Siege of Boston

Siege of Boston


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From April 1775 to March 1776, in the opening stage of the American Revolutionary War (1775-83), colonial militiamen, who later became part of the Continental army, successfully laid siege to British-held Boston, Massachusetts. The siege included the June 1775 Battle of Bunker Hill, in which the British defeated an inexperienced colonial force that nevertheless managed to inflict heavy casualties. In July 1775, General George Washington arrived in the Boston area to take charge of the newly established Continental army. In early March 1776, Washington’s men fortified Dorchester Heights, an elevated position just outside of Boston. Realizing Boston was indefensible to the American positions, the British evacuated the town on March 17 and the siege came to an end.

Siege of Boston: Background

For more than a decade before the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, tensions had been building between American colonists and the British authorities. Attempts by the British government to raise revenue by taxing the colonies met with heated protest among many colonists, who resented their lack of representation in Parliament and demanded the same rights as other British subjects. Colonial resistance led to violence in 1770, when British soldiers opened fire on a mob of colonists, killing five men in what was known as the Boston Massacre.

After December 1773, when a band of Bostonians dressed as Indians boarded British ships and dumped hundreds of chests of tea into Boston Harbor, an outraged Parliament passed a series of measures designed to reassert imperial authority in Massachusetts. In response, a group of colonial delegates (including George Washington of Virginia, John and Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, Patrick Henry of Virginia and John Jay of New York) met in Philadelphia in September 1774 to give voice to their grievances against the British crown.

This First Continental Congress did not go so far as to demand independence from Britain, but it denounced taxation without representation, as well as the maintenance of the British army in the colonies without their consent, and issued a declaration of the rights due every citizen, including life, liberty, property, assembly and trial by jury. The Continental Congress voted to meet again in May 1775 to consider further action, but by that time violence had already broken out. On April 19, local militiamen clashed with British soldiers in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, marking the first shots fired in the Revolutionary War.

Siege of Boston and Battle of Bunker Hill

Following the battles of Lexington and Concord, colonial militiamen surrounded Boston in an effort to contain the British troops there. However, because the British maintained control of Boston Harbor, they were able to receive additional soldiers and supplies.

On June 16, 1775, having learned that the British were planning to send troops from Boston to occupy the hills surrounding the town (Boston was incorporated as a city in 1822), colonial militiamen under Colonel William Prescott (1726-95) built fortifications on top of Breed’s Hill, overlooking Boston and located on the Charlestown Peninsula. (The men originally had been ordered to construct their fortifications atop Bunker Hill but instead chose the smaller Breed’s Hill, closer to Boston.) The next day, British troops under Major General William Howe (1729-1814) and Brigadier General Robert Pigot (1720-96) attacked the Americans at Breed’s Hill. The British went on to win the so-called Battle of Bunker Hill, and Breed’s Hill and the Charlestown Peninsula fell firmly under their control. Despite their loss, the inexperienced and outnumbered colonial forces inflicted significant casualties against the enemy, and the battle provided the Patriots with an important confidence boost.

After the Battle of Bunker Hill, the Siege of Boston turned into a stalemate for a number of months.

Siege of Boston and Fortification of Dorchester Heights

In early July 1775, General George Washington (1732-99) arrived in the Boston area to take command of the newly established Continental army. Washington’s goal was to drive the British from Boston, and in order to do this, his army required weapons. That winter, Colonel Henry Knox (1750-1806) oversaw an expedition to transport more than 60 tons of captured military supplies from New York’s Fort Ticonderoga back to Boston. In May 1775, the British-held Ticonderoga and nearby Fort Crown Point had been seized by colonial forces under Benedict Arnold (1741-1801) and Ethan Allen (1738-89). After a challenging journey across snowy terrain, the armaments, including more than 50 cannon, reached the Boston area in late January 1776.

Some of the cannon were placed in fortifications around Boston, and beginning on March 2 used to bombard the British for two days straight. On the night of March 4, several thousand of Washington’s men and more of the Ticonderoga cannon were moved into position at Dorchester Heights, overlooking Boston and its harbor. British General William Howe (1729-1814) realized his troops could not defend the town against the Continental army’s elevated position at Dorchester Heights, and soon decided to leave. On March 17, the eight-year British occupation of Boston ended when British troops evacuated the town and sailed to the safety of Nova Scotia, a British colony in Canada.

Siege of Boston: Aftermath

After the Siege of Boston, the Revolutionary War continued for seven more years. The Battle of Yorktown, which ended in October 1781 with the surrender of British forces under Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis (1738-1805) to a combined American and French force, was the last major land battle of the war. However, the Revolutionary War did not officially end until the September 1783 signing of the Treaty of Paris, in which Britain recognized the independence of the United States.


Siege of Boston - HISTORY

In the meantime, Washington laboured under accumulated difficulties in prosecuting the blockade of Boston. The scarcity of ammunition, notwithstanding every effort of Congress, continued almost unabated while the want of money, as well as of necessary equipments, was deeply felt on the advance of the rigorous season. With all his energy and firmness, he seems to have been exceedingly sensitive to troubles and opposition. He describes his situation as inexpressibly distressing,-the winter approaching on an army at once naked and without a dollar and declares that unless some remedy were devised, the force must be broken up. Amid all these distresses, it was necessary to keep up a good face towards the enemy, while many on his own side, exaggerating both the numbers and efficiency of his troops, wondered he should remain inactive, and not have already driven the English out of Boston. These criticisms touched him sensibly yet, as a true patriot, he carefully concealed the explanation, which, reaching the opposite party, would have produced fatal effects. Even Congress, with a jealousy of military power, in his case very unjust, were indisposed to measures most requisite for the success of his army. As none of any importance could be taken without their concurrence, as well as that of the provincial assemblies, they were always delayed, and often obstructed.

An imminent danger now impended December approached, when the troops, having been enlisted for only one year, were all entitled to return home. To this subject the commander earnestly solicited the attention of Congress, and on the 18th of October a committee of their number, Franklin, Lynch, and Harrison, arrived at his head-quarters. Being persons of judgment, they arranged matters very satisfactorily. Authority was given to levy twenty-six regiments, estimated at somewhat above twenty thousand men, independently of militia. Congress would not consent, however, to the enlistment for more than a year, nor would they, till the next January, agree to grant a bounty. Washington made the strongest appeals to the men, entreating them by every motive of honour and patriotism to adhere to those standards under which they had gloriously fought. But that ardent impulse whicll had called them to arms was now sensibly cooled and when the time arrived, not above five thousand had engaged. These were afterwards reinforced but this dissolution of one army and assemblage of another, in the face of an enemy whose force was constantly increasing placed the commander in a very critical situation.

He was also harassed from another quarter. The English in Boston, being straitened for provisions, sought to procure them by descents on different parts of the coast, treating the inhabitants, who were uniformly hostile, with very little ceremony. Falmouth suffered such a severe cannonade and oombardment as to reduce it to ashes, and it was reported or dreaded that a similar fate impended over the other seaports. Urgent applications were made to the commander-in-chief for aid but he represented that his army was barely adequate to blockade Boston, and could not be broken down into detachments for local objects, which ought to be provided for by the militia of the districts. His views were sanctioned by Congress. He endeavoured, however, to protect the shore by forming a small marine, placing troops on board the vessels and in a few weeks six schooners were fitted out. They were fortunate enough soon to capture a ship laden with military stores, most valuable for the supply of the army. In other respects this force was for some time inefficient, and its discipline very imperfect but it was gradually improved prize courts and regulations were formed, and its privateering operatIons proved ultimately very harassing to the British

Meantime, General Gage remained inactive at Boston a course generally condemned by historians as at once unaccountable and shameful. Yet, besides being by no means fully aware of Washington's weakness, he assigned other reasons which appear conclusive. Though he might have dislodged the Americans from their position, little would have been gained by marching into the interior of New England, a territory full of people animated with peculiar zeal in the cause of independence, and which, though containing many small towns, offered no central or leading point of attack. He must merely have moved from place to place, continually harassed by that desultory warfare in which they had shown themselves to excel. In the beginning of October he was recalled, without any expression of displeasure, yet probably under the impression of the disasters which the cause had sustained in his hands, and the hope that it might be more fortunate in those of another. The command then devolved upon Howe, who concurred with his predecessor as to the inexpediency of advancing into the interior of New England. He submitted to the cabinet another plan, by which Boston should be held only till the close of the winter, and the troops there, with all those expected from the mother country, be then concentrated at New York, and the main attack made from that quarter. The inhabitants were more loyal, and by striking at the heart of the Union he would separate the northern and southern states, and then, according to circumstances, carry on operations against either.

Washington, meantime, was very slowly recruiting his army, which, at the beginning of February did not reach quite nine thousand men. Being at that period permitted to offer a bounty, he had in a month collected above fourteen thousand, reinforced by sit thousand Massachusetts militia. He considered this force sufficient to attack the city but a council of officers decided, probably with reason, that such an attempt offered no chance of success. They proposed rather to seize and fortify the peninsular point named Dorchester Neck, whence the harbour would be in a great degree commanded, and the place, it was hoped, rendered untenable. To this he consented, though with great chagrin and the execution of the movement was intrusted to General Ward. The British were amused two days by an incessant cannonade and bombardment,-till at nightfall of the 4th of March, General Thomas, with a working body of twelve hundred, a covering force of eight hundred, and three hundred carts of materials, marched undiscovered, and took possession of the most elevated part of the heights. The Americans, being chiefly practical farmers, were extremely skilful in intrenching, and laboured with such diligence, that in the morning the English with astonishment beheld them in a strongly fortified position. The admiral then gave notice to Howe, that the harbour could not be deemed secure as long as this post was held by the Americans. Lord Percy, with three thousand men, was employed to dislodge them but a violent storm rendered the operation impossible, and before it dispersed the works were considered beyond the reach of assault. vVashington had prepared a select corps to attack the town, while its main force should be directed against the heights but this project, never very feasible, was now of course given up. The British commander then prepared to evacuate the place.

On the 17th the enemy embarked in their ships, and after remaining a few days in Nantasket roads, sailed towards Halifax, General Putnam immediately entered Boston, which was found strongly fortified, and quite uninjured. Washington entertained great apprehension that the city would be destroyed, though the English seem never to have entertained any such idea and some cannon and stores, which could not be carried away, became available to him.


Tag: Siege of Boston

General Howe was stunned on awakening, to the morning of March 5. The British garrison in Boston and the fleet in harbor, were now under the muzzles of Patriot guns. “The rebels have done more in one night”, he said, “than my whole army would have done in a month.”

Over the night and the following day of April 18-19, 1775, individual British soldiers marched 36 miles or more, on a round-trip expedition from Boston. Following the early morning battles at Lexington and Concord, armed colonial militia from as far away as Worcester swarmed over the column, forcing the regulars into a fighting retreat.

In those days, Boston was a virtual island, connected to the mainland by a narrow “neck” of land. More than 20,000 armed men converged from all over New England in the weeks that followed, gathering in buildings and encampments from Cambridge to Roxbury.

A man who should have gone into history among the top tier of American Founding Fathers, the future turncoat Benedict Arnold, arrived with Connecticut militia to support the siege. Arnold informed the Massachusetts Committee of Safety that Fort Ticonderoga, located along the southern end of Lake Champlain in upstate New York, was bristling with cannon and other military stores. Better yet, the place was lightly defended.

The committee commissioned Arnold a colonel on May 3, authorizing him to raise troops and lead a mission to capture the fort. Seven days later, Colonel Arnold and militia forces from Connecticut and western Massachusetts in conjunction with Ethan Allen and his “Green Mountain Boys” captured the fort, and all its armaments.

Flag flown by George Washington, during the siege of Boston

The Continental Congress created the Army that June, appointing General George Washington to lead it. When General Washington took command of that army in July, it was a force with an average of nine rounds’ shot and powder, per man. The British garrison occupying Boston, was effectively penned up by forces too weak to do anything about it.

The stalemate dragged on for months, when a 25-year-old bookseller came to General Washington with a plan. His name was Henry Knox. Knox proposed a 300-mile, round trip slog into a New England winter, to retrieve the guns of Fort Ticonderoga: brass and iron cannon, howitzers, and mortars. 59 pieces in all. Washington’s advisors derided the idea as hopeless, but the General approved.

Knox set out with a column of men in late November, 1775. For nearly two months, he and his team wrestled 60 tons of cannons and other armaments by boat, animal & man-hauled sledges along roads little better than foot trails. Across two barely frozen rivers, and through the forests and swamps of western Massachusetts, over the Berkshire mountains and on to Cambridge, historian Victor Brooks called it “one of the most stupendous feats of logistics”, of the age.

It must have been a sight that January 24, when Knox returned at the head of that “Noble Train of Artillery”.

Bunker Hill

For British military leadership in Boston, headed by General William Howe, the only option for resupply was by water, via Boston Harbor. Both sides of the siege understood the strategic importance of the twin prominences overlooking the harbor, the hills of Charlestown to the north, and Dorchester heights to the south. It’s why British forces had nearly spent themselves on Farmer Breed’s hillside that June, in an engagement that went into history as the battle of Bunker Hill.

With Howe’s forces in possession of the Charlestown peninsula, Washington had long considered occupying Dorchester Heights, but considered his forces too weak. That changed with the guns of Ticonderoga.

In the first days of March, Washington placed several heavy cannons at Lechmere’s Point and Cobble Hill in Cambridge, and on Lamb’s Dam in Roxbury. The batteries opened fire on the night of March 2, and again on the following night and the night after that. British attention thus diverted, American General John Thomas and a force of some 2,000 made plans to take the heights.

As the ground was frozen and digging impossible, fortifications and cannon placements were fashioned out of heavy 10′ timbers. With the path to the top lined with hay bales to muffle their sounds, pre-built fortifications were manhandled to the top of Dorchester heights over the night of March 4-5, along with the bulk of Knox’ cannons.

Boston as seen from Dorchester heights

General Howe was stunned on awakening, to the morning of March 5. The British garrison in Boston and the fleet in harbor, were now under the muzzles of Patriot guns. “The rebels have done more in one night”, he said, “than my whole army would have done in a month.”

Plans were laid for an immediate assault on the hill, as American reinforcements poured into the position. By day’s end, Howe faced the dismal prospect of another Bunker Hill, this time against a force of 6,000 in possession of heavy artillery.

Engraving depicts the British evacuation of Boston

A heavy snowstorm descended late in the day, interrupting British plans for the assault. A few days later, Howe had thought better of it. Washington received an unsigned note on March 8, informing him that the city would not be put to the torch, if the King’s Regulars were permitted to leave unmolested.

British forces departed Boston by sea on March 17 with about 1,000 civilian loyalists, resulting in a peculiar Massachusetts institution which exists to this day: “Evacuation Day”.

It’s doubtful whether Washington possessed sufficient powder or shot for a sustained campaign, but British forces occupying Boston didn’t know that. The mere presence of those guns moved General Howe to weigh anchor and sail for Nova Scotia. The whole episode may have been one of the greatest head fakes, in all military history.


