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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Friday, June 06, 2008

Bloody Menotomy

Earlier this week, I wrote about the experiences of the Adams family of Menotomy during the Battle of Lexington and Concord. That part of Cambridge, now called Arlington, saw some of the bloodiest fighting during that battle, and the worst losses on the American side. There were a couple of reasons:

  • By then the British troops included the reinforcement column that Col. Percy had led out of Boston early on the morning of 19 Apr 1775. Unlike the soldiers who had marched to Concord the night before, they had slept well and hadn’t walked so far.
  • Percy deployed flanking companies to clear the area on either side of the road back to Boston.
  • Some provincial militiamen became too aggressive and came close to the road, waiting to shoot at the redcoat column as it passed. Instead, they were caught from behind by those flankers.
As a result, twelve provincials and two regulars were killed in close fighting in and around the Jason Russell House. In all, about half of the men killed that day on each side fell in Arlington. (Reenactment shown above courtesy of the Arlington Historical Society.)

Back on Patriots’ Day, Lori Stokes at The Historic Present made the case that the Revolutionary War really began in Menotomy. “When the British returned at last to Boston,” she wrote, “it was the fighting at Menotomy that convinced them this was a war and not an isolated incident.”

(As you know, Boston 1775 has posited that the war began in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.)

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