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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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

New Terms and New Reading on the “Battle of Chelsea Creek”

Last week I attended Victor Mastone’s lecture at the Boston Public Library about his team’s investigation into the “Battle of Chelsea Creek,” a latter-day name for the amphibious fight over Hog Island, Noddle’s Island, and the Chelsea shore on 27-28 May 1775.

Mastone started by saying that his position as Director of the Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources was more impressive if you assumed he had any staff to direct. But for this National Park Service project he oversaw a team of people from different disciplines to explore how the north of Boston harbor looked in May 1775, and how the Royal Navy managed to lose a ship to a military force that didn’t even have a navy. The presentation was very visual, so I can’t do justice to it here, but I came away with three new verbal gems.

K.O.C.O.A. analysis. The N.P.S. has taken this term for examining battlefields from the U.S. military. As the Gettysburg park website explains, K.O.C.O.A. stands for:
  • Key terrain
  • Observation and fields of fire
  • Cover and concealment
  • Obstacles (both natural and man-made)
  • Avenues of Approach
Note how adding the adjective “key” to the first term allows for a pronounceable acronym.

Viewshed. Wikipedia says: “A viewshed is an area of land, water, or other environmental element that is visible to the human eye from a fixed vantage point.”

Bathygraphic. Describing or charting the depth of a body of water at different points, just as topography studies the height of features above sea level.

The team’s Technical Report on the Chelsea Creek fight, hundreds of pages long and no doubt containing lots of maps, is downloadable through this state webpage. Team member Craig J. Brown wrote his master’s thesis on applying K.O.C.O.A. analysis to that landscape, and it’s available here. Finally, Brown, Mastone, and Christopher V. Maio published an article about the event in the latest New England Quarterly.

1 comment:

Ryan Hayward said...

Such a cool find! Thanks for posting. I run an event in Medford along the Mystic that used this battle as a basis for minutemen being present. The report provides tons of useful information about the battle so I am certainly going to have to give it a full read!