History of the siege of Boston and of the battles of Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill

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Contents

Henry Knox's parents, William and Mary (née Campbell), were Ulster Scots immigrants who emigrated from Derry to Boston in 1729. [4] [5] His father was a shipbuilder who, due to financial reverses, left the family for Sint Eustatius in the West Indies where he died in 1762 of unknown causes. [6]

Henry was admitted to the Boston Latin School, where he studied Greek, Latin, arithmetic, and European history. [7] Since he was the oldest son still at home when his father died, he left school at the age of 9 and became a clerk in a bookstore to support his mother. The shop's owner, Nicholas Bowes, became a surrogate father figure for the boy, allowing him to browse the shelves of the store and take home any volume that he wanted to read. [8] The inquisitive future war hero, when he was not running errands, taught himself French, learned some philosophy and advanced mathematics, and devoured tales of ancient warriors and famous battles. [9] He immersed himself in literature from a tender age. However, Knox was also involved in Boston's street gangs, becoming one of the toughest fighters in his neighborhood. [7] Impressed by a military demonstration, at 18 he joined a local artillery company called The Train. [10]

On March 5, 1770, Knox was a witness to the Boston massacre. According to his affidavit, he attempted to defuse the situation, trying to convince the British soldiers to return to their quarters. [11] He also testified at the trials of the soldiers, in which all but two were acquitted. [12] In 1771 he opened his own bookshop, the London Book Store, in Boston "opposite William's Court in Cornhill." [13] [14] The store was, in the words of a contemporary, a "great resort for the British officers and Tory ladies, who were the ton at that period." [15] Boasting an impressive selection of excellent English products and managed by a friendly proprietor, it quickly became a popular destination for the aristocrats of Boston. As a bookseller, Knox built strong business ties with British suppliers (like Thomas Longman) and developed relationships with his customers, but he retained his childhood aspirations. [16] Largely self-educated, he stocked books on military science, and also questioned soldiers who frequented his shop in military matters. The genial giant initially enjoyed reasonable pecuniary success, but his profits slumped after the Boston Port Bill and subsequent citywide boycott of British goods. [17] In 1772 he cofounded the Boston Grenadier Corps as an offshoot of The Train, and served as its second in command. Shortly before his 23rd birthday Knox accidentally discharged a gun, shooting two fingers off his left hand. He managed to bind the wound up and reach a doctor, who sewed the wound up. [18]

Knox supported the Sons of Liberty, an organization of agitators against what they considered tyrannical policies by the British Parliament. It is unknown if he participated in the 1773 Boston Tea Party, but he did serve on guard duty before the incident to make sure no tea was unloaded from the Dartmouth, one of the ships involved. [19] The next year he refused a consignment of tea sent to him by James Rivington, a Loyalist in New York. [20]

Henry married Lucy Flucker (1756–1824), the daughter of Boston Loyalists, on June 16, 1774, despite opposition from her father that was due to their differing political views. [21] Lucy's brother served in the British Army, and her family attempted to lure Knox to service there. [22] Despite long separations due to his military service, the couple were devoted to one another for the rest of his life, and carried on an extensive correspondence. After the couple fled Boston in 1775, she remained essentially homeless until the British evacuated the city in March 1776. Even afterward, she often traveled to visit Knox in the field. Her parents left, never to return, with the British during their withdrawal from Boston after the Continental Army fortified Dorchester Heights, a success that hinged upon Knox's Ticonderoga expedition. [23]

Siege of Boston Edit

When the war broke out with the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, Knox and Lucy snuck out of Boston, and Knox joined the militia army besieging the city. [24] His abandoned bookshop was looted and all of its stock destroyed or stolen. [25] He served under General Artemas Ward, putting his acquired engineering skills to use developing fortifications around the city. [26] He directed rebel cannon fire at the Battle of Bunker Hill. [27] When General George Washington arrived in July 1775 to take command of the army, he was impressed by the work Knox had done. The two also immediately developed a liking for one another, and Knox began to interact regularly with Washington and the other generals of the developing Continental Army. [28] Knox did not have a commission in the army, but John Adams in particular worked in the Second Continental Congress to acquire for him a commission as colonel of the army's artillery regiment. Knox bolstered his own case by writing to Adams that Richard Gridley, the older leader of the artillery under Ward, was disliked by his men and in poor health. [29]

As the siege wore on, the idea arose that cannon recently captured at the fall of forts Ticonderoga and Crown Point in upstate New York could have a decisive impact on its outcome. Knox is generally credited with suggesting the prospect to Washington, [30] who thereupon put him in charge of an expedition to retrieve them even though Knox's commission had not yet arrived. [31] Reaching Ticonderoga on December 5, Knox commenced what came to be known as the noble train of artillery, hauling by ox-drawn sled 60 tons of cannon and other armaments across some 300 miles (480 km) of ice-covered rivers and snow-draped Berkshire Mountains to the Boston siege camps. [32] [33]

The region was lightly populated and Knox had to overcome difficulties hiring personnel and draft animals. [34] On several occasions cannon crashed through the ice on river crossings, but the detail's men were always able to recover them. [35] In the end, what Knox had expected to take just two weeks actually took more than six, and he was finally able to report the arrival of the weapons train to Washington on January 27, 1776. [36] Called by historian Victor Brooks "one of the most stupendous feats of logistics" of the entire war, [37] Knox's effort is commemorated by a series of plaques marking the Henry Knox Trail in New York and Massachusetts. [38]

Upon the cannon's arrival in Cambridge they were immediately deployed to fortify the Dorchester Heights recently taken by Washington. So commanding was the new battery over Boston harbor the British withdrew their fleet to Halifax. [39] With the siege ended, Knox undertook the improvement of defenses in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York City in anticipation of a possible British assault. [40] In New York he became friends with Alexander Hamilton, commander of the local artillery. [41] He also established a close friendship with Massachusetts general Benjamin Lincoln. [42] [43]

New York and New Jersey campaign Edit

Knox was with Washington's army during the New York and New Jersey campaign, including most of the major engagements resulting in the loss of New York City. He narrowly escaped capture following the British invasion of Manhattan, only making it back to the main Continental Army lines through the offices of Aaron Burr. [44] He was in charge of logistics in the critical crossing of the Delaware River that preceded the December 26, 1776 Battle of Trenton. Though hampered by ice and cold, with John Glover's Marbleheaders (14th Continental Regiment) manning the boats, he got the attack force of men, horses and artillery across the river without loss. Following the battle he returned the same force, along with hundreds of prisoners, captured supplies and all the boats back across the river by the afternoon of December 26. Knox was promoted to brigadier general for this accomplishment, and given command of an artillery corps expanded to five regiments. [45] The army again crossed the river a few days later after the decision to make a stand at Trenton. Knox was with the army at the January 2, 1777 at the Battle of the Assunpink Creek, and again the next day at the Battle of Princeton. [46]

In 1777 while the army was in winter quarters at Morristown, New Jersey, Knox returned to Massachusetts to improve the Army's artillery manufacturing capability. [47] He raised an additional battalion of artillerymen and established an armory at Springfield, Massachusetts before returning to the main army in the spring. That armory, and a second at Yorktown, Pennsylvania established by one of his subordinates, remained valuable sources of war material for the rest of the war. [48]

Philadelphia campaign Edit

Knox returned to the main army for the 1777 campaign. In June he learned that Congress had appointed Philippe Charles Tronson du Coudray, a French soldier of fortune, to command the artillery. Du Coudray's appointment upset not only Knox, who immediately threatened his resignation to Congress, but also John Sullivan and Nathanael Greene, who also protested the politically motivated appointment. Du Coudray was subsequently reassigned to the post of inspector general, and died in a fall from his horse while crossing the Schuylkill River in September 1777. [49]

Knox was present at Brandywine, the first major battle of the Philadelphia campaign, and at Germantown. [50] At Germantown he made the critical suggestion, approved by Washington, to capture rather than bypass the Chew House, a stone mansion that the British had occupied as a strong defensive position. [51] This turned out to significantly delay the army's advance and gave the British an opportunity to reform their lines. Knox afterward wrote to Lucy, "To [morning fog and] the enemy's taking possession of some stone buildings in Germantown, is to be ascribed the loss of the victory." [52] Knox was also present at the Battle of Monmouth in July 1778, where Washington commended him for the artillery's performance. [53] The army saw no further action that year, but privateers that Knox and fellow Massachusetts native Henry Jackson invested in were not as successful as they hoped many of them were captured by the British. [54]

Artillery training school and Yorktown Edit

Knox and the artillery established a winter cantonment at Pluckemin (a hamlet of Bedminster, New Jersey). There Knox established the Continental Army's first school for artillery and officer training. This facility was the precursor to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. [55] While there, through the summer of 1779, General Knox spent most of his time training more than 1,000 soldiers in conditions of low morale and scarce supplies. Conditions were exceptionally harsh in the winter of 1779–80, and Washington's army was again largely inactive in 1780 while the main action in the war moved south. [56]

In late September 1780 Knox was a member of the court martial that convicted Major John André, the British officer whose arrest exposed the treachery of Benedict Arnold. [57] (Knox had briefly shared accommodations with André while en route to Ticonderoga in 1775, when the latter was traveling south on parole after being captured near Montreal.) [58] During these years of relative inaction Knox made several trips to the northern states as Washington's representative to increase the flow of men and supplies to the army. In 1781 Knox accompanied Washington's army south and participated in the decisive Siege of Yorktown. [59] He was personally active in the field, directing the placement and aiming of the artillery. The Marquis de Chastellux, with whom Knox established a good friendship, wrote of Knox, "We cannot sufficiently admire the intelligence and activity with which he collected from different places and transported to the batteries more than thirty pieces . ", [60] and "one-half has been said in commending his military genius. [61] Washington specifically called out both Knox and the French artillery chief for their roles in the siege, [61] and recommended to Congress that Knox be promoted. [62]

Demobilization Edit

Knox was promoted to major general on March 22, 1782 he became the army's youngest major general. [63] He and Congressman Gouverneur Morris were assigned to negotiate prisoner exchanges with the British. These negotiations failed because the sides could not agree on processes and terms for matching various classes of captives. [64] He joined the main army at Newburgh, New York, and inspected the facilities at West Point, considered a crucial defensive position. After enumerating its defects and needs, Washington appointed him its commander in August 1782. The next month he was devastated by the death of his nine-month-old son, and fell into a depression. [65] He soldiered on, however, becoming involved in negotiations with the Confederation Congress and Secretary of War Benjamin Lincoln over the issue of pensions and overdue compensation for the military. Knox wrote a memorial, signed by a number of high-profile officers, suggesting that Congress pay all back pay immediately and offer a lump-sum pension rather than providing half-pay for life. [66] The unwillingness of Congress to deal with the issue prompted Knox to write a warning letter, in which he wrote "I consider the reputation of the American army as one of the most immaculate things on earth, and that we should even suffer wrongs and injuries to the utmost verge of toleration rather than sully it in the least degree. But there is a point beyond which there is no sufferance. I pray we will sincerely not pass it." [67] When rumors of mutiny in the higher rank circulated in March 1783, Washington held a meeting in which he made an impassioned plea for restraint. In the meeting, Knox introduced motions reaffirming the officers' attachment to Washington and Congress, helping to defuse the crisis. [68] Because of the unresolved issues, however, Knox and others became vigorous proponents of a stronger national government, something which leading political leaders (including Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock, and Samuel Adams) opposed at the time. [69]

With the arrival of news of a preliminary peace in April 1783 Congress began to order the demobilization of the Continental Army, and Washington gave Knox day-to-day command of what remained of the army. During this time Knox organized The Society of the Cincinnati, a fraternal, hereditary society of Revolutionary War officers that survives to this day. He authored the society's founding document, the Institution, [70] in April 1783 and served as its first Secretary General. [71] [72] [73] [74] Knox also served as The Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati's first Vice President. [75] The hereditary nature of the society's membership initially raised some eyebrows, but it was generally well received. [76] He also drafted plans for the establishment of a peacetime army, many of whose provisions were eventually implemented. These plans included two military academies (one naval and one army, the latter occupying the critical base at West Point), and bodies of troops to maintain the nation's borders. [77]

When the British withdrew the last of their troops from New York on November 21, 1783, Knox was at the head of the American forces that took over. He stood next to Washington during the latter's farewell address on December 4 at Fraunces Tavern. After Washington resigned his commission as commander-in-chief on December 23, Knox became the senior officer of the army. [59]

The post of Secretary at War became available when Benjamin Lincoln resigned in November 1783, and Lincoln had recommended Knox to follow him. [76] Although the Confederation Congress had been aware of Lincoln's intent to resign when the formal peace arrived, it had not named a successor. Knox had been considered for the job when it was given to Lincoln in 1781, and expressed his interest in succeeding Lincoln. However, in the absence of a guiding hand in the War Department, Congress attempted to implement an idea for a standing militia force as a peacetime army. Knox resigned his army commission in early 1784, "well satisfied to be excluded from any responsibility in arrangements which it is impossible to execute", and Congress' idea failed. [78]

Knox returned to Massachusetts, where the family established a home in Dorchester. Knox worked to reassemble a large parcel of land in Maine (parts of what are sometimes called the Waldo Patent and the Bingham Purchase) that had been confiscated from his Loyalist in-laws. He was able to assemble a vast multi-million acre real estate empire in Maine, including almost all of the old Flucker holdings, in part by getting appointed the state's official for disposing of seized lands, and then rigging the sale of his in-laws' lands to a straw buyer acting on his behalf. [79] He was also appointed to a state commission responsible for negotiating treaty provisions with the Penobscot Indians of central Maine. [80] This commission also became involved in investigating issues surrounding the eastern border with Nova Scotia (now New Brunswick), a matter that would not be resolved until the 1842 Webster-Ashburton Treaty. [81]

Congress finally appointed Knox the nation's second United States Secretary at War on March 8, 1785, after considering a number of other candidates. At the time, Knox is reported to have been of "immense girth", weighing nearly 300 pounds and 6 feet 3 inches. [82] The army was by then a fraction of its former size, and the new nation's westward expansion was exacerbating frontier conflicts with Indian tribes. [83] The War Department Knox took over had two civilian employees and a single small regiment. [84] [85] Congress in 1785 authorized the establishment of a 700-man army. Knox was only able to recruit six of the authorized ten companies, which were stationed on the western frontier. [86]

Some members of the Confederation Congress opposed the establishment of a peacetime army, and also opposed the establishment of a military academy (one of Knox's key proposals) on the basis that it would establish an superior military class capable of dominating society. [84] Knox first proposed an army mainly composed of state militia, specifically seeking to change attitudes in Congress about a democratically managed military. [87] Although the plan was initially rejected, many of its details were eventually adopted in the formation and administration of the United States Army. [88] The need for an enhanced military role took on some urgency in 1786 when Shays' Rebellion broke out in Massachusetts, threatening the Springfield Armory. Knox personally went to Springfield to see to its defense. Although Benjamin Lincoln raised a militia force and put down the rebellion, it highlighted the weakness of both the military and defects in the Articles of Confederation that hampered Congressional ability to act on the matter. [89] In the rebellion's aftermath Congress called the Constitutional Convention, in which the United States Constitution was drafted. Knox in early 1787 sent Washington a proposal for a government that bears significant resemblance to what was eventually adopted. When Washington asked Knox if he should attend the convention, Knox urged him to do so: "It would be circumstance highly honorable to your fame, in the judgment of the present and future ages, and double entitle you to the glorious epithet — Father of Your Country." This is possibly the earliest documented application of the phrase "Father of His Country" to Washington. [90] Knox actively promoted the adoption of the new constitution, [91] engaging correspondents in many colonies on the subject, but especially concentrating on achieving its adoption by Massachusetts, where its support was seen as weak. [92] After its adoption he was considered by some to be a viable candidate for vice president, but he preferred to remain in the war office, and the office went to John Adams. [93] With the adoption of the new Constitution and the establishment of the War Department, Knox's title changed to Secretary of War. [94]

As part of his new duties, Knox was responsible for implementation of the Militia Act of 1792. This included his evaluation of the arms and readiness of the militia finding that only 20% of the 450,000 members of the militia were capable of arming themselves at their own expense for militia service as required by the act. To resolve this arms shortage, Knox recommended to Congress that the federal government increase the purchase of imported weapons, ban the export of domestically produced weapons and establish facilities for the domestic production and stockpiling of weapons. These facilities included the existing Springfield Armory and another at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. [95] In 1792 Congress, acting on a detailed proposal from Knox, created the short-lived Legion of the United States. [96]

When the French Revolutionary Wars broke out in 1793, American merchant shipping began to be affected after Washington formally declared neutrality in the conflict. Both France and Britain began seizing American shipping that was trading with the enemy nation. Most of the Continental Navy's few ships were sold off at the end of the Revolutionary War, leaving the nation's merchant fleet without any defenses against piracy or seizure on the high seas. [97] Knox urged and presided over the creation of a regular United States Navy and the establishment of a series of coastal fortifications. [98]

Native American diplomacy and war Edit

Knox was responsible for managing the nation's relations with the Native Americans resident in lands it claimed, following a 1789 act of U.S. Congress. [99] Knox, in several documents drafted for Washington and Congress, articulated the nation's early Native American policy. He stated that Indian nations were sovereign and possessed the land they occupied, and that the federal government (and not the states) should therefore be responsible for dealings with them. These policies were implemented in part by the passage of the Indian Trade and Intercourse Act of 1790, which forbade the sale of Native American lands except in connection with a treaty with the federal government. Knox wrote, "The Indians, being the prior occupants, possess the right to the soil. It cannot be taken from them except by their consent, or by rights of conquest in case of a just war. To dispossess them on any other principle would be a great violation of the fundamental laws of nature." [100] Historian Robert Miller claims that statements like these seem to support indigenous rights to land, but were ignored in the practice of the Doctrine of Discovery, which came to govern the taking of Native lands. [101]

American Indian wars, including the Cherokee–American wars and the Northwest Indian War, would occupy much of his tenure. During the years of the Confederation, there had been insufficient Congressional support for any significant action against the Nations on the western frontier. The British supported the northwestern tribes from frontier bases that they continued to occupy after the Revolutionary War ended (in violation of the Treaty of Paris), and the Cherokee and Creek continued to contest illegal encroachment of colonial settlers on their lands. [102] In October 1790 Knox organized a campaign led by General Josiah Harmar into the Northwest Territory in retaliation for Native American raids against colonial settlers in that territory and that of present-day Kentucky. That campaign failed. A second campaign was organized by Knox, financed by William Duer, and to be led by territorial Governor Arthur St. Clair. Knox and Duer failed to provide enough supplies for the Army, [103] which led to the American Army's greatest defeat in history. These campaigns failed to pacify the Native Americans, and Knox was widely blamed for the failure to protect the frontier.

