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, December 18, 2007

The View from Lechmere Point

Yesterday I quoted an account from inside Boston of an artillery battle between a new Continental Army battery along the Charles River, British artillery emplacements, and a Royal Navy man-of-war.

Here’s a description of those same days from Col. Jeduthan Baldwin, the engineer who laid out the American battery and the fortifications for the men inside. While Boston selectman Timothy Newell referred to the battery’s location as Phipps’s farm, Baldwin called the same place by the name of another local landowner, Richard Lechmere.

The numbers in Baldwin’s journal refer to the dates in December 1775 as he gradually built out to the point:

12 Begun the causey [causeway] at Leachmor Neck

13 Began the Covered Way onto Leachmor hill. Col. [John] Glover Regt. & Capt. [Thomas Waite] Foster Compy of the [artillery] Train Marched for Marblehead, upon hearing of 3 men of War lying at that place. bought a Watch for 8£. [This may be the same watch that Baldwin kept under his pillow while sleeping in July 1776.]

14 workt on leachmor point went in the afternoon to Dotchester point to See the mashine to blow up Shiping, but as it was not finished, it was not put into the water.

15 Came from Dotchester & went to Leachmor point to work. . . .

16 Stakt. out the Fort on Leachmor point.

17 went to work on Leachmor point, it was Very Foggy in the fornoon, & when the Fog cleared away we had a Very havey fire from the Ships, & from Boston but thro’ Divine goodness we Recd by little damage. Abel Woods was wounded in the Crotch or thigh. workt all night, got our men covered.

18 went down in the afternoon to Leachmor. . . .

19 Went upon Leachmor point to work. a No of Shot & Shells were thrown from Bunker Hill & from Boston at us & at Coble Hill, many of the Shot lodgd in our Brest work, & some of the Bumbs Brok high in the are & 2 near our works, but no Mischief done this Day.

20 went upon Leachmor Point we recd a No of 24 Ib Shot from Boston into our breastwork & others Just went over all in a direct line hit the wall. Several Bumbs burst in the air, one was thrown from Bunker Hill into Cambg by [Col. Edmund] Phineys Regt. 13 inch which did not bust . . .

21 went to Leachmor point in the morning, went to Watertown in the afternoon. it was Very cold this Day. the enemy did not fire at us this Day.
It’s also interesting to see how much Baldwin had to travel in his job, from east Cambridge all the way around the siege lines to Dorchester, and out to the legislature’s headquarters in Watertown.

(The image above is a detail from this map, published in the late 1800s and made available through a Phipps family genealogy page.)

TOMORROW: What “mashine to blow up Shiping”?

1 comment:

Mark B. said...

Someone has done a cut and paste on your article.