Adams Papers

From John Adams to William Tudor, 23 July 1775

To William Tudor

July 23. 1775

Dr sir

We live in Times, when it is necessary to look about Us, and to know the Character of every Man, who is concerned in any material Branch of public affairs, especially in the Army.

There will be a large Number of Voluntiers in the Army perhaps. Certainly there will be many young Gentlemen from the southern Colonies, at the Camp. They will perhaps be introduced, into Places, as Aid du Camps—Brigade Majors, Secretaries, and Deputies in one Department, or another.

I earnestly intreat you to make the most minute Enquiry, after every one of these, and let me know his Character, for I am determined, I will know that Army, and the Character of all its officers.

I Swear, I will be a faithful Spy upon it for its good.

I beg you would let me know, what is become of Coll. Gridley and Mr. Burbanks,1 and whether they have lost their Character as Engineers and Gunners—and let me know, what Engineers, there are in the Army, or whether there are none.

I want to know if there are any Engineers in the Province and who they are. I have heard the Generals were much disappointed, in not finding Engineers, and Artillery as they expected. P[lease] let me know the Truth of this, if you can learn it, and how they come to expect a better Artillery than they found.2 All this keep to your self. I am &c.

RC (MHi:Tudor Papers); addressed: “To Mr. William Tudor Cambridge”; docketed: “July 23d. 1775.”

1Richard Gridley (1711–1796), a former officer in the British Army, at the time of this letter was chief engineer and colonel of artillery, appointed such by the Provincial Congress in April and June. He had directed the fortification of Breed’s Hill and was wounded in the battle of 17 June. In September he was appointed colonel of artillery for the Continental Army but because of age was replaced by Henry Knox in November. He did, however, retain his post of chief engineer until Aug. 1776 and, in that capacity, oversaw construction of fortifications on Dorchester Heights. From Jan. 1777 to Dec. 1780, he served as engineer general of the Eastern Department. Maj. William Burbeck (d. 1785) was second in command in Gridley’s artillery regiment (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 ; Mass. Provincial Congress, Jours. description begins William Lincoln, ed., The Journals of Each Provincial Congress of Massachusetts in 1774 and 1775, and of the Committee of Safety, Boston, 1838. description ends , p. 157, 373–374, 378, 153; Mass. Soldiers and Sailors description begins Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War, Boston, 1896–1908; 17 vols. description ends , 6:874–875; 2:818; Thomas J. Abernethy, “American Artillery Regiments in the Revolutionary War,” unpubl. bound typescript, MHi, p. 96–99, 38–39, 100).

2See comments on Gen. Lee in JA to Josiah Quincy, 29 July (below).

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