Seeking to close the issue before he left office, he organized an expedition led by Anthony Wayne that brought the conflict to a meaningful end with the 1794 Battle of Fallen Timbers. [104] [105] Wayne's "troops had burned 'immense fields of corn' for a stretch of about fifty miles along the river", in a move that affected civilian non-combatants. The result of American military action in the Northwest led to the Treaty of Greenville, which forced the defeated Native Americans to cede lands in the Ohio area. The bloody campaigns that Secretary Knox oversaw in some cases involved armies many times larger than later battles in the 1870s. [106] [107]

The Native American nations were reluctant to leave their hunting grounds but Knox thought he could make a deal with the southern tribes headed by Alexander McGillivray. He would promise the U.S.Army would protect them from land-hungry squatters. Washington and Knox generally felt the use of force would be too costly to Americans and a violation of republican ideals. [108] Knox proposed furnishing the Natives with livestock, farming implements, and missionaries, in order to make them pacific farmers. [109] Knox signed the Treaty of New York (1790) on behalf of the nation, ending conflict with some, but not all, Cherokee tribal units. [110] Of the dying off of the native populations in the nation's most heavily populated areas, Knox wrote, "A future historian may mark the causes of this destruction of the human race in sable colors." [111] In the 1990s leftist writer Noam Chomsky claims that the nation's leaders "knew what they were doing", and often used language saying they were the natives' "benefactors", "philanthropists and humanitarians", when in reality they were engaged in the "genocidal practices" of extermination and "Indian Removal". [112] Knox said how the American government and settlers were treating the Indian tribes were so harmful that "our modes. have been more destructive to the Indian natives than the conduct of the conquerors of Mexico and Peru". He went on to cite the fact that where there was white settlement, there was "the utter extirpation" of natives, or almost none left alive. [113] Regardless of whether the Americans wanted to obtain Native American lands by purchase, conquest or other means, "there would be no lasting peace while land remained the object of American Indian policy", which continued after Knox left office. [114] Washington's policies, as carried out by Secretary Knox, set the stage for the rise of Tecumseh two decades later. Many thousands of Native Americans refused to accept treaties, claiming that they had not approved them and that their only purpose was to remove them from their lands. They specifically cited the Treaty of Greenville, and reoccupied ancestral lands, beginning renewed resistance in the Northwest that was finally crushed in the War of 1812.

On January 2, 1795, Knox left the government and returned to his home in Thomaston, District of Maine, which was then part of Massachusetts, to devote himself to caring for his growing family. He was succeeded in the post of Secretary of War by Timothy Pickering.

Knox settled in Thomaston, and built a magnificent three story mansion surrounded by outbuildings called Montpelier, the whole of "a beauty, symmetry and magnificence" said to be unequaled in the Commonwealth. [115] He spent the rest of his life engaged in cattle farming, ship building, brick making and real estate speculation. Connections formed during the war years served Knox well, as he invested widely in frontier real estate, from the Ohio valley to Maine (although his largest holdings by far were those in Maine). Although he claimed to treat settlers on his Maine lands fairly, he used intermediaries to evict those who did not pay their rents or squatted on the land. These tactics upset those settlers to the point where they once threatened to burn Montpelier down. [79] One of the people Knox took land from was Joseph Plumb Martin, a soldier who settled in Maine and wrote a memoir of his war experiences. Knox briefly represented Thomaston in the Massachusetts General Court, but he eventually became so unpopular that he lost the seat to a local blacksmith.

Many incidents in Knox's career attest to his character, both good and bad. As one example, when he and Lucy were forced to leave Boston in 1775, his home was used to house British officers who looted his bookstore. In spite of personal financial hardships, he managed to make the last payment of £1,000 to Longman Printers in London to cover the price of a shipment of books that he never received. In Maine, however, he would be remembered as a grasping tyrant and was forever immortalized in Nathanial Hawthorne's 1851 novel The House of the Seven Gables, for which he served as the model for Col. Pyncheon. [116]

Knox was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1805. [117]

As well as building a landed estate, Knox attempted to enlarge his fortune through industrial craft enterprises. He had interests in lumbering, ship building, stock raising and brick manufacturing. Unfortunately for him, these businesses failed (due in part to a lack of focused investment), and Knox built up significant debts. Knox was forced to sell large tracts of land in Maine to satisfy some of his creditors. The purchaser of his Maine lands was a Pennsylvania banker named William Bingham, leading those tracts to become known locally as the Bingham Purchase. [59] [79]

Knox died at his home on October 25, 1806, at the age of 56, three days after swallowing a chicken bone which lodged in his throat and caused a fatal infection. [118] He was buried on his estate in Thomaston with full military honors. [119]

Lucy Flucker died in 1824, having sold off more portions of the family properties to pay the creditors of Knox's insolvent estate. [120] [121] The couple had 3 children, although only one son survived to adulthood. [122] The son, Henry Jackson Knox, became known as a wastrel for his drinking and scandalous behavior. [122] Before his death in 1832, Henry Jackson Knox became "impressed with a deep sense of his own unworthiness", requesting in penance that his remains not be interred with his honored relatives but deposited in a common burial ground "with no stone to tell where." [123]

Montpelier remained in the family until it was demolished in 1871, [120] to make way for the Brunswick-Rockland railroad line. The only surviving structure is an outbuilding that was deeded to the Thomaston Historical Society upon its founding in 1972. [124] The current Montpelier Museum is a 20th-century reconstruction not far from the site of the original. [125]

Towns and cities in Maine, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, and Tennessee [126] [127] are named Knox or Knoxville in his honor. There are counties named for Knox in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas. [126] The house he used as a headquarters in New Windsor, New York, during the Revolution has been preserved as Knox's Headquarters State Historic Site it is a listed National Historic Landmark. [128] [129] Knox Township, Illinois, is named after Knox, as is Knox Place in the Bronx, New York.

Know was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in 1791. [130]


Contents

The line's history began in the immediate aftermath of the Battles of Lexington and Concord in April 1775, after which the Massachusetts Provincial Congress raised 27 regiments as a provincial army. These units, which were mostly organized by mid-May, were adopted into the first establishment of the Continental Army in June 1775. These units were generally referred to by the names of their colonels, and were numbered one way by the state and another by the Continental Army.

At the end of 1775 the army was reorganized into its second establishment a number of Massachusetts units were disbanded, but some were retained and others established. In the 1776 establishment regiments from the northern states identified as Continental regiments. At the end of 1776 the army was again reorganized. The third establishment restored a state-based regimental numbering scheme which was retained until the end of the war. After two major reorganizations (at the start of 1781 and 1783) the army was almost completely disbanded in November 1783, leaving a single regiment under the command of Massachusetts Colonel Henry Jackson.

Not all Continental infantry regiments raised were part of a state quota. On December 27, 1776, the Continental Congress gave Washington temporary control over certain military decisions that the Congress ordinarily regarded as its own prerogative. These "dictatorial powers" included the authority to raise sixteen additional Continental infantry regiments at large. [2]

Early in 1777, Washington offered command of one of these additional regiments to David Henley of Massachusetts, who accepted. Henley had been adjutant general on the staffs of Generals William Heath and Joseph Spencer, and was briefly lieutenant colonel of the 5th Massachusetts Regiment. [3]

Washington also offered command of an additional regiment to William Raymond Lee of Massachusetts, who accepted. In 1776, Lee had been the major of John Glover's famous Marblehead regiment, the 14th Continental Regiment. [4]

Finally, Washington offered command of an additional regiment to Henry Jackson of Massachusetts, who accepted. These three regiments were raised in Massachusetts in the spring of 1777. Much of the recruiting for them was done in the Boston area, which until then had been unable to raise troops because of the British occupation. [5]

Henley's and Lee's Regiments were consolidated into Jackson's Regiment on April 9, 1779. Jackson's Regiment was allotted to the Massachusetts Line on July 24, 1780, and officially designated the 16th Massachusetts Regiment. The 16th Massachusetts Regiment was disbanded on January 1, 1781. Colonel Jackson remained in service until 1784, leading the last remaining regiment in the Continental Army. [6]

On April 23, 1775, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress voted to raise a volunteer force of 13,600 men, and it called upon the other New England colonies for assistance in raising an army of 30,000 men. [7] The Massachusetts provincials were raised in the spring of 1775 and were eventually formed into twenty-six infantry regiments. Massachusetts also took responsibility for a twenty-seventh regiment, originally raised in New Hampshire. [8] Massachusetts regiments had an official establishment of 599 officers and men in ten companies [9] (but five regiments had an eleventh company). The troops were enlisted to serve until December 31, 1775. [10] The commissions of all Massachusetts officers were dated May 19, 1775. [10] Subsequently the regiments were numbered, although in Massachusetts the regiment was commonly identified by the name of its colonel. [11]

The New England delegates to the Continental Congress urged that the Congress assume responsibility for the provincial troops of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, that were blockading Boston. This was done on June 14, 1775, and these troops were designated the Continental Army. [12] George Washington was selected as commander in chief of this force, and all other Continental Army troops, the following day. [13]

In an effort to weld the separate New England armies into a single "Continental" Army, on August 5, 1775, General Washington ordered that a board be convened to determine the rank of the regiments at Boston. The board was to consist of a brigadier general as moderator and six field officers as members. It completed its task on August 20, 1775, and reported its decision to Washington. The regiments of infantry in the Continental Army were accordingly numbered without reference to their colony of origin. There were thirty-nine "Regiments of Foot in the Army of the United Colonies." [14] In General Orders, Washington often referred to his regiments by these numbers [15] and they appear in the strength reports compiled by Adjutant General Horatio Gates. [16]

Name Colonel Massachusetts Number Continental Number Summary
Ward's Artemas Ward
Jonathan Ward
1st 32nd This regiment was initially commanded by General Artemas Ward of Shrewsbury, who was the commanding general of the Massachusetts Bay provincial forces. His general authority over the troops from the other New England colonies was acknowledged, and he commanded the patriot army at Boston until the arrival of George Washington at Cambridge on July 3, 1775. [17] On June 17, 1775, Ward was made a major general in the Continental Army - the first appointment in that grade. [18] Command of the regiment passed to its next senior officer, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Ward, of Southborough, [19] who was promoted to the rank of colonel on that date. [20] It served in the siege of Boston, and was designated the 21st Continental Regiment in the 1776 establishment.
Thomas'
Bailey's
John Thomas
John Bailey
2nd 35th This regiment was initially commanded by General John Thomas, of Kingston, [21] who was the lieutenant general (second in command) of the Massachusetts Bay provincial forces. Thomas was made a Continental brigadier general on June 22, 1775. [18] The regiment's lieutenant colonel, John Bailey, of Hanover, [22] then assumed command. Bailey was promoted to the rank of colonel on July 1, 1775, and the regiment became Bailey's Regiment. [20] It served in the siege of Boston, and was designated the 23rd Continental Regiment in the 1776 establishment.
Walker's Timothy Walker 3rd 22nd This regiment was commanded by Colonel Timothy Walker, of Rehoboth, [23] who served as colonel until the end of the year. [20] It served in the siege of Boston, and was merged into Read's Regiment in December 1775.
Cotton's Theophilus Cotton 4th 16th This regiment was commanded by Colonel Theophilus Cotton, of Plymouth, [24] who served as colonel until the end of the year. [25] It served in the siege of Boston, and was disbanded at the end of 1775, when its companies were divided amongst other Massachusetts regiments. Cotton continued to serve in the Massachusetts militia.
Whitcomb's Asa Whitcomb 5th 23rd This regiment contained eleven companies [26] and had an official establishment of 658 officers and men. It was commanded by Colonel Asa Whitcomb, who served as colonel until the end of the year. [20] It served in the siege of Boston until its disbandment at the end of 1775. Whitcomb took command of the 6th Continental Regiment in 1776.
Read's Joseph Read 6th 20th This regiment was commanded by Colonel Joseph Read, of Uxbridge, [27] who served as colonel until the end of the year. [28] It served in the siege of Boston, and was designated the 13th Continental Regiment in the 1776 establishment.
Mansfield's John Mansfield 7th 19th This regiment was commanded by Colonel John Mansfield, of Lynn, [29] who left the service on September 15, 1775. From then until the end of the year the regiment was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Israel Hutchinson, of Danvers. [30] It served in the siege of Boston, and was designated the 27th Continental Regiment in the 1776 establishment.
Danielson's Timothy Danielson 8th 18th This regiment contained eleven companies [31] and had an official establishment of 658 officers and men. It was commanded by Colonel Timothy Danielson, of Brimfield, [32] who served as colonel until the end of the year. [33] It served in the siege of Boston until its disbandment at the end of 1775. Most of the regiment was consolidated into Learned's Regiment, which became the 3rd Continental Regiment in the 1776 establishment.
Prescott's William Prescott 9th 10th This regiment contained eleven companies [34] and had an official establishment of 658 officers and men. It was commanded by Colonel William Prescott, of Pepperell, [35] who served as colonel until the end of the year. [28] It served in the siege of Boston, and was designated the 7th Continental Regiment in the 1776 establishment.
Frye's James Frye 10th 1st This regiment was commanded by Colonel James Frye, of Andover, [36] who served as colonel until the end of the year. [37] It served in the siege of Boston until its disbandment at the end of 1775.
Bridge's Ebenezer Bridge 11th 27th This regiment contained eleven companies [38] and had an official establishment of 658 officers and men. It was commanded by Colonel Ebenezer Bridge, of Billerica, [39] who served as colonel until the end of the year. [25] It served in the siege of Boston until its disbandment at the end of 1775.
Paterson's John Paterson 12th 26th This regiment contained eleven companies [40] and had an official establishment of 658 officers and men. It was commanded by Colonel John Paterson, of Lenox, [41] who served as colonel until the end of the year. [28] It served in the siege of Boston, and was designated the 15th Continental Regiment in the 1776 establishment.
Scammon's James Scammon 13th 30th This regiment was commanded by Colonel James Scammon. His regiment was raised in what were then known as the "eastern counties," the present state of Maine. Scammon served as colonel of the regiment until the end of the year. [28] It served in the siege of Boston until its disbandment at the end of 1775. Its companies were then divided among three other regiments, principally the 18th Continental Regiment.
Learned's Ebenezer Learned 14th 4th This regiment was commanded by Colonel Ebenezer Learned, of Oxford, [42] who served as colonel until the end of the year. [43] It served in the siege of Boston, and was designated the 3rd Continental Regiment in the 1776 establishment.
Gardner's
Bond's
Thomas Gardner
William Bond
15th 37th This regiment was commanded by Colonel Thomas Gardner. He was mortally wounded at the Battle of Bunker Hill, June 17, 1775, and died July 3, 1775. On that date the regiment's commander, Lieutenant Colonel William Bond, was promoted to the rank of colonel. [44] It served in the siege of Boston, and was designated the 25th Continental Regiment in the 1776 establishment.
Nixon's John Nixon 16th 5th This regiment was commanded by Colonel John Nixon, of Framingham and Sudbury, [45] who served as colonel until the end of the year. [46] It served in the siege of Boston, and was designated the 4th Continental Regiment in the 1776 establishment.
Fellows' John Fellows 17th 8th This regiment was commanded by Colonel John Fellows, of Sheffield, [47] who served as colonel until the end of the year. [37] It served in the siege of Boston until its disbandment at the end of 1775. Most of its companies were consolidated into Ward's Regiment, which became the 21st Continental Regiment.
Doolittle's Ephraim Doolittle 18th 24th This regiment was commanded by Colonel Ephraim Doolittle, who left the service in October 1775. Command of the regiment passed to its next senior officer, Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Holden, of Princeton. [48] It served in the siege of Boston until its disbandment at the end of 1775.
J. Brewer's Jonathan Brewer 19th 6th This regiment was commanded by Colonel Jonathan Brewer, of Waltham, [49] who served as colonel until the end of the year. [25] It served in the siege of Boston, and was designated the 6th Continental Regiment in the 1776 establishment.
D. Brewer's David Brewer 20th 9th This regiment was commanded by Colonel David Brewer, of Palmer, [50] who was dismissed from the service on October 24, 1775. The next senior officer, Lieutenant Colonel Rufus Putnam, of Brookfield, [51] assumed command of the regiment and served until the end of the year. [52] It served in the siege of Boston until its disbandment at the end of 1775. Most of its companies were consolidated into Read's Regiment, which became the 13th Continental Regiment in the 1776 establishment.
Heath's
Greaton's
William Heath
John Greaton
21st 36th This regiment was commanded by Colonel William Heath, of Roxbury. Heath was made a Continental brigadier general on June 22, 1775, and command of the regiment passed to Lieutenant Colonel John Greaton. [53] Greaton was promoted to the rank of colonel on July 1, 1775, and the regiment became Greaton's Regiment. [54] It served in the siege of Boston, and was designated the 24th Continental Regiment in the 1776 establishment.
Woodbridge's Benjamin Ruggles
Woodbridge
22nd 25th This regiment was commanded by Colonel Benjamin Ruggles Woodbridge, of South Hadley, [55] who served as colonel until the end of the year. [20] It served in the siege of Boston until the end of 1775, when it left Continental service. Woodbridge and his regiment remained active in the Massachusetts militia, serving (among other actions) in the 1777 Saratoga campaign.
Glover's John Glover 23rd 21st This regiment was commanded by Colonel John Glover, of Marblehead, [56] who served as colonel until the end of the year. [57] It served in the siege of Boston until its disbandment. In December 1775, Glover's Regiment was stationed at Beverly to defend the naval base located there. [58] The regiment was designated the 14th Continental Regiment in the 1776 establishment.
Little's Moses Little 24th 17th This regiment was commanded by Colonel Moses Little, of Newbury, [59] who served as colonel until the end of the year. [60] It served in the siege of Boston, and was designated the 12th Continental Regiment in the 1776 establishment.
Gerrish's Samuel Gerrish 25th 38th This regiment was commanded by Colonel Samuel Gerrish, of Newbury, [61] who was dismissed from the service on August 19, 1775. Command of the regiment passed to its next senior officer, Lieutenant Colonel Loammi Baldwin, of Woburn. [62] It served in the siege of Boston, and was designated the 26th Continental Regiment (with Baldwin promoted to colonel) in the 1776 establishment.
Phinney's Edmund Phinney 26th 31st This regiment was commanded by Colonel Edmund Phinney, whose regiment was raised in the present state of Maine. Phinney served as colonel until the end of the year. [28] It served in the siege of Boston, and was designated the 18th Continental Regiment in the 1776 establishment.
Sargent's Paul Dudley Sargent 27th 28th This regiment was commanded by Colonel Paul Dudley Sargent, of Amherst, New Hampshire. [63] Sargent served as colonel until the end of the year. [28] It served in the siege of Boston, and was designated the 16th Continental Regiment in the 1776 establishment.

