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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Saturday, September 01, 2012

“This Retreating, Raged Starved, lousey, thevish, Pockey Army”

Sometime in the past week, Blogger tells me, Boston 1775 surpassed 1,000,000 page views. I believe those include visits by search engines, with no actual eyeballs involved, but it’s the only yardstick I got. I’m grateful to all the folks who’ve peeked in, whether one time or every day.

That news prompted me to look back at the first week of postings, from May 2006. I found poor Lt. Col. Jeduthan Baldwin, working as a military engineer with the disintegrating American army that had come down from Canada into northern New York.

On 16 July Baldwin woke up to find that someone had sneaked into his tent and stolen his chest, including a lot of genteel clothing and surveying tools. The next day he wrote in his journal:

in the Morning a part of my Compass was found break to pieces & soon after the rest of it except the Needle. this Day I wrote to Genl. [John] Sullivan to remind him of the request I had made of a discharge from the Army, desiring him to use his intrest in my behalf while at the Congress, as I am heartily tired of this Retreating, Raged Starved, lousey, thevish, Pockey Army in this unhealthy Country.
But Baldwin stuck around. Which, like the page views, shows the value of just showing up every day.

Back in 2006, Baldwin’s diary was available only in an edition printed by a society in Maine a century before, and reprinted in a small quantity by Arno Press and the New York Times in 1971. I’d happened to find a copy in my local library. Now that edition is readable through Google Books, and the Massachusetts Historical Society is sharing portions of the original. Quite a change.

In July 1776, Baldwin was planning out the Continental fortifications on Mount Independence in Vermont. The engineer’s diary is a major source of Stephen Zeoli’s Mount Independence: The Enduring Legacy of a Unique Historic Place, a little book about that historic site published last year by the Mount Independence Coalition and sold at historic sites and bookstores in the region.

I see there’s a lot of activity coming up around Mount Independence, including an archeology hike tomorrow, living history next weekend, and a memorial ceremony at Hubbardton on 11 September.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Congratulations on getting 1 million alleged eyeballs; I commend you on the quality and quantity of your presentations; I do not know how you manage to do it. As a long time student of the Boston revolutionary era (and a great-to the fifth power or so- grandson of an Ashby minuteman, I cherish your reporting.
- john gregory