Papers of John Adams, volume 5

From John Sullivan

From James Lovell

From James Lovell, 14 November 1777 Lovell, James JA


From James Lovell, 14 November 1777 Lovell, James Adams, John
From James Lovell
Dear sir 14 Novr. 1777 Yk Town

Tho I must refer you as well as Mr. Hancock to what I have written to Mr. S. Adams relative to the Business in Congress,1 329and also omit at present general chit chat of Men Women and Things, yet one little Peice of History which is peculiarly adapted to your improving Fancy I must put down. Mr. Hancock's Waggoner who went with Mrs. Hancock to Boston, after his Return to Germantown his Home fancied to visit his Parents in Philadelphia where he was pointed out by one Corey a Breeches maker and put under Guard but by the Intercession of one of the Allen's who had been schoolmate with him, and who mentioned that the mans Circumstances obliged him to work for Mr. Hancock as well as any other who might incline to employ him.2 Mr. Laurens asked the Waggoner if he was in Philadelphia when the Defeat of Count Dunop was reported there first;3 he answered yes, and, that the Hessians were exceedingly cast down. He turned his Eye to a Table and asked the President whether the large book upon it was a Bible; on being answered yes, he turned to the 2d. Part of the 44th. Psalm4 and read the Poetry which he declared the Hessians sang on meeting their surviving Chief. The President bid him remember that it was a Bible in his Hand; and also asked him if he would take his Oath. The man replied that he would not swear he heard them sing, but he would swear that one or two Officers read those verses in the Guard Room as the verses which the Hessians had been solemnly singing.

They must be deeply touched indeed to make a religious Ceremony and openly therein avow their disgrace.

It is said they are mighty Biblemen each being Possessor of one.

My Head snaps with writing and the two Fouquets5 are chattering French at my Elbow in the Board of War Room. Therefore I conclude yr. affectionate obliged

James Lovell

P.S. I should not have kept my regards for your Lady to be presented in a postscript, if I was not bent upon following them with Something adequate to a downright Execration of the Enemies of my Country and the Liberties of mankind. May no one such ever feel a fiftieth Part of your delicate domestic Enjoyments.


RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr Lovell Novber. 14th 1777.”


John Hancock resigned from the presidency of the congress on 29 Oct. and soon thereafter left for home on a leave of absence. JA and Samuel Adams, having received permission from the congress, set out for home on 11 Nov. for a much-needed rest ( JCC , 9:846, 880; JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:267).

330 2.

Lovell does not finish his thought. Allen's intercession persuaded the British to let the wagoner leave Philadelphia.


Karl Emil Kurt von Donop, commander of Hessian troops ordered in October to attack Fort Mercer, stormed the position unsuccessfully with heavy casualties and loss of his own life (Troyer S. Anderson, The Command of the Howe Brothers during the American Revolution, N.Y., 1936, p. 289–290; Hans Huth, “Letters from a Hessian Mercenary,” PMHB , 62:488–501 [Oct. 1938]; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. , 2:422).


That is, lines 9 and following, which lament God's turning away from his armies to leave them at the mercy of their enemies.


The Fouquets, father and son, were among the officers who had traveled to the United States with Du Coudray, and who, disappointed in their hopes, wished to return to France. On 7 Nov. the congress authorized payments to 27 officers and 12 artillerymen for pay and travel expenses ( JCC , 9:765, 876–877).