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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Friday, November 09, 2007

British Raid on Lechmere’s Point

The British army raided east Cambridge 237 years ago today, seeking cattle to increase their meat supply as winter approached. Boston selectman Timothy Newell recorded the basics:

Several Companies of Regulars from Charlestown went over to Phips’s farm to take a number of Cattle feeding there. The Provincials came upon them and soon drove them on board boats after an engagement—it is said several are [blank—wounded?] and none killed, but they supposed many of the Provincials killed.
Capt. John Barker of the 4th Regiment put a lot more detail into his diary:
To day a party of about 250 Light Infantry embarked at 11 o’clock in the flat bottom’d Boats: they landed on a Peninsula call’d Lechmere’s farm, which in spring tides is an Island; it is between Cambridge and Charlestown and within cannon shot of the Rebels Works on Prospect Hill.

The Rebel Guard made their escape all but one; we brought off 12 or 14 head of Cattle; after the Party was reimbarked then a very large body of the Rebels waded to the Peninsula and fired on our Men, but without doing any execution, at the same time we firing Cannon at them from this side and from the ships and some Gondolas.

While our People were on the Ground they did not dare to pass; there was some firing between them and our advanced Guard; this was all done without the loss of a Man on our side, and I think must mortify them a good deal, braving them in a manner right under their noses and under their Cannon, which indeed they seem’d to manage but badly, taking an amazing time to load.
On the 13th, Barker added, “By a Deserter from the Rebels we hear they had 9 Man killed and several wounded on the 9th.” However, the Continental Army still viewed this skirmish as a victory because they perceived themselves as having driven the British back.

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