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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Monday, July 02, 2007

A Few Cannon Exchanged on Both Sides

Selectman Timothy Newell’s biggest worry in early July of 1775 was cannonballs flying into Boston. Here are two more excerpts from his diary:

July 1st. A few cannon exchanged on both sides—one 24 pounder came into the lines, knocked down one Man with the wind of it.

2nd Sabbath morning. I waked up by a cannonade from the lines, which continued two hours. A house on the Neck burnt down thereby, which belonged to the town.
A “twenty-four pounder” was a cannon big enough to shoot iron cannonballs that weighed twenty-four pounds. A table prepared at the Royal Military Repository by William Congreve in 1778 listed three types of brass twenty-four pounders: light, medium, and heavy. They were from five feet long to nine and a half feet, and could weight between 1,600 and 5,300 pounds.

As a New Englander, Newell was probably offended by the Royal Artillery’s choice to fire their guns for two hours on a Sunday morning. And as one of Boston’s highest officials, Newell had to keep track of town property, like that burned house on the narrow Neck leading out of town.

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