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, April 08, 2017

“The Road to Concord” Starts in Charlestown, 11 Apr.

The Road to Concord tracks four brass cannon stolen out of two Boston armories in mid-September 1774 because those appear to have been Gen. Thomas Gage’s top targets in early 1775.

But the first Massachusetts Patriots to surreptitiously remove cannon from under the redcoats’ noses were the people of Charlestown on 7 September. That town was guarded by a fortified battery of heavy iron cannon overlooking the entrance to the Charles River.

Here’s how Boston merchant John Andrews reported on activities in that battery to his brother-in-law, William Barrell of Philadelphia:
As experience makes men wise, so the least alarm will put ’em upon their guard that have once been trick’d. A Scotch Captain, who is building a ship at Charlestown, observ’d that they put the ammunition, such as shot, &ca., belonging to the battery there, under ground. He came over and inform’d the Governor of it, who sent an officer over with him to examine the premisses yesterday afternoon.

The inhabitants, suspecting what would take place, provided a number of teams, such as carry ship timbers, and slung all the guns belonging to the battery, and carried up country, together with the reposit of shot, &ca.

About midnight another formidable expedition was set on foot. The boats from all the Men of War were man’d with soldiers, with orders to dismantle the fort and bring off all the Ordnance, Stores, &ca.: but I imagine their chagrin was as great as their disappointment. So much for the honor of Pig Village, Bill!
I’m going to “Pig Village” myself next week to speak about this feat and more on Tuesday, 11 April. That event starts at 7:00 P.M. at the Bunker Hill Museum. It’s free and open to the public. (As was, evidently, the Charlestown battery in September 1774.) The host and sponsor of this talk is the Charlestown Historical Society. [I’m not mentioned on the society website, but I really will be there.]

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