Sunday, December 16, 2018

Episode 075: Continental Congress, Autumn 1775

Today, I want to turn our attention back to the Continental Congress as they got back to work in September, 1775.  I last covered Continental Congress in Episode 68, as they wrapped up their summer session and sent the Olive Branch Petition to the King.  Congress had planned to restart on September 5, but had to wait another week for a quorum.  Part of this may have been the result of the Independence hurricane I mentioned a few weeks ago.  It had battered the southern colonies and dumped rain on the central colonies for several days, making travel difficult.

Georgia finally sent a full delegation to Congress for this session.  It was the last colony to send a full delegation.  A few other delegates also joined and left for the new session, the most notable being Patrick Henry who returned to Virginia serve as commander in chief of Virginia’s military.

Peyton Randolph
(from Wikimedia)
Also, Peyton Randolph of Virginia returned to Congress.  Many expected that he would once again assume the Presidency that John Hancock had taken when he left.  But Hancock refused to step down.  He believed he was elected after Randolph left and had no obligation to give up the chair..  Randolph took his seat with the rest of the delegates, but the incident particularly annoyed the Massachusetts delegation.  They were still trying everything they could to make nice with the other colonies. The Presidency was meaningless in terms of power and was mostly a position of honor.  Hancock was potentially generating hard feelings over a stupid title.

On the other hand, Hancock was still annoyed with his delegation for not making him Commander of the Continental Army.  We was not about to give up another prestigious position so that John Adams could curry favor with others.  In the end, he probably should have stepped down.  Randolph died suddenly in October and Hancock probably would have been re-elected again anyway.

Committees For Everyone

The fall session of Congress involved quite a bit of executive style work.  Since the colonies had no chief executive or executive branch, Congress had to run all the day to day functions of government, which at this point was mostly running the army.

Congress formed dozens of committees where delegates worked on various projects.  Some committees only lasted a few weeks, to draft a declaration or petition.  Other committees became standing committees to deal with financing the army, or setting up international diplomacy.  Over the entire life of the Continental Congress, members formed literally thousands of committees to deal with all problems large and small.  In 1775 alone, Congress created about 60 committees simply dealing with military issues.

It was over the course of this fall session that most members accepted that the fight would not be resolved any time soon.  Washington’s army was not going to crush the British garrison at Boston in a quick and decisive blow.  Congress received word from London that the King had refused to accept the Olive Branch Petition and went firmly on record that he supported the positions of his ministry and of Parliament generally.  They also received the King’s Proclamation that the colonies were in full rebellion and that Britain would respond militarily, not with more political negotiations.  As a result, delegates spent much of the fall gearing up for a longer term war.  Committees would oversee what clearly had become a long term conflict.

One committee in Congress dealt only with the letters and reports arriving from Washington on a daily basis.  The new general saw part of his job as being an agent for Congress with the army.  He kept Congress fully informed about the state of his army, efforts to improve it, and continual requests for more supplies.

Another key committee was the Secret Committee in charge of procuring arms and ammunition for the army.  Because much of what this Committee did was considered what we could call today classified military secrets, it operated without full input from the whole Congress, and more and more began to serve effectively as a Department of War.  The immediate need was for thousands of small arms, dozens of cannon, and tons of desperately needed gunpowder.

Benjamin Harrison
Congress created a three man Committee consisting of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Lynch, and Benjamin Harrison to travel to Cambridge to meet with Washington and inspect the new Continental Army.  They would arrive at the army for their inspection in October.  Generally, the review went well and gave the delegates a better perspective on the military problems that Washington was facing.

The Committee spent a few weeks with the army, going over a whole range of issues, from discussions on how to attack Boston, to supply and logistics issues, military discipline, and recruiting.  Congress would act on many of the committee recommendations when they a returned to Philadelphia.

Some of the discussions centered around whether to allow Indians and blacks into the army.  Both were already there.  Many black New Englanders had joined the provisional armies before Washington even arrived.  Also, members of the Penobscot, Stockbridge, and St. John’s Indian tribes had sent warriors to join the militia following Lexington and Concord.  These tribes had long and close relationships with the New England colonists and had treaties agreeing to protect each other.

In the end, Washington and the Committee agreed to accept the Indians into the Continental Army but not any blacks, either slave or free.  Armed blacks was a big concern, particularly for southern delegates.  In September, South Carolina delegate Edward Rutledge had proposed a resolution for Washington to immediately discharge all blacks from the Continental Army.  After some debate, Congress rejected the proposal, probably in part because they wanted Washington’s input before acting on it.

Now, after discussions, they agreed at least not to recruit more blacks, though it seems that they did not kick out existing black soldiers already serving in integrated units.  A month or two later, Washington seems to have reversed the decision to ban new black recruits anyway, probably due to the desperate need for soldiers.  I know that when the army moved to New York in the summer of 1776, several people commented on mixed race units.  So whether officially or unofficially, there were at least some African Americans serving alongside whites in defense of the patriot cause.

Officially though, despite the desperate need for soldiers for the following year, and despite the fact that the British were actively recruiting blacks for loyalist regiments, the ban on black soldiers remained in place for over a year.  Many southern delegates did not want the war to become about freeing their slaves.  They also did not want blacks fighting as soldiers to make an issue of emancipation at some later time.

Creating the Navy and Marines

In October, Congress turned its attention to the navy.  The patriots did not yet have a navy, but had decided that they needed one.  Rhode Island, which had already converted several ships to military use, and was using them to harass British shipping in New England, had instructed its delegates to get Congress thinking about a navy.  Even if the colonies could not dominate the seas, they could make life difficult for transport ships and capture supplies from the enemy.

John Langdon
(from American History)
One of the first naval committees, made up of three New Englanders, John Adams, John Langdon, and Silas Deane, tried to come up with a plan to address an immediate need.  Two British supply ships were headed to Boston full of arms and ammunition.  They wanted to figure out a plan to capture these ships.  The immediate plan called for arming existing merchant vessels for an attack.

The committee authorized the purchase and arming of two ships for this use, as well as the commission of a third ship.  Congress approved these actions on October 13, 1775, which the US Navy now recognizes as its birthday.  Congress also authorized raising two battalions of marines to serve aboard these ships.  Initially, they planned to draw a marine corps out of the army.  After further consideration though, they decided on November 10, to form new Marine Corps regiments in Philadelphia.  The US Marines now recognize that date as the birthday of the Marine Corps.  But these acts were really ad hoc decisions to deal with an immediate problem.  The issue made clearer the need to have a real permanent navy with armed ships ready to go and actively patrolling the coast.

