Sunday, September 30, 2018

Episode 064: The Second Continental Congress Begins

On the morning of May 10th, 1775, just hours after Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen stormed Fort Ticonderoga, and three weeks into the Siege of Boston, the Second Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia.

Getting Organized

The First Continental Congress, which I looked at back in Episode 48, had set this date to meet when it disbanded at the end of October in 1774.  At that time, its purpose was to decide was steps to take next if the King and Parliament refused to take acceptable action on their petitions.  Well, not only had London refused to consider the petitions, but now war had broken out. Congress had to play catch up with what was now a shooting war.

Many of the representatives were returning from the First Congress.  There were some new faces though who would have major roles.  John Hancock had joined the Massachusetts delegation.  Benjamin Franklin, returned from London and sat with the Pennsylvania delegation.  Thomas Jefferson joined from Virginia, replacing Peyton Randolph a few weeks into the session.  Georgia had not sent a delegation to the First Congress, This time, one Georgia parish, sent a single delegate, Lyman Hall.  A full delegation would arrive a few months later.

Congress met in Pennsylvania's legislative hall,
later known as Independence Hall. (from General Atomic)
The Second Congress seemed more willing to take more radical action than the First Congress. Part of that was the fact that several prominent Tories who had gone to the First Congress now decided that further participation could be seen as treason.  Part of it also was that many moderates had seen intervening events and recognized that the outbreak of war required a new response.

Congress essentially broke down into three factions.  The most conservative faction led by men like John Dickinson of Pennsylvania, still wanted to return to the relationship that the colonies had with Parliament at the end of the French and Indian War.  Parliament held authority over the Empire, but essentially respected the rights of the colonies to govern and tax themselves.  Even these most conservative delegates would be considered radicals by Parliament’s standards though.

Most delegates probably fell into the middle moderate category. They believed that Parliament could not be trusted to govern the colonies.  They still hoped to fashion a compromise with London that would allow the colonial legislatures to govern and tax themselves, but still operate as loyal subjects to the King.  They wanted a new power sharing arrangement that would keep them within the protection of the Empire.  Most of the southern delegates fell into this category, as well as some from other regions.

Finally, the most radical faction accepted the idea that with war having come, there really was no option other than full independence.  John Adams and a few other New Englanders had reached this conclusion, but they dared not express it openly in Congress yet.  They realized they needed the moderates to bring the other colonies into the fight.  They could not afford to scare them away.  As events progressed, they hoped others would accept that nothing would work but independence.

Peyton Randolph of Virginia, who had presided over most of the First Continental Congress, received unanimous reelection to the Second.  Randolph a lawyer from one of the wealthiest and most prominent families in Virginia was a well respected moderate.  Within weeks, he had to return home though.  Congress then elected John Hancock to preside over Congress.

The first few weeks of Congress were a scene of chaos and confusion for the delegates as they received the depositions from Lexington and Concord.  The siege of Boston involving tens of thousands of armed militia was only one issue.  Congress soon began to receive reports about the capture of Fort Ticonderoga.  All over the Continent, colonists rose up, formed armies, and confiscated arms and ammunition from public armories.  They forced royal governors, and even outspoken Tories, to flee for their lives.  The small contingent of British regulars in New York were stuck on navy ships in the harbor.  The soldiers dared not set foot on land.

Royal governors up and down the continent found their positions completely untenable.  Absent arrival of British Regulars, each governor realized his options were becoming limited to being asked to leave, being taken prisoner, or joining the Patriot cause.  No governor with a royal appointment took the third option, not even Gov. William Franklin of New Jersey, who split permanently with his father Benjamin, now in the Continental Congress.  Only the elected Governor of Connecticut, Jonathan Trumbull transitioned to the patriot leadership.

More Negotiations or War?

One of Congress’ first decisions was whether their goals had changed.  Were they seeking independence?  Were they supporting an armed rebellion? Or were they simply trying to get the King and Parliament to move back to the status quo.

John Dickinson gave a lengthy speech urging Congress not to go too far too fast.  His views really had not changed much since he wrote the Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania years earlier to stir up opposition to the Townshend Acts.  Dickinson thought they had three options.  One was to stop talking to London and simply fight the war.  Dickinson raised fears of British-incited slave revolts in the south, using the French and Indians against New England and devastation by regular army and navy as making this option far too dangerous.

John Dickinson
(from American History Central)
His next option was to continue military opposition while petitioning the King and Parliament once again.  Although previous petitions fell on deaf ears, now that Lexington and Concord had shown the colonists would fight, perhaps London would be more amenable to petitions.  The third option would be to send negotiators to London to work out a solution in person.  To Dickinson, this seemed like the best option.

Dickinson’s position requesting that Parliament simply restore the status quo put him squarely within mainstream patriot thought from five years earlier. Others though, had moved on.  Most delegates realized that they could never trust Parliament to support their best interests.  They wanted complete autonomy over domestic affairs, with only a shared loyalty to the King.  A few did not even want that, but they were keeping quiet, at least for now.  Several delegates spoke in opposition to Dickinson, including Patrick Henry.  Even that outspoken Virginia radical did not propose Independence.  John and Samuel Adams both opposed Dickinson’s ideas in letters written afterwards.  They did not want to appear too radical to the rest of Congress in the debates quite yet.  The Massachusetts delegation still feared, the rest of the colonies saying you guys are nuts and leaving them to fight a war on their own.

