanael
Date: 1776-08-04

To Nathanael Greene

[salute] Dear Sir

Your Favour of the 14 of July is before me. I am happy to find your Sentiments concerning the Rewards of the Army, and the Promotion of Officers So nearly agreable to mine. I wish the general sense here was more nearly agreable to them. Time I hope will introduce a proper sense of Justice in those Cases where it may for Want of Knowledge and Experience be wanting.
The New England Collonells, you observe, are jealous, that southern Officers are treated with more Attention than they, because Several of the Southern Collonells have been made Generals, but not one of them.
Thompson, was Somehow or other, the first Collonell, upon the Establishment, and So intituled to Promotion, by succession, and it was also supposed by Ability and Merit. This ought not therefore to give offence. Mercer, Lewis, Howe, More, were veteran Officers, and Stood in the Light of Putnam Thomas, Fry, Whitcomb &c. among the New England officers. Added to this, We have endeavoured, to give Colonies General Officers in Some Proportion to their Troops. And Colonies have nice feelings about Rank as well as Collonells. So that I dont think, our Collonell's have just Cause to complain of { 435 } these Promotions. Lord Sterling, was a Person so distinguished by Fortune, Family, and the Rank and Employments he had held in civil Life, added to his Experience in military Life that it was thought, no great Uneasiness would be occasioned by his Advancement. Mifflin, was a Gentleman of Family, and Fortune in his Country, of the best Education and Abilities, of great Knowledge of the World, and remarkable Activity. Besides this, the Rank he had held as a Member of the Legislature of this Province, and a Member of Congress, and his great Merit in the civil Department, in Subduing the Quaker and Proprietarian Interests added to the Tory Interests of this Province to the American system of Union, and especially his <surprising> Activity and success in infusing into this Province a martial Spirit and Ambition which it never felt before, were thought Sufficient Causes for his Advancement.
Besides all this my dear sir, there is a political Motive. Military Characters in the southern Colonies, are few—they have never known much of War and it is not easy to make a People Warlike who have never been so. All the Encouragement, and every Incentive therefore, which can be given with Justice ought to be given, in order to excite an Ambition among them, for military Honours.
But after all, my dear Sir, I wish I could have a few Hours free Conversation with you upon this important Subject. A General Officer, ought to be a Gentleman of Letters, and General Knowledge, a Man of Address and Knowledge of the World. He should carry with him Authority, and Command. There are among the New England Officers, Gentlemen who are equal to all this. Parsons, Hitchcock, Varnum, and others younger than they and inferiour to them too in command. But these, are a great Way down, in the List of Collonells. And to promote them over the Heads of so many Veterans, would throw all into Confusion. Reed, Nixon, and Prescott, are the oldest Collonells. <The two first> They are <universally> allowed to be experienced Officers, and brave Men. But I believe there is not one Member of Congress who knows the face of either of them. And what their Accomplishments are, I know not. I really wish, you would give me your Advice freely upon these Subjects in Confidence. It is not every Piece of Wood that will do, to make a Mercury.1 And Bravery alone, is not a Sufficient Qualification for a General Officer. Name me a New England Collonell of whose real Qualifications, I can Speak with Confidence, who is intituled to Promotion by succession and If I do not get him made a General Officer, I will join the N. E. Collonells, and outclamour the loudest of them2 in their Jealousy <nay I will { 436 } go further>. There is a real difficulty, attending this subject, which I know not how to get over. Pray help me. I believe, there would be no Difficulty in obtaining Advancement for some of the N. E. Collonells here. But by promoting them over the Heads of So many, there would be a Difficulty in the Army. Poor Massachusetts will fare the worst.3
1. A sign- or guidepost (OED).
2. The phrase “and outclamour the loudest of them” was written by JA above the line, overlapping the final words of the sentence and the canceled phrase. No indication was given as to whether it should be inserted here or at the end of the sentence.
3. This final sentence is in the hand of CFA, who apparently had access to the recipient's copy.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0194

Author: Mifflin, Thomas
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-05

From Thomas Mifflin

[salute] Dear Mr. Adams

Monsieur Weibert who was orderd by Congress to this Post has requested me to apply in his Behalf to you for Rank and pay in our Army; and has desird me to give you my Opinion of his Conduct and Services.
Monsieur Weibert is in my Opinion a Gentleman of much Knowledge in his profession. He has been very, attentive to the perfecting this post and has never absented himself One Hour from his Duty once he arrivd here. Whoever is to command here, while the Works are incompleat, will find Monsieur of infinite Service to him. As a Man of Science and Business I think he is further entitled to the pay of Lieutenant Colonel.2 Rank no Doubt is his principal Object. Indeed it is essential to the Service as he cannot otherwise command Captains and Subalterns who Superintend work, or Fatigue, parties. The Rank and pay of Lt Col may not be too great a Reward for his Services. The whole however is submitted to you at his Request to solicit or not as you think proper. I am Sir affecty. Yours
[signed] T Mifflin
1. The high ground on which Fort Washington was situated, 230 feet above the Hudson River (Johnston, Campaign around New York and Brooklyn, p. 263).
2. Antoine Felix Weibert was named lieutenant colonel on 14 Aug. (JCC, 5:656).

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0195

Author: Smith, Isaac Sr.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1776-08-06

From Isaac Smith Sr.

[salute] Mr. Adams

Yours of the 17th. Ultimo1 I have received, As to the Massachusetts raising more Men—would say, the seaports are driand very much by there going a privateering &c. and the late success of One belonging { 437 } here (Cap. White)2 who with Another has taken four ships &c. two are in att the Eastward. One between 4 and 500 hhds claid Barbadoes Sugars, the Other from Antigua. His success, now with two other prizes, sent in before, makes every body this way going upon the business.3 There is now four or 5 fiting Out. One sails to day. We have had Our Coast pretty clear for sometime till lately, and a ship or two are att the Eastward, and have taken A Number of Coasters [ . . . ] fisherman &c. Amongst which I have One by which shall Suffer £300 ster. And last week a ship off Cape Codd took a brig with flour from Phila. We have and are still paying for a Vessell to gaurd the Eastward Coast, but, has been lying in harbour, the chief of his time and doing no service (Obrian).4
I am Anciously concernd as to the event of Our Affairs att York as there must happen some, grand event soon.5 May itt please God to disappoint Our enemies in all there Scheams and bless all Undertakeings for Our defence and priveledge's. I have heard today As though a Number of Vessells were orderd from Connecticut which I think would be of great importance properly managed to stop or set fire to the fleet when they may come to Attack the Town. I suppose the first division of the Hessians are Arrived before now att York, after which there will be a movement.

[salute] I refer you to Mrs. Adams as to the state of your family and friends, and are Yrs &c

PS Old Mr. Bernaid dyed a few days since and is to be entered to day.
2. Capt. Joseph White, commander of the sloop Revenge (Naval Docs. Amer. Rev., 6:78).
3. Terminal punctuation supplied.
4. Capt. Jeremiah O'Brien, commander of the Machias Liberty, a schooner owned by the state (same).
5. Terminal punctuation supplied.
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.