Consideration of a Navy had been delayed until now because Congress hoped that the dispute would be resolved quickly.  Building ships could take many months before they would be ready.  Until people accepted that this fight might take years, there was no point in starting such a project.  Also, Britain had the most powerful navy in the world.  Many questioned whether there was any point in even trying to challenge Britain on the ocean.  By the end of October, Congress established a permanent committee to consider the development of a real navy.

By November, the Congress adopted rules for the regulation of a Colonial Navy and authorized the acquisition of thirteen more ships to defend the coastline.  A fleet would take time and money, but now that it appeared the war could go on for years, the colonists would have to do something to challenge British control of the seas.

New Wartime Measures

In early fall, Congress turned its attention to loyalists and royal government officials still in the colonies.  On October 6, delegates passed a resolution calling for the arrest of all loyalists considered dangerous to "the liberties of America."  This essentially created open season on any colonists who did not express support for the patriot cause, though it was mostly directed at loyalists who were actively recruiting regiments to fight for the King, or at Governors still trying to get colonies to reject the rule of provincial congresses.  Local colonies distributed various loyalty oaths that proclaimed loyalty to the colony or the patriot cause, not the King.

Congress banned the export of any produce or livestock from the colonies, except those to be used for the purchase of military supplies.  On November 7, Congress added to the Articles of War.  One was to add the death penalty for holding “treacherous correspondence” or giving intelligence to the enemy.  That was apparently a direct response to the Benjamin Church incident in September, that I discussed in Episode 73.

Other new rules dealt with problems facing the new army.  Officers found guilty of fraud or embezzlement could forfeit all pay and be cashiered from the army.  Soldiers could be demoted or flogged.  Dismissal for officers and floggings for soldiers were also applied to being drunk on duty, falling asleep on duty, or leaving one’s post.

Officers dismissed for cowardice would have their names published in their local hometown newspapers.  Anyone deserting to the enemy or fomenting mutiny or sedition could face the death penalty.  It established other penalties for plundering property while in battle, showing cowardice before the enemy, leaving camp without permission, or disobeying the orders of a superior officer.

All of these new rules were based on experience, many of them recommended by Washington himself to deal with problems he faced with his new army.

Creating a Southern Army

Fighting in Virginia and the Carolinas in the fall of 1775 also drew Congress’ attention. It also began to receive reports that London was planning to send an army to pacify the southern colonies.

It seemed unfair to have a whole Continental Army in New England and New York fighting the war, while leaving the southern colonies to fend for themselves.  Congress began taking steps to organize the state militaries in the south under Continental control, and also to pay the soldiers there with more Continental currency.

Calling for State Conventions

As I mentioned, by late fall, almost all the colonies had tossed out the royal governments.  Now they were unclear how they should proceed.  New Hampshire and South Carolina instructed their delegates to ask Congress how they should govern the colonies now that they had overthrown British control.

After some debate, Congress recommended forming State conventions so that the people could decide for themselves what form of government to create. This was a really big deal.  Although Congress had already approved Massachusetts setting up an independent government, that was because the colony was already in open warfare with its governor.  Many delegates still clung to the hope that this was temporary, that they could find a political compromise and that even Massachusetts would return to its traditional government.

John Adams
(from Boston Athenæum)
By this time though, other colonies sought Congressional legitimacy for their independent governments.  Congressional approval of governments completely independent of the Crown was essentially declaring independence.  That was the goal officials in London accused them of seeking and which most delegates still vehemently denied wanting.  The debate, therefore, was rather contentious.

During the debates, John Adams began to refer to the local entities as states rather than colonies.  Although Congress approved setting up independent governments, it was not yet ready to adopt Adams’ proposal to call them states.  Although Adams and most of New England had accepted by now that independence had to be the ultimate goal, and the other side in London also pronounced in no uncertain terms that the patriots clearly were headed toward independence, the majority of the Continental congress was not yet ready to admit that point.

Even so, Congress told the colonies to hold conventions so that  the people could approve the form of government they wanted, at least until they could resume normal relations within the British Empire.  This went well beyond having Massachusetts operate a government under an earlier version of its Royal Charter.  Congress now approved of creating an entirely new and independent government based only on what the people of that colony wanted.   In other words, Congress approved a huge step toward independence, but still didn’t want to admit it explicitly.

Creating a Diplomatic Corps

Around this same time, Congress started considering another important step toward becoming an independent state.  It started to think about opening diplomatic relations with other countries. Congress desperately needed to trade with other countries, if only to get the supplies necessary to continue the war.  Americans did not have enough industry, at least not at the scale needed, to create powder, mine lead for balls, manufacture muskets and cannons, or make a great many other things the army needed. Colonies had always purchased such items from Britain, which was now disinclined to make such sales.  While they got by raiding British transports and knocking over the occasional unguarded stash, they needed a more reliable source of munitions and other supplies.

A few delegates also recognized that allies might distract Britain from suppressing the rebellion in America.  An alliance that caused other European powers to go to war with Britain could work to America’s advantage.

As I mentioned in Episode 71, France had sent an agent named Bonvouloir to meet with Congress quietly and see what France could do to make Britain’s life more miserable.  Bonvouloir met discreetly with Benjamin Franklin and other delegates at Carpenter’s Hall.  While he would not admit to being there in any official capacity, he did indicate that France may be of assistance in providing much needed munitions as well as engineering experts needed for fort construction and other military defenses.
Benjamin Franklin
(from Wikimedia)

 His meetings helped Congress appreciate that some countries in Europe might be willing to assist America in its fight. Already France seemed to be helping quietly.  Though it officially respected Britain’s ban on anyone in Europe selling munitions to the colonies. The French colony of St. Domingo (in the modern Dominican Republic) had sold 30 tons of gunpowder in late summer.  In November, the Governor of Jamaica reported to London that the French in Hispaniola (modern Haiti) had imported record amounts of munitions, which seemed to be disappearing into the holds of American merchant vessels.

In late November Congress established  a Committee of Secret Correspondence to contact various countries in Europe and figure out who might be interested in providing assistance.  A few weeks later, it appropriated $3000 to send American diplomats to Europe to see if they could work with European powers interested in supporting the American struggle against Britain.

Diplomacy with the Indians

Congress also expressed concern about how the Indians might ally themselves.  William Johnson, who had been the British Indian agent for decades had died in 1774. His nephew Guy Johnson had taken his place.  Johnson had a home in upstate New York and held a good working relationship with the Iroquois Confederation.  In early 1775 he had been forced to flee to Canada, where Gen. Gage ordered him to organize the Indians to assist with the attack on the rebels in Massachusetts.  Johnson had not yet made much progress, but if he could get a united Indian force to rise against the rebels, it would be a big problem.

