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.

Follow by Email


Tuesday, September 09, 2014

A Sedimental Education

Heather Hoppe-Bruce wrote an op-ed essay in the Sunday Boston Globe about what might be unearthed in a new Boston harbor dredging project. Among the possibilities:
HMS Diana

On May 28, 1775, during the Battle of Chelsea Creek, this schooner was abandoned, captured by provincial forces, then set ablaze and run aground. As this battle was the first naval engagement of the American Revolution, the HMS Diana site would be a major find. Could ship remnants still exist by the creek’s entrance? The state’s Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources thinks so and has requested additional survey work on the site. . . .

The Magnifique

Pilot error may have stranded this 74-gun French war ship on a Lovells Island shoal in 1782. The crew then completely stripped the ship and abandoned it, which was the end of the Magnifique but the start of more than 200 years of rumors and political intrigue regarding how exactly she ran aground. The ship’s remains were allegedly last seen in the mid-1800s.
In other French naval news, a replica eighteenth-century warship is undergoing her first test on the water:
A life-size replica of the Hermione, the French navy frigate made famous when it carried General Lafayette to Boston to help fight in the American War of Independence, embarks on its maiden voyage Sunday, more than 200 years after the original one.

Thousands of spectators lined the port of Rochefort on France’s west coast, where both the original and the replica were built, to watch the reproduced vessel set off on several weeks of sea trials in the Atlantic Ocean.

The moment has been a long time coming – a group of restoration enthusiasts first embarked on the arduous task of recreating the three-masted vessel, using only eighteenth-century shipbuilding techniques, back in 1997.

They were forced to wait a little longer for the new Hermione to take to the seas after the launch, originally planned for Saturday, was delayed due to a build-up of sediment at the port.
If all goes well, the Hermione is scheduled to visit the U.S. of A. in 2015.



I and my fellow instructors at Project Appleseed, love your articles and insights on Boston 1775. thank you.

J. L. Bell said...

And look what the tide brought up in Gloucester.

Byron DeLear said...

It's worth mentioning that the abandoned HMS Diana wreck provided the reported 76' mast that was used to top Prospect Hill, a fortified high-ground overlooking Boston and the road to Charleston.

This is a fairly significant "liberty pole," if you will, because the traditional history has the first flag of America being hoisted over the Army of '76 by Washington in a ceremony on Prospect Hill on New Year's Day for not only the downbeat of the army's new establishment, but "in compliment to the United Colonies"---what Stephen Moylan termed the next day, writing from Washington’s HQ in Cambridge, as the "United States of America." There is an ongoing debate about whether the Grand Union flag was really flown there on New Year's Day. Peter Ansoff, an excellent vexillologist, and I have been going back and forth on the topic.

So if they do really find the remains of the Diana, the mast should be missing. There's no debate about that!