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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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

More Reports on Noddle's Island

Two hundred thirty-two years ago today, Boston selectman Timothy Newell filled out his account of the fighting on Noddle’s Island in Boston harbor, which had started three days before:

30th [May]. The mansion house on Noddle’s Island burnt by our People, the cattle and sheep &c. drove off. The Admiral sent a number of his People to take off some stores of the Men of War, which were in the a ware house there, which was not opposed by our people who lay near; suppose when they had taken them on board a Sloop (which lay at the wharf) our people fired two cannon out of a little patch of wood on the top of the hill, which made them all fly precipitately.
Gen. Thomas Gage sent a report on the same skirmish home to Britain. In mid-July the London Gazette printed this summary released by the government:
Lieutenant-General Gage in his Letters to the Earl of Dartmouth [Secretary of State, shown above courtesy of Wikipedia], dated June 12, 1775, gives an Account, That the Town of Boston continued to be surrounded by a large Body of Rebel Provincials, and that all Communication with the Country was cut off; that the Rebels had been burning Houses and driving Sheep off an Island that has easy Communication with main land, which drew on a Skirmish with some marines who drove the Rebels away; but that an armed Schooner, that had been sent between the Island and the main land, having got on shore at High Water, there was no possibility of saving her, for as the Tide fell, she was left quite dry, and burned by the Rebels. Two men were killed and a few wounded.
Characteristically, Gage didn’t report that loss of a schooner quickly, but waited about two weeks. His message then took more than a month to reach London. By then the situation in Boston had changed greatly, even though the siege lines hadn’t moved at all.

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