To help counter this, Congress employed Samuel Kirkland, a missionary who already lived in upstate New York with the Iroquois.  Congress hoped to use Kirkland to convince the Iroquois to maintain neutrality in what was becoming a full blown war between Britain and the colonies.  Kirkland would have only mixed success, but would keep at least some of the Iroquois from siding with the British.

More Money

Congress had pretty much burned through the $2 million in had printed for the war so far.  With all the new expenses, on November 29, Congress authorized the printing of another $3 million worth of continental currency, technically still bills of credit which would be repaid in real money as some point, somehow.

Within a few days, they would send $500,000 of that new money to Washington for use in getting his soldiers to reenlist for the coming year.  Congress owed several months’ back pay, plus wanted to offer bonuses for reenlistment.  Much of the rest of the money would go toward the new navy, the southern army, and a host of other government expenses.

Congress also reached out to the colonies to see about them starting to kick in and pay off these mounting debts.  But for a group of colonies that started this war because they did not want to pay off war debts accrued in London, many would show the same reluctance to pay war expenses accrued in Philadelphia.

- - -

Next Episode 76: Arnold's March to Quebec (Available Dec. 23, 2018)

Previous Episode 74: Occupied Boston, 1775

Click here to donate
American Revolution Podcast is distributed 100% free of charge. If you can chip in to help defray my costs, I'd appreciate whatever you can give.  Also, see the very bottom of this page to see how you can support this podcast by making purchases you would make anyway on Amazon.  Thanks, Mike Troy

Visit for a list of all episodes.

Visit for free downloads of all podcast episodes.

Further Reading


Continental Navy:

Birth of the US Navy:

Tun Tavern: Birthplace of Marines:

Fabry, Merril “How the U.S. Marine Corps Was Founded Twice” Time Magazine, Nov. 10, 2015:

Secret Committee:

Samuel Kirkland and the Oneida Indians, by Melancthon Woolsey Stryker
Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association Vol. 14 (1915), pp. 101-107.

Free eBooks
(from unless noted)

Journals of Congress, Vol 1, (contains minutes of First Continental Congress and first year of the Second Continental Congress.

Journals of the Continental Congress, Vol. 3, Sept. 21-Dec. 30, 1775 Washington: US Gov’t Printing Office 1905.

Lothrop, Samuel Kirkland Life of Samuel Kirkland, Missionary to the Indians, Boston: Charles C. Little, 1847.

Books Worth Buying
(links to unless otherwise noted)*

Beck, Derek, Igniting the American Revolution 1773-1775, Naperville, Ill: Sourcebooks, 2015.

Beeman, Richard R. Our Lives, Our Fortunes and Our Sacred Honor: The Forging of American Independence, 1774-1776, New York: Basic Books, 2013.

Isaacson, Walter Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, New York, Simon & Schuster, 2003.

McCullough, David John Adams, New York, Simon & Schuster, 2001.

Meacham, John Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, New York: Random House, 2012.

Morgan, Edmund Benjamin Franklin, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001.

Peterson, Merrill (ed) The Portable Thomas Jefferson, New York: Penguin Books, 1975.

Phillips, Kevin 1775: A Good Year for Revolution,  New York: Penguin Books, 2012.

* This site is a registered Amazon Associate.  Please help support this site by purchasing any of these books, or any other Amazon product, via the links on this site.  If you start by clicking on a book link above and then browse to buy something completely different on Amazon, American Revolution Podcast will get credit for your purchase.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Episode 074: Occupied Boston, 1775

Last week I talked about the American lines around Boston during the fall of 1775.  Today I want to discuss the British regulars in Boston during that same time.

Gage Goes Home

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, London recalled General Thomas Gage after receiving word of the battle of Bunker Hill.  They sent the letter in early August, but Gage did not receive it until September 26.  He turned over authority to General William Howe on October 10, and set sail for London, never to return.

Howe Takes Command

As you may recall from earlier episodes, General Howe had arrived shortly after Lexington and spent most of his time criticizing General Gage to superiors in London.  He also led the attack on Bunker Hill.  There were more than 100 generals more senior than Howe who could have taken the command. However, the prospect of crushing British subjects in the colonies did not appeal to many of them.

General Howe himself had promised his constituents during the last Parliamentary elections that he would not serve in the colonies.  Yet when the ministry called for service, General Howe felt he could not refuse. He indicated that he would aggressively suppress the rebellion.  But as we will see, his actions over the next few years suggest otherwise.

British Army Suffers Under the Siege

After taking command, Howe did not seem in any hurry to make any immediate major changes. He had been living over in Charlestown near Bunker Hill since the battle.  On Gage’s departure, Howe moved into Boston and turned over command of Charlestown to the next most senior general in theater, Henry Clinton. He sent back a letter on the same ship that returned Gage to London, informing Lord Dartmouth that the army should not remain in Boston, that they should evacuate by sea and land to Rhode Island where they would have more room to maneuver.

Gen. William Howe
(from Wikimedia)
Howe also locked down Boston even tighter, ordering that no one could leave the city on pain of death and that the remaining Bostonians would have to join in the defense of the city.

As with the Continental army, the real threat to the British army did not come from a potential military assault.  It came from hunger and disease. Over the winter, disease killed 20-30 soldiers per day.  More soldiers died in any one month over that Boston winter than died from bullet or bayonet on the battlefields of Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill combined.

Fatal disease was an inevitable part of almost any army, especially one stuck in a city.  It did not help health matters that food and firewood became increasingly scarce.  The patriots did not have any ships that could face a British ship of the line, or even many of the medium sized navy ships.  But British ships for transporting supplies, and even small naval vessels that found themselves separated from the fleet, became targets for New England whaleboats or schooners armed with cannons or swivel guns.  The navy grew increasingly frustrated as local self-appointed privateers harassed British shipping, and prevented the flow of food and firewood to Boston.

Admiral Samuel Graves informed the Admiralty in London that landings had become too dangerous and that the army would have to rely on supplies shipped from Britain rather than obtained locally.  Even British deliveries had their risks. In October, a transport carrying flour to Boston accidentally entered Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  Locals took the ship.  The crew became prisoners and the flour went to the Continental Army.

Meanwhile the regulars and civilians in Boston lived on ever smaller rations, mostly of salted meat.  One officer had his horse stolen, only to find it butchered and sold for meat in the market.

