May 4

May Fourth

The productions of nature soon became my playmates. I felt that an intimacy with them not consisting of friendship merely, but bordering on frenzy, must accompany my steps through life.

John James Audubon


John James Audubon born, 1780



We were aroused this morning at 3 o'clock, formed line at daylight, and took up our line of march for Germania Ford about sunrise. The whole army is evidently on the move. It looks more like business than ever before; arrived at the ford about 6 o'clock p. m.; found that our cavalry crossed here last night without opposition; are encamped on the south side of the river not over fifty yards from it.

177. John Adams

Philadelphia, 4 May, 1777.

Inclosed with this you will have an "Evening Post" containing some of the tender mercies of the barbarians to their prisoners. If there is a man, woman, or child in America who can read these depositions without resentment and horror, that person has no soul, or a very wicked one. Their treatment of prisoners last year, added to an act of Parliament which they have made, to enable them to send prisoners to England, to be there murdered with still more relentless cruelty in prisons, will bring our officers and soldiers to the universal resolution to conquer or die. This maxim, "CONQUER OR DIE ," never failed to raise a people who adopted it to the head of mankind. An express from Portsmouth, last night, brought us news of the arrival of arms and ordnance enough to enable us to take vengeance of these foes of human nature.

May 4, 1864

Wednesday. I found myself this morning feeling much more like myself. Tony stole a chicken and cooked it so I could suck the meat off the bones, and it made the whole world seem better. I got out among folks, and hope by another day to be able to manage a hard-tack. The Rebs are coming, for the firing sounds plainer than any day yet. There is much discussion of, and more cussing about, the situation we are in. A party of unarmed men was seen on the other side of the river, and a boat was sent over. They proved to be all that is known to be left of the 120th Ohio, which was on its way to join us. They were fired on from the shore and their boat crippled. The men jumped overboard and swam ashore, and while the most were captured, some got away and have found their way here. Others may come if not picked up on the way.

Sergeant Nace, who said he belongs to the 176th New York, found me to-day and almost claimed relationship. He knows the folks in Rowe Hollow, and from his talk and actions was very glad to see me. I never heard of the man before. He was a good talker, and if the ears of the people in Rowe Hollow didn't burn it wasn't because they were not talked about.

32. Abigail Adams

Braintree, 4 May, 1775.

I have but little news to write you. Everything of that kind you will learn by a more accurate hand than mine. Things remain in much the same situation here that they were when you went away. There has been no descent upon the seacoast. Guards are regularly kept, and people seem more settled and are returning to their husbandry. I feel somewhat lonely. Mr. Thaxter is gone home. Mr. Rice is going into the army, as captain of a company. We have no school. I know not what to do with John. As government is assumed, I suppose courts of justice will be established, and in that case there may be business to do. If so, would it not be best for Mr. Thaxter to return? They seem to be discouraged in the study of law, and think there never will be any business for them. I could have wished they had consulted you upon the subject, before you went away.

I suppose you will receive two or three volumes of that forlorn wretch Hutchinson's letters.[69] Among many other things, I hear he wrote in 1772, that Deacon Phillips and you had like to have been chosen into the Council, but, if you had, you should have shared the same fate with Bowers.[70] May the fate of Mordecai be his. There is nobody admitted into town yet. I have made two or three attempts to get somebody in, but cannot succeed; so have not been able to do the business you left in charge with me. I want very much to hear from you, how you stood your journey, and in what state you find yourself now. I felt very anxious about you; though I endeavored to be very insensible and heroic, yet my heart felt like a heart of lead. The same night you left me, I heard of Mr. Quincy's death, which, at this time, was a most melancholy event; especially as he wrote in minutes, which he left behind, that he had matters of consequence intrusted with him, which, for want of a confidant, must die with him.[71] I went to see his distressed widow last Saturday, at the Colonel's; and in the afternoon, from an alarm they had, she and her sister, with three others of the family, took refuge with me and tarried all night. She desired me to present her regards to you, and let you know she wished you every blessing,—should always esteem you as a sincere friend of her deceased husband. Poor, afflicted woman; my heart was wounded for her. I must quit the subject, and entreat you to write me by every opportunity.

Yours,     Portia.


[69]Accidentally discovered by Mr. Samuel Henshaw in the garret of Hutchinson's house at Milton. See Gordon's History, Vol. II., p 29.

[70]That is, would have received the Governor's negative.

[71]Memoir of Josiah Quincy, Jr., p. 345.