GenMassachusetts-L ArchivesArchiver > GenMassachusetts > 2000-06 > 0961017360
Subject: [GM-L] Guns of War - Boston in the American Revolution
Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 17:16:00 EDT
GUNS OF WAR, AMER. REV.
Guns of War
Source: New England, Time-Life Books, NY 1967
Chapter 3 p.63
Washington's problem of getting guns to drive the British
out of Boston was solved the following winter (l776)
by what was probably the greatest feat of endurance and
courage performed in New England during the war - the
hauling of 59 heavy pieces of captured enemy artillery
over almost 300 miles of ice and snow from Fort Ticond-
eroga at the head of Lake George down the Hudson River
Valley, across the thinly iced river and over the Berk-
shire Hills to Washington's headquarters in Cambridge.
This herculean task was carried out by Henry Knox, a
husky and jovial Boston bookseller who later became
Secretary of War in the first President's cabinet.
When Knox arrived at Cambridge with the cannon, Washing-
ton, who received him warmly, had good news for him;
the Americans had just captured the British brigantine
"Nancy", which was loaded with artillery balls that
fitted the guns from Ticonderoga perfectly - 3,000 iron
shots for the l2-pounders and 4,000 for the 6-pounders
as well as with 2,000 infantry muskets and 3l tons of
Screened from British view by bales of hay in carts pull-
ed by oxen, the cannon were hauled to the top of Dor-
chester Heights on the present site of South Boston. The
frozen ground on that early March night made the digging
of earthwork emplacements for the guns impossible. Col.
Rufus Putnam built the works on top of the earth with
fascines - bundles of sticks and straw covered with dirt
and with barrels of earth that could be rolled downhill
at advancing British soldiers.
A captured deserter from the British ranks who was with
General Howe on the following morning, reported that the
general looked up at the emplacements and exclaimed:
"My God! These fellows have done more work in one night
than my army could do in three months!" On the l7th of
March, l776, the British evacuated Boston, sailing to
Halifax with their entire garrison of some l3,000 troops
plus about 900 local Torries. The bombardment from
Dorchester Heights was the last Revolutionary War engage-
ment in Massachusetts.
Transcribed by Janice Farnsworth