On November 4, 1775, the Continental Congress resolved that on January 1, 1776, the Continental Army, exclusive of artillery and extra regiments, was to consist of 27 infantry regiments. The troops were to be enlisted to serve until December 31, 1776. [64] The quota of regiments assigned to the states was 1 from Pennsylvania, 3 from New Hampshire, 16 from Massachusetts, 2 from Rhode Island, and 5 from Connecticut. [65]

Each regiment was to have an official establishment of 728 officers and men in eight companies. [66] The regiments were to receive numbers instead of names. For the campaign of 1776 Massachusetts was to provide the 3d, 4th, 6th, 7th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 18th, 21st, 23d, 24th, 25th, 26th, and 27th Continental Regiments.

The reduction of the Massachusetts Line from an establishment of 16,468 officers and men in 275 companies to an establishment of 11,648 officers and men in 128 companies required a difficult reorganization. [67]

The numbered Continental regiments raised in Massachusetts were widely scattered in the campaign of 1776. In April, following the British evacuation of Boston, five regiments (the 6th, 14th, 16th, 18th, and 27th) were ordered to remain in Massachusetts, four of them occupying Boston. Three of these regiments (the 14th, 16th, and 27th) joined the Main Army in July. The 6th and 18th regiments joined the Northern Army in August, and never rejoined the Main Army. Of the eleven regiments that moved to New York City in April, three regiments (the 15th, 24th, and 25th) were ordered to Canada as reinforcements. One of these regiments (the 15th) rejoined the Main Army in November, and served at Trenton and Princeton. The 24th and 25th regiments, that had served in the Northern theater, also rejoined the Main Army in November, but marched directly to the army's winter quarters at Morristown, New Jersey. Finally, the 7th Continental Regiment, which served in Parsons' Brigade, was assigned to the Highlands Department in November. [68]

Name Colonel Summary
3rd Continental Ebenezer Learned
William Shepard
This regiment was formed by consolidating the remnant of Danielson's Regiment, and the remnant of Wood's Company, Cotton's Regiment, with the remnant of Learned's Regiment. Colonel Ebenezer Learned commanded this regiment from January until May 1776, when he resigned due to poor health. The regiment was then commanded by Lieutenant Colonel William Shepard for the remainder of the year, but Shepard was not appointed Colonel until October. [69] As a regiment on the right wing of the army at Boston, it was ordered to furnish details for the Fortification of Dorchester Heights [70] Learned's regiment remained with the Main Army, moving to New York City in April. Under Shepard's command, it served at the battles of Pell's Point, Trenton and Princeton. [71] It was designated the 4th Massachusetts Regiment in the 1777 establishment.
4th Continental John Nixon
Thomas Nixon
This regiment was formed by consolidating the remnant of Thompson's Company, Danielson's Regiment, with the remnant of Nixon's Regiment. Colonel John Nixon commanded this regiment until August 9, 1776, the date on which he was promoted to brigadier general. [72] On that date the regiment's next senior officer, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Nixon, assumed command with the rank of colonel. [73] Nixon's regiment remained with the Main Army, moving to New York City in April. It served at Trenton and Princeton. [74] It was designated the 6th Massachusetts Regiment in the 1777 establishment.
6th Continental Asa Whitcomb This regiment was formed by consolidating the remnants of Soul's Company, Fellows' Regiment, and Danforth's Company, David Brewer's Regiment, with the remnant of Jonathan Brewer's Regiment. However, Jonathan Brewer left the service, and command of this regiment was given to Colonel Asa Whitcomb, whose old regiment was disbanded. [75] As a regiment on the right wing of the army at Boston, it was ordered to furnish details for the Fortification of Dorchester Heights. [70] Whitcomb's regiment occupied Boston in April 1776. In August it was ordered to northern New York to oppose Carleton's counteroffensive, and never rejoined the Main Army. [76] It was designated the 13th Massachusetts Regiment in the 1777 establishment.
7th Continental William Prescott This regiment was formed by consolidating the remnants of Darby's and Nowell's Companies, Scammon's Regiment, and the remnant of Morse's Company, Paterson's Regiment, with the remnant of Prescott's Regiment. Colonel William Prescott commanded this regiment throughout 1776. [77] Prescott's regiment remained with the Main Army, moving to New York City in April. In November it was stationed in the Hudson Highlands. [78] It was disbanded at the end of 1776, with some remnants joining the 2nd Massachusetts Regiment.
12th Continental Moses Little This regiment was formed by reducing Little's Regiment from ten companies to eight. Colonel Moses Little commanded this regiment throughout 1776. [79] Little's regiment remained with the Main Army, moving to New York City in April. It served at Trenton and Princeton. [78] It was disbanded afterward.
13th Continental Joseph Read This regiment was formed by consolidating the remnants of Walker's Regiment and David Brewer's Regiment with the remnant of Read's Regiment. Colonel Joseph Read commanded this regiment throughout 1776. [80] As a regiment on the right wing of the army at Boston, it was ordered to furnish work details for the Fortification of Dorchester Heights. [70] Read's regiment remained with the Main Army, moving to New York City in April. It served at Trenton and Princeton. [81] It was disbanded afterward.
14th Continental John Glover This regiment was formed from by reducing Glover's Regiment from ten companies to eight. Colonel John Glover commanded this regiment throughout 1776. [82] Glover's regiment continued to be stationed at Beverly until July, when it was ordered to join the Main Army at New York City. The regiment served at Trenton, [81] and played significant roles in the aftermath of the Battle of Long Island and George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River. It was disbanded at the end of 1776.
15th Continental John Paterson This regiment was formed by consolidating the remnants of Sayer's and Sullivan's Companies, Scammon's Regiment, with the remnant of Paterson's Regiment (less the remnants of Morse's and Watkins' Companies). Colonel John Paterson commanded this regiment throughout 1776. [83] Paterson's regiment remained with the Main Army, moving to New York City in April. In the same month it was ordered to reinforce the American army in Canada. In November the regiment rejoined the Main Army and served at Trenton and Princeton. [84] It was designated the 1st Massachusetts Regiment in the 1777 establishment.
16th Continental Paul Dudley Sargent This regiment was formed by reducing Sargent's Regiment from ten companies to eight. Colonel Paul Dudley Sargent commanded this regiment throughout 1776. [85] Sargent's regiment occupied Boston in April 1776. It was ordered to join the Main Army at New York City in July. The regiment served at Trenton and Princeton. [86] It was designated the 8th Massachusetts Regiment in the 1777 establishment.
18th Continental Edmund Phinney This regiment was formed by consolidating the remnants of Scammon's Regiment and Watkins' Company, Paterson's Regiment, with the remnant of Phinney's Regiment. Colonel Edmund Phinney commanded this regiment throughout 1776. [87] Phinney's regiment occupied Boston in April 1776. In August it was ordered to northern New York to oppose Carleton's counteroffensive, and never rejoined the Main Army. [76] It was designated the 12th Massachusetts Regiment in the 1777 establishment.
21st Continental Jonathan Ward This regiment was formed by consolidating the remnant of Fellows' Regiment, and the remnants of Benson's and Bradford's Companies, Cotton's Regiment, with the remnant of Ward's Regiment. Colonel Jonathan Ward commanded this regiment throughout 1776. [88] As a regiment on the right wing of the army at Boston, it was ordered to furnish details for the Fortification of Dorchester Heights. [70] Ward's regiment remained with the Main Army, moving to New York City in April. It served at Trenton and Princeton. [89] It was disbanded afterward.
23rd Continental John Bailey This regiment was formed by consolidating the remnant of Cotton's Regiment (less the remnants of Benson's, Bradford's, Mayhew's, and Wood's Companies) with the remnant of Bailey's Regiment. Colonel John Bailey commanded this regiment throughout 1776. [90] As a regiment on the right wing of the army at Boston, it was ordered to furnish details for the Fortification of Dorchester Heights. [70] Bailey's regiment remained with the Main Army, moving to New York City in April. It served at Trenton and Princeton. [91] It was designated the 2nd Massachusetts Regiment in the 1777 establishment.
24th Continental John Greaton This regiment was formed by consolidating the remnant of Crafts' Company, Bond's Regiment, with the remnant of Greaton's Regiment. Colonel John Greaton commanded this regiment throughout 1776. [92] Greaton's regiment remained with the Main Army, moving to New York City in April. In the same month it was ordered to reinforce the American army in Canada. The regiment rejoined the Main Army in November, marching directly to Morristown. [93] [94] It was designated the 3rd Massachusetts Regiment in the 1777 establishment.
25th Continental William Bond
Ichabod Alden
This regiment was formed by consolidating the remnants of Mayhew's Company, Cotton's Regiment, and Egery's Company, Danielson's Regiment, with the remnant of Bond's Regiment (less the remnant of Crafts' Company). Colonel William Bond commanded this regiment until his death on August 31, 1776. [95] The regiment's next senior officer, Lieutenant Colonel Ichabod Alden, held command until the end of the year. [96] Bond's regiment remained with the Main Army, moving to New York City in April. In the same month it was ordered to reinforce the American army in Canada. The regiment rejoined the Main Army in November, marching directly to Morristown. [93] [94] The regiment was disbanded at the end of 1776.
26th Continental Loammi Baldwin This regiment was formed from by reducing Gerrish's Regiment from ten companies to eight. This regiment was commanded by Colonel Loammi Baldwin, who was promoted to that rank on January 1, 1776. [97] Baldwin's regiment remained with the Main Army, moving to New York City in April. It served at Trenton and Princeton. [98] It was designated the 9th Massachusetts Regiment in the 1777 establishment.
27th Continental Israel Hutchinson This regiment was formed from by reducing Mansfield's Regiment from ten companies to eight. This regiment was commanded by Colonel Israel Hutchinson, who was promoted to that rank on January 1, 1776. [99] Hutchinson's regiment remained with the Main Army, moving to New York City in April. It served at Trenton and Princeton. [74] It was designated the 5th Massachusetts Regiment in the 1777 establishment.

Disbanded 1775 units Edit

The remnants of the regiments of Asa Whitcomb, James Frye, Ebenezer Bridge, Ephraim Doolittle, and Benjamin Ruggles Woodbridge were disbanded at Cambridge, Massachusetts, on December 31, 1775. [100]

During 1776, the Continental Congress gradually overcame its ideological objections to a standing army, and, on September 16, 1776, it resolved that, on January 1, 1777, the Continental Line was to consist of 88 infantry regiments, to be maintained for the duration of the war. The quota of regiments assigned to the states was 3 from New Hampshire, 15 from Massachusetts, 2 from Rhode Island, 8 from Connecticut, 4 from New York, 4 from New Jersey, 12 from Pennsylvania, 1 from Delaware, 8 from Maryland, 15 from Virginia, 9 from North Carolina, 6 from South Carolina, and 1 from Georgia. The quotas for states outside New England included regiments that had been on the Continental establishment earlier, but the term Continental Line was now broadened to include the lines of all the states.

