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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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Pvt. Simon Fobes: “fully resolved to go as far as my officers did”

Simon Fobes was a nineteen-year-old provincial soldier when he fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill. More than forty years later he moved to Ohio, and in 1835 one of his sons wrote down his recollections of the Revolution. That memoir was published in Historical Collections of the Mahoning Valley in 1876.

Fobes’s ancestors had first settled in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, under the name Forbes, but lost the R to the nascent Boston accent before his own branch moved to Canterbury, Connecticut. He was born there in 1756. Not owning much property, Simon’s parents moved the family again to Amherst when he was about fourteen.

At his father’s urging, Simon Fobes became a minuteman. But he was visiting relations back in Canterbury when the fighting started in Lexington. He got the news in Union, raced home, “made some change of clothing, took my gun and accouterments, and started, in company with some others, for Cambridge.” Once there, Fobes enlisted for the rest of the year in the company of Capt. Eliakim Smith of Hadley, Lt. Col. Jonathan Ward’s regiment.

Around midday on 17 June 1775, Fobes’s regiment was ordered onto the Charlestown peninsula. He told his son:
Soon after the firing, on that memorable day, had begun, about one-half of our regiment marched, as a re-enforcement, from Cambridge to Charlestown Neck, where the British were continually firing. There we lay awhile, waiting for orders. When the orders came we marched on behind the buildings, as well as we could, across the Neck, which was partially flooded, it being high water.

When we started from the fort, in Cambridge, marching in double files, I was near the center of the detachment, fully resolved to go as far as my officers did. In crossing the Neck I soon perceived that fully one-half of our soldiers were missing, and I was now near the front of the detachment.

As we ascended the hill the other side of the Neck, the musketballs whistled merrily. I noticed my officers dodging, first one way, then the other. For my part I knew not which way to dodge. A ball struck my gun near the lock as I was carrying it on my shoulder, and split off a piece of the stock. All this, together with the frequent meeting of our men, bringing off the wounded and the dying, made it a trying time for young soldiers. I can not tell which way or how my hair stood, for it seemed to me it stood every way.

As we were hurrying on without much order, some one called to us to come that way, and there was a good place. We advanced to a post and rail fence through a shower of musket-balls, where we made a stand.

I discharged my gun three times at the British, taking deliberate aim as if at a squirrel, and saw a number of men fall. I had become calm as a clock. When loading my gun the fourth time, I happened to cast my eyes around, and, to my astonishment, my fellow-soldiers were running at full speed down the hill. I had heard no orders to retreat. That instant my sergeant, who stood near me, started to follow them.

Then it was I saw a company of British regulars marching rapidly toward us. I finished loading my gun as quick as I could. When they had got within a few rods of us, however, I fired it off at them, and then ran for my life. At the same time the British were ordered to halt, make ready, and fire.

The balls whistled again, but did no material injury. One of my mates received a flesh wound. Firing down hill they shot over us.

A very large number of men, both old and young, had now collected. All seemed to be bustle and tumult. Charlestown, now wrapped in flames, added greatly to the interest of the scene. I saw the lofty steeple when on fire. It trembled and fell to the ground. Our officers, with evident anxiety and perplexity, were running to and fro, endeavoring to devise some plan by which we could drive the British from the hill.

A noted officer (I do not recollect his name) now stepped forward, and marched round in the crowd calling for volunteers to attempt the retaking of the hill. A large body of us volunteered, and we marched on near to the neck, where our commander came upon General [Israel] Putnam. Our soldiers were very poorly equipped, nearly one-half being armed with old rusty guns without bayonets. I was so fortunate as to have a good gun and bayonet.

The British had now paraded on the top of the hill with heavy artillery. While General Putnam and our commanding officer were talking together, a cannon-ball struck the stone wall near the former. After conversing awhile, General Putnam wheeled his horse and rode off.

Prudence seemed to direct that the attempt should be abandoned. After remaining in suspense until near dark, we were dismissed, and with our officers marched back to our tents.

In the mean time some of our soldiers had been to Cambridge, and got a pail of rum for us to drink when we returned. It being hot weather, I had become very thirsty and was much fatigued. At the door of the tent stood a pail, containing water as I supposed, with a pint tin cup in it. Some one asked me to drink. I took the cup and dipped it almost full, and drank the most of it before I was aware that it was rum. I was very much startled, fearing the consequences of what I had done. Being very weary, I lay down, and was soon asleep, and did not awake until the next morning.