The Dickinson debates resulted in four votes, the first three nearly unanimous, referring to themselves as “his majesty’s most faithful subjects” had been put in a precarious situation that unfortunately resulted in the battles at Lexington and Concord, that all the colonies would work toward defending their fellow citizens in Massachusetts, and that they hoped for a restoration of harmony between the colonies and the mother country, though they stayed away from any specifics about what that “harmony” might entail.  The fourth vote passed only narrowly, to submit another petition to the King calling for negotiations to work out an acceptable power sharing plan.

The fact that the last vote was so controversial says that most delegates accepted that the time for talk really was over.  Based on the next few weeks, it seems clear that even many of those who supported another petition, did not see much coming from it.  They would prepare for war, but if you want to send another document to the King, knock yourself out.

The final votes on the debate took place on May 26, just one day after the HMS Cerberus landed in Boston, bringing the first military reinforcements from London.

News of Fort Ticonderoga

During the debates on a petition, word reached  Congress about Allen and Arnold capturing Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point.  Unlike Lexington and Concord, which could be portrayed as self defense against British aggression, capture of these forts clearly constituted an aggressive act of war.  For the moderates and conservatives still looking for a negotiated peace, this was a nightmare.

John Adams
(from Journal of Am. Rev.)
Although Allen claimed his capture in the name of the Continental Congress, no one in Philadelphia heard of the attack before it was over.  It is almost certain Congress never would have approved it ahead of time.  Not only did it create a divide between the war factions and negotiation factions in Congress. It started a big colonial dispute as well.

New York was probably the most pro-loyalist colony among those attending the Congress.  The fact that extra-legal committees from Massachusetts and Connecticut approved an invasion into New York without notice or consent did not sit well with many New Yorkers.  The fact that Ethan Allen was involved only made things worse.  Many NY delegates considered the man a terrorist.

To keep New York happy and prevent any further conflict, Massachusetts agreed to turn over the Fort to New York, but asked that the cannon be shipped to Boston for use in the Siege.  There is actually very little in the Congressional records about Ticonderoga.  Apparently most of the discussions were done in committee and without much written record.  What we do know though, shows that Congress simply was not ready to start managing a war before it even decided to create an army.

Creating an Army

With the Dickinson debates over, Congress in early June finally turned to the matter of creating an army.  It was clear that the Massachusetts Provincial Congress was in over its head.  The Massachusetts delegation had been pushing all along to get the other colonies more involved in the fighting.  When Benjamin Church arrived with news from Boston and Joseph Warren’s request that Congress take control of its army, Congress got down to business.

After a few days of debate, Congress agreed to support a 10,000 man army in Massachusetts and a 5000 man army in New York.   The Army in Massachusetts already far exceeded 10,000 men, so I guess not all of them would be able to go on the Continental payroll.  Many of those besieging Boston were happy to stay in their militia and not join this new Continental Army.  The New York Army would need to incorporate New York militia, which had not flocked to Boston in significant numbers.  But with the capture of Crown Point and Ticonderoga, New York would likely have to defend against a British invasion from Canada.  Congress also made an effort to ensure some of the middle colonies at least got involved in the conflict.  It called for six companies of riflemen to be raised in Pennsylvania, still one of the most reluctant Colonies to commit to the cause.  Maryland and Virginia would also raise two companies of riflemen each.

Spanish Silver Dollar broken into pieces of eight
(from the2nomads). 
To pay for all this, Congress authorized raising $2 million Spanish dollars.  This act alone probably needs explanation on multiple levels.  First, why are we now using Spanish dollars instead of pounds?  The spanish silver dollar had become common currency throughout the Americas.  Spanish colonial gold and silver mines sent their product to mints, also in Latin America, meaning that lots of this hard money circulated all over the western hemisphere. A shortage of British hard currency in America caused colonists to turn to spanish dollars. About four Spanish dollars was worth about 1 British pound.  Spanish dollars were often broken into eighths.  They literally broke the coin into pieces.  This is where we get the term “pieces of eight” sometimes used in pirate movies.  The pieces were often called “bits” which is why today we still call a quarter of a dollar “two bits”.  Calculating the authorization in Spanish dollars, meant that no single colonial currency would be involved and that the authorization would likely hold its value, unlike colonial currencies which often sank with inflation.

Where did Congress get the authority to do this?  The Continental Congress really was just a meeting of colonial delegations to discuss foreign policy.  It had no authority to raise taxes or spend large sums of money.  Congress simply decided to act on its own.  It called upon each of the colonies to pony up the necessary funds.  Success in collecting that money was mixed at best, and would prove an ongoing problem for the next decade or so.  But for now, Congress would issue paper notes, essentially IOUs promising to pay the bearer in Spanish hard currency, at some point, when they could get their hands on it.  For now, we cannot worry about the money, we’ve got a war to fight.  Maybe we’ll all be dead before the bills come due anyway.

Picking a General

Having approved the creation of an army, Congress next had to select someone to lead it.  Doing this was no easy task.  First, there were no experienced Generals in America, unless you count militia generals who may never have seen combat, or those guys in Massachusetts who the Provincial Congress made Generals a few weeks earlier.  This new leader would have to create a whole new army and put it into battle against British regulars almost immediately.