Feeling the pressure to provide more supplies, Graves ordered his ships to get more aggressive in acquiring food from local towns.  He also put his officers on notice to take prisoner any rebel officers, radical leaders, or members of the Continental Congress that they could capture.

Attack on Bristol

Graves had stationed part of his fleet near Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island.  A squad of several ships commanded by Captain James Wallace on the HMS Rose continually demanded locals sell them necessary food.  The local patriots grew more resistant.  Under the guns of the navy, they often insisted they had no food available.  On October 7 during one frustrating search for food, Wallace ordered his fleet to open fire on the town of Bristol, Rhode Island.  After the town sent a local official out to the ship to beg for a ceasefire, Wallace demanded 200 sheep and 30 cattle.  Again the local pleaded that they had no animals.  Finally the parties bargained down to 40 sheep, which the town supplied in order to avoid destruction.

Burning of Falmouth

A few days later, Graves sent a fleet from Boston to the north looking for towns to loot and destroy.  He deployed the fleet under the command of Lt. Henry Mowat, an experienced officer who had confronted patriots before.  Mowat had commanded the deployment that Graves had sent to Portsmouth New Hampshire in December 1774.  This was part of the mission to secure Fort William and Mary.  It also ended up sparking a local militia attack on the fort before Mowat could arrive.

Burning of Falmouth (from: Legacy-America)
In the spring of 1775, Mowat had sailed to Falmouth (modern day Portland, Maine) to protect a loyalist who was trying to repair and launch a ship there in violation of the colonial boycott.  The work took several weeks, during which time Lexington and Concord set off patriots everywhere.  A group of several hundred militia attempted to capture Mowat’s ship, the HMS Canceaux.  The ship was prepared to fight any attempt to take it, but the militia did capture Mowat himself, who had the misfortune to be ashore during the raid.  Mowat’s second in command threatened to level the town unless they militia released Mowat, which they did after a short time.  This event is sometimes called “Thompson’s War” after the militia commander who led the raid.

Months later in October, Mowat was tasked with making examples of some rebel towns along the coast.  He could think of not better target than Falmouth.  On October 17, He brought his fleet back to the town. He sent an officer ashore to announce to the townspeople that they had two hours before he would open fire and destroy the town.  The locals in  town hoped Mowat was bluffing.  They tied to buy their way out of destruction by providing supplies.  Mowat, however, was bent on destruction.  As it was getting late, he agreed to withhold fire until the following morning if the town turned over its arms.  The town came back with less than a dozen muskets, but it was enough to get Mowat to delay until morning.

The following morning, after a short delay to remove some women and children still in the town, the fleet opened fire.  Falmouth consisted of only about 200 buildings, but as they were far apart, burning each building took time.  The fleet spent about nine hours firing on the town and completely destroying 75% of the buildings.

Although Mowat had authority to destroy multiple towns up and down the coast, he decided that Falmouth was a good enough example.  The attack, however, did not inspire fear so much as it angered New Englanders, who supported the patriots even more as a result.

American Navy & Privateers

Congress had recently approved a Continental navy and a few colonies, such as Rhode Island had launched ships to attack and capture British ships.  But in late 1775, the threat to British shipping came primarily from privateers.  These were privately owned ships with private crews.  They essentially acted as pirates.  They would capture a ship, bring it to harbor, and sell the ship and its cargo to the highest bidder.  The ship’s owner, captain, and crew would divide up the profits as they saw fit.

Later in the war Congress would grant Letters of Marque to privateers authorizing them to attack British shipping.  But in 1775, before such letters existed, the only thing separating privateers from pirates was that they chose only to attack British ships, and that they had the support of most New Englanders when they brought their prizes back to port.

American Privateer Vessel (from MassMoments)
Since privateer efforts would have been prosecuted for piracy had the British won, there are not many records, especially early in the war, about the numbers of prizes captured or who exactly was involved.  But we do know that the British knew their ships were always at risk and that many would be lost if left without the protection of a well armed navy schooner or ship of the line.

To add to the privateers, Washington launched four ships in November working directly for the army.  The benefit of this first unofficial fleet was that captured prizes would benefit the army rather than get sold at market.  Ship crews, of course, would keep a percentage of any prize, just like the Royal Navy tradition, in order to keep them motivated.

The privateers and Washington’s squadron proved effective in keeping Boston from receiving provisions.  They also helped feed Washington’s army.  The most successful capture came when the Lee, named for Gen. Charles Lee, captured a large incoming supply ship the Nancy.  As the Nancy approached Boston, the captain spotted the Lee and signaled, thinking it was a pilot ship that would guide into the harbor.  The captain of the Lee sent over a crew in a longboat, hiding their muskets until they boarded and took the startled crew without a fight.

The patriots guided the Nancy to a nearby patriot controlled port where they took possession of a huge cache of arms and ammunition: 2,000 muskets, 8,000 fuses, 31 tons of musket balls, 3,000 cannonballs, one 13 inch cannon, 100,000 flints as well as other supplies.  The Continental Army, which was desperately short on muskets and flints, celebrated the capture as one of the most important successes that fall.  Meanwhile the British garrison at Boston suffered a critical loss of arms and ammunition, and received another reminder about how tenuous their position in Boston really was.

Phipp’s Farm

While the army in Boston largely had to rely on the Navy for food and supplies, it occasionally saw an opportunity of its own.  Phipps Farm sat just next to Charlestown Neck inside the patriot lines, but also just along the northern coast of Boston Harbor.

Siege of Boston, 1775
(from Wikimedia, original Marshall's Life of Washington)
The British regularly had transport ships in the harbor, moving soldiers between Boston and Charlestown, or loading men and equipment on and off navy vessels, so it was not unusual to see several longboats milling about.  As a result, the Continental sentries were not on high alert when they saw several boats full of soldiers near shore on November 9.

Then, using a prearranged signal, several boats turned at once and rushed ashore.  They captured one sentry and sent a few others scattering.  The patriots fired a few shots as the Regulars rounded up a field full of cattle and herded them across Charlestown Neck and into the British lines. I’ve seen differing accounts on how many cattle they got, but it ranged from about 10 to 45.  The army certainly ate well for a few days and no one got killed.

After the raid, Washington mounted entrenched artillery on top of Copp’s hill, overlooking both Charlestown and Phipp’s farm.  It served as a deterrent to future raids and also posed another potential threat to the British in Charlestown and Boston, that is if Washington ever got enough gunpowder to use his cannons against them.