When I arose I found that my fears were not realized. I had sustained no material injury, as in ordinary circumstances I doubtless should have done, and I was ready to do my duty as usual.
After Gen. George Washington arrived, Fobes’s regiment was moved to Dorchester on the southern wing of the siege. In September he volunteered to join Col. Benedict Arnold’s expedition to Québec, but that’s another story.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Refighting Bunker Hill with the Angry Staff Officer

This is the anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill. For an overview of the action this year, I’m pointing to the Angry Staff Officer’s article “Warfighter: Bunker Hill.”

It sets aside the mysteries, ambiguities, and evidence that historians focus on, and also applies modern military terms to the situation in 1775. Here’s a taste:
On the night of June 16, Col. [William] Prescott with chief engineer Richard Gridley and about 500 men crossed Charlestown Neck and occupied Breed’s Hill. Equipped with survivability equipment, they began construction of a fighting position on the height of the crest. During the night, ISR assets on the Royal Navy ships in the harbor spotted the movement and called for fire on the hill. Rounds began to impact, but the guns soon fell silent: Admiral Richard [sic—Samuel] Graves had been awoken by the firing and ordered the men to cease fire. Working all night, the Patriots dug a substantial fortification on Breed’s Hill with earthworks and firing platforms. When the sun rose, the British found that the height had been seized and fortified.

During the morning hours, more men arrived on the neck and began improving the fighting positions. An earthen trench was constructed down the left side of the redoubt. Just behind it, the New Hampshire and Connecticut troops constructed additional defenses extending to the left using log fences and stone walls to erect a position that ran down the slope towards the Mystic River. Between the fence and the trench, pioneers dug three v-shaped trenches to tie in the trench and the fence. This still left the extreme left vulnerable to flanking parties moving along the coast, so Col. [John] Stark led a detachment down the bluff to the river and emplaced a series of rock walls in depth. He then placed detachments of marksmen behind each wall, with strict fire control measures. He drove a stake forty yards in front of this position, with instructions for his men to aim at the enemy’s feet; this compensated for the natural rise of the musket and would place their fire center mass.

Arrayed across the dominant heights, the Patriot forces overlooked the key terrain where the British would have conduct an amphibious landing. Between this beach and the heights lay a series of swamps and rail fences that served as natural obstacles that would disrupt British movement and maneuver.

Secondary fighting positions were constructed on Bunker Hill to the rear of Breed’s Hill to serve as a fallback position for Patriot forces should they be forced to retrograde.


With their navy, the British brought significant fires dominance to the battlefield. Naval gunfire began again in the early morning hours of June 17 to suppress the Patriot lines. Over 100 guns were brought to bear on the enemy lines. This sustained fire was also meant to disrupt Patriot movement, but the natural lay of the land allowed Patriots to maneuver their forces in relative safety. In the afternoon, the British landed 12 pound and 6 pound batteries on the beach to provide additional suppressive fire.

The Patriots had four guns in position between the Connecticut and Massachusetts troops, but their gunners abandoned the field prior to the battle and so negated the majority of effects of the guns.


The British were forced to move all supplies via boat across the river, slowing their rate of supply and reinforcement significantly. The 6 pounder battery commander neglected to conduct a precombat inspection prior to deployment and found to their chagrin that their caissons were filled with 12 pound shot rather than 6 pound shot. This denied General [William] Howe his mobile fire support that he was counting on for close in fires.

On the Patriot side, they were already dangerously short of gunpowder. Each soldier had only about 30-40 rounds of ammunition. Lack of an overall field commander meant that there was no one individual tasked with overseeing logistics from the assembly area to the forward line of troops. This oversight would play an outsized role in the coming fight.
Now that we’ve reviewed the big picture, I’ll get into the smaller stories and questions.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

An Archive about Commemorating Bunker Hill

The Raab Collection is offering for sale an archive of documents collected by the Bunker-Hill Memorial Association as it built the monument in Charlestown and commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill.

The Raab Collection webpage says the collection was “assembled in the 1870s” and refers to “George Washington Warren’s binding.” Warren (1813-1883) wrote The History of the Bunker Hill Monument Association in 1877, having been a mayor of Charlestown.

