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, August 06, 2020

“Two floating batteries came up Mystic River”

Back in June, we left the town of Malden worrying in mid-1775 about being attacked by British forces out of Charlestown, across the Mystic River.

The town had ended up with two cannon from Newburyport. Locals built earthworks near the landing of the Penny Ferry from Charlestown and strengthened the buildings there. (A comment on that June posting reminds us the ferry landing was near what’s now the Encore Casino in Everett.)

To guard that site, the Massachusetts army assigned a company of Malden men to their home town. Their leader was Capt. Naler Hatch (1731-1804), who had learned to command at sea. Locals remembered him as “a stout built man, rather rash in temper, and fiery in zeal.”

Deloraine Pendre Corey’s history of Malden says that on 23 July Christian Febiger, the Denmark-born adjutant of Col. Samuel Gerrish’s regiment in the Continental Amy, wrote of the situation at Malden:
Capt Hatch of Colo. [Thomas] Gardners Regiment is there with one Company & has to mount 20 men on Guard every Day without Officers, three Relieves is 20 men privates mounting every Day & then they have no Sentries on the River which by the Description and the Situation of the place wants at least 4 Centries every Night.
Gerrish moved Capt. Eleazer Lindsey and his company from Winnisimmet in Chelsea to strengthen that spot in Malden. Lindsey was a 59-year-old veteran of the last war from Lynn. His men had signed up from several Essex County towns.

On Sunday, 6 August, the British finally came. Lt. Benjamin Craft of Manchester, stationed at Winter Hill, wrote in his diary:
Just after [morning] meeting two floating batteries came up Mystic River and fired several shots on Malden side, and landed a number of regulars, which set fire to a house near Peny ferrys which burnt to ashes.

One Capt. Lyndsly who was stationed there, fled with his company, and got before the women and children in his flight.

We were all alarmed, and immediately manned our lines, and our people went down to Temple’s Point with one field piece, and fired several shot, at the regulars, which made them claw off as soon as possible. Gen. Gage, this is like the rest of your Sabbath day enterprises.
“Temple’s Point” was no doubt part of Robert Temple’s farm in what is now Somerville.

Katie Turner Getty described this fight in detail from the perspective of Lt. Col. Loammi Baldwin, then stationed in Chelsea, for the Journal of the American Revolution. Baldwin reported directly to Gen. George Washington:
I proceeded to Malding as quick as possable found that Capt. Lindsey was gone home, & his Company dispersd, all but a few with the Lieut. was down at the House that was Burnt[.] I went to him and enquired into the matter who Informd me that the Capt. was gone Home & near one half the Company was fled & where they were gone he could not tell, I ordred him to Rally his Company & Guard his Post which he Seem’d willing & ready to preform as far as Lay in his Power.
It appears that the lieutenant was Daniel Galeucia (also spelled Gallusia and Galushe, 1740-1825). In an odd twist, he was married to Capt. Lindsey’s daughter.

By this time the British were back over in Charlestown, parading on shore in triumph. Inside Boston, though, selectman Timothy Newell noted in his diary “several Soldiers brought over here wounded.”

COMING UP: More fighting and a court-martial or two.

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