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Prospect of a union. Educational radio network a union. Of the American Revolutionary period and a series of readings from the letters of the second president of the United States on his wife Abigail. Part 7 the Battle of Bunker Hill.
How sleeps the brave who sink to rest by all their countries wishes blessed when spring was doing the fingers cold returns to deck their yellowed mold. She their shell dress so sweet her sod then fancies feat has ever trod by fairy hands there now is wrong by forms unseen in their dirge is sung their honor comes a pilgrim grave to bless the turf that wraps their clay and freedom shell awhile repaired to dwell in a weeping hermit. There. In 1846 at the age of 79 John Quincy Adams could still repeat these lines from memory. He learned them from his Mother Abigail in the summer of 1775. After the Battle of Bunker Hill she taught him to repeat this old after the Lord's prayer every
morning before rising. Abigail Adams was the daughter of a Christian clergyman and therefore playout as her son said in the deliberate detestation of war. Yet she taught John Quincy a warrior's ode so deep bran her feelings after this the first major battle of the war. Her son further recalled their own personal position during these months for the space of 12 months my mother with her infant children dealt liable every hour of the day and of the night to be butchered in cold blood or taken and carried into Boston as hostages by any foraging or marauding detachment of men like they had actually set forth on the 19th of April to capture John Hancock and Samuel Adams on their way to attend the Continental Congress of Philadelphia. My father was separated from his family on his way to attend the same Continental Congress and there my mother with her children lived in an intermittent danger of being
consumed with them all in a conflagration kindled by a torch in the same hands which on the 17th of June lighted the fires in Charleston Sunday June 18th 1775. Dearest friend the day perhaps of the decisive day is come on which the fate of America depends. My bursting heart my spine bend my pan. I just heard that our dear friend Dr. Warren is no more but fell gloriously fighting for his country saying better to die honorably in the field than ignominy Asli hang upon the gallows. Great is our loss. He has distinguished himself in every engagement by his courage and fortitude by animating the soldiers and leading them on by his own example a particular account of these dreadful but I hope glorious days will be transmitted to you
no doubt in the exact manner. The race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong but the God of Israel is he that give us strength and power unto his people. Trust in Him at all times. You people pour out your hearts before him. God is a refuge for us. Charlestown is laid in ashes. The battle began upon our entrenchments upon bunker he sealed our Saturday morning about 3 o'clock and has not ceased yet and is now three o'clock Sabbath afternoon. Tis expected they will come out over the neck tonight and a dreadful battle must ensue you almighty God cover the heads of our countryman and be a shield to our dear friends. How many have fallen we know not the constant roar of the cannon is so distressing that we cannot eat drink or sleep. May we be supported and sustained in the dreadful conflict. I shall tarry here till
tis thought unsafe by my friends. And then I have secured myself a retreat at your brother's who has kindly offered me part of his house. I cannot compose myself to write any further at present. I will add more as I hear further. Tuesday afternoon the 20th of June. I have been so much agitated that I've not been able to write since Saturday. When I say that 10000 reports are passing vague and uncertain as the wind I believe I speak the truth. I'm not able to give you any authentic account of last Saturday but you will not be destitute of intelligence. Colonel Palmer has just sent me word that he has an opportunity of conveyance incorrect as the scroll will be a child go. I wrote you last Saturday morning in the afternoon I received your kind favor of the 2nd of June and that you sent me by Captain Beals at the same time I added We pray that you may be supported through the arduous task you have before you. I wish I could contradict the report of the Doctor's death but as a mental truth
and the tears of multitudes paid tribute to his memory. Those favorite lines of Collins continually sound in my ears how sleep the brave who sing to rest by all their countries wishes blessed when spring was a dewy things cold returns to deck their hallowed mold. She there shall dress a sweeter song out than fancies feet has ever trod by fairy hands their knell has rung by firms and seen their dirtiest songs their honor comes a pilgrim grave to bless the turf that wraps their clay and freedom Shiela while repair to dwell a weeping hermit. There I must close as the deacon waits. I'm not pretending to be particular with regard to what I've heard because I know you will collect better intelligence. The spirits of the people are very good. The loss of Charlestown affects them no more than a drop in the bucket. I am most in serially