Name Colonels Summary
1st Massachusetts Joseph Vose This regiment (also sometimes referred to as Vose's Regiment) was formed by consolidating two companies from the 6th Continental Regiment, and two companies formed from the 18th Continental Regiment, with the remnant of the 15th Continental Regiment. [101] The commanding officer, Colonel Joseph Vose, had been the major of Greaton's Regiment in 1775 and the lieutenant colonel of the 24th Continental Regiment in 1776. As the 15th Continental Regiment, reorganizing as the 1st Massachusetts Regiment, it served in St. Clair's Brigade at Princeton. Reorganization was completed in the spring of 1777, and the regiment was ordered to Peekskill in the Highlands. On July 10, 1777 it was assigned to the 2d Massachusetts Brigade under Brigadier General Glover. The regiment served in the Saratoga campaign, then marched south to join Washington in the Middle Department. It served in the Philadelphia campaign and wintered at Valley Forge. In 1778 it served in the Monmouth campaign, then at Rhode Island. Following Rhode Island the regiment was stationed in the Highlands, but in 1781 its light company was assigned to Lieutenant Colonel Elijah Vose's Battalion, Corps of Light Infantry, which served in the Yorktown campaign. [102] The regiment was disbanded at West Point, New York, on November 3, 1783.
2nd Massachusetts John Bailey This regiment was formed by consolidating the remnants of the 7th Continental Regiment Peters' Company, 13th Continental Regiment and Clap's Company, 21st Continental Regiment with the remnant of the 23d Continental Regiment. (Peters' and Clap's Companies were reorganized, respectively, as Warren's and Dunham's Companies, Bailey's Regiment). [103] The commanding officer, Colonel John Bailey, had been the lieutenant colonel, later the colonel, of Thomas's Regiment in 1775 and colonel of the 23rd Continental Regiment in 1776. As the 23rd Continental Regiment, reorganizing as the 2nd Massachusetts Regiment, it served in Glover's Brigade at Princeton. [104] Reorganization was completed in the spring of 1777, and the regiment was ordered to the Northern Department. In the summer of 1777 it was assigned to the 4th Massachusetts Brigade under Brigadier General Learned. [105] The regiment retreated toward Saratoga after the American evacuation of Fort Ticonderoga in July, and marched under Arnold to the relief of Fort Stanwix in August. [106] Following the Saratoga campaign the regiment marched south to join Washington in the Middle Department. It served in the Philadelphia campaign and wintered at Valley Forge. In 1778 it served in the Monmouth campaign. After November 1778 the regiment was stationed in the Highlands, but in 1781 its light company was assigned to Lieutenant Colonel Elijah Vose's Battalion, Corps of Light Infantry, which served in the Yorktown campaign. [102] The regiment was disbanded at West Point, New York, on November 3, 1783.
3rd Massachusetts John Greaton This regiment was formed by consolidating the remnant of the 25th Continental Regiment with the remnant of the 24th Continental Regiment (less the remnants of Bent's and Whiting's Companies the latter were reorganized as Fairfield's and Pillsbury's Companies, Wigglesworth's Regiment). [74] The commanding officer, John Greaton, had been the lieutenant colonel of Heath's Regiment, and its commander, in 1775. In 1776 he commanded the 24th Continental Regiment. The regiment was disbanded on November 5, 1783.
4th Massachusetts William Shepard This regiment was formed by consolidating the remnant of King's Company, 21st Continental Regiment, with the remnant of the 3rd Continental Regiment. (King's Company was redesignated Alvord's Company). [107] The commanding officer, William Shepard, had been the lieutenant colonel of Danielson's Regiment in 1775 and the lieutenant colonel and later colonel of the 3rd Continental Regiment in 1776. He was wounded at the Battle of Pell's Point on October 18, 1776. The regiment was disbanded on November 5, 1783.
5th Massachusetts Rufus Putnam This regiment was formed by consolidating the remnant of Walbridge's Company, 13th Continental Regiment, with the remnant of the 27th Continental Regiment. (Walbridge's Company was reorganized as Goodale's Company). [108] The commanding officer, Rufus Putnam, had been the lieutenant colonel of David Brewer's Regiment in 1775. The regiment was furloughed on June 12, 1783, and disbanded without reforming on November 15, 1783.
6th Massachusetts Thomas Nixon
Benjamin Tupper
This regiment was formed by reconstituting the remnant of the 4th Continental Regiment as a regiment to serve for the duration. [109] The commanding officer, Thomas Nixon, had been the lieutenant colonel of John Nixon's Regiment in 1775 and lieutenant colonel of the 4th Continental Regiment in 1776. He was promoted to colonel on August 9, 1776. Colonel Benjamin Tupper was commanding officer of the 6th Massachusetts Regiment from January 1, 1783 until June 12, 1783. The regiment was furloughed on June 12, 1783, and disbanded without reforming on November 15, 1783.
7th Massachusetts Ichabod Alden This regiment was a new organization, raised under the Eighty-Eight Battalion Resolve of September 16, 1776. [110] The commanding officer, Ichabod Alden, had been the lieutenant colonel of Cotton's Regiment in 1775 and lieutenant colonel of the 25th Continental Regiment in 1776. He was killed at Cherry Valley, New York, on November 10, 1778, and his lieutenant colonel, William Stacy was taken prisoner. The regiment was furloughed on June 12, 1783, and disbanded without reforming on November 15, 1783.
8th Massachusetts Michael Jackson This regiment was formed by reconstituting the remnant of the 16th Continental Regiment as a regiment to serve for the duration. [111] The commanding officer had been the major of Gardner's Regiment in 1775, and was wounded on June 17, 1775, at the Battle of Bunker Hill. In 1776 he was lieutenant colonel of the 16th Continental Regiment and was wounded at Montresor's Island on September 24, 1776. The regiment was furloughed on June 12, 1783, and disbanded without reforming on November 15, 1783.
9th Massachusetts James Wesson This regiment was formed by consolidating the remnant of the 21st Continental Regiment (less the remnants of Clap's and King's Companies) with the remnant of the 26th Continental Regiment. [112] The commanding officer, James Wesson, had been the major of Gerrish's Regiment in 1775 and the lieutenant colonel of the 26th Continental Regiment in 1776. He was wounded on June 28, 1778, at the Battle of Monmouth, New Jersey. The regiment was disbanded on January 1, 1783.
10th Massachusetts Thomas Marshall
Benjamin Tupper
This regiment was a new organization, raised under the Eighty-Eight Battalion Resolve of September 16, 1776. [113] The commanding officer, Thomas Marshall, had been an officer in the Massachusetts militia. Colonel Benjamin Tupper was commanding officer of the 10th Massachusetts Regiment from January 1, 1781 until January 1, 1783, when the regiment was disbanded.
11th Massachusetts Ebenezer Francis
Benjamin Tupper
This regiment was a new organization, raised under the Eighty-Eight Battalion Resolve of September 16, 1776. [114] The regiment's first commander, Colonel Ebenezer Francis, had been a captain of Mansfield's Regiment in 1775. Colonel Francis was killed at the Battle of Hubbardton, Vermont, on July 7, 1777, and was succeeded by Benjamin Tupper. Tupper was colonel of the 11th Massachusetts Regiment from July 7, 1777 until it was disbanded on January 1, 1781.
12th Massachusetts Samuel Brewer This regiment was formed by reconstituting the remnant of the 18th Continental Regiment as a regiment to serve for the duration (less two companies consolidated with the 15th Continental Regiment, which became the 1st Massachusetts Regiment). [115] Colonel Samuel Brewer was dismissed from the service on September 17, 1778. For the remainder of its existence the regiment was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Ebenezer Sproat (aka Sprout), who had been the major of Cotton's Regiment in 1775 and the major of the 3rd Continental Regiment in 1776. The regiment was disbanded on January 1, 1781.
13th Massachusetts Edward Wigglesworth This regiment was formed by consolidating the remnants of Bent's and Whiting's Companies, 24th Continental Regiment, with the remnant of the 6th Continental Regiment (less two companies consolidated with the 15th Continental Regiment, which became the 1st Massachusetts Regiment. [116] The commanding officer, Colonel Edward Wigglesworth, had been a militia officer in 1776. The regiment was disbanded on January 1, 1781.
14th Massachusetts Gamaliel Bradford This regiment was a new organization, raised under the Eighty-Eight Battalion Resolve of September 16, 1776. [117] The commanding officer, Gamaliel Bradford, had been a militia officer in 1776. The regiment was disbanded on January 1, 1781.
15th Massachusetts Timothy Bigelow This regiment was a new organization, raised under the Eighty-Eight Battalion Resolve of September 16, 1776. [118] It was organized by Colonel Timothy Bigelow at Boston, Massachusetts. The regiment would see action at the Battles of Saratoga, Monmouth and Rhode Island. The regiment was disbanded on January 1, 1781 at West Point, New York.
16th Massachusetts Henry Jackson This regiment was originally named Henry Jackson's Additional Continental Regiment. On July 24, 1780, it was officially added to the Massachusetts Line and redesignated the 16th Massachusetts. [119] It was disbanded on January 1, 1781.

Disbanded 1776 units Edit

The remnant of the 12th Continental Regiment, under Colonel Moses Little, was disbanded at Morristown, New Jersey in February 1777. [78]

The remnant of the 13th Continental Regiment, under Colonel Joseph Read, was disbanded at Morristown, New Jersey, in January 1777. However, the remnant of Peters' Company was consolidated with Bailey's Regiment and reorganized as Warren's Company and the remnant of Walbridge's Company was consolidated with Putnam's Regiment and reorganized as Goodale's Company. [81]

The remnant of the 14th Continental Regiment, under Colonel John Glover, was disbanded in eastern Pennsylvania on December 31, 1776. [81] Glover later returned to the Continental service as a general officer and commanded one of the Continental Army's Massachusetts brigades. His third in command, Major William Raymond Lee, became the colonel of Lee's Additional Continental Regiment.

1778-1779 reorganization Edit

While the Main Army, that portion of Washington's army under his immediate command, was in winter quarters at Valley Forge, [120] the Congress acted to reduce the size and increase the tactical efficiency of the Continental Army. On May 27, 1778, it resolved that the number of infantry regiments be reduced from 88 to 80. The quota of regiments assigned to the states was 3 from New Hampshire, 15 from Massachusetts, 2 from Rhode Island, 8 from Connecticut, 5 from New York, 3 from New Jersey, 11 from Pennsylvania, 1 from Delaware, 8 from Maryland, 11 from Virginia, 6 from North Carolina, 6 from South Carolina, and 1 from Georgia. Under this reorganization, the Massachusetts quota was unchanged.

The official establishment of a regiment was reduced to 582 officers and men. Each regiment was to consist of nine rather than eight companies. The ninth company was to be a company of light infantry, and was to be kept up to strength by drafting men from the regiment's eight other companies if necessary. During the campaigning season, the light infantry companies of the regiments in a field army were to be combined into a special corps of light infantry. [121]

Because the Continental Congress passed this resolve at the beginning of the campaigning season, it was nearly a year before this reorganization was completed. The reorganization of the Continental Line was finalized on March 9, 1779. [122]

On July 24, 1780, Henry Jackson's Additional Continental Regiment was officially redesignated the 16th Massachusetts Regiment. [123]

1781 reorganization Edit

In October 1780, the Continental Congress, in consultation with General Washington, passed resolutions providing for what would be the last reorganization of the Continental Army before its final disbandment. The Congress determined that on January 1, 1781, the Continental Line was to be reduced from 80 regiments to 50. The quota of regiments assigned to the states was 2 from New Hampshire, 10 from Massachusetts, 1 from Rhode Island, 5 from Connecticut, 2 from New York, 2 from New Jersey, 6 from Pennsylvania, 1 from Delaware, 5 from Maryland, 8 from Virginia, 4 from North Carolina, 2 from South Carolina, and 1 from Georgia. In addition, 1 regiment (Colonel Moses Hazen's Canadian Regiment) was to be raised at large. [124]

Under this reorganization, the Massachusetts quota was reduced from fifteen regiments to ten. Accordingly, the 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th Massachusetts Regiments were disbanded on January 1, 1781. [125]

The official establishment of an infantry regiment was increased to 717 officers and men. Each regiment continued to have nine companies, including a light infantry company, but the companies were made larger. For the first time, each regiment was to have a permanent recruiting party of 1 lieutenant, 1 drummer, and 1 fifer. [126] Thus, there were to be ten recruiting parties in Massachusetts to systematically find and forward recruits to the Massachusetts regiments in the field.

Peace negotiations Edit

The prolonged period of peace negotiations following the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, on October 19, 1781, presented the Continental Congress with the dilemma of keeping up a military force until the definitive peace treaty was signed, even though the national finances were exhausted. [127] On August 7, 1782, the Continental Congress resolved that the states should reduce their lines on January 1, 1783. Each regiment retained in service was then to contain not less than 500 rank and file. [128]

The preliminary peace treaty was signed on November 30, 1782.

1783 reorganization Edit

On January 1, 1783, the 9th Massachusetts Regiment was disbanded at West Point and the 10th Massachusetts Regiment was disbanded at Verplanck's Point, New York, reducing the Massachusetts Line to eight regiments. [98]

Great Britain signed preliminary articles of peace with France and Spain on January 20, 1783, [129] and, on February 4, 1783, Britain announced the cessation of hostilities. [130] The Continental Congress received the text of the preliminary peace treaty on March 13, 1783, [129] and proclaimed the cessation of hostilities on April 11, 1783. [130] It ratified the preliminary peace treaty on April 15, 1783. [131]

In General Orders issued at Newburgh, New York, April 18, 1783, Washington announced that the armistice would go into effect at noon, April 19, 1783 - the eighth anniversary of the battles of Lexington and Concord. [132]

The 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th Massachusetts Regiments were placed on furlough on June 12, 1783, and were never recalled to active duty. [133]

The final treaty of peace was signed in Paris on September 3, 1783. On October 18, 1783, the Continental Congress proclaimed that Continental troops on furlough were to be discharged on November 3, 1783. The Main Army, with the exception of a small observation force in the Hudson Highlands under the command of General Henry Knox, was disbanded on November 3, 1783. The disbanded units included the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Massachusetts Regiments. [134] After this date no part of the Massachusetts Line remained in the field, although the four furloughed regiments were still not formally disbanded.

The Northern Army was disbanded on November 5, 1783, and the Southern Army was disbanded on November 15, 1783. On the latter date the furloughed 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th Massachusetts Regiments were formally disbanded, and the Massachusetts Line ceased to exist. [133]

New York City was evacuated by British troops on November 25, 1783. [135] The British fleet left New York City on December 4, 1783, and on the same day Washington bid farewell to his officers at Fraunces Tavern. [136]

After November 3, 1783, the Continental Line was reduced to a handful of units. These disbanded in November and December. The single regiment remaining in service after the new year began was under the command of Massachusetts Colonel Henry Jackson, and was known as the 1st American Regiment. [34]

The Continental Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris on January 14, 1784, and the United States and Great Britain exchanged ratifications of the Treaty of Paris on May 12, 1784. [131] The 1st American was disbanded at West Point, New York, on June 2, 1784. [34]


Boston Massacre Timeline

The Boston Massacre was an event that occurred in Boston during the American Revolution. It took place on the evening of March 5, 1770 during a protest in front of the Custom House in Boston, Massachusetts. The massacre was one of many events believed to have caused the American Revolution.

It is important to know the timeline of the massacre because it helps to put the event into context so we can understand why and how it happened.

The following is a timeline of the Boston Massacre:

  • On February 22, a 11-year-old boy named Christopher Seider is shot and killed by Ebenezer Richardson, a British customs official, after Richardson tried to stop a group of school boys from throwing rocks at the shop of a loyalist merchant. One of the rocks strikes Richardson and the crowd chases him home where he fires his musket out the window and strikes Seider. The shooting sparks outrage in Boston.
  • On February 26, Seider’s funeral is held at Faneuil Hall. Around 2,000 people follow Seider’s casket during the procession, which starts at Faneuil Hall, goes down around the Liberty Tree near Boston Common, back to the Old State House and then to the Granary Burying Ground where the boy is laid to rest.
  • On March 2, a British soldier from the 29 th Regiment, Patrick Walker, is walking past John Gray’s ropewalk when one of the workers asks him if he wants a job. When he replies yes, the man jokes that he can clean his outhouse. A fight breaks out between the men, Walker flees and then returns several times with 20 and then 30 British soldiers but they are chased away by the rope workers each time.
  • In the afternoon on March 3, another fight breaks out between three British soldiers and a group of rope workers at Archiebald McNeil’s ropewalk.

