January 24

The day has been fair; started for picket at 9 a.m.; relieved the One Hundred and Sixth New York Infantry about noon; made my headquarters at Mr. Bowen's, an old man about seventy-five years old; has a son who lives with him, a miller, which accounts for his not being drafted into the Confederate army. A "yaller girl", as we call them, keeps house for him. All's quiet on the picket line. It's a lovely night.

January Twenty-Fourth

Dem sassy young niggers, dey plum' disgrace
De res' uv de' 'spectable cullud race.
Dey got dey books, dey kin read an' write,
But dey dunno 'nough fer to be perlite.
I kain't see how dey gwine git erlong,
Hit seem lak sump'n have done gone wrong.
I gits wo' out wid'em, dat's de fac',
But I orter mek 'lowance fer how dey ac',
'Kase de times an' de doin's is changed a lot,
An' dey ain' had de raisin' dat I done got.
Dar's nuffin lef' me but lookin' on
Twel me an' de ol'-time ways is gone.
Anne Virginia Culbertson

 

 

82. John Adams

Watertown,[123] 24 January, 1776.

My Dear,—I am determined not to commit a fault which escaped me the last time I set out for the southward. I waited on General Thomas at Roxbury, this morning, and then went to Cambridge, where I dined at Colonel Mifflin's with the General and lady, and a vast collection of other company, among whom were six or seven sachems and warriors of the French Caghnawaga Indians with several of their wives and children. A savage feast they made of it, yet were very polite in the Indian style. One of these sachems is an Englishman, a native of this colony, whose name was Williams, captivated in infancy with his mother, and adopted by some kind squaw; another, I think, is half French blood.

I was introduced to them by the General, as one of the grand council fire at Philadelphia, which made them prick up their ears. They came and shook hands with me, and made me low bows and scrapes, etc. In short, I was much pleased with this day's entertainment.

The General is to make them presents in clothes and trinkets. They have visited the lines at Cambridge, and are going to see those at Roxbury.

To-morrow we mount for the grand council fire, where I shall think often of my little brood at the foot of Penn's Hill. Remember me particularly to each of the children. Tell them I charge them to be good, honest, active, and industrious, for their own sakes as well as ours.

Footnotes:

[123]This was upon Mr. Adams's departure from home to join the Congress for the third time.

Sunday, January 24th, 5 a.m.Versailles.—They've had a pretty good night most of them. If you see any compartment, say six sitters and two top-liers showing signs of being near the end of their tether, with bad feet and long hours of the train, you have only to say cheerfully, "How are you getting on in this dug-out?" for every man to brighten visibly, and there is a chorus of "If our dug-outs was like this I reckon we shouldn't want no relievin'!" and a burst of wit and merriment follows. You can try it all down the train; it never fails.

They are all in 1st class coaches, not 3rds or 2nds.

9.30 a.m.—They have only four M.A.'s, and the hospital is 1-1/2 miles off, so all our 366 limping, muddy scarecrows are not off yet. There is a mist and a piercing north wind, and lots of mud. The A.T.'s do so much bringing the British Army from the field that I hope some other trains are busy bringing the British Army to the field, or there can't be many left in the field.

They told me another story of a man in the Royal Scots who was sunk in mud up to his shoulders, and the officer offered a canteen of rum and a sovereign to the first man who could get him out. For five hours thirteen men were digging for him, but it filled up always as they dug, and when they got him out he died.

p.m.—Just getting to Rouen, probably to load for Havre. They do keep us moving. We just had time to go and see the Palais Trianon with the French Sergeant (who is nearly a gentleman, and an artist). Is there anything else quite like it anywhere else? It was défense d'entrer, so we only wandered round the grounds and looked in at the windows, down the avenues and round the ponds and hundreds of statues, and went up the great escalier. Louis Quatorze certainly did himself proud.

It was a long way to go, and we were walking for hours till we got dog-tired after the long load from Bailleul, and after lunch retired firmly on to our beds. I don't think we shall take patients on to-night.

151. John Adams

Easton, at the Forks of Delaware River, in the
State of Pennsylvania, 24 January, 1777.

We have at last crossed the Delaware and are agreeably lodged at Easton, a little town situated on a point of land formed by the Delaware on one side, and the river Lehigh on the other. There is an elegant stone Church here, built by the Dutch people, by whom the town is chiefly inhabited, and what is remarkable, because uncommon, the Lutherans and Calvinists united to build this Church, and the Lutheran and Calvinist ministers alternately officiate in it. There is also a handsome Court House. The buildings, public and private, are all of limestone. Here are some Dutch Jews.

Yesterday we had the pleasure of seeing the Moravian mills in New Jersey. These mills belong to the society of Moravians in Bethlehem in Pennsylvania. They are a great curiosity. The building is of limestone, four stories high. It is not in my power to give a particular description of this piece of mechanism. A vast quantity of grain of all sorts is collected here.

We have passed through the famous county of Sussex in New Jersey, where the Sussex Court House stands, and where, we have so often been told, the Tories are so numerous and dangerous. We met with no molestation nor insult. We stopped at some of the most noted Tory houses, and were treated everywhere with the utmost respect. Upon the strictest inquiry I could make, I was assured that a great majority of the inhabitants are stanch Whigs. Sussex, they say, can take care of Sussex. And yet all agree that there are more Tories in that county than in any other. If the British army should get into that county in sufficient numbers to protect the Tories, there is no doubt to be made, they would be insolent enough, and malicious and revengeful. But there is no danger, at present, and will be none until that event takes place. The weather has been sometimes bitterly cold, sometimes warm, sometimes rainy, and sometimes snowy, and the roads abominably hard and rough, so that this journey has been the most tedious I ever attempted. Our accommodations have been often very bad, but much better and cheaper than they would have been if we had taken the road from Peekskill to Morristown, where the army lies.