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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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Revolutionary Talk at the State House, 24 Sept.

On Tuesday, 24 September, I’m going to be testifying at the Massachusetts State House about a search for weapons of mass destruction.

Well, not testifying, really. As part of a series of noontime brown-bag seminars hosted by the State Library, I’ll deliver an illustrated lecture on the question “What Were the British Soldiers Looking for in Concord in 1775?”

One unlikely incident in that story took place on the lower side of Boston Common, at the corner of West Street and what is now Tremont. The Boston militia train, or artillery company, had a gunhouse there, containing two of their four small brass cannon.

That little armory shared a fenced yard with the South Writing School, where 200 or more boys studied six days a week under the eye of Master Samuel Holbrook. These days we might think twice about putting an elementary school next to an artillery depot, but…simpler times.

In September 1774, there were also several British army regiments encamped on the Common “near, very near” the gunhouse, according to local diarist Thomas Newell. Gen. Thomas Gage even ordered soldiers to guard that locked building.

And yet on the morning of 16 September, those two cannon disappeared.

State House employees are the primary audience for this free talk, but I believe members of the public are welcome as long as there’s room in Room 442. Follow this link to find out how to reserve a slot.

1 comment:

John L Smith Jr said...

Must've been a Seniors Prank.