Most of the documents appear to be about promoting and planning the Bunker Hill Monument, even including budget estimates. That stone tower was the project of the generation that came after the Revolutionaries, in many cases literally. The leading voice was William Tudor, Jr., son of the first Judge Advocate General of the Continental Army. The engineer was Loammi Baldwin, Jr., son of the officer who oversaw the northern edge of Boston harbor during the siege.

The association also organized the commemoration of 1825. The Marquis de Lafayette came to Boston to help lay the tower’s cornerstone. Daniel Webster delivered an oration, just as he would nearly two decades later when the stone obelisk was finally finished. Both men are represented in the archive. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison couldn’t come, but they sent letters included here.

The volume includes some first-person accounts of the battle, such as a short statement by Robert Steele about his experience as a provincial drummer:
I Robert Steele of Dedham in the County of Norfolk… Listed 17 days before Bunker Hill fight in Col [Ephraim] Doolittle’s Regiment. After Major Mores [Willard Moore] was wounded, I was ordered down the hill to get some run [rum] to dress his wounds with Benjamin Blood. When we got to the shop the man was down cellar to keep out of the way of the shots which were fired from the gun boats that lay in the river. He asked who was there we told him our errand he then said take whatever you want. We delivered some rum and ran back as soon a possible but before we had time to reach spot they were retreating.
I quoted a longer telling from Steele back here. Note that that letter rendered his companion’s name as Benjamin Ballard, not Benjamin Blood; Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors agrees with the former. The picture of Steele’s letter in the archive show he was also asking for money since he’d lost his pension for not being poor enough.

I’d be pleasantly surprised if there are detailed new accounts from veterans in this collection. Warren’s history and the Raab Collection would no doubt highlight those. Rather, it’s about the effort to memorialize the event.

At least one collection of such accounts did come out the semicentennial event as historians swarmed over the old soldiers who attended. I’ll discuss what happened to that archive in this year’s run of postings on the history and memory of Bunker Hill.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

A Graphic Profile of Phillis Wheatley

Earlier this week, Dave Kellett’s Sheldon comic strip featured a single panel titled “Anatomy of Phillis Wheatley.” Around a picture of the young poet are remarks on her life and legacy.

Back in 2011 I discussed why I think it’s mistaken to say Wheatley “had to go to court to prove” that she wrote her poems. That’s an exaggerated reading of what Henry Louis Gates wrote about her, which was in turn an exaggerated reading of the testimonial that Boston clergymen and other notables supplied for her book.

The comic also states, “She was even offered an audience with the king of England.” That’s based on an early biographical profile written by a great-grandniece of Susannah Wheatley, the woman who owned and raised Wheatley. She wrote in 1834 that Phillis Wheatley declined the invitation and returned to Boston after learning that her mistress was in poor health. Wheatley’s best biographer, Vincent Carretta, said the story is “plausible,” but she herself made no mention of it.

Thanks to Eric Gjovaag for alerting me to this strip.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Rev. Jonathan Boucher: “I did know Mr. Washington well”

The Washington Papers Project just shared Kathryn Gehred’s profile of the Rev. Jonathan Boucher, a Virginia and Maryland minister who had the unenviable job of tutoring Jack Custis in the early 1770s.

“I never did in my Life know a Youth so exceedingly indolent, or so surprizingly voluptuous: one wd suppose Nature had intended Him for some Asiatic Prince,” Boucher wrote to the teenager’s stepfather, a Virginia planter named George Washington.

Boucher supported the royal government in the political arguments of the early 1770s, at one point carrying pistols to his pulpit to defend himself.

He reported seeing Washington for the last time on a ferry as the Virginian headed to the Second Continental Congress in 1775, where he would accept the position of commander-in-chief of a rebel army.

Years later, in his memoirs, Boucher described Washington this way:
I did know Mr. Washington well; and tho’ occasions may call forth traits of character that never would have been discovered in the more sequestered scenes of life, I cannot conceive how he could, otherwise than through the interested representations of party, have ever been spoken of as a great man.

