Diary of John Adams, volume 3

Monday September 30. 1776.

October 1st. 1776.

To William Tudor
Philadelphia September 26. 1776 Dr. Sir

Your obliging favours of September 6 from New York and that of the 23d from the Plains of Haarlem, are now before me.5 The Picture you draw of the Army, and the disorders which prevail in it, is shock-438ing: but I believe it is just. But We often find, that in the variagated Scaene of human life, that much good grows out of great Evil.... A few disgraces and defeats have done more, towards convincing the Congress, than the Rhetorick of many months, assisted by frequent Letters from the General, and many other Officers of the Army, was able to effect. Before this time you have been informed, that the Articles of War, are passed and printed, and a new Plan for the formation of a permanent and regular Army, is adopted. I wish it may have Success.—Pray give me your Opinion of it.

The late Events at New York have almost overcome my Utmost Patience. I can bear the Conflagration of Towns, nay almost any thing else, public or private, better than disgrace. The Cowardice of New England men is an unexpected discovery to me, and I confess has put my Philosophy to the Tryal. If I had heard, that Parsons's and Fellows's Brigades had been cutt to Pieces, and had my Father, my Brother and Son been among the Slain, I sincerely believe, upon a cool examination of my own heart, it would not have given me so much grief as the shamefull flight of the 15th. instant.... I hope that God will forgive the guilty in the next World: but, should any question concerning this transaction, come into any place where I have a Vote, I should think it my duty to be inexorable, in this. We have none of the particulars, but I conclude, that such detestable Behaviour of whole Brigades, could not have happened, without the worst Examples, in some Officers of Rank.—These, if any such there are, shall never want my Voice, for sending them to another World. If the best Friend I have, should prove to be one of them, I should think myself guilty of his Crime, and that I deserved his Punishment, if I interposed one Word, between him and death.

I lament the Fall of the young Hero, Henly. But I wish you had been more particular, in your narration of the Enterprize, which proved so glorious and so fatal to him. You are much mistaken in your Apprehension, that We are minutely informed of such Events. We suffer great Anxiety, and the Public suffers many Misfortunes, for Want of Information. The Post Office, which has been in fault, is now beginning to do its duty. Dont you neglect yours.

Colonel Tudor.