Adams Papers

Septr. 15. 1777. Monday.

Septr. 15. 1777. Monday.1

Fryday the 12, I removed from Captn. Duncans in Walnutt Street to the Revd. Mr. Sprouts in Third Street, a few doors from his Meeting House.2 Mr. Merchant from Rhode Island boards here, with me.3 Mr. Sprout is sick of a Fever. Mrs. Sprout, and the four young Ladies her Daughters, are in great Distress on Account of his Sickness, and the Approach of Mr. Howes Army. But they bear their Affliction with Christian Patience and philosophic Fortitude. The young Ladies are Miss Hannah, Olive, Sally and Nancy. The only Son is an Officer in the Army. He was the first Clerk in the American War office.

We live in critical Moments! Mr. Howes Army is at Middleton and Concord. Mr. Washingtons, upon the Western Banks of Schuylkill, a few Miles from him. I saw this Morning an excellent Chart of the Schuylkill, Chester River, the Brandywine, and this whole Country, among the Pensilvania Files. This City is the Stake, for which the Game is playd. I think, there is a Chance for saving it, although the Probability is against Us. Mr. Howe I conjecture is waiting for his Ships to come into the Delaware. Will W. attack him? I hope so—and God grant him Success.

1In the MS there is only a half-page interval of space between the false entry of “Feb. 29” and the present entry six and a half months later. During that period JA was steadily in attendance at Congress in Philadelphia. His principal work, as in the summer and fall of 1776, was presiding over the Board of War and Ordnance, which handled the lion’s share of Congress’ routine work. Hundreds of communications, relating to military operations, recruits, defenses, prisoners, supplies, courts martial, and the rank of officers (a perpetual problem, made worse by the influx of foreign volunteers), to mention no others, were referred to the Board for recommendations or action during these months. Although there was discussion throughout the year of converting the Board into a professional body under the supervision of Congress, this step was not taken until after JA had left Congress in November. See Samuel Adams to JA, 9 Jan. 1777, Adams Papers; Burnett, ed., Letters of Members description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress, Washington, 1921–1936; 8 vols. description ends , 2:210, and notes and references there.

As early as May JA complained of “drooping” health, a lingering cold, and weakened eyes (to AA, 15, 21 May, Adams Papers). As summer came on, he had a strong additional reason for wishing to visit Braintree: AA was expecting a baby in July. On 11 July she was delivered of a daughter who was to have been named Elizabeth but who “never opened its Eyes in this World.” See JA to AA, 4 June, 28 July; AA to JA, 9, 10–11, 16 July; John Thaxter to JA, 13 July (Adams Papers).

2This was to be a short stay. The American army had been defeated at Chadd’s Ford on the Brandywine, 11 September. See entry of 19 Sept., below.

3Henry Marchant, of Newport, R.I., a delegate to the Continental Congress, 1777–1780, 1783–1784 (Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774–1949, Washington, 1950. description ends ).

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