He is shy, silent, stern, slow and cautious, but has no quickness of parts, extraordinary penetration, nor an elevated style of thinking. In his moral character he is regular, temperate, strictly just and honest (excepting that as a Virginian, he has lately found out that there is no moral turpitude in not paying what he confesses he owes to a British creditor) and, as I always thought, religious: having heretofore been pretty constant, and even exemplary, in his attendance on public worship in the Church of England. But he seems to have nothing generous or affectionate in his nature.
In 1876 Boucher’s grandson published this and other extracts of his memoir in the London magazine Notes and Queries. Americans, in the midst of the Colonial Revival, disliked that description of the first President. But half a century later, an American press published Boucher’s memoir in full.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Pvt. James Melvin’s Journal in Manuscript

The American Revolution Institute, part of the Anderson House museum and library of the Society of the Cincinnati, has acquired the manuscript journal of Pvt. James Melvin.

Melvin was born in Concord in 1749, according to John Melvin of Charlestown and Concord, Mass. and His Descendants (1905), but different calculations of his age suggest he was born as late as 1753. James’s father moved the family to Chester, Nova Scotia. After his father’s remarriage and an unhappy indenture, James returned to Concord to live with an older brother. He mustered for the April 1775 alarm and enlisted in the army from yet another Massachusetts town, Hubbardston.

In the summer of 1775, Melvin joined Col. Benedict Arnold’s expedition through Maine to Québec. His journal covers that journey from the soldiers’ departure in September through imprisonment in Canada to freedom on parole in August 1776.

Pvt. Melvin’s journal was transcribed and published in 1857. That text was issued twice more on its own, most recently in 1902. The total number of copies from those editions was 450.

Kenneth Roberts reprinted the whole Melvin journal in March to Quebec while also suggesting its text had been copied and developed from the diary of another soldier, Moses Kimball.

However, Stephen Darley collected all the known journals of the Quebec mission in Voices from a Wilderness Expedition (2011). He reports the Melvin and Kimball journals each have material not found in the other, with Melvin’s continuing for months after its supposed source. On the other hand, Darley says the Melvin diary offers “no special content,” meaning no historical events that other diaries don’t already document.

The fact that so many men on the Quebec mission kept journals shows how significant they and their descendants felt that undertaking was. Some of those diaries are near copies of others while some are quite individual. Some documents appear to have been the actual papers men carried on the trek while others are later copies.

After returning to the U.S. of A. in late 1776, Melvin remained in the army, stationed for the most part at the artillery laboratory in Springfield, making gunpowder. He married a widow there in 1778 after they conceived a child and lived the rest of his life in Springfield and Chester, Massachusetts. Melvin lived at least until 1828, when he unsuccessfully applied for a pension.

Melvin’s record was still in her family’s hands when it was first published, but then it went underground—until now. The American Revolution Institute plans to digitize the manuscript and share the images. It reports the manuscript also contains a couple of essays titled “Treatise upon Air” and “An Explanation of Scripture Taken from the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Gallations.” There’s no report of text on the Québec march that we haven’t seen before, but we’ll see Melvin’s account in its oldest surviving form.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Underwater Archeology off Yorktown

This Daily Press article out of Newport News about marine archeology in the York River near Yorktown speaks to human perseverance in a couple of ways.

First, it runs down all the ways Gen. Cornwallis tried to drive off the French fleet at the river’s mouth so that he could evacuate instead of surrendering.
He sets a few of his own ships afire and tries to drift them into the French warships. No luck.

He tries to slip away, loading his men into small boats to make for Gloucester, but a storm roars in and swamps the attempt.

Finally, he resorts to a tactic that’s been used by others: He sacrifices his own fleet.

Cornwallis sends a line of his ships toward the Yorktown beach until they run aground, forming a barrier he hopes will stop the French from landing troops.

To keep the rest out of his convoy out of enemy hands — as well as block the river with wreckage — Cornwallis issues orders to scuttle. Holes are drilled or chiseled in hulls and the vessels sink.
Which left a lot of ships’ hulls in the river.

The article also talks about the archeologists’ persistent efforts to investigate those wrecks since the Bicentennial period as public funding for such endeavors was being scuttled. The investigation is led, as was the one in the 1980s, by John Broadwater, then Virginia’s state underwater archeologist.
In 1988, a 20-page spread in National Geographic detailed their accomplishments — more than 5,000 relics recovered for posterity from one wreck alone, a ship named Betsy.

But state budget cuts came shortly after, and Broadwater’s position was axed. Work stopped on the project, and relics went into storage — many of them uninspected, which led to a scramble just last year, when live hand grenades from The Betsy were discovered sitting on shelves at the Department of Historic Resources in Richmond.

