Adams Family Correspondence, volume 2

John Adams to Abigail Adams

John Adams to Abigail Adams

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 18 June 1777 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 18 June 1777 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
Philadelphia June 18. 1777

We shall have all the Sages and Heroes of France here before long.

Mr. Du Coudray is here, who is esteemed the most learned Officer in France. He is an Artillery Officer.


Mr. De la Balme is here too, a great Writer upon Horsemanship and Cavalry. He has presented me with two Volumes written by himself upon these subjects, elegantly printed, bound and gilt.1

Mr. De Vallenais is with him, who speaks very good English.2

The inclosed Papers will give you all the News. You get Intelligence sooner and better than We.

We are under no more Apprehensions here than if the British Army was in the Crimea. Our Fabius will be slow, but sure.

Arnold, You see will have at them, if he can.

RC (Adams Papers). Enclosed newspapers not found or identified.


Augustin Mottin de La Balme (1736–1780), a French cavalry officer and writer on cavalry tactics, had left France against orders from Vergennes by disguising himself as a physician. He bore letters of introduction from Franklin to Hancock and from Deane to Washington. In Philadelphia he presented to JA copies of his Essais sur l'équitation, Amsterdam and Paris, 1773, and Elémens de tactique pour la cavalerie, Paris, 1776, which are still among JA's books in the Boston Public Library; the titlepage of the Essais is reproduced among the illustrations in the present volume. On 8 July 1777 Congress commissioned La Balme colonel and inspector of cavalry ( JCC , 8:539), but he did not gain Washington's support in this post and retired from it early in 1778. The next year he campaigned as a volunteer on the Penobscot and elsewhere, and thereafter among the old French settlements in the West; in Nov. 1780 he and his men were massacred near Miami, Ohio, by a party of Little Turtle's Indians. Most of the information above is drawn from Lasseray's excellent sketch of La Balme in Les français sous les treize étoiles , 2:329–336.


Of this officer, whose name was spelled in a great variety of ways, little is definitely known beyond an entry in JCC for 8 July 1777 (8:539): “Resolved . . . That Mons. Vallenais be appointed an aid to Mons. de la Balme, with the rank and pay of captain of cavalry.” See also Lasseray, 2:462–463.