yours Porsha. Philadelphia June 18th 1775 my dear this letter I presume will go by the brave and amiable General Washington. Our army will have a group of officers equal to any service Washington Wadley Gates Gridley together with all the other New England officers will make a glorious council of war. This Congress are all as deep as the delegates from the Massachusetts and the whole continent as forward as Boston. We shall have a redress of grievances on assumption of all the powers of government legislative executive and judicial throughout the whole continent. Very soon Georgia is be stirring itself. I mean the whole of it. The parish of St. John's which is one third of it was with us before. I am etc.. Philadelphia June 23rd 1775 my dear I have this morning been out of town to accompany our generals Washington Lee and Skyler
a little way on their journey to the American camp for Boston. The three generals were all mounted on horseback accompanied by major Mifflin has gone in the character of a de camp. All the delegates from the Massachusetts with their servants and carriages attended many others of the delegates from the Congress. A large troop of Light Horse in their uniforms. Many officers of militia Besides in their music playing and so forth and so forth. Such is the pride and pomp of war. Poor creature worn out with scribbling for my bread in my liberty low in spirits and weak in health I must leave others to wear the laurels which I have sown others to eat the bread which I have earned. A common case we had yesterday by the way of New York and New London a report which distresses us almost as much as that we had last fall of the cannonade of Boston. A battle of Bunker's hill and Dorchester point three colonels wounded Gardner mortally. We wait to hear more particulars. Our hopes and our fears are alternately very
strong. If there is any truth in this account you must be in great confusion that Almighty is Providence preserve sustain and comfort you. June 27 this moment received two letters from you courage my dear. We shall be supported in life or comforted in death. I rejoice that my countrymen behaved so bravely. The not so skillfully conducted as I could wish. I hope this defect will be remedied by the new modeling of the army. My love everywhere has John Adams postscript indicates the Battle of Bunker Hill is not considered a great victory by the Americans. They did after all retreat from their hastily thrown up positions back across the neck of the Charles Town isthmus on the other hand the British suffered one of the greatest losses of their military history and the proportion of men killed and wounded one thousand and fifty four out of two thousand four hundred. These
losses for which General gauge is faulty strategy could be held responsible eventually cost him his job. One result of the battle was that the British could no longer consider the Americans rescue cowards who could at best take potshots at the regulars from behind picket fences as they had at Lexington and Concord two months earlier. Since that time the British had made no further expeditions and were held besieged in Boston by an armed force of about 15000 men. In spite of bombastic proclamations to the infatuated multitude Gen. Gage was privately depressed over his situation. The arrival of three more generals Howell Burgoyne and Clinton galvanized the British camp into some movement. General Gage decided to fortified Dorchester Heights the Committee of Safety heard of this plan and the American command immediately ordered a counter move the fortification of both breeds and bunker hills on the Charlestown Peninsula facing Boston. The Americans were commanded by
Israel Putnam general Artemus Ward and William Prescott. There were several recent volunteers who were created major generals among them. Joseph one 34 years old and a close friend of the Adams. When he arrived in the field he refused several relatively safe post suggested by General Prescott and chose instead to fight as a common soldier in the readout above the town of Charleston. When the ammunition gave out and the Americans retreated fighting off British bayonets with clubs and musket butts it was in this retreat that Warren was shot through the head. A general account of the battle by its chief commander in the field Prescot was sent in July to John Adams who was then a delegate at the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia. Camp at Cambridge August twenty fifth 1775 on the 16th June in the evening I received orders to march to Breed's Hill in
