Papers of John Adams, volume 3

From Samuel Osgood<choice> <sic> Jr.</sic> <corr resp="apeds"> </corr> </choice>, 4 November 1775 Osgood, Samuel JA


From Samuel Osgood, 4 November 1775 Osgood, Samuel Adams, John
From Samuel Osgood Jr.
Camp at Roxbury Novr. 4th. 1775

I have no other excuse for troubling you with another Letter but to inform you that my other ought to have been dated at Roxbury Camp Octr. 23d. pardon me the Neglect.

Our worthy Generals have all been together this is the third Day. Tomorrow I hope will finish it marking as some are pleased to term it the black Sheep among the Officers and I suppose the white are to receive enlisting Orders and their Commissions immediately.1 May Heaven remove from us all dangerous Altercations and verify in us the Proverb that if we are smote upon one Cheek we may disposed to turn the other. Otherwise I am perswaded our Colony will not acquiesce in the Determination respecting those that are to be field Officers in the Army to be rais'd.

As the Regiments are reduced from 38 to 26 we must necessarily 275have many Officers Struck out of the List and some are for dismissing as many as possible. The Courtier or something more vile appears in the tame Submission of our own Generals who not boldly asserting their just Rights yield if not favor Incroachment excepting one2 who always seeks that repose of Mind which arises from reflecting that he has always endeavored to prevent Oppression in every Form.

I have many Observations to make upon the Method taken to raise the new Army but have not Time at present. Only poor Massachusetts is like to be cut into flitters therefore I fear we shall not have an Army so soon as it will be absolutely necessary to have one. I am Sir with the greatest Respect your most Humble Servt.

Saml. Osgood junr

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To The Honble. John Adams Esqr. Member of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia favd. by Capt. Price.”


Out of necessity Washington was in the process of implementing the decisions reached during the visit of the congressional committee in October. The maintenance of an army in the field was his prime consideration, for Connecticut enlistments ran out on 10 Dec. and others on the 31st. Moreover, he needed an army with standardized units and a regular chain of command in which personal jealousies would be minimized. To this end the congress decreed that the army be established at 20,372 men, made up of regiments of 728 men each (28 regiments less 12) rather than of 40 regiments of varying sizes ( JCC , 3:321, 322; French, First Year , p. 509, 761). This establishment meant a significant decrease in the number of officers and the demotion of some of those that remained in service. Thus, it threatened the New England system, in which the company or regiment was the personal domain of the officer commanding it, in which generals kept their rank as colonels and colonels as captains to maintain control over regiments and companies. Washington and his generals had to decide which officers to retain and how to persuade men to re-enlist when they did not know who their officers were to be. By the end of December, only about 6,000 men had re-enlisted. Obviously reorganization was not the sole cause of this disappointing result. Homesickness, lack of activity, shortages of firewood and clothing as winter approached also had their effect. It was local tradition that one went home from a campaign when the enlistment period was up. Soldiers had not yet learned to think of themselves as fighting for a cause extending beyond their own colonies; provincial rather than nationalistic attitudes persisted (French, First Year , ch. 31).


Osgood is probably referring to his immediate superior, Gen. Artemas Ward.

From Joseph Ward, 4 November 1775 Ward, Joseph JA


From Joseph Ward, 4 November 1775 Ward, Joseph Adams, John
From Joseph Ward
Camp at Roxbury 4 Nov. 1775 Sir

I beg leave to recommend to your Notice Capt. Price,1 the Bearer of this, who has commanded one of the Companies of Riflemen in this Encampment; he has supported the Character of a good Officer and a worthy Gentleman; any Services which you may have opportunity to render him, will I apprehend, be serving our Country.


We have received an account from Halifax, that great disturbances have lately happened in London, but it wants confirmation. A report is just brought into Camp, “That the Continental Congress have resolved to offer a free trade to all Nations, except the British, and never to have any future connection with Britain until she has repaired the injuries we have suffered by her tyranny.” If this news is not true, I hope it is a forerunner of such proceedings. The late infernal conduct of the Pirates at Falmouth, I apprehend is a full answer to all American Petitions, and in its consequences will, I conceive be the best answer we have received. We wait with solicitude to know the success of the Troops which are gone to reduce Quebec and St. Johns. The Army here is now healthy, and notwithstanding our progress is slow, I trust we shall sooner or later conquer the Enemies of Freedom. The Pirates and Rebels in Boston are very busily employed in fortifying themselves, and by late accounts from them, they are very much afraid we shall attack the Town. They however flatter themselves that our Army will be greatly lessened by the cold weather, want of necessaries, &c. It appears from good authority, that the Enemy are sickly, and much distressed for want of provisions, wood, &c. I hope we shall in the course of the Winter bring them to reason, or to ruin. No reinforcements have lately arrived, and it is said by Persons from Boston, that none are expected before next Spring. If no reinforcement should arrive this Fall, and we can secure what troops are now in America before Spring, I apprehend the Contest would be near to an end; and therefore I hope every nerve will be exerted to sweep the Continent and secure every Enemy before they can form a Spring Campaign.

My constant wishes and prayers are for Wisdom, Prosperity Health and Happiness to the Continental Congress. I am Sir your Obedient and most Humble Servant, Joseph Ward

RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Jo. Wards Letter 4. Novr. 1775.”


Probably Thomas Price of Maryland (Heitman, Register Continental Army , p. 452).