Cold and Hungry Winter

As autumn turned to winter, the situation in Boston became worse.  Soldiers were surviving on one-third rations, and full rations were not that generous to begin with. Firewood, necessary both for warmth and cooking, became non-existent.  Early in the siege, Regulars had cut down the liberty tree and other trees in Boston Common.  Now pretty much all the trees were gone.  Howe condemned about 100 wooden buildings, including the North Church, to be used for firewood.

Over the winter, Britain sent a fleet of 36 supply ships to bring food to Boston.  Storms and privateers took out most, so that only 13 made it to Boston.  Of those, some found that up to 90% of the food supplies had spoiled in transit.

More and more, Howe and his generals accepted that their position was untenable.  It only reinforced the decision to abandon Boston.  Although Howe originally considered Rhode Island, he now favored New York City.  The large harbor would accommodate the naval fleet, and most thought the population in New York would be friendlier to the army than anywhere in New England.

British Soldiers riding in Old South Meeting House
(from Boston Tea Party Ship)
London continued to send reinforcements over the winter, but death from disease subtracted almost as many soldiers as the reinforcements added.  In November, Howe kicked out about 300 impoverished and sick civilians to eliminate a few hungry mouths.  Many of those removed had smallpox, which nevertheless continued to spread through the city.  Some of those civilians, however, reached Continental lines and helped spread smallpox to the Continental Army as well.

British officers in Boston attempted to keep up morale.  Soldiers turned the South Church into an indoor riding stable for horses, having already burned all the pews and other furniture.  Gen. John Burgoyne, now third in command behind Howe and Clinton had almost nothing to do.  He took to writing plays for the Army to perform, as he had done in London.  This may have been more offensive to Boston sensibilities than burning churches or turning them into stables.  Since the founding of the colony, live theater had been banned and was considered a grievous sin.  Burgoyne was not content to be morale officer anyway.  By fall, he was petitioning London to return home.  He finally received approval and left Boston on Dec. 5, 1775.

By the end of the year, it was clear to everyone that nothing was going to happen until spring.  The primary occupation of the army was searching for food and fuel.  There was always the chance that the Continentals might spring a surprise winter attack, which I suppose is why Howe did not begin shipping his army and loyalist civilians to another location, such as New York or Halifax, over the winter.

Admiral Graves Recalled

Another reason may have been that the navy had also deteriorated.  Unlike the army, the navy had not received many reinforcements during 1775.  A few ships had arrived, but not with more sailors for ships already there.  Crews had thinned, mostly due to disease and desertion, over the year. This left many ships at a questionable level of readiness.  Since the army had taken control of the marines, they did not have forces to conduct any sizable raids against towns either.  Graves also was the victim of cost cutting in London.  He had little funds to keep his ships in good repair.  Running ships at sea caused harm that required expensive repairs.  He did not have the men, money or material to use his ships aggressively.

Adm. Samuel Graves
(from Wikimedia)
Other than ordering the destruction of Falmouth and a few raids, Graves did rather little to further the cause since his promotion in early 1775.  He must have decided that hanging out and waiting to support the army if it ever decided to do anything was his main goal.  Gen. Gage wanted him to keep a substantial artillery presence in Boston Harbor in order to deter any attacks on the town.  Even so, one would expect an active officer to be running convoys and working more aggressively to find food for the army.  In August, Burgoyne wrote a scathing letter to Lord Germain in London essentially saying that Graves was doing nothing: not supplying the troops, not defending islands in the harbor, not engaged in communication and intelligence, and not inspiring fear among the rebels.  I don’t think anyone would describe Graves as aggressive.

Part of the problem may have been that Graves did not respect, nor even like Gen. Gage.  Graves seemed to consider Gage incompetent.  There was also a social dispute between their wives which did not help.  Graves seemed to care little about assisting the army in any way.  I already mentioned how Graves charged a fee to let starving soldiers fish in the harbor.  Graves also rejected several attempts by Gage to send army authorized vessels in search of food or fuel.  Not only would the navy refuse to find food, Graves made it difficult for the army to get its own food.  When Gage received his recall papers in September, Graves and his officers held a small celebration aboard ship.  Graves, however, did not get along any better with the new commander, General Howe.

In fact, Graves did not seem to get along with much of anyone.  His subordinate officers obeyed his orders, but seemed to quietly object to the fact that he favored his nephews for good assignments and promotion.  In August, Graves got into a fist fight in the streets of Boston with Customs Commission Benjamin Hallowell after Graves refused to give Hallowell a permit to harvest his own hay on an island in the harbor for the benefit of the army.

In September, just about the time Gen. Gage was receiving his orders to return to London, the Admiralty decided to recall Graves.  They ordered Rear Admiral Molyneux Shuldham to take over for him.  Shuldham did not arrive until late December, when he had the uncomfortable task of informing his superior officer that he was taking charge.  Graves, who apparently thought he was doing a wonderful job was surprised by the recall.

He left for London in January 1776, arriving a few months later.  The Admiralty offered him the command of the fleet in Plymouth, England, which he refused.  He remained in active service but without a command, receiving two more promotions in later years.  He would never return to America.

Meanwhile the British army in Boston shivered through the rest of the winter winter, cold hungry and dying of disease.

- - -

Next Episode 75 Continental Congress, Autumn 1775 (Available Dec. 16, 2018)

Previous Episode 73 Siege of Boston, Autumn Edition

Click here to donate
American Revolution Podcast is distributed 100% free of charge. If you can chip in to help defray my costs, I'd appreciate whatever you can give.  Also, see the very bottom of this page to see how you can support this podcast by making purchases you would make anyway on Amazon.  Thanks, Mike Troy

Visit for a list of all episodes.

Visit for free downloads of all podcast episodes.

Further Reading


Thompson's War and the Buring of Falmouth

Liberty Threatened: Maine in 1775:

Privateers of the Revolution:

The Lee Captures the Nancy:

Lee Captures the Nancy:

The Hallowell-Graves Fisticuffs, 1775, Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society
Third Series, Vol. 63 (Oct., 1929 - Jun., 1930), pp. 22-51, (free to read online, requires registration).

Food, Fuel, and the New England Environment in the War for Independence, 1775-1776, by David C. Hsiung, The New England Quarterly, Vol. 80, No. 4 (2007), pp. 614-654: (free to read online, requires registration).  Draft copy available without registration at

Free eBooks
(from unless noted)

Clark, William Naval Documents Of The American Revolution, Vol 1, Washington: US GPO, 1964.

Dana, Elizabeth Elery (ed) John Barker diary - The British in Boston, 1774-1776, Cambridge: Harvard Univ Press, 1924.