Charlestown with a party of about 1000 men consisting of three hundred of my own regiment Colonel Bridge and Lieutenant Brackett with a detachment of theirs and two hundred Connecticut forces commanded by Captain Knowlton. We arrived at the spot. The lines were drawn by the engineer and we began the intrenchment about twelve o'clock and plying the work with all possible expedition until just before sun rising. When the enemy began a very heavy cannonading and bombardment in the interim the engineer for so me having thrown up a small Redoubt found it necessary to draw a line about twenty rods in length from the fort northerly under a very warm fire from the enemy's artillery. About this time they about field offices being indisposed could render me but little service and the most of the men under their command deserted the party. About an hour after the enemy landed they began to march to the attack in three columns. I commanded my Lieutenant Colonel Robinson and major woods each with a detachment to
flank the enemy who I have reason to think behaved with prudence and courage. I was now left with perhaps one hundred and fifty men in the fort. The enemy advanced and fired very hotly on the fort and meeting with a warm reception. There was a very smart firing on both sides. After a considerable time finding our ammunition was almost spent. I commanded a cessation till a enemy advanced within 30 yards when we gave them such a hot fire that they were obliged to retire nearly one hundred and fifty yards before they could rally and come up again to the attack. Our ammunition being nearly exhausted could keep up only a scattering fire the enemy being numerous surrounded our little fort began to mount our lines and enter the fort with their bayonets. We was obliged to retreat through them while they kept up as hot a fire as it was possible for them to make. We having very few bayonets could make no resistance. We kept the fort about 1 hour
and 20 minutes after the attack with small arms. June 20 1775 Braintree. Dearest friend my father has been more affected with the destruction of Charlestown than with anything which is here before taken place. Why should not his countenance be sad when the city the place of his father's sepals curse Liath waste and the gates there are consumed with fire. Scarcely one stone remain upon another. But in the midst of sorrow we have abundant cause of thankfulness that so few of our brethren are numbered with the slain last our enemies were cut down like the grass before the sighs. But one officer of all the Welsh Fusiliers remains to tell his story. Many poor wretches die for want of proper assistance and care of their wounds. Every account agrees in fourteen and fifteen hundred slain and wounded upon their side. Nor can I learn that they dissemble
the number themselves. We had some heroes that day who fought with the mill using intrepidity and courage as Shakespeare says extremity is the trier of spirits common chances common men will bear. And when the sea is calm all the boats alike show Mastership and floating but Fortune's blows when most struck home being bravely were or did crave a noble cunning. I hear the General Howe should say the battle upon the Plains of Abraham was about a battle to this. When we consider all the circumstances attending this action we stand astonished that our people were not all cut off. They had that 100 foot entrenched the number who were engaged did not exceed eight hundred and they had not half that munition and half the reinforcements not able to get to them seasonably the tide was up and high so that their floating batteries came upon each side of the causeway and their row gallies keep
continual fire. Added to this the fire from Fort Hill and from the ship. The town in flames all round them and the heat of the flame so intense as scarcely to be borne. The day one of the hottest we have had this season and the wind blowing the smoke in their faces. Only think you're true to yourself all these circumstances and then consider that we do not count sixty men lost. My heart overflows at the recollection. We live in continual expectation of hostilities. Scarcely a day that does not produce some. But like good Nehemiah having made our prayer with God and set the people with their swords their spears and their bows we will say unto them Be not afraid of them. Remember the Lord who was great and terrible and fight for your brethren your sons and your daughters your wives and your houses. I have just received yours of the 17th of June and seven days only. Every
line from that far country is precious. You do not tell me how you do but I will hope better. I lost you little thought what distress we were in the day you wrote. They delight in molesting us upon the Sabbath to Sabbaths we have been in such alarms that we have had no meeting this day we've set under our own vine and quietness having heard Mr. Taft from Psalms. The Lord is good to all and his tender mercies are over all his works. The good man was earnest and pathetic. I could forgive his weakness for the sake of his sincerity. But I long for a cooper and an Eliot. I want a person who has feeling and sensibility who can take one up with him and indeed his duty prompted every call can watch and we pray and feel for all. Mr. Rice joins general Heath's regiment tomorrow as adjutant. Your brother is very desirous of being in the army but your good mother is really violent against it.