Boston Massacre, illustration published in the Boston Massacre to the Surrender of Burgoyne, circa 1895
  • On March 4, Lieutenant Colonel Maurice Carr of the 29 th Regiment orders a search of Gray’s ropewalk for a missing sergeant that Carr suspects may have been murdered there but finds nothing. Rumors begin to swirl that trouble is brewing between the soldiers and rope workers and several fights break out between the two groups throughout the city.
  • On the morning of March 5, a handbill reportedly signed by the soldiers of the 14 th and 29 th Regiment is posted throughout Boston warning the “rebellious people of Boston” that the soldiers were joining forces to “defend themselves against all who shall oppose them.”
  • At 3pm on March 5, a crowd of 300 townspeople gather at the Liberty Tree.
  • Around 6pm – 7pm on March 5, small groups of three to six townspeople are seen walking the streets of Boston armed with clubs.
  • At 7pm on March 5, a group of townspeople gather around Hugh White, a British sentry standing guard outside the Custom House, and begin throwing snowballs and ice at him. White warns the group to leave him alone and a man in a red cloak approaches the group, speaks to them and they then cross the street and keep their distance.
  • At 8pm on March 5, a crowd of men and boys armed with shovels, sticks and swords gather in Dock Square where some of them break into Faneuil Hall and tear apart a butcher’s stall to make clubs out of the wood.
  • At 8:30pm on March 5, the crowd in Dock Square has grown to 200 to 300 men and an unknown man in a red cloak and white wig begins to whip the crowd into a frenzy before the crowd splits up into three groups, of about 100 people each, and march off in different directions. One group heads to the main barracks where the 29 th Regiment are housed. Unable to break through the gates or taunt the soldiers into coming out of the barracks, the crowd eventually moves on to King Street.
  • In front of the Custom House, the crowd begins to harass White again and he retreats to the steps of the Custom House for safety.
  • At 9pm on March 5, the Brattle Street Church bell begins to ring and people spill out into the street looking for a fire.
  • In the North End, a group of 25 to 30 men, including Crispus Attucks and Partrick Keaton, respond to sound of the bell and join the crowd in front of the Custom House. Attucks is carrying two clubs and hands one to Keaton who throws it in the snow.
  • William Jackson, an importer and British sympathizer, rushes to the tavern where Captain Thomas Preston is lodging to tell him what’s happening.
  • Preston rushes to the main barracks and gathers Corporal William Wemms and six privates, Hugh Montgomery, James Hartigan, William McCauley, John Carroll, William Warren and Matthew Kilroy, who form two lines and march down King Street to the Custom House.
  • Wemms leads the soldiers through the crowd to the steps of the Custom House while the crowd throws snowballs, ice and oyster shells at them.
  • Knowing that the soldiers are forbidden to fire their weapons until they have read the Riot Act to crowd, the crowd begin to taunt the soldiers to fire their guns.
  • A colonist named Benjamin Burdick, armed with a club and a broadsword, taunts Private Montgomery who pushes him back with his bayonet and Burdick pushes away the bayonet with his sword which hits the gunlock.
  • At that exact moment, Montgomery is struck by a piece of wood thrown by someone in the crowd.
  • As Montgomery staggers, Crispus Attucks grabs for Montgomery’s bayonet but Montgomery recovers his footing, raises his gun and fires. At the same moment, another soldiers fires his gun as well.
  • Attucks is struck by two musket balls in the chest and another person in the crowd, Samuel Gray, has his head partially taken off by one of the musket balls. They both fall dead in the street.

The Boston Massacre, illustration published in the Pictorial History of the United States, circa 1877
  • Preston responds by yelling “Why did you fire?” at the soldiers at which point the other soldiers hear the word “fire” and three of them fire into the crowd as well.
  • One of the musket balls hits sailor James Caldwell, who is walking across King Street, in the back and he falls dead in the street.
  • The crowd begins to move in on the soldiers but they fire again. Robert Patterson and merchant Edward Payne are struck in the arm, apprentices Christopher Monk and John Clark are also hit and Patrick Carr, who is across the street in Quaker Lane, is struck in the hip. Another musket ball ricochets off a building and hits apprentice Samuel Maverick in the chest. Two other muskets balls hit tailor John Green and apprentice David Parker in the legs.
  • Governor Thomas Hutchinson hurries from his home near North Square to King Street where he reprimands Preston for allowing his soldiers to fire on the crowd and orders him to take the soldiers back to the barracks.
  • Hutchinson makes his way for the Old State House and go upstairs to the council chamber where he steps out on the balcony, surveys the scene and orders the crowd to go home. He also sees the soldiers outside the guardhouse aiming at the crowd and orders the soldiers to go inside.
  • On the morning of March 6, Samuel Maverick dies of his wound. Captain Preston surrenders and Wemms, the six privates and Hugh White are arrested.
  • On March 8, a funeral procession is held for Crispus Attucks, Samuel Maverick, James Caldwell and Samuel Gray. The individual processions start from various homes of the victim’s family or friends in Boston, except for Crispus Attucks’s procession which starts from Faneuil Hall, and converge on King Street before continuing on to Main Street (modern-day Washington Street), down to the Liberty Tree, onto Boston Common and then to the Granary Burying Ground where they are all laid to rest in one grave.
  • On March 10, Preston publishes a letter thanking the Boston public for the manner in which he was treated on March 5.
  • Between March 12 – 15, depositions are taken defending the seven British soldiers.
  • On March 12, a town meeting is held during which James Bowdoin, Joseph Warren and Samuel Pemberton are appointed to write a report on the Boston Massacre.
  • On March 13, a grand jury indicts Thomas Preston, William Wemms, and the seven privates in the murders of the Boston Massacre victims.
  • On March 14, Patrick Carr dies of his wound.

Obituary of Patrick Carr circa 1770
  • On March 16, customs commissioner John Robinson sails from Boston, Mass to London, England carrying the depositions and Preston’s account of the massacre.
  • Between March 13 – 19, justices of the peace, Richard Dana and John Hill, take depositions from 96 witnesses while Colonel Darlympe, deputy customs collector William Sheaffe and Bartholomew Green cross-examine the witnesses. From the depositions, Bowdoin, Warren and Pemberton write an official town report on the event, titled Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston, Perpetrated in the Evening of the Fifth Day of March 1770, By Soldiers of the 29 th Regiment. The report blames the soldiers as well as the custom commissioners for the violence.
  • On March 19, the report is accepted during a town meeting and copies are ordered so it can be sent to influential men in England such as Parliament member Isaac Barre, former governor Thomas Pownall, and Benjamin Franklin, who is representing the colonial assemblies in London.
  • On March 19, a grand jury indicts Ebenezer Richardson in the death of Christopher Seider and charges George Wilmot as his accomplice.
  • In mid-late March, Engraver Henry Pelham creates a drawing of the Boston Massacre, titled The Fruits of Arbitrary Power, which depicts Captain Preston with his sword raise in command while his soldiers fire in unison into a crowd of peaceful, unarmed civilians. In the window of the Custom House a puff of smoke is depicted, suggesting a customs commissioner also fired on the crowd.
  • Pelham presented his drawing to silversmith Paul Revere who creates a new engraving, titled The Bloody Massacre perpetrated in King Street, Boston, on March 5 th 1770 by a party of the 29 th Regt, which depicts essentially the same image but with slight variations, such as the words “Butcher’s Hall” written across the front of the Custom House and a gun with a cloud of smoke sticking out of the building’s window.
  • On March 29, Pelham writes to Revere and accuses him of copying his drawing.
  • On April 1, Captain Andrew Gardner sails from Boston to England carrying the official report on the Boston Massacre. Upon reaching England, the news of the Boston Massacre is widely reported in the British newspapers.
  • On April 20, the trial of Ebenezer Richardson and George Wilmot for the murder of Christopher Seider begins and ends the same day.
  • On April 21, Richardson is found guilty and Wilmot not guilty.
  • On April 28, Preston’s account of the Boston Massacre is published in a London newspaper, the Public Advertiser, under the title Case of Captain Preston of the 29 th Regiment.
  • In May, an anonymous author in London produces a pamphlet, titled A Fair Account of the Late Unhappy Disturbance at Boston in New England, which includes the fight at Gray’s ropewalk and draws on depositions from the soldiers, townspeople and also containes Andrew Oliver’s account of a March 6 th meeting of the Governor’s Council in which a plan is discussed to try and remove the troops and customs commissioners.
  • On June 18, British newspaper reports of Preston’s account of the Boston Massacre reach Boston, Mass and are reprinted in the local papers.
  • On September 7, the Massachusetts General Court bring charges against Preston, Wemms and the seven privates.
  • In October, the Governor’s Council launch an investigation into Oliver’s account and decide that he misrepresented their March 6 th meeting and committed a breach of trust by sending the minutes of their meetings to London. The council sends the report to their own agent in England seeking action against Oliver.
  • On October 24, the trial of Captain Preston begins at the Queen Street Courthouse in Boston.
  • On October 27, the closing arguments in Preston’s trial are heard.
  • At 8am on October 30, Captain Preston is acquitted of all charges after the evidence fails to establish whether he gave the order to fire.
  • On November 27, the trials of the remaining soldiers begin at the Queen Street Courthouse.
  • On December 3, the closing arguments in the soldier’s trial are heard.
  • On December 5, six of the soldiers, William Wemms, John Carroll, William McCauley, William Warren, Hugh White and James Hartigan, are found not guilty and two soldiers, Hugh Montgomery and Matthew Kilroy, are convicted of manslaughter since they were the only soldiers that witnesses saw firing. To prevent Montgomery and Kilroy from being hanged, they plead the benefit of the clergy, a medieval provision which claimed clergymen were outside the jurisdiction of secular courts, but since the defense could only be used once the accused had to be branded on the thumb.
  • On December 14, Kilroy and Montgomery were brought back to the court, where they read a passage from the Bible and are branded on the hand with the letter “M,” for manslaughter, with a hot iron.
  • The soldiers return to their regiment, which is now stationed in New Jersey, and Preston sails for England.
  • On the evening of March 5, on the first anniversary of the Boston Massacre, a commemorative lecture is held at the Manufactory House, bells toll between 9pm and 10pm and Paul Revere illuminates his windows with scenes from the massacre, which depicts images of a wounded Christopher Seider and the wounded Boston Massacre victims.
  • On March 5, an even larger commemoration is held at the Old South Meeting House. A pamphlet, titled A Monumental Inscription on the Fifth of March, is published that day which mentions that Ebenezer Richardson has still not been hanged for his crime and includes Revere’s engraving of the massacre.
  • On March 9, Governor Hutchinson pardons Ebenezer Richardson. Richardson flees Boston, with an angry mob in pursuit, but he escapes unharmed and never returns to Boston.
  • On March 5, the annual Boston Massacre commemoration is held at the Old South Meeting House and Dr. Joseph Warren delivers the lecture that evening after John Adams declined an invitation to do so.
  • On March 5, the annual commemoration is held at the Old South Meeting House and John Hancock delivers the lecture that evening.
  • On March 5, the annual commemoration is held at the Old South Meeting House and Dr. Joseph Warren delivers the lecture that evening.
  • On March 5, the annual commemoration is held in Watertown, because Boston is occupied by the British army due to the Siege of Boston, and Peter Thatcher delivers a lecture on Dr. Joseph Warren’s death at the Battle of Bunker Hill in June of 1775.
  • On March 16, the Siege of Boston ends and the British army leave Boston.
  • On March 5, the annual commemoration is held in the Old Brick Meeting House because the Old South Meeting House was badly damaged by the British army, who turned it into a riding school, during the Siege of Boston. All future Boston Massacre commemorations are held at the Old Brick Meeting House.
  • On March 5, a town meeting votes to move the annual Boston Massacre commemoration from March 5 to July 4 to celebrate national independence. The Boston Massacre begins to fade from the public’s memory.
  • An African-American scholar named William Cooper Nell publishes his book, Colored Patriots of the American Revolution, which discusses Crispus Attucks and the Boston Massacre and sparks a renewed interest in the historical event.
  • On March, the African-American community in Boston holds its first annual Crispus Attucks Day rally at Faneuil Hall.
  • A marker dedicated to the Boston Massacre is placed on the corner of State and Exchange Street on what is believed to be the exact spot where Crispus Attucks fell dead.
  • On November 14, a dedication ceremony is held for a newly constructed Boston Massacre Monument on Boston Common.
  • The Boston Massacre marker on the corner of State and Exchange Street is removed to make way for construction on the Boston subway and the marker is relocated across the street near the site where James Caldwell was killed.
  • The Boston Massacre marker is removed again due to an urban renewal project and is relocated to a traffic island in front of the Old State House.
  • The Boston Massacre marker is removed again in order to upgrade the State Street subway station and is relocated to its current location at the intersection of Congress, Devonshire and State Streets.

If you want to read more about the American Revolution, check out this article on the best books on the American Revolution.


History of Marshfield, Massachusetts

Native Americans lived in Marshfield for thousands of years before the white settlers came. These people included members of the Wampanoag Tribe of the Algonquin nation and members of the Massachusetts Tribe. Evidence of Native American habitation extending back to 9,000 to 10,000 B.C. has been found extensively in the area. [1]

Native American roads were well established in the town by the time of English settlement in the 17th century. These Native American roads are still in use today, comprising the town's main roads. A hauntingly beautiful, pre-historic Native American road—extending between three rivers—can still be seen today in seemingly pristine condition. It is in woodlands formerly owned by the Marshfield Drive-In Movie Theatre. [2]

The Wampanoag name for the area is "Missacautucket." The earliest English settlers became allies of the Wampanoags, due in part to a strong friendship formed between Chief Massasoit and Edward Winslow. That alliance lasted 40 years.

After Massasoit's death in 1661, his son Wamsutta succeeded him as Sachem of the Wampanoags. However, Wamsutta died under suspicious circumstances in 1662. After a visit to the home of Governor Josiah Winslow in Marshfield he suddenly collapsed and died. Wamsutta was succeeded as Sachem by his brother Metacomet, who was known to the English as King Philip. Metacomet grew increasingly resentful of the colonists after the mysterious death of his brother. These resentments led to King Philip's War. Governor Josiah Winslow of Marshfield commanded the colonial forces against the Native Americans during that brutal war. While nearby towns, including adjoining Scituate, were attacked during King Philip's War, Marshfield was spared. Subsequent to the victory of the colonists in King Philip's War, Native Americans had a limited presence in Marshfield.

Pilgrim settlement Edit

Marshfield is an early Pilgrim town, originally part of the "New Colony of New Plimoth in New England," which was established in 1620. [3] Marshfield retains some of its historic character throughout its several quaint villages.

Marshfield was first established as a separate settlement in 1632 by Edward Winslow, a Mayflower Pilgrim who became a governor of Plymouth Colony. [4] Edward Winslow was the third signatory to the Mayflower Compact. [5] He became a negotiator and diplomat for the Colony in its dealings with the Native Americans and with the British. Edward Winslow established the first church and the first school in the town, near the cemetery which today still bears the Winslow name.

Governor Winslow was the author of several works concerning Plimoth Colony, which are now considered among the most important primary source materials about Plimoth still in existence. These include Good Newes from New England (1624) [6] Hypocrisie Unmasked (1646), [7] New England's Salamander Discovered (1647) [8] and The Glorious Progress of the Gospel Amongst The Indians of New England (1649). It is believed that he also wrote Mourt's Relation with William Bradford in 1622, although he did not sign the work.

Governor Edward Winslow made a major contribution to the success of Plimoth Plantation by returning to England to obtain cattle for the Colony. Cattle farming was introduced into Marshfield at the inception of its settlement and became a major industry for the town for the next 300 years. Governor Bradford described the first land grants in the Town as being made for tillage and cattle.

