Papers of John Adams, volume 11

From Jean de Neufville & Fils

From Jean de Neufville & Fils

From Edmund Jenings, 4 April 1781 Jenings, Edmund JA


From Edmund Jenings, 4 April 1781 Jenings, Edmund Adams, John
From Edmund Jenings
Sir Brussels April 4th. 1781

By a London Newspaper receivd this Day by the way of Margate (for the two last posts are not Arrivd) I find that Tarlton has been defeated by Genl. Morgan near 96.1 The Congress has published an Account of it, which I suppose the English Ministry will secrete, but it appears by private Letters, that a number of men have been Killed or taken Prisoners. That Tarletons own regiment is almost entirely cut to peices—that He was near being taken Prisoner Himself and that his Baggage is destroyed. Rivington endeavours to make light of the Action, but shews at the same time, it was a serious One—when the Vessel left N York, which was the 25th. of Febry Genl. Philips was preparing to embark with 5000 Men,2 supposd for Virginia.

By the same Paper we have an Account that a french Vessel with Dispatches from the Mauritius is taken and carried to England, but by some papers found in her it appears that Hyder Ally having collected an Army of 80000 Horse had laid Siege to Arcot, that the Colonels Baillie and Fletcher attempting to go to its relief were totally defeated with the Loss of 400 Europeans and 4000 Seapoys, that Arcot was taken together with Pondicheri and that the whole Province of Arcot was in the Hands of Hyder Ally, Col. Munro having with Difficulty got back to Madras.3

I have the Honor of receiving your Excellencys Letter of the 22d. Ultimo and shall Carefully attend to the political Rule laid down therein.

What a pleasant trouble has your Excellency had in writing your Name 29 Thousand times for such a purpose—give me leave to beg your Excellency would send me some Copies of your proposals in Dutch—I have been spoken to on the Subject.

I am with the greatest Respect Sir your Excellencys Most Obedient Humble Servt

Edm: Jenings

P.S. I send a duplicate of this to Leyden.4


RC (Adams Papers); endorsed by John Thaxter: “Mr. Jennings 4th. April 1781.” Dupl (Adams Papers). Jenings sent one copy of this letter to Amsterdam and another to Leyden. Because JA was in Amsterdam 5–7 April, it is likely that he received the copy sent to Amsterdam first. The editors have designated the copy sent to Leyden as the duplicate.


The Battle of Cowpens took place approximately fifty miles north of Ninety Six, S.C. On the morning of 17 Jan., Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton, commanding a force of 1,100 infantry and cavalry, attacked 800 regulars and militia commanded by Gen. Daniel Morgan. The Americans decisively defeated Tarleton, inflicting over 800 casualties and driving him from the field. This victory was notable not only for being “one of the few tactical defeats suffered by British regulars during the war,” but also for the attrition of the forces available to Cornwallis (Middlekauff, Glorious Cause , p. 470–476; Mackesy, War for America , p. 405; The Toll of Independence: The Engagements and Battle Casualties of the American Revolution, ed. Howard H. Peckham, Chicago, 1974, p. 79). The report on the battle that Jenings read and commented on appeared in the 27 March editions of the London newspapers and was taken from Rivington's Royal Gazette of 23 Feb. (London Chronicle, 27–29 March). It was intended to counteract the “Exaggerated accounts ... published by the rebels.” In fact, the first accounts in American papers were taken from a letter of 24 Jan. from Daniel Morgan to Nathanael Greene in which Morgan accurately described the battle and the magnitude of his victory (Pennsylvania Gazette, 14 Feb.; Boston Independent Chronicle, 22 Feb.). By 31 March accounts of the battle more accurate than that in Rivington's paper reached England in the form of letters from Lord Cornwallis and Lt. Col. Nisbet Balfour, commandant of Charleston (London Chronicle, 31 March – 3 April).


In the duplicate, Jenings omitted the remainder of this sentence.


On 29 March London newspapers, including the London Courant, Morning Herald, and London Chronicle, carried the first detailed accounts of the defeats suffered by the British East India Company and its military forces at the beginning of the Second Mysore War. These accounts were accurate and form the basis for Jenings' report here and in the duplicate, where the phrasing was slightly different. Hyder Ali continued to occupy the Carnatic—the area along the southeastern coast of India centered on Arcot and Madras—and the British forces remained confined to the East India Company's base at Madras (B. Sheikh Ali, British Relations with Haidar Ali, 1760– 1782, Mysore, India, 1963, p. 225–257).


The postscript to the duplicate reads: “I send a duplicate of this to Amsterdam. I have desird Msrs. De Neufville to send me some of the Proposals.”