Adams Papers

To John Adams from Winslow Warren, 29 August 1781

From Winslow Warren

Richlieu street Paris Augst. 29 1781


Mr. Mason here has received letters from his Father in Virginia to the 3 of June1 which inform him that at that time the Marquis la Fayette’s force consisted of about 4000 men 1200 of which were Continental troops. That he would be joined in few days after that by Genl. Wayne with 12 or 1500 Men which would make his force superiour to Genl. Cornwallis but that the British had so much the advantage over the American troops upon Account of the facility with which they were Enabled to transport their troops from place to place that by the time the Militia had collected to oppose any sudden inroad they had made they had as suddenly reimbarked Carrying with them every thing they Conveniently could and what they could not they with their usual Barbarity Wantonly distroyed and rendered useless. That Very Many of the inhabitants from the highest state of affluence are by this conduct reduced to beggary. He further informs that the Militia have turned out with the Greatest Alacrity at all times but are without Arms or Ammunition for the Greater part of them. But that 1200 of them under Genrl. Muhlenburg had Maintained a desperate Action in an open field with Very Near twice their number for two hours and finally retreated carrying of [wi]th them all their wounded, artillery, &c.2 A party of the British had penetrated to Genrl. Washingtons Estate and stripped it of Negroes &c. He discribes the desolated state of the Country were the British are and have been in Very Affecting terms and also of the Countries between Charlestown and the Roanoke to be intirely ruined. He pays the highest encomiums to the Military Abilities of Genrl. Greene. He concludes his letter with his wishes to meet his Son soon but he hopes Never to Meet him unless they meet as free Men.

The Continental Currency their—and my Father informs me it is the same in Boston is reduced to the last stage of wretchedness which introduces confusion in Commerce and produces every evil Work. But I immagine you have letters from Boston which give you every information about the Situation of Affairs their—but have taken the Liberty of Giving you some extracts from Mr. Masons letters Not supposing it probable your intelligence was so regular from the Seat of War. Mr. Mason [says?] they want Nothing but Arms and Ammunit[ion] and a loan of Money to drive the British intirely from that Country. I will send to your Excellency by Doctr. Faulke some American Papers if I can obtain them. I hope you arrived safe in Amsterdam after an agreable Ride and am with the Highest Respect yr: Excellencys most Obedt: & very Hum: servt:

Winslow Warren

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “His Excellency Hon: John Adams Esqr: Amsterdam”; endorsed by John Thaxter: “Mr. Winslow Warren 29th. August 1781.” The removal of the seal has resulted in the loss of some text.

1For George Mason’s letters to his son, George Mason Jr., see The Papers of George Mason, 1725–1792, ed. Robert A. Rutland, 3 vols., Chapel Hill, 1970, 2:689–695. Although Winslow Warren based much of his account on two letters of 3 June, some of his references are to matters that do not appear in those letters, such as the battle the militia fought under Brig. Gen. John Peter Muhlenberg’s command, the British sacking of Mt. Vernon, and the statement attributed to Mason that all that was needed to defeat the British was arms and a loan. This makes it likely that one or more additional letters from Mason to his son have not been found.

2The Battle of Petersburg occurred on 24 April and matched 1,000 militia, commanded by Brig. Gen. John Peter Muhlenberg, against 2,500 British regulars, commanded by Maj. Gen. William Phillips. The British drove the Americans from the field, but they retreated in an orderly fashion after a spirited resistance (Henry A. Muhlenberg, The Life of Major General Peter Muhlenberg of the Revolutionary Army, Phila., 1849, p. 247–252).

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