But military ability was only one consideration.  Another was loyalty to Congress.  Next to defeat, The greatest fear of many delegates was that they would create a successful General who would become the next Cromwell, the Puritan General who overthrew King Charles I and then Parliament a century earlier.  Armies had a way of turning into dictatorships.  Any military leader could not have anything even hinting at such an inclination.

Another consideration was diversity.  Political leaders wanted to make sure the new commanders would represent many different colonies.  If all the colonies were going to participate in the fighting, they simply could not be seen to be joining a Massachusetts army.  The Continental Army had to be truly continental, with leaders from North, south, and middle.

Congress considered a number of people.  Although this debate did not make it into the records, we know from letters and other recollections what delegates were debating among themselves, probably mostly in evening discussions at taverns over a few beers.

One of the top military leaders allied with the patriot cause was Charles Lee, who had served as at Lt. Col. in the British Army.  He had seen combat in America and Europe during the Seven Years War, and had served in the Polish and Portuguese armies to get more battlefield experience when Britain was a peace.  Unable to secure a full colonelcy, Lee retired from the Army and moved to Virginia in 1773.  Now, he was in Philadelphia, offering his services to Congress.  Despite his battlefield experience, Lee was a professional soldier, and a bit of a mercenary, having served in several foreign armies.  Congress was not ready to hand over command to someone who might not be completely dedicated to the political cause.

Charles Lee
(from Wikimedia)
Artemas Ward, the Commander and Chief of the Massachusetts Provincial Army was another top contender, since he was essentially already doing the job.  But Ward was old, and had already proven sickly on several occasions.  Besides, Congress really wanted to look outside of Massachusetts.  Not even the Massachusetts delegation was pushing for Ward.

John Hancock had been the titular commander of the Massachusetts militia at one point.  But he really had not commanded men in combat.  Besides, he seems to have taken the political route, becoming the President of Congress. He was from Massachusetts at a time when everyone seemed to be looking for someone from another colony.

Horatio Gates also got serious attention.  Like Lee, he had served for many years in the British Army, rising to Major, and eventually retired to Virginia.  Gates was old enough to have fought in the War of Austrian Succession.  He followed Gen. Braddock to America at the beginning of the Seven Years war, marching alongside fellow officers Thomas Gage and Charles Lee, along with militia officer George Washington, at the Battle of the Monongahela in 1755.  He served throughout the war and as a peacetime officer through the 1760’s.  Eventually, however, he realized he did not have the money nor influence for further promotions and retired to a farm in Virginia.  Again, Congress liked his experience but was not sure about his dedication to the cause and Congress to make him overall commander.

Finally, there was George Washington.  The delegate from Virginia, in a classic case of dressing for the job you want, not the job you have, began attending Congressional sessions in his Virginia Militia uniform.  Although Washington had experience from the French and Indian War, he had done little to distinguish himself during the war.  He lost most of the battles in which he fought.  He had tried to get a commission in the regular army and failed.  He had been commander of the Virginia militia, but had been primarily a ceremonial leader for the past decade, pursuing instead the life of a gentleman farmer and part time politician.  He had not even taken up arms when Virginia had fought Lord Dunmore’s war against the Indians a year earlier.

All that said, Washington seemed to meet all the criteria.  He had decent military experience.  He was from Virginia, which would help bring the south into the war.  He seemed dedicated to the idea of civilian rule and to Congressional authority.  According to some, the tall silent Washington just looked like a military commander.  Perhaps it’s not the best reason to choose a commander based on looks, but it seems like it was a factor.

Congress select George Washington as Commander in Chief
(from Wikimedia)
John Adams rose on June 15 to propose a new Commander in Chief.  Evidently, he had not discussed his choice even with the members of the Massachusetts delegation.  As he began his speech, according to several witnesses, John Hancock thought he might be the nominee.  After a few minutes, he realized Adams was talking about Washington, which his change of expression made known to everyone in the room.

Washington immediately left the room so delegates could debate without him present.  After surprisingly little debate, Congress unanimously selected Washington.

There is no evidence that Washington wanted or sought the position directly.  Some historians have argued it would have been unseemly to campaign for the job, which is true, and that Washington was subtly jockeying for it by wearing his uniform to Congress and working on all the military committees there.

Washington did see himself as a military expert, and probably expected to get some high ranking commission.  But his reaction immediately following the appointment indicates that even he questioned his own ability to serve as commander.  In his acceptance speech, he said that he did not seek the job and questioned his own capacity and experience to fulfill its duties.  Perhaps this was false modesty, but Washington repeated his own self doubt in numerous letters, including to his wife in the days following his appointment.  Still, he accepted the job, and spent the next few days getting his affairs in order and preparing to make the trip to Boston.  Washington further endeared himself to Congress by refusing to take the proposed $500/month salary, and instead agreeing to seek only reimbursement for his expenses.

Unlike the First Continental Congress, which sat for less than two months, the Second Continental Congress continued in session for the next six years.  It then morphed into the Confederation Congress.  We will leave it now in June 1775 and come back later to discuss its ongoing debates.

- - -

Next Episode 65: Provincials Occupy Bunker Hill

Previous Episode 63: Buzzard's Bay and Machias

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Further Reading:
Resources to learn more about today’s topic.

