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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Sunday, June 18, 2017

“Henry Knox’s First Mission” in Framingham, 20 June

On Tuesday, 20 June, I’ll speak at the Framingham History Center’s annual meeting, debuting a new talk on “Myths and Realities of Col. Henry Knox’s First Mission.”

As recounted in almost every history of the Revolutionary War, in the winter of 1775-76 young Boston bookseller Henry Knox traveled northwest to Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point in New York to gather large cannon and haul them back to Gen. George Washington’s army besieging Boston.

By 25 Jan 1776, Knox had brought fifty-eight pieces of artillery as far as Framingham. We don’t know that from his own papers since the young colonel had stopped keeping a journal of the journey. Instead, we have John Adams’s detailed report of what he saw in Framingham that day.

In this talk I’ll address these questions and more:

  • What sort of artillery did the Massachusetts provincial army start with?
  • Who had the idea of fetching cannon from the Lake Champlain forts?
  • How and when did Knox get out of Boston?
  • What were Knox’s main qualifications to become colonel?
  • How did the weather affect Knox’s mission?
  • What does the stop in Framingham tell us about Knox’s route?
  • What happened to the fifty-ninth cannon Knox started out with?
  • What effect did Knox’s cannon have on the British army’s plans?

This event will take place at the Edgell Memorial Library, 3 Oak Street in Framingham. It’s for Framingham History Center members and donors, so if you wish to attend you can join the organization and support local history. The evening will start at 7:00 with some organization business, and there will be refreshments and books for sale afterward.

(The photo above, courtesy of Wikipedia, shows Framingham’s marker along the Henry Knox Trail, tracing his documented or likely route from New York to the siege lines.)

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