I cannot persuade nor reason her into a consent by the he nor I dare let her know that he's trying for a place. My brother has a captain's commission and are stationed at Cambridge. I thought you had the best of intelligence or I should have taken pains to a been more particular as to Boston there are many persons there yet who would be glad to get out if they could. Mr Boylston and Mr Gill the printer with his family are held upon the blacklist is said to search and they watch them so narrowly that they cannot escape nor your brother swift and family. Mr Mather got out a day or two before Charles town was destroyed and had lodged his papers and what else he got out at Mr Carey's. But they were all consumed. So were many other people who thought they might trust their little their two teams could be procured to remove them. The people from the alms house and work house were sent to the Lions last week to make room for their wounded they say. Medford people are all renewed every
seaport seems in motion. Oh north. And the groans and cries of the injured and oppressed harrow up thy soul. We have a prodigious army but we lack many accommodations which we need. I hope the appointment of these new generals will give satisfaction. They must be proof against calumny in a contest like this continual reports are circulated by our enemies and they catch with the unwary and the gaping crowd who are ready to listen to the marvelous without considering of consequences even though their best friends are injured. Pray let me hear from you by every opportunity till I have the joy of once more meeting you. Yours ever more Porsche. Philadelphia July 7 1775 my dear I have received your very agreeable favor as of June 22nd and 25th. They contain more particulars than any letter I had four received from anybody.
It is not at all surprising to me that the wanton cruel and infamous conflagration of Charlestown the place of your father's Nativity should afflict him. Let him know that I sincerely condole with him on that melancholy event. It is a method of conducting war long since become disreputable among civilized nations. But every year brings us fresh evidence that we have nothing to hope for from our loving mother country but cruelty is more abominable than those which are practiced by the savage Indians. The account you give me of the numbers slain on the side of our enemies is affecting to humanity although it is a glorious proof of the bravery of our worthy countryman considering all the disadvantages under which they fought. They really exhibited prodigies of valor. Your description of the distresses of the world the inhabitants of Boston and the other seaport towns is enough to melt and heart of stone. Our consolation must be this my dear that cities may be rebuilt and our people are reduced to
poverty may acquire fresh property but a constitution of government once change from freedom can never be restored liberty once lost is lost forever. When the people once surrender their share in the legislature and their right of defending the limitations upon the government and of resisting every encroachment upon them they can never regain it. The loss of Mr. mater's library which was a collection of books and manuscripts made by himself his father his grandfather and great grandfather and was really very curious and valuable is irreparable. I feel myself much obliged to Mr. Bowden Mr. Robert and the two families you mention for their civilities to you. My compliments to them. Does Mr. Wybert preach against oppression and the other cardinal vices of the times. Tell him the clergy here of every denomination not excepting the Episcopalian thunder and lightening every Sabbath they pray for Boston and the
Massachusetts. They thank God most explicitly and fervently for our remarkable successes. They pray for the American army. They seem to feel as if they were among you. You ask if every member feels for us every member says he does and most of them really do. But most of them feel more for themselves in every society of men in every club I ever saw yet you find some who are timid their fears hurry them away upon every alarm. Some are selfish and aberrations on whose callous hearts nothing but interest and money can make impression. There are some persons in New York and Philadelphia to whom a ship is dearer than a city and a few barrels of flour than 1000 lives other men's lives I mean you ask can they realize what we suffer. I answer no they can't. They don't and to excuse them as well as I can I must confess I should
not be able to do it myself if I was not more acquainted with it by experience than they are. It gives me more pleasure than I can express to learn that you sustain with so much fortitude. The shocks and terror of the times you are really brave my dear you are on heroin and you have reason to be for the worst that can happen can do you no harm a soul as pure as benevolent as virtuous and pious as yours has nothing to fear but everything to hope and expect from the last of human evils. I am glad you have secured an asylum though I hope you will not have occasion for it. I have really had a very disagreeable time of it. My health and especially my eyes have been so very bad that I have not been fit for business as I thought. And if I had been in perfect health I should have had in the present condition of my country and my friends no taste for pleasure. But Dr. Young has made a kind of cure of my health.
