Papers of John Adams, volume 3

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


From Samuel Osgood, 4 December 1775 Osgood, Samuel Adams, John
From Samuel Osgood Jr.
Camp at Roxbury Decr. 4th 1775 Sir

I fancy such an Army was scarcly ever collected together before. What a Contrast do my Eyes behold every Day: in Boston an Army of Slaves!—on this Side the Sons of the respectable Yeomanry of New England. At Home we are Lords of our own little but sufficient Estates. Some of the worthy Committee from the Honble. Continental Congress were very uneasy, the Soldier's Pay being too high in their Opinion; and Men enough at the Southward could be rais'd for 5 or 6 Dollars per Month, and now the Season was such that our Men would be out of employ, if they should return Home; which is altogether a Mistake. A Farmer, Sir (if he does his Duty) finds very little Leisure in the Winter. His Wood, which he will certainly procure in Sufficiency till the Season revolves, his Materials, and Stuff for his Fences in the Spring and consider what an almost infinite Lenght of Fences (I mention this because I fancy our Farms are smaller and more Divided with Fences than the Southward Plantations) not less than eight or ten Million of Miles in this Province which must all be attended to in the Spring; removing Manure for his Land, and tending his Stock &c. Engage his Attention thro the cold Season. From my own Knowledge, I am sensible, that Farmers have little Leisure in the Winter, but if we should grant it to be the Case, yet the Enlistment is to be for twelve Calendar Months, which must include the Leisure and Busy Times, if it is allowed we have such. If we compare the Pay the Soldier is to have the succeeding Campaign, with what the Massachusetts Soldier had last War, it will appear to be eighteen Dollars less per Year. They were pay'd lunar Months at the Rate of 6 Dollars which amounts to 78 Dollars; and their Bounty was twenty Dollars, which equals 98 Dollrs. But their present neat Pay is 80 Dollrs. I do not desire, Sir, from the above, to infer that their pay is low, for it is certainly generous and noble, but they have a Precedent of higher pay. I find, Sir, the raising the Pay of the Subalterns, gives great Uneasiness to the Privates, whether they can have any Objection in Reason or not; that, with the Rate laid upon them by our Genl. Assembly, is supposed will prevent many Persons Enlisting. The Policy of Rating the Army at this juncture I submit to better Judgments than mine. It may have a Tendency to disgrace our Colony, and will as far as it prevents any from Enlisting. The General has good Reason to complain of the Unwillingness of our Army in General to tarry after their Time is out. A considerable Number of the Connecti-353cut Forces went off in a mutinous Manner, but the greatest Part have, by the Exertion and Perswasion of the Officers, been bro't back to Camp.

I wish to Heaven I could impress upon the Minds of all our Soldiers the pressing Importance of their continuing in the Service. Every Officer of true genuine Sentiments, will use his utmost Endeavors. But there will be some sordid Souls among them, (I mean of the Subaltern Kind) who will for the present, stay the Mens enlisting, flattering themselves, they are able to raise a Company, and are therefore entitled to a Captaincy which will after the Generals find the Wheels move heavily on, be conferred upon them. Such infamous Hirelings will sooner or later meet with a Punishment adequate to such mean, low lived Behavior. A good Soldier will eternally act with a great generous and open Soul. My Soul bleeds to hear even a Hint (it is too much) that it is in the Power of the southern Colonies to make their Terms of Peace and forsake us and that they will do it excepting we appear more spirited than we at this Time of raising a new Army appear to be. Gentlemen at the Helm here, say, they know it will take Place if as above &c. for our Militia are a damn'd pack of Scoundrels not that they believe! I cannot express myself decently upon the above Assertions and therefore leave them to your Honor. But this I beleive (if I do not know it) that Newengland had much better stand out till the Earth is fertilized with the last drop of Blood in her Veins if she is forsaken by every other Colony nay if they all join against her—than submit. The Newengland Colonies may and probably will harmonize in the same Form of Government but no more, and therefore when we have finished this War with Credit (as I firmly beleive it will be) we may anticipate what may turn up afterwards. Forgive me!!! I am with the greatest Respect your Honors most Humble Servant

S. Osgood

RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “S. Osgood. D. 1775 Novr 30.”

From James Swan, 4 December 1775 Swan, James JA


From James Swan, 4 December 1775 Swan, James Adams, John
From James Swan
Watertown 4 Decr. 1775 Sir

By a resolve of Congress the 18th of Oct. last, I1 perceive the Sufferers by fire and Seizures, occasion'd by the Enemy, are invited to lay their loss before them. For that reason I now trouble you, as one of the Committee.

You are doubtless acquainted with the General damage from the fire, which happen'd last May, in the Town dock of Boston,2 caused by 354Genl. Gage's 47s. or Tarring and Feathering Regiment, making Cartrages in one of the Stores, which was improv'd as a Barrack; and which might have been prevented from Spreading, had not he very lately before that time, taken the Command from the Fire Wards, appointed by the Town, and vested it in the persons of known Tories; fixed locks upon the Doors, and Centries at each of the Engine Houses: So that before the people cou'd go to Gage, be admitted to his presence for Orders to obtain the Engines; who were directed by him to the New Captains, and then the Captains to their respective Wards, that, I say before these things cou'd be done, the fire was communicated far, and the Soldiers wou'd not permit the Inhabitants to assist in extinguishing it; by which means I became a loser in about £100 Sterling by the distruction of the Store which I improv'd, leading down on Treats wharf. My loss was in merchandize. The Warehouse belong'd to A. Oliver Esqr, of Salem, who with the Honl. John Hancock Esq., Mr. Fairweather, Mr. Ben Andrews and Eliakim Hutchinson, were the principal Sufferers in the Buildings.3

I know not, whether it is meant to indemnify the Sufferers: nor can I say, that from the hopes of such indemnification I am now induc'd to write you, so much, as to comply with the desire of Congress.

If this is not sufficiently authenticated, I can send you the particulars. I am, with respect, Sir Your mo. obd. Sevt.

Jams. Swan Depy to Treas. Gardner

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “The Honbl John Adams Esqr Philadelphia”; docketed: “James Swan 1775”; in another hand: “Decr 4.”; stamped: “FREE N*YORK*DEC: 11.”


James Swan (1754–1830) emigrated from Scotland in 1765 and soon became a member of the Sons of Liberty. He participated in the Boston Tea Party and the Battle of Bunker Hill. During the war, not all of which he spent as a soldier, he rose to the rank of colonel; using his wife's money, he invested heavily in loyalist property and speculated in western lands. He ended his career in France, first as an agent for the French Republic on naval stores and the American debt, then as an independent businessman. He died in debtors' prison in Paris ( DAB ).


For another account of the fire which occurred on 17 May and a list of those suffering losses, see Massachusetts Gazette of 19 May and 1 June. Swan's account is similar to those in the newspapers, particularly that in the New-England Chronicle of 25 May, which includes a letter from a Boston inhabitant describing the fire and efforts to prevent its spread. For Gage's orders after the fire, see French, First Year , p. 167.


Andrew Oliver Jr. (1731–1799), judge and scientist, a founder of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and member of the American Philosophical Society ( DAB ). Thomas Fayer-weather and Benjamin Andrews Jr., both Boston merchants (Thwing Catalogue, MHi). Fayerweather was father-in-law of Professor John Winthrop (Winsor, Memorial History of Boston, 4:494–495, note). Eliakim Hutchinson (1711–1775), loyalist and wealthy Boston merchant (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 8:726–729).