Riley M. Adams' Journal


We arose on the morning of Oct. 2d. better prepared for the duties of the day. We were afforded a half an hour's opportunity before breakfast for observing the situation of the placeLittleton is situated on the river Ammanosuck which falls into the Connecticut at Bath, a distance of only 16 or 17 miles. This river is formed by two or three branches which take their rise in the White Mountains. There is one branch however, which takes its rise at the South near Coventry and running northwest falls into the other large branches below Littleton, which forms a large extent of water. This place is located on the side of a considerable hill, which is pleasant, but not equally pleasant in situation with Bath.

After breakfast we started on our journey for the day. It was our intention to reach the foot of the Mountains today, having learned that it was 19 miles, and it being Saturday we should have to ascend the Mountains to-morrow agreeable to the arrangements of Capt. Partridge. We pursued our way very much encouraged to think we were so near the end of our journey. The next town we touched was Bethlehem a distance of only 4 miles. Here was a tolerable road, but some hiliy. The land seemed to be very fertile. We continued our way the same direction with the river although some distance from it, until we had gone about 10 or 11 miles, when we crossed the river and entered a piece of woods where the road was moist and less pleasant for 4 miles to a tavern where we stopped and took some refreshments. We were now some fatigued, but after resting a few minutes pursued our way on to the next tavern which was 6 miles, (all the way through woods). We arrived at Mr. Crawford's about 4 o'clock, very much fatigued, but the Capt. (after stopping a few minutes) took some provisions and with a few others went on toward the foot of the Mt. (Washington) which was about 9 miles from Mr. Crawford's. Soon after, as I was very anxious to arrive at the foot of the Mt. this day, went on with three others, we being determined to overhaul Capt. and Co. if possible. After traveling about 1 mile and a x h we came to a foot path which led out of the main road. Upon entering this it seemed to be very good, but after going a few rods it became worse and when we had gone about 1 mile it was so bad that we were obliged to climb over very high rocks, logs and stumps. We crossed many small streams by means of poles which we laid across them. We struggled very hard to overtake the Capt. but it was in vain, for he had many steps before us before we started from Crawford's. After we had traveled about an hour and V2 with much pains the sun disappeared and we were left in the dark. We had nothing now to encourage us, but on the contrary being in the middle of the way between Crawford's and Mt. Washington, our path which was the worst began to discourage us, or at least one who was very small. As we were very much fatigued and finding a place where there were some rails laid upon a stick slanting with some hemlock boughs thrown on, we encamped under these for the night. This was a very hard place to sleep, yet we were obliged to pass the night here. As soon as daylight began to appear, after suffering much we arose and hurried on our way to the foot of the mountain, where we found the Capt. and Co., at the camp. The distance between the place where we stayed and the camp was but a few rods. After taking a little breakfast at the camp with the Capt. which consisted of a little pork, cooked by means of sticking it on a stick and putting it in the fire, a little bread and some tea. We put on our knapsacks and began to ascend the mountain. Our progress was very slow at first and tiresome yet the farther we progressed we became more seasoned to our undertaking.

In some places the hill seemed to be of a gradual ascent and at others very steep. When we had progressed about a mile and a half we arrived at the heighth of vegetation where trees ceased to grow, here we made no stop, but hurried on with the Capt. who seemed to progress as fast up the mountain as a common man would on a level road. We could now see the summit of the mountain and as I could guess I thought it to be about two miles distant.

What was somewhat remarkable as we traveled on was that we could feel the weather, which was very moderate when we first began to ascend, grow colder as we progressed by degrees so that when we had arrived within a mile and a half of the summit it was very told and we found some small drifts of snow and ice, here we had nothing to walk on but bare rocks piled top of one another like steps. Being so far advanced toward the top we were completely surrounded by clouds. We reached the summit with much difficulty and found, as it were a new country, the climate was altogether different, the wind blew with such impetuousity that we could hardly keep on our feet.

When we looked toward the foot of the mountain we could see nothing but clouds below us. The Capt. leveled his berometer on the very summit, and while he was taking the height of the mountain a short opportunity was offered to look around on the rocks. We discovered a tent partly frozen down by the ice, which was made of white linen cloth some parts of which were painted. I made some attempt to get into it, but did not succeed. We also discovered here a plate of brass on which was engraved a few words in Latin language, expressing how difficult it was to ascend and reach the summit of the mountain, (called Mt. Washington.) We found a mallet and chisel by which many names were engraved on the rocks which were the names of those who had ascended the mountain. I began to engrave my name upon a rock, but the Capt. having taken the height of the mountain and being about to descend with the rest of the Co. I was obliged to leave my name half engraved, We began to descend in about fifteen minutes from the time we reached the summit where we could say we had set our feet and with propriety we could say we had been on the highest spot of ground anywhere in the United States.