A commercial fishing enterprise was established in Marshfield by 1623, by William Green, who later married a granddaughter of Pilgrim Richard Warren. The area was originally referred to as "Green's Harbor." When the area was formally set off as a town, it was named "Rexhame." Later, the name of the town was changed to "Marshfield." The town has extensive acreage of salt water tidal marshes along its three rivers: the Green Harbor River, the South River and the North River. Hence the name "Marshfield".

Marshfield was officially set off from Plimoth Plantation as a separate "town" in 1640. Much of the land in Marshfield was originally granted to Pilgrims, their family members or to the investors in the Pilgrim settlement at Plymouth.

According to the List of Freemen of 1643, the earliest settlers in Marshfield, in addition to Edward Winslow, included his brothers Kenelm Winslow and Josiah Winslow. The list also included Thomas Bourne, Robert Waterman, John Dingley, Thomas Chillingsworth, John Russell, Edward Buckley, William Sherman, William Thomas and Nathaniel Thomas. (According to William Thomas' will, dated 9 July 1651, he was the father of Nathaniel Thomas).

The list of those who took the Oath of Fidelity in the Town in 1657 includes John Adams, John Booth, John Howland, Jr., Thomas Dogget, Samuel Baker, Robert Latham, Joseph Rose, Edward Bumpas, Jr., John Branch, James Dougherty, Robert Parker, Edmund Hincksman, Richard Sylvester, Thomas Tilden, Francis Crocker, John Thomas, Abraham Jackson, John Thomas, John Rogers, Jr., John Walker, George Vaughan, William Foard, Jr., William Maycomber, Richard French, Ralph Chapman, John Bumpas, and Grigory Flecnam.

Pilgrim Peregrine White Edit

An early resident of the town was Peregrine White, the first English child born in New England. Peregrine was born on November 20, 1620 on the Mayflower, while the ship was anchored near Provincetown on Cape Cod. This is where the Pilgrims moored for several weeks prior to selecting a location in Plymouth for permanent settlement. Peregrine was born to Pilgrim Susanna (Unknown) White and her husband Pilgrim William White. William died during the first winter. Half of the Pilgrims died that winter due to sickness, cold and starvation.

The name "Peregrine" means "wanderer", "foreign traveler", or "pilgrim." After Peregrine's father died, his mother Susanna White married Edward Winslow in 1621. Winslow's first wife, Elizabeth Barker Winslow, also had perished that initial winter. Susanna was the first English bride married in New England. She was also the first English woman to give birth in New England.

Pilgrims Susanna, Edward and Peregrine all settled in Marshfield, along with Susanna's older son, Pilgrim Resolved White. Edward Winslow adopted Susanna's two son's as his own. The General Court of Plimoth Colony granted Edward Winslow a large tract of land, about 1,200 acres (4.9 km 2 ), covering much of Marshfield south of the Green Harbor River. This is where Peregrine was raised.

After he married, Peregrine eventually established a successful farm. It was on the western bank of the South River, directly across the river from the farm of Kenelm Winslow, Edward's brother. Yet, Peregrine could be seen almost daily on his horse riding to see his mother Susanna at Green Harbor, with the silver buttons on his jacket twinkling in the sunlight. He was of high energy and described as "comely to the last." Peregrine became widely known for planting a great number of European fruit trees in Marshfield and other parts of the Colony. He held a number of offices in Marshfield and the Colony, including the office of Selectman of Marshfield. Peregrine also served as a lieutenant in the Colony's militia. He lived until age 84, passing on July 20, 1704. Peregrine White was much revered within the Colony as the first born.

Peregrine White's baby cradle, the first cradle of New England births, has been lovingly preserved since 1620. The cradle that helped to found America can be seen today on display at Pilgrim Hall in nearby Plymouth.

Land tenure Edit

For purposes of settling in the area peacefully, Josiah Winslow secured a deed to the town from the Chief of the Massachusett Tribe, Chickatawbut. Chief Chickatawbut granted land rights to the English settlers from Plymouth on the condition that members of the Massachusett Tribe could continue to hunt and fish in the area in perpetuity.

In the earliest years of the town, many of the land grants given by the Plymouth Colony Court were held by investors or speculators who did not live in the town, and frequently swapped and traded their deeds. The settlement of the town was largely confined to the area south of the South River.

There was extensive "common land" in the town, not owned by any individual. Some of the land in the town remains "common land" today, such as the town's magnificent five mile (8 km) long seashore along the Atlantic Ocean. In the case of Briggs Thomas v. Inhabitants of Marshfield, 13 Pickering 240 (1832), the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the Marshfield seashore was a public highway and landing place. The Court further ruled that the Marshfield seashore, including extensive beach dunes, had been set aside for use as a common for hundreds of years. In connection with that litigation, it was determined that the owner of the farm along some of the beach, Major Briggs Thomas, did not own the beautiful Rexhame Beach, as he claimed, and that Rexhame Beach was part of the common land of the town.

Colonial government Edit

Plymouth Colony was governed by a Governor and a General Court, composed of freemen of the Colony. The term "freemen" included white males, and excluded all women, Native Americans, blacks, indentured servants, Quakers and other religious minorities. In 1685, Plymouth Colony was divided into counties. Marshfield was designated part of Plymouth County. Marshfield did not become part of Massachusetts until 1692, when the English Crown forced the Pilgrim's Plymouth Colony to merge with the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which was seated to the north in Boston.

The 1692 charter created the Province of Massachusetts. The charter joined Plymouth's government with the Massachusetts Bay government, and created a single legislature. The Province of the Massachusetts Bay was replaced by a provisional government called the Massachusetts Provincial Congress during the American Revolution. After the American Revolution, the provisional government became the "State of Massachusetts" which later evolved into the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Up until the time of the merger of the two colonies, Plymouth Colony was distinctly different from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. For example, the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony did not embrace the death penalty or physical mutilation as punishment for crimes, while the colony at Massachusetts frequently employed such punishments. The two colonies were controlled by members of different religions. Plymouth Colony was established by Separatists, while the Massachusetts colony was established by Puritans. The two colonies had different sets of laws. Plymouth Colony demonstrated greater religious tolerance. Neither Marshfield nor Plymouth Colony was involved in the Massachusetts witchcraft hysteria, which erupted simultaneously with the merger of the two colonies, and resulted in the Salem witch trials.

American Revolution Edit

Pilgrim loyalty Edit

In the days of the American Revolution, Marshfield was considered a main hotbed of Tory activity, the most Loyalist town in New England. Although not everyone in the town was a Loyalist, Marshfield was unique in Massachusetts in that for a long while the Loyalists dominated and controlled the town, rather than existing merely as a minority faction. [9]

At the time, the Town had a population of about 1,200 residents, some of whom were considered to be very wealthy. The population was still largely descended from the town's founding families, including the descendants of Pilgrim Edward Winslow, Pilgrim Peregrine White, Pilgrim Resolved White and Pilgrim Richard Warren. These and other Old Colony families within the town had intermarried for generations. Oftentimes, one distant cousin married another distant cousin. The townspeople were closely bound together by an all encompassing web of blood ties. [10]

Some of these families had for generations educated their sons at Harvard College. [11] They were connected with powerful figures in the royal government of the Massachusetts Colony. Members of the Winslow family in particular were part of the aristocracy of Massachusetts, which also was tightly bound together by intermarriage. [12] A number of families in the town were members of the Episcopal Church, which up until the Revolution was part of the Church of England. [13]

Many of these families were alienated by the extreme violence, including the use of tarring and feathering, which characterized the behavior of the Patriots. Contrary to popular myth, the Massachusetts Patriots showed no regard for rights of free speech, or rights of free assembly, or the right to simply hold different views. A fact now buried in time is that the Patriots set out to win by intimidating those who held Loyalist views through mobbings and assaults. [14] In one example, Patriots on Cape Cod acted to silence a woman who dared to express her Loyalist views to her customers in her small grocery store. A mob of Patriot men broke into the home of a widow named Abigail Freeman during the night. They dragged her from her bed to the town green and there tarred and feathered her. They then carted her around town on a rail. [15]

The Loyalist families tended to hold the view that favorable concessions could be won from Britain through diplomacy, rather than by extremism and threats of a violent rebellion. [16] They considered themselves Englishmen, subjects of the King. [17] The Winslow family in particular retained strong ties to England due to General John Winslow's long and distinguished service in the provincial forces of the British Army.

Winslow relative Nathaniel Ray Thomas was a prominent Loyalist in the town. In August 1774, Thomas was appointed by General Thomas Gage, royal governor of the Province of Massachusetts, and the King's Privy Council to the position of Mandamus Councillor. On September 6, 1774, a large Patriot mob of over a thousand men from Plymouth, Kingston, Pembroke, Hanover and Scituate began assembling to march to Thomas's home to demand his resignation from the post. The Patriots took the position that those accepting appointments as Mandamus Councillors were enemies of the cause of liberty. The mob arrived the next day, September 7, carrying an empty coffin. However, Thomas had been tipped off to the plans of the mob forming in Plymouth. Thomas had already escaped by fleeing on horseback along the beach under cover of night on September 6, 1774. Thomas reached the relative safety of British occupied Boston. [18] For Marshfield, the Revolution had already begun.

Associated Loyalists of Marshfield Edit

In December 1774, Marshfield residents formed a Loyalist militia named the "Associated Loyalists of Marshfield." The membership has been described as numbering about 300, comprising the majority of adult males in the town. However, other sources indicate that there were hundreds more affiliated with the group and that "all but six" of the Marshfield men were members of the group. [19] The formation of the group brought hope to the royal government that more Massachusetts towns would follow the Marshfield example of adopting a strong Loyalist position. [20]

The "Associated Loyalists" concept was conceived by Winslow descendant Timothy Ruggles of Hardwick to counter the efforts of the Patriots under the Continental Association. [21] The Marshfield group signed the so-called "Ruggles Covenant"- a pledge to oppose the formation of any congress within the colonies, to remain loyal to the king, and to defend their principles at risk to their own lives. [22]

Ruggles, who served as a Mandamus Councillor along with Nathaniel Ray Thomas of Marshfield and Isaac Winslow of Boston, intended the Associated Loyalists to become a statewide group to serve as a Tory military force throughout Massachusetts. A number of Loyalists in Freetown, MA, led by members of the Winslow family and their relatives, signed the Ruggles Covenant. However, Marshfield was the only town with a substantial number signing the pledge. Later, Marshfield became one of the few Massachusetts towns to take formal action at its Town Meeting to oppose the Patriots' formation of the Provincial Congress.

The Associated Loyalists of Marshfield held their meetings at the Marshfield mansion of Dr. Isaac Winslow, today known as the Historic 1699 Winslow House. At the time of the formation of the group in 1774, all three members of the Marshfield Board of Selectmen were loyalists, Isaac Winslow, Abijah White and Ephraim Little. The Plymouth Patriots were threatening to tar and feather those in Marshfield who did not recant their Loyalist views, or drive them off their farms. [23] Patriots from Duxbury planned to kidnap Marshfield resident Nathaniel Phillips, a "principal loyalist," but he evaded capture. [24] The Patriots did kidnap Marshfield Loyalists Paul White, Dr. Stockbridge and Elisha Ford, and carted them to the "Liberty Pole" in Duxbury. There they were "forced to sign recantations" of their Tory sentiments, likely in response to mob violence. [25]

In January 1775, the Associated Loyalists of Marshfield sent a petition signed by 200 people to General Gage, commander of the British troops in Boston, requesting that arms and troops be sent to Marshfield for the protection of the Loyalists in the town. [26]

British occupation Edit

To aid the Associated Loyalists, on January 23, 1775 General Gage sent Captain Nesbitt Balfour and numerous officers leading 114 troops of the regiment known as the "King's Own." They arrived on two armed schooners, the Dianna and the Britannia, of the fleet of Admiral Samuel Graves. General Gage also sent 300 stands of arms and two cannons.

After the ships landed at White's Ferry, the troops marched south into the center of the town without meeting resistance. [27] The troops were quartered on the 1,500-acre (6.1 km 2 ) estate of Nathaniel Ray Thomas and other private Loyalist homes in Marshfield. [28] Captain Balfour placed the troops at the disposal of town authorities for purposes of keeping order. The troops were to be stationed in the town indefinitely. [29]

In a letter from a Marshfield Loyalist printed in the Rivington's New York Gazette dated February 9, 1775, it was reported that the British troops were "joyfully received" by Loyalists in Marshfield. The letter stated: "The king's troops are very comfortably accommodated, and preserve the most exact discipline, and now every faithful subject to his king dare freely utter his thoughts, drink his tea and kill his sheep, as profusely as he pleases.". [30]

On February 20, 1775, Marshfield's Town Meeting voted to repudiate the authority of the Patriot's Provincial Congress. The Town Meeting also voted to express its gratitude to General Gage and Admiral Graves by sending formal letters of thanks. [31] The town received from General Gage and Admiral Graves the following responses:

Gentlemen,-I return to you my most hearty thanks for your address, and am to assure you, that I feel great satisfaction in having contributed to the safety and protection of a people so eminent for their Loyalty to their King, and affection to their country at a time, when Treason and Rebellion is making such hasty strides to overturn our most excellent constitution and spread Ruin and Desolation thro' the Province.

I doubt not that your duty to your God, your King and your country will excite you to persevere in the Glorious Cause in which you are engaged, and that your laudable example will animate others with the like Loyal and Patriotic Spirit. Thomas Gage. [32]

Admiral Graves replied as follows:

Gentlemen,- The warmth with which you declare your principles of Loyalty to your Sovereign and his Constitutional Government cannot fail of being grateful to the mind of every lover of his country: and it is much to be wished that the uniform propriety of your conduct will extend its influence to the removal of those groundless jealousies, which have unhappily warped the affections of too many of your countrymen from the parent state, and which are now tending to raise violent commotions, and involve in Ruin and Destruction this unfortunate Province.

The approbation you are pleased to express of his Majesty's appointment at this critical juncture to the command of his American fleet, is flattering and you may be assured that my countenance and support shall never be wanting to protect the Friends of British Government and reduce to order and submission, those who would endeavor to destroy that Peace and Harmony, which is the end of good Legislation to produce. Samuel Graves. [33]

This troop movement was also the subject of a letter from General Gage to Lord Dartmouth dated January 27, 1775, which was read to the British Parliament on March 8, 1775. [23]

The day after the Lexington Alarm of April 19, 1775, approximately one thousand Patriot militia from the local towns of Plymouth, Kingston, Duxbury, Carver, Plympton, Middleboro and Rochester stormed into Marshfield—to attack the British soldiers quartered within the town and the Tories hosting them. [34] Colonel Anthony Thomas, a Patriot leader, helped to coordinate the incursion by assembling several hundred militia forces at his house in preparation for the attack on the estate of his own neighbor, Nathaniel Ray Thomas. The first troops to arrive decided to wait until the next day, so that more Patriot troops could amass for the Marshfield battle.

The confrontation with the British was narrowly averted when General Graves sent the HM Schooner Hope along with two wooden sloops to evacuate the British troops and the Tories at Marshfield. The ships came in near Brant Rock at the Cut River. The two sloops had been "prest" into service by Admiral Graves as the first British "prizes" of the Revolutionary War. Marshfield men alerted the British troops to the arrival of the ships by firing guns from atop "Signal Hill" situated within the vast lands of the Thomas estate. [35] Over one hundred Loyalist residents of the area evacuated with the British troops to Boston. [36] Some of these residents joined regiments in Boston to aid the British. Other Marshfield Tories were taken prisoner by the militia from surrounding towns during the skirmish. The guns sent by General Gage for the Associated Loyalists were confiscated by the Patriots. [37]

The British evacuation of Marshfield occurred just one day after the first battle of the Revolution at Lexington, Massachusetts. Edward Winslow, Jr. served as a guide for Britain's Lord Percy at the Lexington battle. His horse was shot under him during battle. [37]

British military volunteers Edit

During the war, Edward Winslow (loyalist), Junior served as the "Commander of the Associated Loyalists," in charge of Tory regiments. He was a direct descendant of Pilgrim Governor Edward Winslow and was the Plymouth first cousin of Dr. Isaac Winslow of Marshfield. He later held the position of "Muster-Master General of the Loyal North British Volunteers." [38]

Another leader of the Loyalists' militia was Timothy Ruggles, a former general in the provincial forces under the British Army. Both Edward Winslow, Jr. and Timothy Ruggles were reported to have led Loyalists in acts of piracy to fund their military operations- using British privateers coasting along south Massachusetts. [39]

Dr. Isaac Winslow's brother, Marshfield native Pelham Winslow, was a Major with the British forces. He was known as "Commander of Castle William." Castle William is today known as Fort Independence and is situated on Castle Island in South Boston. Pelham Winslow died of fever in 1783 in New York, where he was serving with the British forces.