Web sites:
LOC: Washington’s Commission as Commander in Chief:

Hatfield, Stuart "Continental Congress vs. Continental Army: The Officer Corps" Journal of the American Revolution, Oct. 30, 2018:

Free eBooks
(from unless noted)

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

Dickinson, John The Political Writings of John Dickinson, Wilmington: Bonsol and Niles, 1801.

Lincoln, William (ed) The journals of each Provincial congress of Massachusetts in 1774 and 1775, and of the Committee of safety, Boston: Dutton and Wentworth, 1838.

Lodge, Henry Cabot George Washington, Vol. 1, Boston: Houghton Mifflin & Co. 1898.

Morse, John T. John Adams, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1912 (original 1889).

StillĂ©, Charles The Life and Times of John Dickinson, Philadelphia: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1891.

Van Doren, Carl Benjamin Franklin, New York: Viking Press, 1938.

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.

Borneman, Walter American Spring: Lexington, Concord, and the Road to Revolution, New York: Little, Brown & Co. 2014.

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Episode 063: Buzzards Bay and Machias

The Siege of Boston in 1775-76 mostly involved the Regulars and Provincials staring at each other across the water.  The regulars had a pretty solid defensive position in the city itself, which the Provincial army did not dare attack.  At the same time, British General Gage did not seem terribly confident that he could do anything offensively until he had received more reinforcements.  Even the few regiments that followed Generals Howe, Clinton, and Burgoyne to Boston, along with additional regiments from New York and Halifax did not give Gage confidence that he could conquer New England.

But if the colonists had neutralized the regular army, they could do little to threaten the British navy.  The colonists had no vessels capable of taking on a British warship at this time.  Some New Englanders had lightly armed merchant vessels with swivel guns or a few cannons for defense against pirates, but nothing that could pose much of a challenge to the navy.

They navy’s main job in America was to catch smugglers.  It would confiscate their ships and cargo to be sold at auction.  While catching smugglers was difficult, given the small number of naval vessels patrolling hundreds of miles of coast, those officers tasked with the job did there best to seize as many as possible.  The officers and crew received a percentage of the prize money from any ships sold at auction.

At this time, the navy’s other important task involved keeping supplies from reaching the Provincial army.  It also had to ensure that the regular army at Boston received necessary food and supplies to sustain the soldiers.

Battle of Buzzards Bay

In mid-May Admiral Samuel Graves ordered the HMS Falcon to the far side of Cape Cod, about 70 miles south of Boston, looking to interdict colonial shipping.  Graves had intelligence that the merchant ship Champion, was delivering food supplies from Baltimore up to the Provincial army around Boston.

John Linzee
(from find-a-grave)
Captain John Linzee, commander of the Falcon, successfully intercepted and seized the Champion and its cargo.  But since he was out this way anyway, Linzee decided to see if he could collect a few more prizes as well.  The Falcon spotted a small sloop bringing firewood from Nantucket Island.  While technically in violation of British maritime laws, the navy often let slide using small ships for moving around needed supplies locally.

Linzee told the captured colonials he would release their ship if they gave him some intelligence about real smugglers operating in the area.  Although the captured Captain of the ship Thomas Wing refused, one of his crew spilled the beans about another ship from the West Indies that was unloading cargo at Buzzards Bay.

Linzee, however, was concerned that if he sent the Champion back to Boston on its own, it might be recaptured.  Taking both ships to search out this new one also presented some risks.

So, instead of releasing Wing and his ship, Linzee assigned his Midshipman, Richard Lucas and a crew of 13 or 14 sailors to Wing’s ship to go out in search of the new ship at Buzzard’s Bay.  They put several cannons on the small ship as well.  The Falcon and Champion would remain out at sea while the smaller ship went in search of the new prize.

On May 13, 1775, the crew found the ship, with its contents already unloaded.  They seized the ship anyway and began sailing both ships back toward the Falcon near Martha’s Vineyard.  However, they hit fog and decided to anchor overnight before completing their trip back to the Falcon.  The two ships anchored about three miles from each other

Back on shore, the owner of the newly captured ship, Jesse Barlow, figured that given the small size and crew of the ship that had captured his, he might be able to retake his ship and capture a few of the enemy.

Buzzard's Bay (from Wikimedia)
Barlow was in luck that the provincial army was recruiting in the area and had about two companies of recruits available.  Barlow agreed to finance half the expedition, with the understanding that he would get his ship back if successful.  One of the company captains, Daniel Egery, took command of another available merchant ship, the Success and took thirty or so men armed with muskets, as well as several swivel guns.  Egery sailed off after the two ships..

Poor weather and visibility prevented any of the ships from making much progress, but the next morning the Success spotted Wing’s smaller ship, sailed up and boarded, taking the small crew by surprise and without firing a shot.  Most of the crew on this ship were colonists who had been forced into this raid and had no desire to put up a fight.  The other ship was anchored about three miles away.

Now in command of two armed ships, Egery found the ship that had been captured exchanged gunfire with the British crew.  The attackers wounded the British commander, Midshipman Lucas and two other British sailors.  They then pulled alongside, boarding the ship and forcing the British crew to surrender.  Before the Falcon could discover what had happened, Egery sailed all three ships to Fairhaven, Massachusetts.  There, the men turned over the British sailors as prisoners of war and returned all three ships to their rightful owners.

Captain Linzee got the Falcon and Champion back to Boston, but had to explain to Admiral Graves about the loss of some of his crew and guns.

