Adams Papers

Nathan Rice to Abigail Adams, 11 August 1776

Nathan Rice to Abigail Adams

Ticonderoga August. 11th. 1776

Mrs. Adams

Inclosd I send you a Copy of General Carltons Orders of the 7th. Instant, which we received by Major Biggelow of Connecticut, who was sent by the Genl. the 28th. ult: with the Resolutions of Congress, concerning the Carteel stipulated by Genl. Arnold, at the Cedars, which was, not to ratify it, unless they would deliver up Capt. Foster and those Officers who were present and suffered the Savages to Murder the Prisoners in cool Blood.1 The Flagg arrived, and after a Stay of a few Days, (in which Time was treated with Politeness) was dispached, with a Party commanded by Capt. Fraizer [Frazier], to escort him over the Lake.

The Capt. delivered him a Letter, subscribed to George Washington Esqr. He not knowing the Resolution of Congress in that Respect, altho he greatly disliked the Superscription, says “I can take it,” at the same Time, the Capt. gave him the inclosed with the Letter, saying that is for you. But Major Biggelow very discreetly refused it.—The Captain insisted on the Majors going with him, putting a Sergt. with the Flagg Boat, whom they had furnished with a Number, and who distributed them to the Men. Thus we have it, cut and dried, an End to Truces. Mr. How, however was more [agreea]ble2 and wished a more free Intercourse with our [army?].

Now for the Assassination mentioned.—One Lieutenant Whitcomb, in our Army an old Indian Hunter, was sent on a Scout, and if possible to get a Prisoner. His Party which was four, by some means all left him, one Deserted to the Enemy. In the Character of a french Peasant he visited them, after the Desertion however he had like to have been taken, before he left the Place, he discovered an Officer riding by, as he lay conceald in the Bushes, and considering him as his enemy and being accustomed to such Things, having also a great fancy for his Watch and Sword as he says, he fired upon him. Not killing him Dead on the Spott, he was obliged to make his Escape. It proved to be no less than Brigadr. Genl. Gordon, who received two Balls in his Shoulder of which Wound he died next Day. This se[ems] rather Murder, but it is treating them on[ly] in their own Way.

The Malitia are comeing in fast, but am a little surprised they receive such Bounty for no longer Time, and the Continental Army to pay it who have never received any and born the whole.

I am with the greatest Respect your humble Sert.,

N Rice

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To Mrs. Abigail Adams Braintree N England.” Enclosure (Adams Papers): copy, in Rice’s hand, of Gen. Sir Guy Carleton’s orders, “Chamblee,” 7 Aug. 1776, prohibiting, on account of the recent “Assassination” of Brig. Gen. Patrick Gordon, all emissaries and messages from “Traitors in Arms against their King”; see, further, note 1.

1The events alluded to here and below were sequels to the surrender, in May, by an officer Thomas Jefferson called “The scoundrel, Major [Isaac] Butterfield,” of a body of New Hampshire troops at The Cedars, some forty miles above Montreal. Gen. Arnold marched to their rescue, but too late, and was obliged to sign an ignominious cartel in order to prevent further butchery among the captives by the Indians serving with Capt. George Forster, the British officer to whom Butterfield had surrendered. Congress investigated the affair, rejected in part the cartel, and sent Maj. John Bigelow to inform Carleton and Burgoyne. The reply, directed to Washington and supposedly from Carleton but bearing the marks of Burgoyne’s style, contained the orders of which a copy was enclosed in the present letter. Rice gives details on both this transaction and the waylaying of Gordon by an American scout within the British lines that are not available in other accounts. See JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 5:420, 446, 454–458, 468, 475, 533–539 (text of Congress’ report and resolutions on the cartel), 601, 695; Jefferson, Papers, ed. Boyd description begins The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd and others, Princeton, 1950–. description ends , 1:396–404, 459–460; Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick description begins The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745–1799, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick, Washington, 1931–1944; 39 vols. description ends , 5:465–467.

2Here and below, MS is torn by seal.

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