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Lot 7: Adams, Samuel. Autograph letter signed ("Saml Adams"), 1 page (12 ¾ x 8 1/8 in.; 324 x 206 mm.)Platinum House
December 18, 2012
Calabasas Hills, CA, USALive Auction
7. Adams, Samuel. Autograph letter signed (“Saml Adams”), 1 page (12 ¾ x 8 1/8 in.; 324 x 206 mm.), “Philadelphia,” 2 September 1777, to Henry Bromfield, Esquire of Boston, docketed on the versoin Adams’ hand, “Henry Bromfield, Esq. Boston”.The letter is docketed again on the verso [presumably in Bromfield’s hand], “Letter from Saml Adams Esqr dated Philadelpha Sept 2d 1777”; small split to central horizontal fold.
An exceptional Revolutionary War-date letter regarding the Northern Campaign.
Adams writes in full: I am requested by a Member of Congress from South Carolina for whom I have a particular regard, to introduce his Friend Mr Henry Crouch to some of my Boston Friends. He is a merchant of Charlestown and will let off on a Visit your Way tomorrow. I take the Liberty of addressing a letter to you by him. Your friend by Notice of him will greatly oblige me. I heartily congratulate you on the happy Change of our Affairs at the Northward. The Feelings of a Man of Burgoyns Vanity must be sorely touched by this Disappointment.
Howes Army remains near where they first landed and is supposed to be ten thousand fit for Duty. Washingtons Army exceeds that Number, is in health & high Spirits, and the Militia have joined in great number, well equiped and ambitious to emulate the Valor of their Eastern Brethren. Our light Troops are continually harrassing the Enemy. The Day before yesterday they attacked their out Posts & drove them in, killing & wounding a small Number. By the last Account we had taken about seventy Prisoners without any Loss on our side. Our Affairs are at this moment very serious and critical. We are contending for the Rights of our Country and Mankind -- May the Confidence of America be placed in the God of Armies!
By 30 June 1777, General Burgoyne’s army of 4,200 British regulars, 4,000 German mercenaries, and several hundred Canadians and Indians had reached Ft. Ticonderoga, commanded by General Arthur St. Clair. On the evening of 5 July, St. Clair evacuated the fort after enduring a four-day siege, abandoning substantial supplies. Burgoyne, in pursuit, took Skenesborough and Ft. Anne (6-7 July). Meanwhile, a British force under the command of Col. Barry St. Leger, advanced eastward from Oswego on Lake Ontario.
British morale soared after the victory at Ticonderoga. King George is reported to have exclaimed, “I have beat them! I have beat all the Americans!” Yet rather than shrink from the threat, the Continentals rallied. Patriots slowed Burgoyne’s advance by blocking roads, destroying bridges, and sacking crops and livestock in the surrounding countryside. Soon, the logistical difficulties for the British became critical; supply problems became alarming. Upon reaching Fort Edward on 30 July, the British commander was forced to call a halt to rest and re-supply his beleaguered army. With this delay, the Americans were able to concentrate and pounce on the British in short order.
On 16 August, the American force surprised and destroyed an 800-man detachment that Burgoyne had sent from Fort Edward to Bennington, Vermont, to seize patriot supplies. This disaster brought home to Burgoyne the precariousness of his army’s position: it was isolated deep in enemy territory, and threatened by a large and growing American force. In the coming days, his situation would grow worse, and conversely, the American prospects for victory would loom ever larger.
Following the date of the present letter, things continued to go well for the Continentals well into autumn. General Burgoyne resolved to press on to Albany and crossed to the west side of the Hudson (13 September), moving against the entrenched position Gates had prepared on Bemis Heights. On 19 September 1777, General Burgoyne attempted to gain high ground on the American left but was checked at the Battle of Freeman’s Farm by General Daniel Morgan and Colonel Henry Dearborn.
On 3 October 1777, General Clinton, commanding British troops in New York City, moved up the Hudson, taking Forts Clinton and Montgomery on the 6th. Clinton received an urgent call for help from Burgoyne on the 9th. Clinton felt too insecure to push on to Albany, and returned to New York. Burgoyne was now desperate. On 7 October, Burgoyne launched his second drive, venturing out of his lines toward the American left again. A countermove by Gates, led by Morgan and General Ebenezer Learned, repulsed the British attack. Gates secured an important victory at the (Second) Battle of Saratoga (7 October 1777), while Benedict Arnold, contributing to the victory, led a fierce assault, which threw Burgoyne back upon Bemis Heights. The Americans carried the Breymann redoubt. Burgoyne withdrew north eastward and, on October 8th, retreated to Saratoga. On 13 October 1777, surrounded by a force now three times the size of his own, he asked for a cessation of hostilities. The convention of Saratoga transported Burgoyne and 5,700 British troops back to England.