A few months later, the provincials built a fort at Buzzards Bay to protect the area from future British raids.

Trading with Machias

Back in Boston, as the weeks wore on, Gage’s regular army began having more trouble getting enough food and supplies.  A couple of weeks ago, I discussed the fighting on Grape Island, as well as Hog and Noddle Islands in Boston Harbor as regulars and provincials fought over supplies.  Bringing everything over from London was expensive, and in the case of fresh food, impossible.  The navy had to find sources for food, hay and wood, and they had to extend their search beyond Boston Harbor.

Around the same time the regulars and provincials were fighting over islands in Boston Harbor, Ichabod Jones arrived in Boston Harbor aboard the Unity and the Polly, two merchant sloops full of lumber.  The British with a growing desperation for lumber, needed for firewood and a host of other things, welcomed Jones into town.

Jones had sailed down from Machias, a small town of less than one hundred families on the coast of what is today Maine, but was at the time part of the Massachusetts Bay colony.  This was an isolated community, with nothing around them but miles of wilderness, and not always friendly Indians.  Jones appears to have lived in Machias and still had family living there.  But when the Port of Boston closed, Jones also had family living in Boston.  Evidence suggests he may have been supplying the army regularly, during the time the port was closed to other commercial traffic and was known as a friend of the Crown to both Gen. Gage and Admiral Graves.

If the Regulars in Boston were hurting for supplies, the people in Machias were downright desperate.  A few weeks earlier they had sent a petition to the Massachusetts Provincial Congress expressing their desperation.  The town had suffered a drought the prior year.  They had no food or supplies and could not find anyone to trade with them.  They wanted to sell the only product they had, wood, to the Provincial Congress in exchange for food and supplies.

Jones had sailed his two ships to Boston in hopes of trading wood.  It is not clear if his friends and neighbors back in Machias knew that he intended to trade with the British rather than the Provincials.  His decision may have been less ideological and more to the fact that he had family who had gotten stuck in Boston and wanted to leave.  They also had a fair amount of furniture they wanted to take with them.

Machias (from tide-forecast)
Now with the Provincial army besieging Boston, he hoped to leverage the British need for firewood and lumber to get an exception to the closure of the Boston Port and remove his family and personal property.  The trade would also help Machias with some desperately needed food, salt pork and flour  He also offered to bring additional shiploads of wood from Machias to sell for hard currency or anything else of trade value, if the British were interested.  Whether his motivation was more financial or political, Jones’ decision to trade with the Boston garrison made him a Tory in the eyes of any patriots.

Gen. Gage and Adm. Graves allowed Jones to sell his wood, and also to take his personal property out of Boston on his ships, something forbidden under the Port Act.  But needing merchants who would provide much needed supplies, Gage permitted the transaction.  As part of the deal, Jones also agreed to return to Machias, to bring back more wood for trade.

Although Jones was willing to trade with the army, it was unclear whether he could convince the rest of Machias to go along.  Like most colonists, the people of Machias supported the Provincial government and had no desire to violate any of the rules against trading with the British.  Jones was certain, however, that the desperate situation of the people would force them to go along with any trade they could get.

To ensure Jones performed as promised, and to make sure other naval vessels did not detain him, the navy sent one of its ships, the Margaretta, along with him to return to Machias.  The Margaretta was a small tender ship.  She had a crew of between twenty and forty (accounts differ).  Its normal use was as a tender ship, a smaller ship that stayed with larger warships to handle tasks that the larger ship could not, like bringing men to shore in a shallow area.  One source I read said it only had a few swivel guns, another, which I tend to believe more, said it had at least four small cannon as well.  Either way, it was intimidating enough for most merchant vessels, but not much more than that.

As part of the mission, Admiral Graves tasked the Margaretta’s commander, Henry Moore, to recover some cannon from a small ship that had sunk there a few months earlier. The HMS Halifax had gone down in February after hitting some rocks.  Some say a local pilot deliberately sank the ship.  Other accounts hold the pilot was simply incompetent.  Since the pilot fled the ship and disappeared, no one ever discovered his true motivation.  The Halifax went down with several cannon.  Graves was concerned the patriots might recover the cannon for use against the British military.

On June 2, the convoy arrived in Machias.  It took several days before Jones could call a town meeting to get approval to trade with the British army in Boston.  Though the town generally supported the Patriot cause, it had been hard hit by a drought and the closing of Boston Harbor.  With the outbreak of war, few traders were even stopping there. Without this trade, they might starve over the winter.

A good negotiator might have been able to convince the town to go along with the trade.  Jones, however, was not a good negotiator.  He was afraid that patriots would attack him or his property for trading with the army.  He insisted that the townspeople sign a document approving of his actions in trading with the regulars and agreeing to protect him and his property against anyone who might take action against him for his trades.  Jones also called on Moore to move the Margaretta up the river closer to town so that the ship’s guns could intimidate anyone who decided to take action against Jones or his ships.

On June 6, the town held a meeting at Burnham’s Tavern to discuss the matter.  The town was divided.  Faced with the very real possibility that the Margaretta would level their town or that they might starve for lack of supplies, a majority of the town voted in favor of Jones.

With that Jones docked his ships and offloaded supplies.  However, Jones would only provide food to those who voted in his favor.  Those who voted against got nothing.