And Dr. Church of my eyes have received two kind letters from your Uncle Smith. Do thank him for them. I shall forever love him for them. I love everybody that writes to me. I am forever yours. Braintree July 5th 1775. I've received a good deal of paper from you. I would have been more covered. The writing is very scant But I must not grumble. I know your time is not yours nor mine. Your labors must be great and your mouth closed. But all you may communicate I beg you would There is a pleasure I know not whence it arises nor can I stop now to find it out. But I say there is a degree of pleasure in being able to tell you especially any which so nearly concerns us all as your proceedings do. I should have been more particular but I thought you knew everything that passed here. The present state of the inhabitants of Boston is that of the most abject slaves under
the most cruel and despotic of tyrants. Among many instances I could mention Let me relate one upon the 17th of June printed handbills were pasted up at the corner of streets and upon houses forbidding any inhabitant to go atop their houses are atop any evidence upon pain of death. The inhabitants dared not to look out of their houses nor be heard or seen to ask a question. Our prisoners were brought over to the Long Wharf and there laid all night without any care for their wounds or any resting place but the pavements till the next day when they exchanged it for the jail since which we hear they are civilly treated. Their living cannot be good as they have no fresh provisions. Their beef we hear is all gone and their own wounded men died very fast so that they raised a report that the bullets were poisoned fish they cannot have they rendered it so difficult to procure it. And the admiral is such a villain as to oblige every fishing schooner to pay a dollar every time they go out.
The money that's been paid for process is incredible. Some of given ten twenty thirty and thirty dollars to get out with a small proportion of their things it is reported and believed that they taken up a number of persons and committed them to jail. We know not for quite in particular. I would not have you be distressed about me danger they say makes people valiant. Hitherto I've been distressed but not dismayed. I felt for my country and her sons. I've bled with them and for them. Not all the happy can devastation they have made has wounded me like the death of waterin. We wanted him in the Senate. We want him in his profession. We want him in the field. We mourn for the citizen the senator the position and the warrior. May we have others raised up in his room. Good night. With thoughts of the two I close my eyes angels
God to protect me and may a safe return ere long. Blessed by Portia. Prospect of a union is produced and written by Elizabeth Spiro for WFC are the four college radio station of Amherst Smith and Mount Holyoke colleges and the University of Massachusetts from whose faculties the cast of prospect of a union was
drawn. STEPHEN CONROY was hurt as John Adams and Beverly Mae as Abigail Marjorie Kaufman was the narrator. John Wright was heard as Colonel Prescot. The letters of John and Abigail Adams were taken from the Adams Family correspondence published by the Harvard University Press. The song Free American Day was written by Dr. Joseph Warren whose death in the Battle of Bunker Hill this program recounted and it was recorded by Sawyer was Minutemen from the collection of only American songs of John and Lucy Allison. This program was distributed by national educational radio. This is the national educational radio network.
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Prospect of a union
Battle of Bunker Hill
Producing Organization
WFCR (Radio station : Amherst, Mass.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program presents dramatic readings from the correspondence between John and Abigail Adams.
Series Description
A first-hand account of the founding of the United States, described through the correspondence of John and Abigail Adams.
Media type
Narrator: Kaufman, Marjorie
Producing Organization: WFCR (Radio station : Amherst, Mass.)
Writer: Spiro, Elizabeth
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-6-7 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:27:47
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Chicago: “Prospect of a union; Battle of Bunker Hill,” 1968-01-11, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 2, 2024,
MLA: “Prospect of a union; Battle of Bunker Hill.” 1968-01-11. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 2, 2024. <>.
APA: Prospect of a union; Battle of Bunker Hill. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from