Now, at 75 years old, Broadwater has come home. He’s working with volunteers — some from the old Betsy days. Most of their equipment is donated. Most expenses are covered by the partners’ own money.
On the plus side, it looks like new technology has made locating wrecks easier than it was before. The picture above, coming from the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences, shows a “side-scan sonar image” of a newly found wreck. Of course, the team needs access to that technology and more.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

How Pvt. Joshua Williams Ended Up in Boston

A couple of days back I quoted a deposition from Pvt. Joshua Williams of His Majesty’s 29th Regiment about a bad encounter with Bostonians in June 1769. Williams said he was then new in the regiment and new in Boston, which intrigued me but which I didn’t know enough about British army bureaucracy to explain.

Luckily for me, that also intrigued Don Hagist, author of
British Soldiers, American War and editor of the Journal of the American Revolution. He looked up Williams in his sources and added his deep knowledge of how the British army worked in the Revolutionary era. Here’s what Don found out:

Joshua Williams, a soldier in the 29th Regiment, said that he was assaulted in June 1769 “a few days after he joined the regiment in Boston.” The regiment had arrived the year before, so Williams was either new to the regiment or had stayed behind somewhere when the regiment sailed for Boston.

Particularly interesting is that the “Mob of People” recognized that Williams was new to Boston, “a new or a Strange Lobster.” Did Bostonians know the faces of over three hundred soldiers of the 29th Regiment that well, or was there something else about Williams that made him stand out as being new in town?

Williams first appears on the regiment’s muster rolls prepared in October 1769, with no indication of where he came from. Following his career forward on the rolls shows that he recovered sufficiently from his injuries to serve in the 29th Regiment for two more years. He was discharged on June 4, 1771, when the regiment was in New Jersey, along with a number of other soldiers.

Men who had been injured while serving as soldiers often received pensions after returning to Great Britain and going before the pension examining board in Chelsea, a London suburb. The records of that board show that Joshua Williams appeared there on August 29, 1771, and was granted a pension. On that date he was thirty-two years old and had been in the army for nine years; he was from “Glocester” and had no skilled trade, instead being called a “labourer.”

With nine years in the army but only two in the 29th Regiment, he must have transferred from another corps into the 29th. When a regiment that was on foreign service was sent home, it was not unusual for able-bodied men to be drafted—transferred—into other regiments still on service in the foreign land. Although the 29th’s rolls do not record where their new men like Williams came from, his entry in the pension examination book suggests that he was, indeed, a draft.

The disability that made him eligible for a pension was having been “wounded at Fort Pitt,” probably during the siege of that place in 1763 during Pontiac’s War.

As a draft into the 29th, Williams probably retained his uniform from his previous regiment; he would not receive one from the 29th until the next annual clothing issue, late in the year for regiments in America. This would make him easily recognizable to the Boston mob.

And, since British soldiers owned their own clothing, the loss of his “new Regimental Hatt” meant that he would have to purchase a new one—unless the mob could be convinced to return the property of a man who had been wounded defending colonists on the western frontier.

Thanks, Don!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Di Spigna on Dr. Joseph Warren in the Coming Week

Christian Di Spigna, author of Founding Martyr: The Life and Death of Dr. Joseph Warren, the American Revolution’s Lost Hero is making another swing through New England with book talks and signings.

These events coincide with the conjunction of the paperback edition of Founding Martyr, Warren’s birthday (both on the 11th), Father’s Day (the 16th), and the anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill (the 17th).

Here are Christian’s upcoming public appearances:

Monday, 10 June, 7:00 P.M.
West End Museum, 150 Staniford Street, Boston

Tuesday, 11 June, 7:00 P.M.
Charlestown Historical Society, 43 Monument Square, Charlestown

Wednesday, 12 June, 7:00 P.M.
Adams National Historic Park, 1250 Hancock Street, Quincy

Thursday, 13 June, 6:00 P.M.
General Henry Knox Museum, 30 High Street, Thomaston, Maine

Tuesday, 18 June, 1:00 to 3:00 P.M.
Paul Revere House, 19 North Square Boston

Sunday, June 09, 2019

“A bayonet wrested from one of the pursuers”

Yesterday I quoted a deposition by a sergeant of the 29th Regiment about his run-in with John Ruddock, justice of the peace and captain of militia in Boston’s North End, 250 years ago this month.

