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


Monday, January 22, 2018

The Road to Concord Leads to Shrewsbury, 31 Jan.

Thanks to Eric Stanway of the Worcester Telegram for his article in advance of my Road to Concord talk to the Shrewsbury Historical Society on 31 January.

Here’s a taste:
“Basically, this lecture deals with the issues that brought the British troops out to Concord in 1775,” Mr. Bell said. “The background information frequently doesn’t get as much attention as the battle itself. The issue at the time was that the Massachusetts patriots were amassing cannons and other armaments in Concord and even more in Worcester.

“So this was a hunt for weapons of mass destruction. Although the troops conducted a thorough search, they didn’t find much apart from Concord’s own town weapons. What they were really looking for were four small brass cannons which had been stolen from military armories in Boston, and had been smuggled out of town into the countryside.”

Mr. Bell said that the British governor actually had viable information that the armaments were in the hands of the patriots, and was determined to find the weapons.

“He had British officers disguised as civilians, spying on the locals,” he said. “He had good information that the weapons were out there. However, the patriots got word that the troops were on the march, so they hid all of the armaments before they arrived.”

Although tensions were high, Mr. Bell said, there was no real indication that the colonists were looking for all-out war.

“The colonists started amassing weapons on the grounds that, if they showed they were able to defend themselves, that would compel the British authorities to back down,” he said. “They weren’t actually looking for independence at that point. What they were after was a certain degree of autonomy, and a reversal of Parliament’s latest laws about how the colonists should govern themselves.”
I haven’t found evidence of artillery pieces in Shrewsbury, though there were some nearby. And the Massachusetts Provincial Congress asked Shrewsbury’s Patriot leader, Artemas Ward, to form and train an artillery company to use some of those guns. I’ll speak about his response to that request.

This talk is will happen on Wednesday, 31 January, at 7:00 P.M. With the sponsorship of the Shrewsbury Historical Society, it will be at the Shrewsbury Public Library, 686 Main Street. I’ll gladly inscribe copies of The Road to Concord afterward.

No comments: