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, June 11, 2012

Simeon Lyman Carves a Horn

In the course of researching my talk on Thursday at the Concord Museum about the Ephraim Moors powder horn, I came across this extract from the diary of Pvt. Simeon Lyman of Sharon, Connecticut. He was stationed on the northern wing of the siege lines outside Boston in October 1775.
Friday, 13th. I went to Cambridge to get some walnuts and see the College.

Saturday, 14th. I went to carry victuals to the guard and viewing the forts and the regulars.

Sunday, 15th. Our minister preached 2 sermons. He preached from Dutrinomy 23rd and 9th verse in the forenoon and afternoon, and he preached 2 very good sermons to the soldiers how it was best for us to do and what not to do.

Monday, 16th. We built a chimney to our tent and mended our old trousers.

Tuesday, 17th. I went to tend mason to build chimneys to the barracks, and I listed to tend till the chimneys was done, and I was to be cleared from all duty and have a gill of rum a day.

Wesdnesday, 18th. I went to Mistick [Medford] and got a horn and some apples. I sent a hand to work at the chimneys, and there was some that went to the head of the works and said that we would not stay only a day or 2, so we was dismissed.

Thursday, 19th. It rained, and I worked at my horn the most of the day.

Friday, 20th. It rained, and I finished my horn and went up to Mistick and got some apples.
Lyman’s horn doesn’t survive, as least as far as I know, so I have no idea of how elaborately he carved it. But it was only three days’ work—given that Lyman had apparently gotten off other duty because he had volunteered to build chimneys, but then couldn’t build chimneys because of the rain.

Lyman’s diary is full of the details of daily life like this (especially laundry, for some reason). But he had rather little to say about military actions.

[Image of the Historic Deerfield powder horn collection, on display through the summer and fall, courtesy of The Horn Guild, a guild of contemporary horn workers and collectors.]

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