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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Monday, May 06, 2019

“Road to Concord” Runs through Watertown, 8 May

On Wednesday, 8 May, I’ll speak at the annual members’ meeting of the Historical Society of Watertown. My topic will be “The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War,” with special attention to Watertown’s place near the center of that story.

As the event description says:
In early 1775, Watertown was armed with cannon. The town also received a visit from spies for royal governor Thomas Gage. The British general had sent those men on a search for artillery, both to stymie New England’s growing rebellion and to erase the embarrassment of having let four brass cannon vanish from militia armories under redcoat guard.
Gen. Gage was intent on retrieving those cannon stolen from Boston. Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Patriots were moving artillery pieces around the countryside. On one of the British army’s practice marches in early spring, officers spotted two cannon on the bridge over the Charles River in Watertown. No locals had stayed to man those guns, and the British didn’t move to seize them, but that moment established the high stakes of the army’s march to Concord weeks later.

I’ll speak on that confrontation about two blocks from where that bridge stood, at the Watertown library. The evening will start with about fifteen minutes of formal society business, including the election of the board, and then I’ll take over.

The program is scheduled to begin at 7:00 in the meeting room of the Watertown Free Public Library, 123 Main Street. Metered parking is available in the lot behind the building and on the streets out front. This program is free and open to the public.

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