September 4, 1776

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British Ambassador to Versailles, Lord David Stormont, sends a gloomy report to London that a powerful French fleet would soon sail for the West Indies.  The capable, energetic Governor of St. Domingo, M Dennery, has agreed to serve one more year and will continue his pro-American policies.

On board ship, Lord Dunmore notifies Lord Germain that the lack of watering places and the ravages of disease which reduced his force to 108 effective rank-and-file forced him to abandon Virginia and move to New York where he could provide the Howe brothers with intelligence on the southern states.  London authorities were highly critical of Dunmore’s conduct since the eruption of the colonial difficulties, especially the policy enlisting Negro slaves as soldiers

George Washington writes to the President of Congress, John Hancock:  “Since I had the Honor of addressing you on the 2d Our affairs have not undergone a change for the better, nor assumed a more agreable aspect than what they then wore. The Militia under various pretences of sickness &c. are daily diminishing & in a little time I am persuaded, their number will be very inconsiderable.  On Monday night a Forty Gun Ship passed up the Sound between Governor’s & Long Island & Anchored in Turtle bay. In her passage she received a discharge of Cannon from our Batteries but without any damage & having a favourable wind & Tide soon got out of their reach. Yesterday morning I dispatched Majr Crane of the Artillery with Two Twelve pounders & a Howitz to annoy her, who hulling her several times forced her from that Station & to take shelter behind an Island where she still continues.1 There are several other Ships of War in the sound with a good many Transports or Store Ships, which came round Long Island, so that that communication is entirely cut off. The Admiral with the main body of the Fleet is close in with Governor’s Island.  Judging It expedient to guard against every Contingency as far as our peculiar situation will admit, and that we may have resources left, If obliged to abandon this place, I have sent away & am removing above Kingsbridge All our Stores that are unnecessary & that will not be immediately wanted.”

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to Independence Hall, as well as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank, Graff House, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church.  If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us for our Valley Forge Tour.  For Civil War buffs, come see Gettysburg.  Or, for the true history buffs, contact us about taking part in our American History Vacation Packages.

 

 

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August 30, 1776

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General George Washington lists three reasons for the American retreat:  the need to reunite his forces, the extreme fatigue of the soldiers, and the lack of proper shelter from the weather.  General John Sullivan also visits George Washington with Generals William Howe’s proposals for reconciliation and desire to meet with members of Congress.  Washington refuses to accept the papers but gave Sullivan the permission to deliver them to Philadelphia.

Major General Charles Lee writes a letter to the Governor of Haiti describing the vast economic and political benefits that would derive to France if the Americans maintained their independence.  Therefore, he argued, it is in their own best interest to assist the country by sending military hardware, clothing and artillerymen.

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to Independence Hall, as well as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank, Graff House, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church.  If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us for our Valley Forge Tour.  For Civil War buffs, come see Gettysburg.  Or, for the true history buffs, contact us about taking part in our American History Vacation Packages.

 

August 27, 1776

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On Long Island, General Sir Guy Clinton’s troops begin to roll up the unprotected left flank, and General John Sullivan is pinned down by frontal attacks until he is forced to surrender.  On the right General James Grant was surrounded on three sides and ordered his soldiers to retreat to Brooklyn Heights.  The British Victory is rapid and complete.

In Brooklyn, and American force under General George Washington, with approximately 1700 men faced General Charles Cornwallis with an estimated 10,000 men.  The Americans were forced to evacuate.  Marylanders under Colonel Mordecai Gist distinguished themselves.

Join us at Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Historical Walking Tours.  Our “Independence Tour Extraordinaire” includes tickets to Independence Hall, as well as numerous other sites, such as 2nd National Bank, Graff House, Carpenter Hall, and Christ Church.  If you are interested in learning about George Washington, join us for our Valley Forge Tour.  For Civil War buffs, come see Gettysburg.  Or, for the true history buffs, contact us about taking part in our American History Vacation Packages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 3, 1776

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In view of the serious threat to New York and its own shores, the State Convention in New Brunswick, New Jersey, resolves to fine all able-bodied men who refuse to bear arms.

General Horatio Gates feels reassured that the energetic Benedict Arnold would be responsible for building and commanding the fleet in order to oppose the inevitable invasion from Canada.

Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Tupper commanding 5 small boats attacked 5 British ships that passed up the Hudson River from Staten Island and anchored at the Tappan Sea.  The attack failed.  HMS Phoenix and HMS Rose were involved.

John Adams writes to his wife, Abigail (original spelling retained):  Went this Morning to the Baptist Meeting, in Hopes of hearing Mr. Stillman, but was dissappointed. He was there, but another Gentleman preached. His Action was violent to a degree bordering on fury. His Gestures, unnatural, and distorted. Not the least Idea of Grace in his Motions, or Elegance in his Style. His Voice was vociferous and boisterous, and his Composition almost wholly destitute of Ingenuity. I wonder extreamly at the Fondness of our People for schollars educated at the Southward and for southern Preachers. There is no one Thing, in which We excell them more, than in our University, our schollars, and Preachers. Particular Gentlemen here, who have improved upon their Education by Travel, shine. But in general, old Massachusetts outshines her younger sisters, still. In several Particulars, they have more Wit, than We. They have Societies; the philosophical Society particularly, which excites a scientific Emulation, and propagates their Fame. If ever I get through this Scene of Politicks and War, I will spend the Remainder of my days, in endeavouring to instruct my Countrymen in the Art of making the most of their Abilities and Virtues, an Art, which they have hitherto, too much neglected. A philosophical society shall be established at Boston, if I have Wit and Address enough to accomplish it, sometime or other.—Pray set Brother Cranch’s Philosophical Head to plodding upon this Project. Many of his Lucubrations would have been published and preserved, for the Benefit of Mankind, and for his Honour, if such a Clubb had existed.  My Countrymen want Art and Address. They want Knowledge of the World. They want the exteriour and superficial Accomplishments of Gentlemen, upon which the World has foolishly set so high a Value. In solid Abilities and real Virtues, they vastly excell in general, any People upon this Continent. Our N. England People are Aukward and bashfull; yet they are pert, ostentatious and vain, a Mixture which excites Ridicule and gives Disgust. They have not the faculty of shewing themselves to the best Advantage, nor the Art of concealing this faculty. An Art and Faculty which some People possess in the highest degree. Our Deficiencies in these Respects, are owing wholly to the little Intercourse We have had with strangers, and to our Inexperience in the World. These Imperfections must be remedied, for New England must produce the Heroes, the statesmen, the Philosophers, or America will make no great Figure for some Time.

Our Army is rather sickly at N. York, and We live in daily Expectation of hearing of some great Event. May God almighty grant it may be prosperous for America.—Hope is an Anchor and a Cordial. Disappointment however will not disconcert me.  If you will come to Philadelphia in September, I will stay, as long as you please. I should be as proud and happy as a Bridegroom.”

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July 13, 1776

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In April, North Carolina Congress had passed a resolution that since the Moravians do not bear arms their guns shall be taken but they themselves shall not be forced into service.  “However,” they noted in their journal on this day, that “Brethren have been called for service, so the question is one, on whose authority it has been.”

The Declaration of Independence arrives in Rhode Island.

Abigail Adams receives her copy of the Declaration from husband John, and has this to say.  “By yesterdays post I received two Letters dated 3 and 4 of July and tho your Letters never fail to give me pleasure, be the subject what it will, yet it was greatly heightned by the prospect of the future happiness and glory of our Country; nor am I a little Gratified when I reflect that a person so nearly connected with me has had the Honour of being a principal actor, in laying a foundation for its future Greatness. May the foundation of our new constitution, be justice, Truth and Righteousness. Like the wise Mans house may it be founded upon those Rocks and then neither storms or temptests will overthrow it.I cannot but feel sorry that some of the most Manly Sentiments in the Declaration are Expunged from the printed coppy. Perhaps wise reasons induced it.

Poor Canady I lament Canady but we ought to be in some measure sufferers for the past folly of our conduct. The fatal effects of the small pox there, has led almost every person to consent to Hospitals in every Town. In many Towns, already arround Boston the Selectmen have granted Liberty for innoculation. I hope the necessity is now fully seen.I had many dissagreable Sensations at the Thoughts of comeing myself, but to see my children thro it I thought my duty, and all those feelings vanished as soon as I was innoculated and I trust a kind providence will carry me safely thro. Our Friends from Plymouth came into Town yesterday. We have enough upon our hands in the morning. The Little folks are very sick then and puke every morning but after that they are comfortable. I shall write you now very often. Pray inform me constantly of every important transaction. Every expression of tenderness is a cordial to my Heart. Unimportant as they are to the rest of the world, to me they are every Thing.”

