A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 4

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0216

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1776-08-17

To James Warren

[salute] Dear Sir

I had a Letter from you, by the Post Yesterday.1 Congratulate you, and your other Self, on your happy Passage, through the Small Pox.
I must intreat you to embrace the earliest opportunity, after the General Court Shall assemble, to elect Some new Members to attend here, at least one, instead of me. As to others they will follow, their own Inclinations. If it had not been for the critical State of Things, I Should have been at Boston, e'er now. But a Battle, being expected at New York, as it is every day, and has been for Some Time, I thought it would not be well to leave my Station here. Indeed if the Decision Should be unfortunate, it will be absolutely necessary, for a Congress to be Sitting and perhaps, I may be as well calculated to Sustain Such a Shock, as Some others. It will be necessary to have Some Persons here, who will not be Seized with an Ague fit, upon the Occasion. So much for froth: now for Something of Importance. Our Province has neglected Some particular Measures, apparently of Small Moment, which are really important. One in particular let me mention at present. You Should have numbered your Regiments; and arranged all your Officers, according to their Rank, and transmitted them to congress, at least to your Delegates here. I assure you, I have Suffered much for Want of this Information. Besides this has a great Effect upon the Public. The five and Twentyeth Regiment from the Republic of Massachusetts Bay, would make a Sound. New York, New Jersey, Pensilvania, Virginia, &c. are very Sensible of this. They have taken this political Precaution, and have found its Advantage. It has a good Effect too upon Officers. It makes them think themselves Men of Consequence, it excites their Ambition, and makes them Stand upon their Honour.
Another Subject of great Importance, We ought to have been informed of, I mean your Navy. We ought to have known the Number, of your armed Vessells, their Tonnage, Number of Guns, Weight of Metal, Number of Men, Officers Names, Ranks Characters—in short you should have given Us your compleat Army and Navy Lists. Besides this one would have thought We should have been informed, by Some Means or other, of the Privateers fitted out in your State—their Size, Tonnage, Guns, Men, Officers, Names and Characters. But in all these Respects I declare myself as ignorant, as the Duke De Choiseul,2 and I Suspect much more so.
Our People have a curious Way of telling a Story. “The Continental { 471 } Cruizers Hancock and Franklin, took a noble Prize.” Ay! But who knows any Thing, about the Said Cruisers. How large are they? How many Guns? 6. 9. 12. 18 or 24 Pounders? How many Men? Who was the Commander! These Questions are asked me So often, that I am ashamed to repeat my Answer. I dont know. I cant tell. I have not heard. Our Province have never informed me. The Reputation of the Province, the Character of your Officers, and the real Interests of both, Suffer inexpressibly, by this Inaccuracy and Negligence. Look into Coll. Campbells Letter.3 With what Precision he States every particular of his own Force, of the Force of his Adversary, and how exact is his Narration of Facts and Circumstances, Step by Step? When shall We acquire equal Wisdom. We must take more Pains to get Men of thorough Education, and Accomplishments into every Department, civil, military and naval. I am as usual
My Horse, upon which I depended is ruined. How and where to get another to carry me home I know not. I wrote to my Partner to Speak to some Members of the General Court, to see if they could furnish me with a Couple of good Saddle Horses. If not She will be put to some Trouble I fear.
RC (MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.); docketed: “J. A. Letter Augt. 17. 1776.”
1. Warren's letter of 7 Aug. (above).
2. JA's reference to Etienne-François, Due de Choiseul, former French Minister of Foreign Affairs, can be explained by the circulation of rumors that he was coming back into power. Two Virginians, recently arrived on the New York packet, had brought a letter stating that the ministry in France had changed “and those who are for war, with the Duke de Choiseul at their head, are taken in” (Thomas Jefferson to Francis Eppes, 9 Aug., Jefferson, Papers, 1:487–488). Silas Deane wrote from France in a similar vein on 15 Aug., although, of course, his intelligence would still be unknown to members of the congress: “All eyes are turned on the Duc de Choiseul. I am convinced the moment he comes into office an active, open, and [friendly part] will be taken. I think he will be minister very soon” (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:123).
3. The captured Highlander Lt. Col. Archibald Campbell to Gen. Howe, 19 June 1776. Washington forwarded this letter to the congress, where it was read 2 July. It was then printed in the newspapers (JCC, 5:506; New-England Chronicle, 18 July). The text is also available in Force, Archives, 4th ser., 6:981–982.

