Papers of John Adams, volume 10

To the President of Congress, No. 21

To Antoine Marie Cerisier

From Thomas Digges, 17 November 1780 Digges, Thomas JA


From Thomas Digges, 17 November 1780 Digges, Thomas Adams, John
From Thomas Digges
Dear Sir Nov. 17. 80

I acknowlegd the Receipt of yours the 28th Octo. and 7th Instant in my last letter of the 14th. Since that day no material move with regard to our friend; but I am in consultations now and then to fix upon some mode by a motion in Parliament to have him put on parole or releasd by Bail. By the inclosd letter you will discover as much as I have yet been able to discover of the writer who appears to be Mr. L——s Secretary.1 The other papers alluded to in His letter are no where here abouts yet,2 but I will keep a look out for them knowing some of the names mentiond in the inclosd. As the inclosd has but this moment come to hand and I am rather pinchd for time by this Post, I can not further add.

You will by this time have read and heard as much as I have relative to Arnolds apostacy. Ministry have been in possession of the plan of this plot above a month (ever since Gov. Trions arrival)3 and it has been the cause of their holding out such strong assurances of success from America, and of their confidant elation. They now brag very much of a considerable disunion in W——ns army and that Knox, Skuyler, Howe, and another Genl. have come over to their Interest.4 356I do not beleive any thing of this. It is meerly held out to cover the disgrace and ruin of their dearly purchasd plots.

It is said Rodney was not to Leave Ama. till the 25th October then to go to His old Station.5 By the packet and other arrivals from N York subsequent to the Gazette accounts it appears the whole British fleet of 24 ships was blocking up Rhode Island, and no accounts whatever, in that or any other quarter, of the French or Spanish fleets. How can you account for them?

The Books lately wrote for are shippd on board the Captain for Amsterdam.6 Twelve or fourteen in all. The papers are sent regularly as directed. As I shall be uneasy about this inclosure please to acknowlege the Receipt of it.

The Expedition for Chesapeak is said to be saild from N York. When you get any News from the Southern army or from Virga. give me a line. What think you of the article in the inclosd mentioning the recapture of Gates's Baggage, taking Lord Cornwallis &ca.7

The Writer of the within and the Captn. Peckles will most likely be sent into Prison with their Countrymen at Portsmouth. I do not know how to help them as yet, probably Mr. L——ns friend, Mr. Manning, may be inducd to advance them a little money. Mr. Young is Mr. L——ns Secretary—and the papers said to be left with Mr. Shute were so orderd to be by Mr. L, probably to be forwarded from N foundland to some part of America.

Your Pamphlets and 2 shool books, went yesterday or this morning (13 in all) in a paper parcell directed to Messrs Q D and son. I cannot yet get the Ship or Captns name.

RC with one enclosure, (Adams Papers). For the enclosure, which has not been printed, see note 1.


The enclosure was a letter to Henry Laurens from Moses Young, his secretary, dated 14 Nov. on the frigate Vestal off the Isle of Wight. Young indicated that the letter was to be carried by Winslow Warren, a fellow passenger on the Vestal, who planned to go to London with Capt. Berkely, the frigate's commander, immediately upon the vessel's arrival at Spithead, the anchorage off Portsmouth. The letter was largely devoted to an account of the Battle of Camden received from a Capt. Smith, commander of the privateer brigantine Fair American, which had sailed from Ocracoke, N.C., 21 Sept. and was captured by the Vestal on 6 October. Young ended his letter with a plea for funds “to enable me to appear and act as I know Col: Laurens wishes I should.”


These were Henry Laurens' letters of 14 Sept. to the Committee for Foreign Affairs and his son, John Laurens. Done on the Vestal, off St. John's, Newfoundland, they reported Laurens' capture. Young indicated that a Mr. Shute had promised to forward them immediately and they ultimately reached America, by way of St. Eustatius, in early 1781 (PCC, No. 89, I, f. 201–202; South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine, 6:158–160 [Oct. 1905]).


Tryon reached London on 14 Oct. (London Chronicle, 12–14 Oct.).


The information provided by Digges here and in the following paragraph reflects the accounts appearing in the London newspa-357pers on or about 16 Nov.; see, for example, the London Chronicle of 14–16 and 16–18 Nov., and the London Courant of 16 November. With respect to the erroneous report of the defection of several American generals, however, the London Chronicle listed them as Gens. Knox, Sullivan, Howe, and Maxwell.


For the movements of Adm. Sir George Rodney and the dispatch of the expedition to the Chesapeake, noted in the second paragraph below, see Digges' letter of 14 Nov., note 3 (above).


The names of both the vessel and its captain were left blank in the manuscript.


In his account of the Battle of Camden and its aftermath, Moses Young indicated that at the end of August, a force under Gen. Richard Caswell had taken “a great Part of the Enemy's Baggage and retook the whole Baggage of Gen. Gates's Army” and that Caswell's troops had captured Cornwallis, who was later rescued. In addition, a large body of reinforcements under Gates' command was reportedly moving rapidly in Cornwallis' direction. These reports, which appeared in the London newspapers, such as the London Courant of 18 Nov., were false.