Neeser, Robert (ed) The despatches of Molyneux Shuldham, vice-admiral of the Blue and commander-in-chief of His Britannic Majesty's ships in North America, January-July, 1776, New York: Naval Historical Society, 1913.

Books Worth Buying
(links to unless otherwise noted)*

Beck, Derek The War Before Independence: 1775-1776, Naperville, Ill: Sourcebooks, 2016.

Gratwick, Harry The Maritime Marauder of Revolutionary Maine: Captain Henry Mowat, Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2015.

Lockhart, Paul The Whites of Their Eyes, New York: Harper Collins, 2011.

Nelson, James L. George Washington’s Secret Navy: How the American Revolution Went to Sea, New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008 (book recommendation of the week).

Philbrick, Nathaniel Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution, New York: Penguin Books, 2013.

Phillips, Kevin 1775: A Good Year for Revolution,  New York: Penguin Books, 2012.

Smith, David Whispers Across the Atlantick: General William Howe and the American Revolution, Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2017.

Wahll, Andrew J. Henry Mowat: Voyage of the Canceaux 1764-1776. Abridged Logs of H. M. Armed Ship Canceaux, Heritage Books, 2003

* This site is a registered Amazon Associate.  Please help support this site by purchasing any of these books, or any other Amazon product, via the links on this site.  If you start by clicking on a book link above and then browse to buy something completely different on Amazon, American Revolution Podcast will get credit for your purchase.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Episode 073: Siege of Boston, Autumn Edition

When I last focused on Boston more than a month ago, we left Washington during the summer of 1775, trying to get his officers to stop bickering with one another, creating the filthy mob he found in Cambridge into an army, and dealing with a shocking lack of ammunition.

Rejected Plan of Attack

In hindsight, the lack of ammunition may have saved the patriot cause.  Washington, by nature, was one to rush into an attack and expected all of his men to behave as bravely as he did.  That tendency led to his defeat in the Ohio Valley twenty years earlier.  But even the daring Washington would not presume to attack Boston without sufficient ammunition to arm his soldiers.  This forced the General to spend more time training and organizing his army.

Washington really wanted to invade the city of Boston right away and finish this war as quickly as possible.  By autumn he had acquired a little more gunpowder and was ready for a real fight. At a council of war, he proposed using a fleet of small whaleboats to cross into Boston, and storm the regulars in street fighting. His council of war unanimously rejected the proposal.  Getting men to defend an entrenched position was one thing.  Getting them to row across open water, while being attacked by navy cannon and regular musket fire, then make an amphibious landing and assault an entrenched army, was really too much to ask.  Even if the men did not retreat in the face of withering fire, most of them would be mowed down before they reached shore.

Siege of Boston, 1775 (from Wikimedia, original Marshall's Life of Washington)
It was a crazy plan.  His subordinate officers were more tactful in their comments.  Gen. Charles Lee said he was not well acquainted enough with the army to judge if the soldiers could do it, and therefore felt it was too great a risk.  Gen. John Sullivan argued that it might be better to wait for winter, when Boston Harbor froze solid and the soldiers could walk across the ice.  Gen.  Artemas Ward still argued that they should just occupy Dorchester Heights with artillery.  From there, they could blast the city or the navy in the harbor, and force the British into another Bunker Hill style assault.  Washington brought up his water invasion proposal several times over the next few months, only to be frustrated that no one else wanted to go along.

When a committee headed by Benjamin Franklin visited the camp in September, Washington discussed his proposal with them. Franklin, who had no first hand military experience, diplomatically suggested that he was not qualified to make any recommendation on the proposal, but would refer the question back to the Continental Congress for more discussion.

Although Washington’s attack plans were, at best risky, there was more behind his thinking than simple impatience.  The Continental Army was plagued with disease.  Smallpox, dysentery, and other illnesses would kill hundreds of soldiers over the course of the winter.  Also, the men had little food, shelter or clothing to get through the winter.  Congress’ ability to provide such necessities was dubious.  Finally, most of the army had signed up for duty through the end of the year.  If nothing happened by December, most of the soldiers might return home rather than sit for more months in a disease infested camp where they starved and froze.

Despite these concerns, all of Washington’s officers thought a suicide march into British guns did not make any more sense.  With Washington’s attack plans frustrated, the two armies continued their siege with only minor skirmishes to break up the monotony of camp life.

Rifleman Mutiny

One of the biggest problems of having a standing army with little to do, is that the soldiers get bored and then get into trouble.  Some of the biggest troublemakers turned out to be the riflemen.

Congress had authorized riflemen from Virginia and Pennsylvania to join the Continental Army.  By fall, the army had over 1400 of them.  The great benefit of rifles, as I have mentioned before, is that they can hit a man at 200 yards, while a musket is only good at around 50 yards at best.  Most soldiers still used muskets, because rifles took too long to load, and quickly became fouled after multiple shots left a crusty buildup inside the barrel.

Virginia Rifleman (form Johannfactotum)
Despite these battlefield limitations, riflemen proved highly valuable for picking off sentries across the harbor, and could be used to take out officers during a battle.  These were also the first soldiers to join the army from outside New England, meaning the grateful New Englanders wanted to show how happy they were to have them.  The Virginia, Pennsylvnaia, and Maryland riflemen serving under officers like Daniel Morgan, William Thompson, and Michael Cresap became heroes around camp, impressing soldiers with their marksmanship.  The men stood apart from the rest of the army, with their frontier style hunting shirts.  They received preferential treatment with their own separate encampments and an exemption from fatigue duty.

Of course, the special treatment went to their heads, and riflemen began to think they could get away with anything.  They spent most of their days and nights sitting around drinking and telling each other about exploits from their lives on the frontier.  They also developed an attitude that they did not need to take orders from anyone.

On September 10, one of the officers in Thompson’s Rifle Brigade had a sergeant arrested for neglect of duty and threw him in the stock-house.  Several of his buddies discussed breaking him out, as they had done for other comrades a couple of times before.  After the officer heard about the discussions, he also ordered the arrest of the ringleader.  A few hours later, the men broke out of the shack where they were being held and went back to their company.  At this point. Col. Thompson and his officers recaptured the prisoners and ordered them taken to the main guardhouse in Cambridge.

About 20 minutes later, 32 riflemen took up their weapons and started marching to Cambridge with the intent of freeing their comrades.  Thompson then sent an express rider to Washington, explaining what was about to happen.

Washington, who was all about military discipline, was not going to allow soldiers to engage in jailbreak without consequences.  Upon receiving the message, he quickly assembled 500 soldiers with loaded muskets and fixed bayonets.  They surrounded the guardhouse where the prisoners were being held.

