Papers of John Adams, volume 4

To Francis Dana

To Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant

From Samuel Adams, 16 August 1776 Adams, Samuel JA From Samuel Adams, 16 August 1776 Adams, Samuel Adams, John
From Samuel Adams
My dear Sir N York Augt 16 1776

I sit down to write in great Haste as the post is just going. I reached P. Ferry1 on tuesday Six Clock P M and passed over the next morning. Found the General and his family in Health and spirits. Indeed every Officer and Soldier appears to be determin'd. I have not had Opportunity to view the Works here, but I am told they are strong and will be well defended whenever an Attack is made which is expected daily. I see now more than I ever did the Importance of Congress attending immediately to Inlisiments for the next Campaign. It would be a pity to lose your old Soldiers. I am of Opinion that a more generous 468Bounty should be given.2 20 Dollars and 100 Acres of Land for three years at least—but enough of this. The State of our Northern Army mends apace. The Number of invalids decreases. Harmony prevails. They carry on all kinds of Business within themselves. Smiths Armourers Carpenters Turners Carriage Makers Rope Makers &c. &c. they are well provided with. There were at Tyconderoga August 12 2,668 Rank and file fit for Duty at Crownpoint and Skeansborough 750, in Hospital 1,110. Lt Whittemore returnd from his Discoveries.3 He left St. Johns July 30 saw 2000 or 2500 at that place and Chamblee. Stores coming on from Montreal. Counted 30 Batteaus. No Vessell built or building. This Account may I think be depended upon. In my opinion we are happy to have General Gates there. The Man who has the Superintendency of Indian Affairs—the nominal Command of the Army,4—is the real Contractor and Quarter Master General &c. and has too many Employments to attend to the reform of such an Army. Besides the Army can confide in the Valor and military Skill and Accomplishments of Gates—Sat. Verbum Sapienti.5 Pray write me and let me know how the Confederation yet goes on. Major Meigs6 a brave Officer and a Prisoner taken at Quebeck is at this time, as I suppose, at Philadelphia. He wishes to be exchanged. Such an Officer would be very usefull here. I wish you would give him your Assistance. I prepare to sett off tomorrow for the Eastward. Adieu

Cap Palmes7 is in this City waiting for inlisting orders. I wish the Rank of the Navy Officers was settled and the Commissions made out. Capt. Dearborne of N. Hampshire8 is in the same Predicament with Major Meigs. Coll. Whipple9 who now sends his Regards to you, is very desirous that he may also be exchanged. His Character is remarkeably good as Maj. Meigs can inform you.

RC (Adams Papers).


Probably Powle's Hook Ferry (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:111).


The congress had voted to offer $10 for a three-year enlistment ( JCC , 5:483).


The journal of Lt. Benjamin Whitcomb is in Force, Archives , 5th ser., 1:828–829. Adams' secondhand report is garbled, but the thirty batteaus, the estimate of men at St. John's, and the stores moving from Montreal all match. Gen. Gates sent Whitcomb's journal and a report from Capt. Anthony Mesnard to Washington in a letter dated 7 Aug. (same, p. 827–828).


Gen. Schuyler. The congress had given Gates command over the troops that were in Canada, but intended that when the army left that country Schuyler should remain in command of the Northern Army. Some bad feeling developed and the congress was forced to clarify command responsibilities. New Englanders supported the pretensions of Gates ( JCC , 5:526; Joseph Trumbull to Gen. Gates, 5 July, Force, Archives , 5th ser., 1:20; Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 5:257, note 14; for another view, see George Athan Billias, “Horatio Gates: Professional Soldier,” George Washington's Generals, ed. Billias, N.Y., 1964, p. 86–87).

469 5.

A word to the wise is sufficient.


Return Jonathan Meigs was exchanged 10 Jan. 1777 (Heitman, Register Continental Army , p. 388).


Capt. Richard Palmes of the Continental marines ( JCC , 5:604).


Henry Dearborn was exchanged 10 March 1777 (Heitman, Register Continental Army , p. 190).


See Samuel Adams to JA, 13 Aug., note 1 (above).