Papers of John Adams, volume 5

To Benjamin Rush, with Postscript by Abigail Adams

From Benjamin Rush

From James Lovell, 8 February 1778 Lovell, James JA


From James Lovell, 8 February 1778 Lovell, James Adams, John
From James Lovell
Dear Sir Febry. 8th. 1778

Yours of Janry. 9th is before me.1 Deane had inclosed to Congress a long minute corresponding history of what you sent me.2 He doubted whether Mr. R M had communicated to us what had been sent of the kind formerly therefore he wrote to him lately with flying seals under cover to the President. Mr. R M had been indiscreet in remarking to T.M. upon the Conduct of the Commissioners as not acting candidly in their Representations; for which he has made through Congress very lengthy Apologies, and totally discarded his infamous brother. I am not able to write minutely to you but I endeavour to send Papers which speak for themselves. The long and short of Affairs is that if we can obtain assistance to meliorate our currency we may laugh at Britain.


Poor Weeks is gone to the Bottom of the Sea with a very valuable Cargo3 and every Soul but one who was preserved by a floating Ladder 3 Days before he was taken up.

Burgoynes Affair was known in France and the english ministry concealed the proceedings about Philadelphia. It does not appear by the Kings Speech that Auxiliaries are coming. The Detention of Burgoyne will disconcert the Ministry most horribly. An Incursion into Canada is making by Fayette Conway and Stark.4 I think the prospect is good. You will take Minutes of any intelligence worth notice written to Mr. S A or other Friends. I fear to keep Packets open as Posts and Expresses are altogether uncertain, depending upon information obtained about the River.

I have directed Mr. Dunlap at Lancaster to put up Sheets of the 2d. Vol of Journals and forward to you under Cover to the Navy Board. I hope they will be delivered by the Bearer of this. Your Chest shall go by the first Carriage of Money—unless Bat Horses5 are made use of. I suppose you cannot want the Contents except for your Children though I have not been the less industrious to send them upon that Supposition. But I should risk a total Loss if I sent them to any Stage short of the east side of Hudson's River. If I can get the Chest on to Hugh Hughes,6 I am sure he will push it to Boston.

I have written to Mr. Dana to contrive at Camp to get your other things forwarded from Mr. Sprouts home wherever it may be. The Baron Steuben has been most cordially received by Congress.7 If he should be so received at Camp it may tend to introduce many advantages into the Quarter Masters Department at least. We had determined upon the following arrangements before his arrival. 1 the military duties as laid down in Books 2 Forrage Master 3 Waggon Master to purchase and direct Horses Carriages &c. 4 Agent for the purchase of Tents Tools &c.8 We have also taken the purchasing business from the Director General of Hospitals and made the Deputy Directors act as Purveyors; The Director General with the Physician and Surgeon General to order the Invoices and the two latter to publish in the Hospitals forms of Receipts which are to be the vouchers for all Expenditures, acquainting the Treasury with the forms by immediate duplicates.9 We hope to save thousands and ten thousands of Dollars by having appointed Auditors for the Camp accounts, but how we shall secure what is due from Paymasters 406and other Officers who have quitted the Service I cannot tell. Exchequor Courts would allarm the People.

RC (Adams Papers).


Not found.


MacCreery's letter to JA of 29 Sept. 1777 (above), telling of the drunkenness and debauchery of Thomas Morris, brother of Robert and superintending agent for the Secret Committee of the congress. According to Lovell, JA had furnished him with a copy of the letter ( Adams Family Correspondence , 2:403). Transcripts of Deane's letters to Laurens and to Robert Morris are in PCC, No. 103, f. 88–103.


Lambert Wickes of the Reprisal went down in a storm off the Grand Banks on 1 Oct. 1777. The American commissioners had hoped to load his ship with saltpeter, anchors, and cordage, but the captain had insisted that he could not take a cargo if his ship was not to be too low in the water for swift sailing to avoid British vessels (William Bell Clark, Lambert Wickes, New Haven, 1932, p. 359, 332, 340, 342).


The plan for a quick raid to be led by Gen. Stark was expanded to a full-scale invasion under Lafayette, who insisted that his command be considered not as an independent one but as subordinate to that of Washington's. Lafayette was also determined to have McDougall or Kalb as one of his generals to reduce the importance of Conway, whom he detested (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 3:129; JCC , 10:87, 107; Lafayette in the Age of the American Revolution: Selected Letters and Papers, 1776–1790, ed. Stanley J. Idzerda and others, Ithaca, N.Y., 1977–, 1:267–270). Lafayette's instructions emphasized finally the purpose of the expedition as one of destruction and seizure of supplies; he was not to aim at holding the country or bringing Canadians to the American side “but with the greatest Prudence and with a Prospect of durable Success” (Lafayette Papers, 1776–1790, 1:263–267). On the evolution of these instructions, see Louis Gottschalk, Lafayette Joins the American Army, Chicago, 1937, Appendix V. But see Patrick Henry to JA, 5 March, note 2 (below).


Horses that carry baggage of officers in a campaign ( OED ).


On Hugh Hughes, see vol. 3:207, note 1.


On 14 Jan. the congress accepted Baron von Steuben's services as a volunteer and asked him to go at once to Washington's camp ( JCC , 10:50).


The Board of War reported these proposed changes to the congress, which accepted them on 5 Feb. ( JCC , 10:102–103, 126).


Resolutions affecting the administration of hospitals were passed on 6 Feb. (same, 10:128–133).