Papers of John Adams, volume 5

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).

From James Lovell, 18 November 1777 Lovell, James JA From James Lovell, 18 November 1777 Lovell, James Adams, John
From James Lovell
Dear Sir 18th. Novr. 1777

It appears by Returns this day received from Genl. Gates that Burgoine must have destroyed his Standards and almost every other military Trophy during the Capitulation. Not one Musket fit for use was delivered, not one Scabbard to a Bayonett or Cutlass. We are told that instead of piling the Arms the Enemy chose to ground them, that the Waggons might more certainly crush them. Gates does not notice this as a Breach of Convention, tho his Returns show the Facts; yet he says that if Howe obstinately refuses an honourable Cartel it is proper to delay fulfilling the Convention. I wish you had not left York till now, as I join in the Opinion of many here, Today, that a Committee ought to know the Facts first exactly from Gates, and be empowered to proceed from Albany to Boston, if found necessary. You know I was critical about not violating the Treaty: But the Returns have proved very unfair Dealing on the part of Burgoyne.1

You would scold me yourself if you knew how sick I am and what Hour of the Night it is. You must see Mr. S. Adams for I scrawl one Thing to him and another to you out of pure Oconomy.

Gates tells me on the 10th. “General Lincoln recovers apace.” With affectionte. Esteem yr. humb. Servt.,

James Lovell

A certain Lady2 has cried bitterly Today about Philadelphia and says “she had rather dye in its Goal than live in any other Place curse those who began the Trouble curse W .” This savours a little of Toryism. I really believe the two dear Men 3 were within the Wind of the Curse. But you will call this, Jeal-331ousy, Envy, and a Desire to rob you of your Portion of Honey; therefore I desist, and crawl to Bed in a starlight Morning.

RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr Lovell”; in CFA's hand: “Novr 18th 1777.”


On 19 Nov. the congress appointed a committee of three to consider Gates' return on enemy weapons and other materials surrendered. The committee's report on the 22d stressed the small quantities reported of expected materials. The congress plainly suspected false dealings. Meanwhile, Burgoyne charged a breach of faith in that accommodations for his army in Boston were not as promised ( JCC , 9:939, 948–951; 10:32).


Probably a reference to Mrs. Clymer, sister of Daniel Roberdeau ( Adams Family Correspondence , 2:353). See JA to James Lovell, 6 Dec. (below).


John and Samuel Adams, on leave from the congress and formerly guests in Roberdeau's home.