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, November 19, 2007

Supplying the Troops

The shortages in besieged Boston were somewhat alleviated on 19 Nov 1775, as selectman Timothy Newell recorded in his journal:

A large ship arrived from Plymouth in England with almost every kind of provisions dead and alive, hogs, sheep, fowls, ducks, eggs, mince meat &c. Ginger-bread &c.

Memorandum 25 Regiments of Kings troops now in this distressed town.
The British military was in the position of many other occupiers, having to supply their soldiers’ needs from thousands of miles away. Eventually that expense proved to be a major reason why British society turned against the war.

Around the same time, the Continental Army command was feeling pleased with news that on 2 November Gen. Philip Schuyler had taken St. John’s in Québec, only about twenty miles from Montréal. This thrust north was the first time that the American army tried to project its force outside of its home territory. Commander-in-chief George Washington and the Continental Congress hoped that the people of Québec would support and supply the troops from the colonies to the south. Unlike Britain, they had no real plan for delivering supplies and reinforcements to the distant army; everyone thought the campaign would be short and successful.

On 13 November the American forces under Gen. Schuyler, Gen. Richard Montgomery, and Col. Benedict Arnold had taken Montréal and come within sight of Québec City. However, that was about as far as they got. The American army struggled through the winter that followed, losing men to battles and smallpox and not gaining any more territory. Gradually the British army and locals pushed them back. On 18 June 1776, the Continental Army withdrew from its foothold at St. John’s, leaving the town in flames.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I happened upon your site via The Boomer Chronicles. I'm a history buff, so was glad to find it. I may not leave comments often, but I'll be reading.