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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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"We Have Peppered 'em Well"

Here’s another anecdote about the aftermath of the Battle of Bunker Hill, this one first published in William Tudor’s The Life of James Otis in 1823:

After the battle had continued for some time, a young person living in Boston, possessed of very keen and generous feelings, bordering a little perhaps on the romantic, as was natural to her age, sex, and lively imagination, finding that many of the wounded troops brought over from the field of action were carried by her residence, mixed a quantity of refreshing beverage, and with a female domestic by her side, stood at the door and offered it to the sufferers as they were borne along, burning with fever and parched with thirst.

Several of them grateful for the kindness, gave her, as they thought, consolation, by assuring her of the destruction of her countrymen. One young officer said, “never mind it my brave young lady, we have peppered ’em well, depend upon it.” Her dearest feelings, deeply interested in the opposite camp, were thus unintentionally lacerated, while she was pouring oil and wine into their wounds.
Tudor seems to be writing about am upper-class young woman he knew well, from whom he heard this anecdote but whose name was he was keeping confidential. Perhaps his mother, Delia Jarvis, who turned twenty-two in 1775, or another relative. (Here’s a love letter from Tudor’s father, also named William, to Miss Jarvis at the end of the following year.)

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