The Battle of Machias

The hard core patriots in town who had voted against Jones decided they really had nothing to lose.  Without food, their families would starve.  They had no reason not to take action against these collaborators.  Benjamin Foster was a Lieutenant of militia and sometimes business partner of Jones.  He and another prominent patriot, Jeremiah O’Brien, organized a group of patriot militiamen with the goal of capturing the ships and taking the British crew prisoner.

Without any comparable arms to use against the cannons, they needed the element of surprise.  June 11 was Sunday.  Both Jones and Moore attended church services in town.  The patriots intended to capture the men on land and then demand the surrender of their ships.

About thirty patriots formed the militia party to capture the men.  They were not however, able to execute the plan as intended.  Those in the church saw the men advancing and had time to escape.  Moore and his first mate escaped out of a window and returned to their ship.  Jones fled to the woods and hid.

HMS Margaretta
(from today in history blog)
Once back aboard his ship, Moore threatened to destroy the town unless they returned Jones.  Unimpressed, the patriots swarmed onto one of Jones’ ships, most think it the Polly, and plundered it of anything of value.  They also demanded that Moore strike his colors and surrender.  His refusal led to a brief firefight with small arms. As night fell, the British captain decided things were getting out of control. Moore weighed anchor and began to float downstream.

The patriots meanwhile stormed Jones’ other ship, the Unity and began to pursue the Margaretta. Some locals pursued the ship in smaller boats and canoes.  The two ships began a running firefight in the dark.  The Margaretta was not fast enough to escape, and had to stop several times to effect repairs.  The British found another ship about a half mile downriver loaded with lumber.  The crew boarded thes ship and put part of the cargo on the Margaretta’s deck for to build defenses for the expected fight.

At first light the following morning, Moore abandoned Jones and made his escape.  The Margaretta cast off and sailed for open sea.  Jeremiah O’Brien took command of the Unity and with a crew of about 40 volunteers, sailed after the Margaretta.  The pursuers were armed only with muskets and swords.

The other colonial leader, Benjamin Foster, also decided to enter the fray.  Another small merchant vessel, the Falmouth Packet had docked at Machias a day or two earlier.  Foster commandeered the ship and took another 20 patriot volunteers aboard to pursue the British.

The Margaretta had a few miles head start and probably could have escaped.  But the ship accidentally turned into the wind, causing the sails to swing wildly across the deck and slammed into another part of the ship thus damaging the sails and crippling the Margaretta.

Luckily, the crew spotted another small merchant ship.  Moore sent over a boarding crew to take the ship and force it alongside his damaged one.  The crew removed the boom and gaff from the ship to replace their damaged parts.  Just as they were finishing the repairs, the Unity and Falmouth Packet came into sight.

The ships exchanged fire in a running firefight.  The patriots called on Moore to surrender, but he refused.  The slower moving Margaretta was better armed with its swivel guns and grenades, but the Patriots ships were faster and had more men.

Margaretta, left and Unity, right (Artist's conception)
(from Sandsquiggles)
Eventually the Unity rammed into the Margaretta’s starboard while the Falmouth Packet pulled alongside the ship’s port side.  The crew of both ships jumped aboard the Margaretta and began hand to hand combat.

The fighting finally ended when Moore took two bullets to his chest and stomach.  His first mate, also shot, but not as seriously, ran below deck and hid.  The crew finally surrendered and all three ships returned to Machias.  There, Captain Moore succumbed to his wounds the following day.

Again, I’ve seen contradictory casualty rates.  The highest I’ve seen say the British lost five killed and nine wounded. The patriots may have suffered ten killed and three wounded.

The Patriots used the guns of the Margaretta to arm the Polly and renamed it the Machias Liberty, under the command of O’brien.  They would use it to capture two more navy schooners later that summer.  The patriots took Jones prisoner, confiscated all of his property, and sent him with the surviving crew of the Margaretta down to the Provincial Congress as prisoners of war.

British Seizures

The British Navy did have a few successes.  I mentioned earlier the capture of the Champion, a merchant vessel from Maryland bringing food supplies to the Provincial Army.  Its capture brought hundreds of barrels of flour and corn to the Boston garrison.  Although it did not get Jones’ promised shiploads of wood from Machias, the navy did capture to other merchant vessels loaded with wood that they took to Boston.

The navy realized, however, that their smaller schooners out alone might find themselves outmatched and captured by angry locals, as happened with the Margaretta.  Collecting supplies, let alone enforcing maritime laws, would not be simple tasks with a people at war with them.

Lexington of the Seas

Years later, James Fenimore Cooper referred to the battle at Machias as the “Lexington of the Seas” being the first real naval battle of the war.  This, of course ignores Arnold’s earlier capture of British ships on Lake Champlain and the Battle of Buzzards Bay, both of which happened earlier.  Machias as a full ship to ship battle, which Arnold’s raid really was not, and also resulted in the capture of navy ship, not just prize ships like those at Buzzards Bay.  But even after Machias, the colonists were really in no position to challenge the British navy.  At best, the provincials might capture the occasional merchant vessel or a small tender ship like the Margaretta.  They were an inconvenience to the navy, but not a real challenge.  It would be some time before the Americans would have a proper navy.  They would mostly have to await the arrival of a French fleet to pose much of any challenge at sea.

