John Adams to Abigail Adams
Philadelphia July 26. 1777 Saturday
My dearest Friend
At this Moment, I hope you are abed and happy. I am anxious to hear, and the more so because I had no Letter, from you, nor concerning you by the last Post. I wait with Impatience for Monday Morning, when the Post is to arrive.
I am more Anxious, now, than ever, on another Account. The Enemy’s Fleet has sailed—But to what Place, they are destined, is unknown. Some conjecture Philadelphia, some Rhode Island, and some, that they mean only a Feint and intend soon to return to the North River. If they go to Rhode Island, I suppose they will not remain inactive there, which will throw you and your Neighbourhood into Distress.1
Poor, unhappy I! who have never an opportunity to share with my Family, their Distresses, nor to contribute in the least degree to relieve them! I suffer more in solitary silence, than I should if I were with them.
RC (Adams Papers).
1. On 23 July, after long and elaborate preparations that had gone on in plain sight of the Jersey shore, Howe’s army sailed out of New York harbor in a fleet of “above 260 Sail” bound for Delaware Bay. Upon its arrival there on 29 July, however, the fleet put out to sea again and reappeared at the entrance to Chesapeake Bay on 14 August. For a British record of this trying voyage see Ambrose Serle, American Journal, ed. Edward H. Tatum Jr., San Marino, 1940, p. 240–242; for the mystification of Americans concerning Howe’s intentions see JA’s letters to AA of 30 July–21 Aug., below.