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July 10, 1776

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The Virginia Gazette, reporting on the rout at Gwynn’s Island writes, “His Lordship Dunmore lost his china by a double-headed shot, and it is said he himself was wounded in the leg by a splinter.  The fleet is driven off without water, and although they have plenty of prize flour, there is not a biscuit on board.”

John Adams writes to Abigail:  “You will see by the Newspapers, which I from time to time inclose, with what Rapidity, the Colonies proceed in their political Maneuvres. How many Calamities might have been avoided if these Measures had been taken twelve Months ago, or even no longer ago than last december?  The Colonies to the South, are pursuing the same Maxims, which have heretofore governed those to the North. In constituting their new Governments, their Plans are remarkably popular, more so than I could ever have imagined, even more popular than the “Thoughts on Government.” And in the Choice of their Rulers, Capacity, Spirit and Zeal in the Cause, supply the Place of Fortune, Family, and every other Consideration, which used to have Weight with Mankind. My Friend Archibald Bullock Esq. is Governor of Georgia. John Rutledge Esq. is Governor of South Carolina. Patrick Henry Esq. is Governor of Virginia &c. Dr. Franklin will be Governor of Pensilvania. The new Members of this City, are all in this Taste, chosen because of their inflexible Zeal for Independence. All the old Members left out, because they opposed Independence, or at least were lukewarm about it. Dickinson, Morris, Allen, all fallen, like Grass before the Scythe notwithstanding all their vast Advantages in Point of Fortune, Family and Abilities.  I am inclined to think however, and to wish that these Gentlemen may be restored, at a fresh Election, because, altho mistaken in some Points, they are good Characters, and their great Wealth and numerous Connections, will contribute to strengthen America, and cement her Union.  I wish I were at perfect Liberty, to pourtray before you, all those Characters, in their genuine Lights, and to explain to you the Course of political Changes in this Province. It would give you a great Idea of the Spirit and Resolution of the People, and shew you, in a striking Point of View, the deep Roots of American Independence in all the Colonies. But it is not prudent, to commit to Writing such free Speculations, in the present State of Things.  Time which takes away the Veil, may lay open the secret Springs of this surprizing Revolution. . . . But I find, altho the Colonies have differed in Religion, Laws, Customs, and Manners, yet in the great Essentials of Society and Government, they are all alike.”

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June 26, 1776

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Virginia Governor Dunmore reports to Lord Germain in England that the Gwynn’s Island is his new base, and that if the fever had not killed most of the slaves that flocked to his banner, he would have stayed on the mainland.

In Seneca, South Carolina, Patriot Captain James McCall and a thirty man detachment of South Carolina rangers were snet on a peace mission to the Cherokee Nation.  They were ambushed by the Indians.

In New Jersey, General Sir William Howe and the British fleet arrive off Sandy Hook.

John Adams writes to his wife, attributing the defeat in Canada to smallpox.  “Our Misfortunes in Canada, are enough to melt an Heart of Stone. The Small Pox is ten times more terrible than Britons, Canadians and Indians together. This was the Cause of our precipitate Retreat from Quebec, this the Cause of our Disgraces at the Cedars.—I dont mean that this was all. There has been Want, approaching to Famine, as well as Pestilence. And these Discouragements seem to have so disheartened our Officers, that none of them seem to Act with Prudence and Firmness.  But these Reverses of Fortune dont discourage me. It was natural to expect them, and We ought to be prepared in our Minds for greater Changes, and more melancholly Scenes still. It is an animating Cause, and brave Spirits are not subdued with Difficulties.”

Adams continues to write of his multiplying duties:  “The Congress have been pleased to give me more Business than I am qualified for, and more than I fear, I can go through, with safety to my Health. They have established a Board of War and Ordinance and made me President of it, an Honour to which I never aspired, a Trust to which I feel my self vastly unequal. But I am determined to do as well as I can and make Industry supply, in some degree the Place of Abilities and Experience. The Board sits, every Morning and every Evening.1 This, with Constant Attendance in Congress, will so entirely engross my Time, that I fear, I shall not be able to write you, so often as I have. But I will steal Time to write to you.”

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