Adams Papers
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From John Adams to James Warren, 10 June 1775

To James Warren

Phyladelphia June 10. 1775

Dr Sir

I have written a few Lines to Dr Warren to whom I refer you.1

It is of vast Importance that the officers of our Army should be impressed with the absolute Necessity of Cleanliness, to preserve the Health of their Men. Cleanness, is one of the three Cardinal Virtues of a soldier, as Activity and Sobriety are the other two. They should be encouraged to go into Water frequently, to keep their Linnen washed and their Beds clean, and should be continually exercised in the manual and Maneuvres.

General Lee, has an opinion of Burgoine, Clinton and How. Burgoine he says is very active and enterprizing—fond of surprizes and Night Attacks and Alarms,2 he entreats me, to inculcate a most unremitted Vigilance. To guard against Surprizes, especially in the Night.

We have a most miraculous Militia in this City, brought into existence, out of Nothing since the Battle of Lexington.

Measures are taken here and at New York to procure Powder. But We must be Sparing of that Article. The Supineness of the Colonies hitherto concerning it, amazes me.

Genl. Lee and Major Gates are very fond of a Project of procuring Pikes and Pike men.3 I hope We shall send you some Rifle Men. They shoot with great Exactness, at amazing Distances.

They are casting Pateraras, and making Amuzettes4 in this City, and preparing for War, with an alacrity, which does them Honor.

RC (MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.); addressed: “To the Hon. James Warren esq. Plymouth favd by Dr. Church”; docketed: “Mr. J: A Lettr June 1775.”

1Not found.

2Generals William Howe, Henry Clinton, and John Burgoyne arrived in Boston on 25 May (French, First Year description begins Allen French, The First Year of the American Revolution, Boston, 1934. description ends , p. 168). Charles Lee had served under Burgoyne in 1762 during a British expedition to Portugal and at the time of this letter was still on friendly terms with him. Lee, in fact, carried on a brief exchange of letters with Burgoyne after his arrival in Boston. Each sought to persuade the other of the correctness of the side on which he was fighting (Alden, General Charles Lee description begins John Richard Alden, General Charles Lee: Traitor or Patriot?, Baton Rouge, La., 1951. description ends , p. 21–22, 84–87).

3Horatio Gates (1728–1806) had also served in the British army, being commissioned a major in 1762. A friend of Washington, he came to the colonies in 1772 and by 1775 was a partisan of the American cause, probably in protest against the British caste system (DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–1936; 20 vols. plus index and supplements. description ends ). On 17 June 1775 Gates was appointed adjutant general with the rank of brigadier general (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 2:97).

Trained pikemen were seen as an answer to British bayonets at a time when gunpowder was scarce and needed to be conserved. Franklin designed a pike for Pennsylvania’s Committee of Safety (Carl Van Doren, Benjamin Franklin, N.Y., 1938, p. 533).

4Peteraras (a variation of pedrero) were small guns originally designed for discharging stones and later, shot, and for firing salutes. Amusettes were light field cannon sometimes used in mountain warfare (OED description begins The Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford, 1933; 12 vols. and supplement. description ends ).

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