On 26 Jan 1776, Abbott found, the Derby Mercury of Britain ran a brief “Extract of a Letter from an Officer in the Camp on Bunker’s Hill, dated Dec. 4”:
You would be amazed how I am able to write at this Instant, for it Hails, Rains, Snows, and blows very bleakly on my Canvass House. The Regulars and the Provincials squint at one another like wild Cats across a Gutter, and it is very probable we shall keep our Distance till the Cessation of the Winter enables us to open the Campaign.I decided to look for how the American troops were experiencing the same weather on 4 Dec 1775. Did they complain about how it “Hails, Rains, Snows, and blows very bleakly”? Were they huddled in their barracks and around their fires?
And I found Pvt. Daniel McCurtin of the Maryland riflemen writing:
December 1st, 1775. 1, 2, 3. I have seen nothing of note,…Yet those 3 days were fine days and clear weather.Hmm. Well, Pvt. James Stevens of Andover noted a little poor weather the morning before:
10. From the 3rd untill this day I heard nothing material…During this time the weather has been very favourable.
Sunday Des the 3 I workt on the Baruk it raind som in the fore nuneDown in Plymouth, on 4 December the Continental naval agent William Watson reported “warm weather” to the commander-in-chief’s aide Stephen Moylan. So warm that it “had a very happy influence on the minds of the people” on board a ship who had refused to sally out against the Royal Navy; “The brig sailed Sunday afternoon [3 Dec] and has had fine weather ever since.”
So the officer writing from Bunker’s Hill wasn’t huddled up against the snow and wind. He was actually experiencing a fair, warm day in his “Canvass House.”
To be sure, the two armies had experienced far worse weather in the preceding month. Here’s how McCurtin reported those days:
- 12 November: “A very blustering cold frosty day”
- 17 November: “monstrous deep frost. This day its as good as 5 inches deep and very blustering winds. Last night I stood Picquet, I never yet felt such cold.”
- 18 November: “Cold frosty weather and snow.”
- 19 November: “Desperate cold weather, snow, frost and high winds.”
- 25 November: “Still continues colder and colder.”
- 26 November: “a severe cold day, frost, snow, high winds, and rain sometimes.”
- 27 November: “Very cold weather.”