Papers of John Adams, volume 9

To James Moylan

To the President of Congress, No. 14

23 From Thomas Digges, 7 March 1780 Digges, Thomas Dundas, T. JA


From Thomas Digges, 7 March 1780 Digges, Thomas Dundas, T. Adams, John
From Thomas Digges
Sir 7th Mar/80

Since my letter of the 3d. a Gazette Extraordinary, has announcd the arrival of dispatches from1 Adl. Digby, who is returnd with the fleet and spanish prizes from Gibraltar, and brought in with him a french 64 Gun Man of War and three store ships bound under Her Convoy from L'Orient to the East Indies. The French and Spaniards seem lately to have been totally unadvisd as to the movements of English fleets and ships, and to have placd their Convoys in tracks to be taken. This Man of War has 60,000 £ in specie on board and was most fortunately for Digby met with on the 23d Feby.2 Rodney saild from Gibr. with the fleet the 14th. and parted with it the 18th. taking four ships of the line only with Him to the Wt. Indies. A like number will probably go under Walsingham about the 20th or 25th Instant with the fleet to the West Indies. Arbuthnot has left his American station and taken the heavy ships 4 of the line with him to the Wt. Inds. Some say that he carryd some troops with Him. By every appearance there are no more troops going to No. Ama. and it looks as if Ministry meant not to continue the American War but to let it dwindle and die away. News from the Southern Expedition from N York is dayly expected. A transport with upwards of 200 Hessians on board and which was driven off in a storm is arrivd at St. Ives.3 She saild with the Expedition from N York the 26 Decr. and a few days after received considerable damage in a severe gale which it is thought seperated and dispersd the Fleet. We have no exact accounts from this vessel yet, but from what can be collected it appears the storm will save Chas Town for some little time further, and not unlikely baffle every future attempt. These uncommon instances of good fortune at Sea at least to Rodneys fleet have raisd the Spirits of the people very much, but you find but very few even in their moments of exultation who wish a continuance of the American War.

I am yr obt Sert, T. Dundas

RC (Adams Papers;) addressed: “A Monsieur Monsieur Ferdinando Raymond San, chez Monsr Hocherau Libraire Pont Neuf a Paris”; endorsed: “T. Dundas. 7. March. 80. ansd. 14th.”


With some alterations, JA copied the text from this point through the words “let it dwindle and die away” and included it in his first letter of 14 March to the president of Congress (No. 18, calendared, below).


The report on the actions of Rear Adm. Robert Digby appeared in the London Gazette Extraordinary of 6 March. The French 64-gun ship of the line Protée was taken by the Resolution, of 74 guns.


This letter is largely a digest of accounts appearing in the London papers with some comments added by Digges. For example, Digges refers to the departure of Adm. Marriot Arbuthnot from New York and the prospects for the continuation of the war. In the London Chronicle of 4–7 March the following passage appears: “Admiral Arbuthnot is sailed from New York, with all his heavy ships, for the West Indies. This pretty clearly shews that the war in North America is only meant to linger on; that nothing vigorous is intended.”


This is the transport Anna, whose passengers underwent incredible hardship during the weeks that it took the dismasted hulk to drift across the Atlantic to St. Ives, in Cornwall (Edward J. Lowell, The Hessians and the other German Auxiliaries of Great Britain in the Revolutionary War, N.Y., 1884, p. 243–244; see also the London Chronicle, 4– 7 March). With minor changes, JA copied this and the following sentence and included it in his second letter of 14 March to the president of Congress (No. 19, calendared, below).