- - -

Next Episode 64: Second Continental Congress Begins

Previous Episode 62: Three Headed Cerberus in Boston

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.  Make a one time donation through my PayPal account.
Mike Troy

Click here to see my Patreon Page
You can support the American Revolution Podcast as a Patreon subscriber.  This is an option for people who want to make monthly pledges.  Patreon support will give you access to Podcast extras and help make the podcast a sustainable project.  Thanks again!

Visit for a list of all episodes.

Visit for free downloads of all podcast episodes.

Further Reading


Recapture of Falcon’s Prizes: The First Naval Encounter of the War 14 May 1775:'s%20Prizes.pdf

Beck, Derek “The First Naval Skirmish of the Revolution” Journal of the American Revolution, 2013:

Dunn, Daniel S. "The Capture of the MargarettaABA Journal June 1975

August 1775 letter to George Washington referencing the prisoner Ichabod Jones:

Free eBooks
(from unless noted)

Allen, Gardner W. Naval Documents of the American Revolution, Vol. 1, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1913.

Drisko, George Narrative of the town of Machias, Machias: Press of the Republican, 1904.

French, Allen The Siege of Boston, New York: Macmillan, 1911.

Frothingham, Richard History of the Siege of Boston, Boston: CC Little & J. Brown, 1851.

Frothingham, Richard Life and times of Joseph Warren, Boston: Little, Brown & Co. 1865.

Lincoln, William (ed) The journals of each Provincial congress of Massachusetts in 1774 and 1775, and of the Committee of safety, Boston: Dutton and Wentworth, 1838.

Books Worth Buying
(links to unless otherwise noted)

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

Borneman, Walter American Spring: Lexington, Concord, and the Road to Revolution, New York: Little, Brown & Co. 2014.

Forman, Samuel Dr. Joseph Warren: The Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hill, and the Birth of American Liberty, Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 2011.

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

Nelson, James George Washington’s Secret Navy, New York: McGraw Hill, 2008.

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.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Episode 062: Three Headed Cerberus in Boston

When Gen. Gage sent his reports about the Battles of Lexington and Concord to London, he knew it would be months before he could get any response.  His message needed weeks to cross the Atlantic.  Officials would then have to decide on a military or political response, then send the necessary resources back across the Atlantic.  It could be late summer before any response from England could affect events on the ground in Massachusetts.

Fortunately for Gage though, he would not have to wait nearly so long.  The North Ministry had second thoughts about its decision in late 1774 when it told Gage to get the job done with the men he had.  Other reports over the fall and winter of 1774-75 made clear that trouble was brewing.  While not sending the 20,000 men that Gage had requested, the Ministry did decide to send a large force of soldiers and marines to supplement the regulars in Boston.

Gage’s force had dropped from about 5000 men to less than 4000 over the winter.  Only a small number of these losses came from battle.  Trapped in Boston with insufficient access to fresh food, in unsanitary conditions, regulars began to die a at a pretty good clip from outbreaks of disease.  Some also deserted.

HMS Cerberus
(from NavalActionWiki)
After Lexington, Gage immediately scrambled for reinforcements from Halifax and New York.  That helped a little, but he needed more. Fortunately for Gage, Reinforcements from Britain had set sail well before the battle of Lexington.  They would arrive in late May, before word of Lexington even reached London.  Combined, Gage’s army grew back to over 5500 and would continue to receive reinforcements, bringing him up to about 8000 over the summer.  The incoming Regulars, combined with the exodus of civilians from Boston, meant that the city had more soldiers than civilians in it by June 1775.

With the new regiments from England came three new Major Generals to assist Gage with his command.  They sailed aboard the HMS Cerberus, the name of the mythological three headed dog that guarded the gates of hell.  The irony of three new British Generals arriving on a ship of that name was not lost on either side.  Generals Howe, Clinton, and Burgoyne left London in April 1775 tasked with putting down the rebellion in New England.  Since all three Generals will go on to play major roles in the war, it seems appropriate to introduce each of them now.

Gen. William Howe

Maj. Gen. William Howe was the most senior general deploying to Boston.  He was third son of the Viscount Howe.  His mother was the niece of King George I.  So he came from the highest classes of British aristocracy.  His eldest brother, George, who inherited their father’s title, was the young Bbrigadier Ggeneral who died during the failed attempt to take Fort Carillon during the French and Indian War.  Brother George died in the arms of his aide, Israel Putnam, now a General in the Provincial Army.  Howe’s bravery and exploits had prompted the colonists to pay for a monument for him in Westminster Abbey.  The monument also meant a great deal to William, who held the colonists in the highest regard.  William’s next older brother Richard inherited the family title from their childless brother George and served as an Admiral in the Royal Navy.  Richard would join his brother in 1776 in their attempt to squash the American rebellion, but that is getting ahead of the story.

William Howe
(from Wikimedia)
William had purchased his first officer’s commission as a Cornet in 1747.  He fought in the War of Austrian Succession and began to rise through the ranks.  He soon became friends with Gen. Wolfe, and served under him in America during the French and Indian War.  Lt. Col. Howe commanded a regiment at the Siege of Louisbourg in 1758. He played a conspicuous role in Gen. Wolfe’s capture of Quebec.  After the French surrendered Canada, Howe returned to England where he continued on active duty for the remainder of the war.

