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, March 26, 2010

“A Severe Cannonade at Roxbury”

Almon’s Remembrancer was an annual publication in London which reprinted interesting British newspaper items of the past year, and thus became a valuable source for historians of the Revolution—easier to search than all those newspapers. The 1776 volume included this passage from a letter sent from Cambridge and dated 12 July 1775:

Yesterday we spent in Roxbury:—while there, were amused with a heavy fire of cannon and mortars, from the lines of the Regulars on the Neck, and from one of their floating batteries, against 200 of our men, who were throwing up a breast work in front of the George Tavern. On the same Neck, and within a few rods of the Regulars advance guard; our people kept on their work, and never returned a shot.

Three bombs burst near our men without injuring them—most of the cannon shot were taken up and brought to the General [probably John Thomas].—It is diverting to see our people contending for the balls as they roll along.

During a severe cannonade at Roxbury, last week, a bomb, thirteen inches in diameter, fell within the American lines, and burnt furiously, when four of the artillerymen ran up, and one kicked out the fuse, saved the bomb, and probably some lives—a stroke of heroism worthy of record. The regulars have so hardened the provincials by their repeated firing, that a cannonading is just as much minded as a common thunder shower.
In the map above, available via Wikipedia, you can see the George Tavern near the Americans’ “Roxbury Lines” fortifications at the bottom.

TOMORROW: Defusing more bombs.

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