Docno: ADMS-06-04-02-0217

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Samuel
Date: 1776-08-18

To Samuel Adams

[salute] Dear Sir

I had the Pleasure of a line from you, at Princetown, and Yesterdays Post brought me another from New York.1 I thank you for this Attention, and for the encouraging Account you give of the State of our Affairs at New York and Ti. The last is agreable to the Official { 472 } Letters We have from General Gates who has at last Sent Us a general Return of the Army and Navy upon a more distinct, accurate and intelligible Plan, than any which I have seen before, among other Particulars which are new, is a Return of the State of the Hospital, in one Column the Number Admitted in July, in another the Number discharged, the Ballance remains by which it appears that between 4 and 500 got well in that Month, and has distinguished the Regiments to which they belong, by which it appears that the Pensilvania, N. Jersey and N. York Battallions, are as Sickly in Proportion to their Numbers, as the N. England ones.
Confederation has not been mentioned Since you left Us. We have Spent the Time upon the two old Bones of Contention. The Old General and the Commodore.2 The first We voted blameless. The last We voted censurable, because the Reasons given for not complying litterally with his Instructions, were by no Means, satisfactory. My two Colleagues differed in Opinion from me, upon these Questions concerning the Admiral. 6 Colonies Ay. 3. No. 3 divided. I am afraid this will hurt the Fleet, but Time must determine. We have ordered the old Hero to his Command.
Before the Receipt of your Letter, what you Advise concerning Meigs and Dearborne was done.3 The Board of War recommended it and it was done, but not without opposition from 5 or 6 Colonies, who thought, that there ought to be no Distinctions made, but a general Exchange of the Prisoners of Arnolds Party, or none.
Let me intreat you, Sir upon your Return to Watertown, to promote an Inquiry concerning the Massachusetts Forces. Let a List be collected and published of all the Regiments raised in that State. The Names of all the Officers. Let the Regiments be numbered and the Officers ranked. Let us know for what Periods they were inlisted.
Let me suggest one Thing more. I am in doubt, whether our Province have had returned to them all the Powder, they furnished the Continent from the Town Stocks, as well as the Provincial Magazines. Pray inquire and if they have not, let it be demanded. There is by a Return from General Ward 3 or 400 Barrells of Powder, there belonging to the Continent, and if this opportunity is not embraced, another So fair, may not present itself.
I wish to know the Armed Vessells in the Service of the Province, thier Number, Size, Guns, Weight of Metal, Number of Men &c.
As soon as the General Court shall assemble I hope you will promote an Election of Some fresh Delegates, at least of one, to take my Place. Mr. Hawley, I hope will be perswaded to come. It will be a fine Season { 473 } to have the Small Pox here, and Rush will insure him through, almost without a sigh or Groan. Warren is the next, Dana the third and Lowell the fourth. If the Province should approve the Plan of choosing Nine. These four will make up the Number. But if there are objections to these there are enough others.
Some of Us here, are tremblingly alive, at the Prospect of a Battle, but whether it will be fought this Year, or not, I cant Say. The Two gratefull Brothers4 may loose Reputation with thier fellow Tyrants, if they dont attack, but I hope they will loose more, if they do. My most respectfull Compliments to your good Lady. I am, your Friend and servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (NN:George Bancroft Coll.); docketed: “from J Adams 18 Augt. 1776.”
1. Those of 13 and 16 Aug. (above).
2. Brig. Gen. Wooster and Como. Esek Hopkins. The former had been charged with failure to keep Gen. Schuyler, his superior, adequately informed; the latter had been charged with failure to obey properly the orders given to him (JCC, 5:664–665, 658–659, 661–662).
3. On 17 Aug. the congress considered the report of the Board of War (same, p. 665).
4. For the background of this sarcastic reference to the Howes, see JA to Joseph Palmer, 20 June 1775, note 3 (above).
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.