Justice Ruddock was used to getting his way in that neighborhood. He was a big man—probably 300 pounds or more. In September 1766 he told Sheriff Stephen Greenleaf that he was “Unable to Walk far [and] must be Carried in his Chaise.” At that time, Ruddock was rattling off excuses why he couldn’t come help the sheriff and Customs officers search the storehouse of Daniel Malcom for smuggled goods. Because Ruddock was no fan of royal officials.

When the Crown government stationed troops in Boston in 1768, Ruddock was among their most active opponents. He was one of the magistrates who prosecuted Capt. John Willson for allegedly encouraging enslaved Bostonians to revolt. He arrested soldiers for disturbing the peace in both January and February 1769.

Sgt. John Norfolk of the 14th Regiment complained about another such confrontation:
That on or about the 22d. February 1769, in the evening, he heard a great noise in the street; and found it was occasioned by some Soldiers and Inhabitants who were at high words amongst whom was one Ruddock, who said he was a Justice of the peace, and expressed the words, Go fetch my broad sword and Fusee and Damn the Scoundrels, let us drive the Bloody backs to their Quarters, Send for my Company of Men, for I think we are men enough for them.

He the deponent did what was in his power to prevent their Quarreling and in striving to part the Soldiers and Inhabitants Received great abuses from a son of the said Ruddocks who took him by the hair and pulled him into a passage leading into the yard of Said Ruddocks house, shutting the Door upon him, and by repeated blows laid him on the ground quite insensible after he came to himself thay opened the door and kick’d him out of the passage, at the same time they took the opportunity of taking him his side, his Bayonet which he wore (being then a Corporol), and which is now in the possession of said Ruddock who hath refused to return it tho’ properly demanded, both by himself and a Serjeant sent By his Captain for that purpose.
According to Norfolk, Justice Ruddock wasn’t slowed at all by his weight that night. And his son—either John, Jr., or Abiel—yanked him into the family home.

Of course, the justice had his own view of the situation. He thought he was keeping the peace in the face of rowdy military men. Here’s how the Whigs reported the same event for newspapers in other colonies:
As some sailors were passing near Mr. Justice Ruddock’s house, the other night, with a woman in company, they were met by a number of soldiers, one of whom, as usual with those people, claimed the woman for his wife; this soon bro’t on a battle in which the sailors were much bruised, and a young man of the town, who was only a spectator, received a considerable wound on his head; a great cry of murder, brought out the justice, and his son, into the street; when the former who is a gentleman of spirit, immediately laid his hands upon two of the assailants, and called out to one who pretended to be an officer, and all other persons present, requiring them in his Majesty’s name to assist him as a magistrate, in securing those rioters;

instead of this, he was presently surrounded with thirty or forty soldiers, who had their bayonets in their hands, notwithstanding the unseasonable time of night; some of whom endeavoured to loose his hold of the persons he had seized, but not being able to do it, they then made at him with their fists and bayonets; when he received such blows as obliged him to seek his safety by flight;

they struck down a young woman at his door holding out a candle, and followed him and son into the entry-way of his house with their bayonets, uttering the most profane & abusive language, and swearing they would be the death of them both;

upon the first assault given to the magistrate, one of the persons present posted away to the Town-House, and acquainted the commanding officer of the picquet guard, of what was taking place; but it seems the officer did not apprehend himself at liberty to order a party out to secure, or disperse those riotous drunken soldiers.

Due enquiry is making for the discovery of those daring offenders, in order to their being presented to the grand jury, a bayonet wrested from one of the pursuers in the entry, may lead to a knowledge of the owner, and be a means of procuring proof.
The bayonet that the Ruddocks came away with is the link between these two accounts.

On 27 March, the Whigs reported a grand jury had brought charges “against a number of soldiers, for assaulting with drawn cutlasses and bayonets; smiting and wounded [sic], John Ruddock, Esq; one of his Majesty’s justices of the peace, when suppressing a riot at the north part of the town, late at night, in which they were actors.”

As of 21 April the royal judges still hadn’t begun that trial, the Whigs reported, “nor has any thing been done upon it, as we can yet learn.” Norfolk said nothing about being tried, so probably the whole matter dropped, leaving everyone angry.