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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Sunday, March 16, 2008

“Still Detained by the Wind”

And on 16 Mar 1776, the British military still hadn’t left Boston! Even I’m starting to feel impatient for them to sail, and I know how this turns out. Having had his exit interview with the British commander, selectman Timothy Newell could only record bad weather and angst:

16th. Saturday. Rain. Great distress plundering &c.
Here’s Capt. John Barker’s record of what was keeping the fleet from sailing:
14 March: “Were to have embarked last night, but the Wind came against us.”

15 March: “The Wind being fair at 12 oclock in the day, the Troops were order’d under Arms in order to embark; but after waiting some time returned to their Quarters, the Wind having shifted.”

16 March: “Still detained by the Wind, and still firing all last night at Foster’s hill.”
Foster’s hill was an American position on the Dorchester peninsula, also called Nook or Nook’s hill. Charles Swift’s City Record blog offered a fine map with this hill marked helpfully with a little number 4. The site is said to be at the intersection of modern B and Third Streets in modern South Boston.

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