We descended the mountain at first with rapidity in order to get away from the cold weather as soon as possible. I would just observe that as soon as I began to descend I picked up a specimen of mica for the purpose of showing and observing that it came from the summit of Mount Washington. We descended about one mile and found the weather more moderate and not so boisterous. Here we met with the other company, or the principal part of the Cadets ascending the mountain, whom we had left at Crawford the night previous, they seemed to be very much discouraged at their tiresome undertaking, but were advised by all means to persevere and reach the summit by the Capt. notwithstanding one or two turned about and descended with us, others hurried on with great haste anxious to reach the summit. We descended very rapidly all the while feeling the weather grow more moderate. We arrived at the foot of the mountain in good season. Here we found other Cadets who had just arrived at the camp from Mr. Crawford's, these had got to go through with the same fatigue that we had before they reached the summit. Resting here a few moments we started for Crawford's and the others began to ascend the hill. We traveled the foot path not very fast, but took about a medium step, we arrived at Crawford's about 4 o'clock, here we all took supper enjoying ourselves with much pleasure to think we had accomplished our object which was anticipated when we set out from Norwich. After supper all being very much refreshed, myself and a few others concluded to go on to the next tavern which was Rosebrook's, distant seven miles. We started soon after the sun had disappeared and when the shining ruler of the night had arisen very bright to illuminate our way through the woods we were to pass. We arrived at Mr. Rosebrook's about ten o'clock which was nearly two hours from the time we started, here we put up for the night, while the principal part of the Corps put up at Crawford's, and another party still remained at the camp at the foot of the mountain (those being the ones that ascended the mountain last.) Monday, Oct. 24, 1824. After having passed the night here very well prepared for the day's travel. After breakfast, the other party that tarried at Mr. Crawford's having come on we joined it. We left Brenton Woods and passed through Bethlehem and arrived at Littleton about one o'clock where we dined. The landlord where we stayed before seemed to be very glad to see us treating us with much civility and a good hearted disposition, he prepared us a good dinner, which after we had ate having bid him good bye, put on our packs and started for Bath. We traveled the same road we did when going. We passed through Lisbon and arrived at Bath between 8 and 9 o'clock. We put up at two taverns most excellent. We were very much fatigued when we arrived and for my own part I could hardly stand on my legs. After supper we all retired to bed with great happiness to rest ourselves once more on beds prepared for us.

Tuesday, Oct. 5. This morning we all arose feeling very much rested, yet very stiff. We took breakfast very early and started on for Haverhill, a distance of ten or eleven miles, we arrived about noon. They seemed to be glad to see us here again and treated us with civility and friendship. After we had taken dinner the Capt. proposed to take a different road from Haverhill to Norwich, that was to go down on the Vermont side of the river as we had before gone on the New Hampshire side. Accordingly we crossed the river and entered Bradford. This is considerable of a large village, perhaps as large as Norwich or larger. It contained one meeting house and one academy. The ground is not very level but is very fertile producing in abundance all kinds of grain. We made a short halt, and rested ourselves at a tavern. We again pursued our way and followed the river down on the side by the bank, which was very pleasant. We arrived at Fairlee a distance from Haverhill of 12 miles where we put up for the night, it being somewhat dark when we arrived. A part of the Corps however put up at a tavern in Oxford which lies directly opposite to Fairlee. I however stayed at a tavern in Fairlee. Here we were well provided for and after breakfast which we got early in the morning, (Wednesday Oct. 6), we started for Norwich which was 19 miles distant. While passing out of the villiage of Fairlee I had a good opportunity for beholding its situation by daylight. Fairlee is a very handsome little village and very pleasantly situated on the river, it is very level and surrounded on the west by a considerable long ledge of rocks very smooth and perpendicular from the base to the summit, it is about one mile and a half in length and is somewhat in shape of a rainbow which makes a very handsome show from the village of Oxford and Fairlee. We passed on very swiftly being very joyful to think that we had got so near Norwich the next town we arrived at was Thetford, the township of which is very level on the river where we traveled.

One of my company having called to a house (in Thetford) to get a drink of water, observed when he came out that he was questioned by a young lady whether Riley Adams of Bristol had not got a son at Capt. Partridge's Seminary, who said he answered in the affirmative and she then observed his father had once done her a great piece of kindness. To this I wondered who the lady might be and had almost a mind to go into the house and see her, but I however did not.

We followed the river down keeping on its bank all the way until we arrived at Norwich; not however all at one time, but were three or four squads, some arriving at noon and others sometime in the afternoon. I arrived about 3 o'clock with great joy.

We found that the Cadets that remained at the Acad, under the superintendence of Mr. Wiliston had not managed themselves with propriety during the Capt's absence, but on the contrary had managed very badly by trying to blow up the building. Two Cadets who had been the most concerned in those scrapes, firing crackers, &c, the Capt. dismissed. We had no duties to attend to to-day therefore we could rest.

The 2 dismissed were Page from Hallowell, Me., Roberts from Fredericksburg, Va. The latter had been a Cadet 1 mo. & cost his father $150.