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, June 15, 2012

Finding Room for the New Hampshire Troops

On 15 June 1775, Col. James Reed [often spelled Read] wrote back to the New Hampshire Committee of Safety from the siege lines outside Boston. On 2 June, Read had followed orders from Gen. Nathaniel Folsom and mustered “a number of men” from “the westward part of the Province of New-Hampshire.” He reported:
On the twelfth of June, I arrived at Cambridge and waited on General [Artemas] Ward; he informed me that Cambridge was so thronged with soldiers, that he had given orders to Captains Spalding, Walker, and Crosby, to march to Medford. Then I repaired to Medford, and there I met with Captains Hinds, Whitcomb, Town, Hutchins, Man, Marcey, and Thomas. Whitcomb and Thomas I took out of Colonel Stoke’s [Stark’s?] Regiment for the two Companies that were assigned me. Then I was informed by Colonel [John] Stark that Medford was so full of soldiers that it was necessary for some to take other quarters; then I applied to General Ward and received orders in these words:

GENERAL ORDERS.
Head-Quarters, June 12, 1775.
That Colonel Read quarter his Regiment in the houses near Charlestown Neck, and keep all necessary guards between his barracks and the ferry, and on Bunker Hill.

J[oseph]. WARD, Secretary.
Then, Sirs, I marched my Regiment from Medford to Charlestown Neck, and, with the assistance of Mr. [Peter or Timothy?] Tufts, one of the Selectmen of Charlestown, I got my men into good barracks, and then raised my guard, consisting of one Captain, two subalterns, four sergeants, four corporals, and forty privates; this ended the thirteenth day of June.
Housing soldiers on Charlestown Neck just a few days before 17 June 1775. What could go wrong?

It’s notable that at this point in June 1775 American commanders felt there were too many soldiers in Cambridge and Medford. Soon they would be ordering more men to those locations.

2 comments:

Peter Fisk said...

My 4G-grandfather was in Reed's regiment at Bunker Hill. He served in Town's company. I can't find it right now, but once read an account of this company's experience in the battle. They had left most of their belongings in a house on Charlestown Neck, and they never saw their stuff again because the house was destroyed by cannon fire from a royal ship.

J. L. Bell said...

A lot of companies sent documents to their provincial governments seeking reimbursement for property lost in the battle. Those are among our best sources on the battle since they were created immediately afterward with no pressure to mold the event any particular way.