Abijah White, a descendant of Pilgrim Peregrine White, was a Selectman of the town in 1774. He became Marshfield's representative in the Province legislature in 1775. He was wounded in a battle at sea near Boston Light while fighting alongside British forces. The battle occurred on July 30, 1775. The British forces, aided by Marshfield Tories, were attempting to repair Boston Light. They were attacked by Major Benjamin Tupper leading 20 whale boats and 200 Patriot forces. The Patriot forces shot Representative Abijah White in the back. He died not long afterwards. Four Marshfield Tories were taken prisoner. [40]

Other Marshfield residents took up arms against the Patriots to fight for the British. Among these were Marshfield men who joined the "Loyal American Association, Fifth Company of Associators Militia," assembled in Boston on July 5, 1775: Joseph Tilden, John Tilden, Stephen Tilden, Silvanus White, Abijah White, Daniel White, Syballine White and Nathaniel Thomas. [41] The Loyal American Association, First Company, then led by Timothy Ruggles and Edward Winslow, Jr., included Marshfield residents Seth Bryant and William Cowper. [42] The Third Company of Associators of the Loyal American Association included Marshfield's Ephraim Little. [43] The Fourth Company of Associators, also assembled in Boston on July 5, 1775, included Nathaniel Phillips and John Phillips Jr. [44]

In July 1775, Patriot forces captured 13 Tories who were camped out on Long Island in Boston Harbor, where they had been harvesting hay for British troops. In a letter to her husband John Adams, the future First Lady Abigail Adams described the Tories as having been sent there by Marshfield's Nathaniel Ray Thomas. [45]

Around this time in July 1775, General George Washington came to Massachusetts to take command of the Patriot forces. His headquarters were in Cambridge.

The first arrest of a Tory on Washington's orders during the American Revolution was carried out at the Kenelm Winslow house in Marshfield. This is the ancient house built by the original Kenelm Winslow about 1640, located on Winslow Street in Rexhame, at the corner of Kenelm Drive. At the time, the house was owned by a descendant, Kenelm Winslow, who was then a Marshfield Selectman. It is not known who was arrested in the house. However, Kenelm's brother Joseph Winslow, who had also grown up in the house, was a tea importer in Boston. He was accused of engaging in efforts to aid the British.

In November 1775, Nathaniel Phillips, a former Selectman of Marshfield, was sent to General Washington as "an infamous Tory." Nathaniel Phillips was sentenced to house arrest from 1775 to 1783.

The Diaspora of the Marshfield loyalists Edit

After the British evacuated from Boston on March 17, 1776, a number of Marshfield residents were banished from the state under the Tory Banishment Act. The Marshfield Tories were met with mobbings, assaults, jailings, land confiscations and banishments. Many of the Marshfield Tories fled Massachusetts. Some never returned. Others eventually did return after they felt it was safe to do so. In April 1776, the town of Milton denied a ship carrying Marshfield Tories returning from Nova Scotia permission to land, presumably along the Neponset River. [46] The ship "Sally", commanded by Loyalist Captain Cornelius White, with numerous Marshfield Tories on board, landed along the North River on April 19, 1776. The ship contained many articles consistent with the ship having been used for warfare, including 17 firearms, 5 bayonets, swords, 8 powder horns, hanger and cartridge boxes. The returning Tories had originally left with the British troops when they evacuated Marshfield on April 20, 1775. All on board were taken to jail by the local Committee of Correspondence. [47]

The anguished dilemma facing the Loyalist families at the conclusion of the war was poignantly expressed in a letter by Sarah Winslow of Plymouth to her cousin Benjamin Marston, dated April 10, 1783:

"Our fate now decreed, and we are left to mourn out our days in wretchedness. No other resources but to submit to the tyranny of exulting enemies or settle a new country. I am one of the number that gladly would embark for Nova Scotia was it either prudent or proper, but I am told it will not do for me at present. What is to become of us, God can only tell. In all our former suffering we had hope to support us--being deprived of that is too much." [48]

Her father, Edward Winslow, a direct descendant of Pilgrim Governor Edward Winslow, tried to reside in Plymouth after the British Evacuation but was driven out. He explained to the Commission on American Loyalists sitting in Halifax, Canada on October 23, 1783: "I was the butt of the licentious, and had received every species of insult and abuse, which the utmost rancour and malice could invent."

His son, Edward Winslow (loyalist), the Tory military leader, was banished from the state. He helped to found the Loyalist colony in New Brunswick. Many families relocated to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Halifax and other places in Canada and Maine. Of those from Plymouth County who fled, the vast majority were from Marshfield. [49] The loss or displacement of so many residents and working farms, and the disruption to businesses, resulted in the greatest transformation of Marshfield since the time of the arrival of the Pilgrims, led by Governor Edward Winslow.

The Marshfield Tea Party Edit

But not everyone in Marshfield was a Loyalist. Despite the powerful influence of the Loyalist families, the town's Patriots eventually formed one of the revolutionary Committees of Correspondence. Marshfield native John Thomas (general), who lived in Kingston, raised an army of volunteers from Plymouth County for the Continental Army on April 23, 1775 known as the 2nd Massachusetts Regiment, also known as the 23rd Continental Regiment. General John Thomas's regiment would see action during the Siege of Boston. He received a letter from General George Washington praising his service. Other Marshfield Patriot leaders included his brother, Colonel Anthony Thomas, his nephew, Major Briggs Thomas and John Bourne.

Marshfield even had its own version of the Boston Tea Party. At midnight on December 19, 1773, Marshfield Patriots confiscated tea from the old Ordinary in the town as a protest against the Crown and in sympathy with the Boston Tea Party, which had just taken place. The Ordinary is a building still standing today, which was constructed as a tavern in 1673 by Timothy Williamson. It is located at 2000 Ocean Street at the corner with Moraine Street (today known as The Corner Cafe). In 1773 the building was owned by John Bourne. After taking the tea, the Patriots knelt in prayer and ceremoniously burnt the tea on a large rock, situated on what became known as "Tea Rock Hill". [50]

The Marshfield Patriots finally had their day when, on June 19, 1776, the Town Meeting voted to support independence and to defend the effort with their lives. This preceded the national Declaration of Independence by fifteen days.

The legacy of the past lives on in the town today, largely through silence. Unlike other area towns, Marshfield had no written history book until the 20th century. As far back as can be remembered, Marshfield's official July 4 celebrations have been far more subdued than those of surrounding towns. Many years, the town was noteworthy for not having July 4 celebrations at all, in contrast to most other towns. The Marshfield Tea Party serves as the town's only symbol of its Revolutionary past, reflective of the town's continuing uneasiness with its breathtaking Loyalist history.

Overview Edit

Early industry in the town included farming, cattle, fishing and salt marsh haying. Tragically, a number of the town's early families held people as slaves, including the Winslow family at Green Harbor, as well as the Winslow and Kent families at Rexhame beach. Some of the ancient and beautiful stone walls along the fields and roads in Marshfield were likely built by people held as slaves by Marshfield families.

An early nail factory, founded by Jesse Reed, was one of the first to manufacture nails by machine. Shipbuilding grew in the town, and over 1,000 ships were built along the North River in town during the 19th century. The town is also the site of Brant Rock, where Reginald Fessenden built the antenna from which he sent his first transatlantic voice radio broadcast in 1907.

In 1941, a great conflagration engulfed the eastern part of the town. Approximately 400 buildings burnt down in three hours. This was one of the largest fires in terms of structures destroyed in the history of the United States. The tragedy was the subject of national news coverage, including photographic coverage in Life Magazine.

Today, Marshfield is largely a semi-rural and suburban town, with many residents commuting daily into Boston. Some of the old farms still remain, as well as a large number of historic houses. The town continues to have a large summer resort population. The Marshfield Fair continues on as the oldest agricultural fair in the United States and serves as the highlight of summer activities in the town. The beach and sea remain largely as they have always been,- ever present, ever beautiful, the essence of Marshfield. [ citation needed ]


History of the Siege

By the summer of 1781, the United States had been at war with England for over six years. The first shots had been fired in April 1775 on the village green in Lexington and at North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts. Merely sustaining the army had been a major accomplishment for the Americans, who did not have much money, food or clothing. The winters of 1777-78 at Valley Forge and 1779-80 at Morristown were particularly devastating, with many soldiers freezing and starving to death, and some giving up and returning home. A deep belief in the cause and an enduring faith in their leader, George Washington, kept this army together.

In the summer of 1780, the Americans received a major boost to their cause when 5,500 French troops, commanded by Comte de Rochambeau, arrived at Newport, Rhode Island. France had been sending supplies to the United States all along, but after France and England declared war against each other in 1778, French King Louis XVI sent troops and naval assistance to the United States to engage the enemy.

When Rochambeau’s forces arrived, the British were operating on two fronts. General Clinton, commander of British forces in North America, was occupying New York City after a largely unsuccessful attempt to control the northern and middle colonies. General Lord Cornwallis was leading through the southern colonies an army that had already captured Savannah and Charleston. The main American army under Washington was stationed along the Hudson River above New York City.

In the spring of 1781, Washington traveled to Rhode Island to meet with Comte de Rochambeau and plan an attack on Clinton. A French fleet was expected to arrive in New York later that summer, and Washington wanted to coordinate the attack with the fleet's arrival. As planned, Rochambeau's army marched in July and joined with Washington's troops outside New York City, only to learn that the French fleet was sailing to the lower Chesapeake Bay.

Washington changed his strategy to make Clinton think he was planning to attack him, while instead sneaking away to the south to trap Cornwallis. In order to fool Clinton, Washington had his men build big army camps and huge brick bread ovens visible from New York to give the appearance of preparations for a stay. Washington also prepared false papers under his signature discussing plans for an attack on Clinton, and let these papers fall into British hands. Leaving a small force behind, Washington and Rochambeau set out for Yorktown in mid-August. By early September they were parading before the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, and they arrived in Williamsburg, 13 miles west of Yorktown, in mid September.

Cornwallis was in Yorktown because he had been ordered by Clinton during the summer to provide a protected harbor for the British fleet in the lower Chesapeake Bay. Cornwallis chose Yorktown because of its deep-water harbor on the York River. His army spent the latter part of the summer fortifying Yorktown and Gloucester Point across the York River.

The French fleet, as part of the overall plan, entered the lower Chesapeake Bay in the end of August and disembarked 3,000 French troops to wait for Washington and Rochambeau in Williamsburg. On September 5, they encountered the British fleet in a naval engagement known as the Battle of the Capes. The British suffered damage to their ships and returned to New York, while the French, commanded by Admiral de Grasse, remained in the lower Chesapeake and established a blockade.

By the end of September, approximately 17,600 American and French soldiers were gathered in Williamsburg, while 8,300 British soldiers were occupying Yorktown.

The British forces included a small number of German auxiliary troops hired to help fight the war. Cornwallis recognized the odds were in the allies' favor, and he sent Clinton a note asking for help. Clinton responded that a British fleet with 5,000 men would sail for Yorktown from New York on October 5.

Cornwallis had his men construct a main line of defense around Yorktown that consisted of ten small enclosed forts (called redoubts), batteries with artillery and connecting trenches. The Americans and French marched from Williamsburg to Yorktown on September 28 and began digging a trench 800 yards from the British defense line to begin a siege. By October 9, the allies' trench was finished and their artillery had been moved up. Firing at the British continuously, they had virtually knocked the British guns out of action by October 11. Cornwallis had the additional misfortune to learn at that time that Clinton's departure from New York had been delayed.

During the night of October 11, the allies began a second trench 400 yards from the British. The next days were spent bringing up artillery and strengthening the new line. The new line could not be completed, however, without capturing British redoubts 9 and 10. On the night of October 14, 400 French stormed redoubt 9 and 400 Americans stormed redoubt 10, capturing them in less than 30 minutes. Nine Americans and 15 French died in this brief and heroic action.

On October 16, the British tried two desperation moves. Early that morning they attacked the allied center, attempted to silence a French Battery, but the French cannons were firing again in less than six hours. Late that night they tried to evacuate Yorktown by crossing the York River in small boats to Gloucester Point. A violent windstorm arose at midnight, however, scattering the boats and forcing an abandonment of the escape.

Realizing the situation was hopeless, Cornwallis sent forth a British drummer on October 17, followed by a British officer with a white flag and note indicating a request for a cease fire. A number of notes passed between Cornwallis and Washington that day as they set the framework for the surrender. The next day, October 18, four officers--one American, one French and two British--met at the Moore House, one mile outside Yorktown, to settle surrender terms.

On October 19, in a spectacle incredible to all who witnessed it, most of Cornwallis' army marched out of Yorktown between two lines of allied soldiers--Americans on one side and French on the other--that stretched for more than one mile. The British marched to a field where they laid down their arms, and returned to Yorktown. They did not know that on that very day, Clinton sailed for Yorktown from New York with 5,000 troops.

News of the British defeat at Yorktown spread quickly. Celebrations took place throughout the United States. London was shocked. The British prisoners were marched to prison camps in Winchester, Virginia and Frederick, Maryland. The American army returned to the Hudson River, while the French army remained in Yorktown and Williamsburg for the winter. Clinton and Cornwallis eventually returned to England where they engaged in a long and bitter public controversy over who was to blame for the British defeat at Yorktown.

Though the British still had 26,000 troops in North America after Yorktown, their resolve to win the war was nothing like it had been before Yorktown. The war had been lengthy and costly. Replacing Cornwallis' captured army was a questionable proposition, particularly because the British also were engaged in military struggles in India, Gibraltar, the West Indies and Ireland. Thus, the British Parliament in March 1782 passes a resolution saying the British should not continue the war against the United States. Later that year, commissioners of the United States and Great Britain signed provisional articles of peace. In September 1783, the final treaty was signed which ended the war and acknowledged American independence.


James Weldon Johnson

Poet, diplomat, songwriter, and anthologist of black culture James Weldon Johnson was born on June 17, 1871, in Jacksonville, Florida. He attended Atlanta University, where he earned A.B. and M.A. degrees, and Columbia University in New York City.

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

James Weldon Johnson, “Lift Every Voice and Sing External ,” written in 1900 on the occasion of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and published in Saint Peter Relates an Incident: Selected Poems. (New York: Viking Press, 1935).

Johnson began his career as principal of the segregated Stanton School in Jacksonville. He began practicing law in Jacksonville in 1898, upon his admission to the Florida bar. In 1901, he moved to New York City with his brother, composer John Rosamund Johnson. In New York, the Johnson brothers wrote some 200 songs for Broadway productions.

President Theodore Roosevelt appointed James W. Johnson United States consul to Venezuela in 1906. In 1920, he became the chief organizer for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Of his many accomplishments, Johnson is best known for his poetry and his anthologies of African-American poetry. An important figure in the Harlem Renaissance, Johnson provided invaluable encouragement and recognition for the influential generation of artists coming of age in the 1920s and 1930s.

Portrait of Carl Van Vechten, self-portrait. Carl Van Vechten, photographer, May 8, 1934. Van Vechten Collection. Prints & Photographs Division

Carl Van Vechten, the photographer responsible for the portrait of James Weldon Johnson pictured above, was born on June 17, 1880, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. During the late 1910s and early 1920s, Van Vechten, formerly a music and dance critic at The New York Times, developed an interest in promoting black artists and musicians. His portrait of Johnson is one of several he took of prominent figures of the Harlem Renaissance.