Washington then rode out personally to intercept the riflemen still marching toward headquarters.  Seeing the large guard assembled, the riflemen decided this was not such a good idea after all.  They took cover behind some trees.  Washington rode out and ordered them to ground their rifles.  He had six of the ringleaders arrested and marched the rest back to camp for local punishment.

Now in the regular army, a mutiny like this would likely result in some executions.  But Continental officers realized that lax discipline up until this time was probably partially responsible.  The men would likely become good soldiers under proper discipline. The following day, a court martial sentenced all of the mutineers to a mere fine of twenty shillings each.  One mutineer served an additional six days in jail, but no one even got flogged.

The incident seemed to bring the riflemen into line.  Washington also saw to it that the riflemen started to work on fatigue duty to help keep them busy.

Benedict Arnold's Independent Command

As Washington waited in Cambridge mostly trying to keep his bored army in line, he followed events in New York as Gen. Schuyler and Montgomery began their assault across Lake Champlain toward St. Jean.

Washington's Cambridge Headquarters (from Wikimedia)
In late summer, Col. Benedict Arnold had come to Cambridge to fight with the Provincial Congress about paying his expenses for taking Fort Ticonderoga.  During his time in Cambridge, Arnold met Washington and discussed a whole range of military and political issues with him.  Despite Arnold’s abrasive personality, Washington seemed to respect his initiative and ability.  Arnold was a fighter, not some politician/officer who had only talked a good game so far.

After further discussion, Washington gave Arnold an independent command.  Arnold would take a force by sea up to what is today Maine.  From there, his army would march overland toward Quebec.  There, they would meet up with General Schuyler and work together to take the city.  Given Arnold’s previous history in defying orders of superior officers, Washington made very clear to him that once he met up with Schuyler’s force, his independent command came to an end, and he would follow orders from Generals Schuyler or Montgomery.

Arnold, who had been a Col. in the Massachusetts militia, received a commission as a Colonel in the Continental Army.  Washington gave him a command of about 1100 soldiers, including a few companies of highly prized riflemen.  Arnold’s brigade set off for the Kennebec River in Maine some time in September.  We will take up that mission in a future episode.

Arrest of Benjamin Church

With Arnold off to Quebec, Washington soon found he had a much more serious issue to deal with: treason.  As I mentioned in earlier episodes, Benjamin Church, head of the Massachusetts Committee of Safety, and now chief medical officer for the Continental Army, had been sending messages to General Gage in Boston since well before Lexington and Concord.

With military lines now preventing anyone from entering or leaving the Boston, messages had become increasingly difficult.  The Royal Navy still maintained a presence at Newport, Rhode Island where it was easier to interact with British officers.  Church wrote a letter  addressed to a Major Cane Cane in Boston.  He wrote the letter in cypher to avoid detection.  The letter called for more attempts to reach a peaceful settlement, but also gave the British intelligence about the troop numbers of the Continental Army and their munitions.  It discussed the planned attack on Canada as well as events at the Continental Congress.

Benjamin Church (from Wikimedia)
Church could not deliver this letter personally, even in Newport.  His visit to Boston on the day after Lexington and Concord still left many leading patriots suspicious of him.  Instead he used a woman as a courier.  Some accounts say she was one of his mistresses, others that she was a prostitute, although those characterizations may be a way of lowering Church’s reputation after the scandal broke.

The woman hid the letter and attempted to reach Captain James Wallace of the HMS Rose at Newport.  Since she did not know Wallace, she asked an old friend named Godfrey Wenwood to introduce them.  She let slip to Wenwood that she had a letter she needed to get to Boston.  Wenwood, a patriot, grew suspicious.  He told her that she might be in danger if she delivered the letter.  He got her to give him the letter and said he would take care of it.

Wenwood opened the letter and saw that it was in cipher, making him even more suspicious.  After a few weeks, Church somehow found out his letter had not yet arrived.  He wrote the woman to ask, and she again turned to Wenwood.  Now convinced that this message was no good, Wenwood delivered it to patriot leader Henry Ward in Providence.  Ward sent it to Gen. Nathanael Greene who then informed Gen. Washington of the letter.

Washington had the woman arrested and interrogated.  They agreed to keep the woman’s identity a secret if she identified who gave it to her.  Eventually, she gave up Church’s name.  Washington then had Church arrested and his papers searched.

Either Church was extremely careful, or got an advance notice of the search, but nothing in his papers turned up anything improper.  Washington had the letter deciphered.  Church admitted it was his and that the translation was correct.  However, he argued that his intent was not espionage.  He had deliberately overstated patriot strength in an attempt to get Gen. Gage to negotiate a peaceful solution to the siege.

Washington ordered a court martial, but that only raised a whole host of legal questions.  First, the Continental Congress had not passed any laws against treason.  Massachusetts defined treason as defying the King.  If anything, Church was working for the King, at least more so than any of his accusers.  Even if there had been a treason law, many were divided on whether Church was a traitor or just an idiot.

For the moment, the court martial simply ordered Church confined until the Continental Congress could decide what to do with him.  Next, the Massachusetts House of Representatives, which had recently replaced the Provincial Congress, began proceedings against Church.  Again, he argued he was passing along misinformation in an attempt to force Gage into peace negotiations.  The House did not buy his story.  It ruled that, although he was in military custody, if ever released, he should be held for trial by Massachusetts.  In October 1775, the Continental Congress formally removed Church as Physician-in-Chief of the Army.

Church would linger in a Connecticut prison for over two years.  At one point in 1777, the British tried to return him to England as part of a prisoner exchange, but the plan fell through.  In January 1778 Massachusetts ordered him expelled and placed him on a ship headed for Martinique.  That ship, disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle, never to be seen again.  So with that, Church was gone forever.  His family made it to London where the government gave his wife a pension for her husband’s services.

The patriots were never entirely sure if Church was a full blown traitor or not.  It was not until more than a century later, when historians got ahold of Gen. Gage’s personal papers, that they found Church had been passing intelligence to the British for months.

Church’s arrest also ferreted out another spy.  Benjamin Thompson was prominent New Hampshire colonist.  Although strongly loyalist, he had pretended to be a patriot for years to protect his property from destruction or confiscation.  He had apparently assisted Church in delivering some messages to Gage.

After Church’s arrest, Thompson made his way to Newport and caught a ship into Boston.  From there, he traveled to London where he eventually received a commission in the British Army.  He returned to fight with the regulars in New York later in the war.

