J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Soldier's diary at Longfellow House

The Friends of the Longfellow House (a non-profit organization that I work with) has posted a Revolutionary War soldier's diary on its website. Along with the complete text of the diary and pictures of the document is Frances Ackerly's downloadable essay describing how she identified its author as Moses Sleeper of Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Frances's essay describes the manuscript's scope:

In the diary the soldier writes of the Battle of Bunker Hill, the Siege of Boston, the threatened bombardment from Dorchester Heights, the British evacuation of Boston, Washington's army's march to New York, the first reading of the Declaration of Independence, the Battle of Long Island, and the beginnings of Washington’s long retreat from New York to Pennsylvania.
Longfellow House, built in 1759 by the Vassall family and now a site of the National Park Service, was George Washington's headquarters during most of the siege of Boston, July 1775 to March 1776. It later became the home of Washington's biographer Jared Sparks, who lived there as a boarder in the early 1800s, and then of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, author of "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere," and his family. A Longfellow relative seems to have purchased this diary as a collectible.

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