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, July 01, 2016

Here Comes the General

From the diary of Pvt. James Stevens of Andover, camped on the north side of the siege lines around Boston in 1775.

Saterday July the 1

I wos releived of a gard about nine a Clok

I went on to Chil [probably Charlestown] to see the fort

there wos won funeral

we preaded to receive the new jeneral Washington but he did not com

Sunday ye 2

this morning we preaded to receive the new jeneral

it raind & we wos dismesd

the jenral com in about nune

there wos no meting in the afternune

I went to the colridg & herd a sarmen from Psams the 71 in the morning

there wos a firing from roxbry

the regerlers burnt won hous

our men fired on them three tims

Munday ye 3

nothing hapeng extrorderly we preaded thre times

I went up on to the hil
This is one of the contemporaneous documents that helped historians discard the notion of Gen. George Wasington assuming his command in front of a large portion of the now-Continental Army lined up on Cambridge common on 3 July 1775, as Currier & Ives illustrated above.

Washington actually took command from Gen. Artemas Ward the previous afternoon, soon after his arrival, and there was “nothing hapeng extrorderly” on the 3rd.


John L Smith Jr said...

Stevens'full journal is in the Essex Institute Historical Collection Vol 48 in Peabody, and is written in such a phonetic style, I found I couldn't understand his words unless I read the sentences out loud to myself!

J. L. Bell said...

Yes, that's where I take the text from. I present each sentence in its own paragraph to make it a little easier to follow, but still.