Henry Knox: New Commander of Artillery

In November, Washington appointed a new artillery commander for the army.  The current artillery chief, Richard Gridley had given a rather mediocre performance at Bunker Hill.  While not court martialed like his son, his battlefield performance was not exactly inspiring.  Washington still valued his services as the army’s chief engineer, but turned over command of the artillery to Henry Knox.

Like many appointments, Knox seems like a questionable choice to command all artillery for the Continental Army.  The 25 year old had owned a bookstore in Boston before the war.  On the day of Lexington, he fled the city with little more than a sword and his wife.  The British later looted and trashed his bookstore.

Henry Knox (from Wikimedia)
Knox’s military experience was limited mostly to reading military books in his store.  He had volunteered with the colonial militia and had some simple artillery training there.  In 1773, he managed to blow off two of his own fingers while firing a fowling musket at wild birds.

Knox had also been an active member of the Sons of Liberty, but he never saw any combat.  He did some reconnaissance during the battle of Bunker Hill, but never fired a weapon in battle, nor did he receive a commission or enlist in the provincial army.  He did work on military matters as a civilian volunteer, what we today might call a consultant.

When Washington came to Cambridge, Knox, along with his apparently very attractive wife, Lucy, dined with the new commander on several occasions.  Washington was apparently impressed with the young man’s ideas for the new army’s artillery.  On November 17, Washington agreed to make him commander of artillery in the Continental Army.

A few weeks later, Washington dispatched Col. Knox to Fort Ticonderoga to retrieve the captured artillery for use against Boston.  Knox set out on his first mission, which will be the subject of an upcoming episode.

Maintaining the Army

By September, it had become clear to Washington that there would be no break in the siege by the end of the year.  He wrote a series of letters to the Continental Congress explaining why things would continue and requesting that Congress prepare for winter quarters and clothing for the army.  He also expressed concerns over expiration of enlistments in December and the lack of funding to supply the soldiers with what they needed to continue.

At a council of war on October 8, Washington and his Generals agreed they would need over 20,000 soldiers for the 1776 fighting season.  Washington hoped to form 28 regiments of Continental regulars who would serve until the end of 1776.  He also attempted to mix together men from different states, so that regiments would not be exclusively Massachusetts men or Connecticut men.  The command changes upset many soldiers who now wanted to leave even more.

Congress, which still had no money or much of anything else to help Washington, gave authority to impress wagons, horses, ships, and anything else he needed to supply his army. By the beginning of September, less than 5000 men had enlisted for 1776, less than a quarter of Washington’s goal.

Even if Washington had enough food, clothing, and shelter for a 20,000 man army, the men were not eager to reenlist.  Most were looking forward to returning home in December.  Washington tried to encourage re-enlistments.  He promised soldiers an opportunity to return home for a visit over the winter.  He also began rationing supplies to those units that agreed to reenlist.  Even so, most men would not budge.  He even required that any man leaving the army could not take his musket.  Even though most men had brought their personal weapons, they would be forced to give them to the army and receive a promissory note for the value.

At the beginning of December, the enlistments of several Connecticut regiments expired.  Several units even picked up and headed home a few days before their December 10 expiration.  The officers tried everything to get the men to remain.  An exasperated Gen. Lee threatened to order the men to charge Bunker Hill (where they would almost certainly be mowed down by British defenses).  The men would not be moved.  On December 10, most of them returned home.

That was not the end though, on their trip home, locals treated them like deserters and refused any assistance or accommodation.  When they got home, they found the sentiments of their townspeople similarly cold.  Many of the men would eventually return to duty.

By the end of the year, Washington had succeeded in enlisting almost 10,000 men for the following year, about half his goal.  Several more regiments, though refusing to commit to another year, agreed to remain until more reinforcements arrived.  Local militia also fielded about 5000 men for temporary duty.  As a result, Washington’s total force remained over 15,000, or more than double the British garrison in Boston.

- - -

Next Episode 74 Occupation of Boston Autumn 1775 (Available Dec. 9, 2018)

Previous Episode 72 The Siege of St. Jean

Click here to donate
American Revolution Podcast is distributed 100% free of charge. If you can chip in to help defray my costs, I'd appreciate whatever you can give.  Also, see the very bottom of this page to see how you can support this podcast by making purchases you would make anyway on Amazon.  Thanks, Mike Troy

Visit for a list of all episodes.

Visit for free downloads of all podcast episodes.

Further Reading:


Harrington, Hugh Patriot Riflemen During the Ammunition Crisis at the Siege of Boston in 1775,  (2000):

Hannum, Patrick "Americas First Combat Casualty" Journal of the Am. Rev., Feb. 2017:

Was Church a Traitor?

Spy letter from Benjamin Church:

Transcript of Church Hearings before Massachusetts House:

Baule, Steven M. "Richard Gridley: a Nearly Forgotten Patriot" Journal of the American Revolution, 2013:

Henry Knox:

Hsiung, David C. "Food, Fuel, and the New England Environment in the War for Independence, 1775-1776" The New England Quarterly, Vol. 80, No. 4 (2007), pp. 614-654: (free to read online, requires registration).

Free eBooks
(from unless noted)

Brooks, Noah Henry Knox, a Soldier of the Revolution, New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1900.

Dana, Elizabeth Elery (ed) John Barker diary - The British in Boston, 1774-1776, Cambridge: Harvard Univ Press, 1924.

Martyn, Charles The life of Artemas Ward, the first commander-in-chief of the American Revolution, New York: Artemas Ward, 1921.

Parsons, Theophilus Summary of the proceedings against Dr. Benjamin Church in court-martial for treason, October, 1775, General Washington presiding [manuscript] 1775.

Books Worth Buying
(links to unless otherwise noted)*

Beck, Derek The War Before Independence: 1775-1776, Naperville, Ill: Sourcebooks, 2016.

Chernow, Ron Washington: A Life, New York: Penguin Press, 2010.

Lockhart, Paul The Whites of Their Eyes, New York: Harper Collins, 2011.

Nagy, John Dr. Benjamin Church, Spy: A Case of Espionage on the Eve of the American Revolution, Yardley, PA: Westholme, 2013 (book recommendation of the week)

Philbrick, Nathaniel Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution, New York: Penguin Books, 2013.

Phillips, Kevin 1775: A Good Year for Revolution,  New York: Penguin Books, 2012.

Puls, Mark Henry Knox: Visionary General of the American Revolution, New York: St. Martin's Press, 2010.

* This site is a registered Amazon Associate.  Please help support this site by purchasing any of these books, or any other Amazon product, via the links on this site.  If you start by clicking on a book link above and then browse to buy something completely different on Amazon, American Revolution Podcast will get credit for your purchase.