In 1772, Howe received his promotion to Major General.  He advocated for more light infantry forces, the type of fighting that would prove most effective in America.  William Howe and his brother Admiral Richard Howe had expressed sympathy for the colonial cause.  Both served in Parliament as pro-colonist whigs.  But now, with war upon them, William Howe would do his military duty.  Like most British officers, he believed that the army would crush the colonial rebellion, with the proper leadership of course.

Gen. Henry Clinton

The second new major general, Henry Clinton was actually raised in New York.  He came from a noble family in Britain.  His grandfather was an earl.  His father, Admiral Clinton, had been Governor of New York.  Clinton received his first commission in New York, later rising to Captain through his father’s influence.  As a teenager, Clinton moved back to England to pursue his military career, starting as Captain and eventually rising to Lieutenant Colonel by the beginning of the Seven Years War.  Clinton served with distinction in Europe, rising to full Colonel.

Henry Clinton
(from Wikimedia)

After the War, Clinton played the patronage game and made influential friends.  In 1772, he received his promotion to Major General, and also won a seat in Parliament.  He did not seem to take much interest in Parliamentary debates though, spending much of his time on military tours of Europe before being called to join the expedition to America in 1775.  Clinton spent his time learning a great deal about German military tactics, something he would want to employ in the revolution.

Although Clinton had left America to pursue his career, he retained many ties to the colonies.  He owned thousands of acres of land in New York, which he inherited from his father.  Beyond personal advancement in the military, Clinton had a direct economic interest in restoring peace and British control of the colonies.

Gen. John Burgoyne

The third major general to arrive that day was John Burgoyne.  Burgoyne, unlike Howe and Clinton, had a common pedigree.  His father had been a Captain, though there is some speculation that John was actually the illegitimate son of an English Baron. For that or some other reason the Baron took an interest in his upbringing.  He was able to attend a prestigious military academy, where Gage was a classmate.  The Baron also provided fund so that Burgoyne purchased his first commission at age 15.  The young Burgoyne quickly developed a reputation for heavy spending and high living, well beyond his means.  He got the nickname “Gentleman Johnny”.  His debts though, caught up with him.  In 1741, at age 19, he had to sell his commission to pay off debts and avoid debtor’s prison.

John Burgoyne
(from Wikimedia)
A few years later, the War of Austrian Succession gave him the opportunity to join a new regiment without having to repurchase a commission.  He managed to come up with enough money to buy a Captaincy a few years later. After the war, Burgoyne married the daughter of an English Lord.  The father did not approve of the marriage.  After they eloped, he cut off his daughter.  Once again, Burgoyne sold his commission so that he and his wife could live in style.

Eventually, he convinced his father-in-law to provide some support.  He purchased a new Captaincy in time to participate in the Seven Years War.  Burgoine did not fight in America, but saw active duty in Europe, rising to Lt. Col.  He also got elected to Parliament and became a bright light in London society, where he wrote popular songs and plays.  He received continued promotion in the Army.  Like Howe, he was a vocal advocate for light infantry.  By 1775, he had become a Major General and prepared to work with his fellow officers in crushing the rebellion.

Like his two colleagues, Burgoyne had risen through the ranks through a combination of distinction in battle, personal charm, and the ability to play the political game in London.  None, however, had experience as a strategic theater commander.  But then, Gen. Gage remained the theater commander in America for now.

Gen. Frederick Haldimand

As long as I’m introducing Generals, I should mention one more.  Major General Frederick Haldimand had been serving in Boston as Gage’s second in command.  He was senior to all three of the Major Generals who had arrived on the Cerberus.

Haldimand’s rank matched his military experience in America.  He was second only to Gage himself.  He came from a German family, though they had lived in Switzerland for a few generations.  As a  young man, Haldimand joined the Prussian army as an officer, where he fought in the War of Austrian Succession.  After the war, he accepted a commission in the Dutch Army.
Frederick Hladimand
(from Wikimedia)

In 1755, the British prepared for imminent war with France, after young Captain Washington started a fight in the Ohio Valley a few months prior.  They recruited Captain Haldimand and a few dozen other German speaking officers to recruit and train German speaking Pennsylvania colonists for use in what would become the French and Indian War.  Haldimand received a commission as Lt. Col. in the British Army.  In 1758 he was wounded in the British assault on Fort Carillon.  The same action that saw the death of Gen. Howe’s older brother.

His wound did not slow him up any.  He continued to serve with distinction, receiving a promotion to full Colonel.  He was present at Montreal for the final French surrender of the war in Canada, and served as Gen. Gage’s second in command.  He proved equally capable in peacetime, as a military Governor in Canada.  In 1765, he received promotion to Brigadier General.  He then spent eight years in the rather unpleasant command of the Southern Department, stationed in Florida.  There, many officers and men succumbed to disease in that hot swampy land.  His work there earned him a promotion to Major General in 1772.  The following year, when Gage returned to Europe, he summoned Haldimand to New York to take command of all North American operations until Gage returned in 1774.

A few months after Gage returned to Boston and began to realize he was losing control, he called Haldimand, who had taken up a command in New York.  Haldimand and most of the regiments stationed in New York joined Gage in Boston for the months preceding Lexington and Concord.

With his extensive military and governmental experience in America, as well as his seniority among the Major Generals, Haldimand should have been the obvious successor to Gen. Gage.  Unfortunately for Haldimand, British officials decided otherwise.  His foreign birth raised concerns for his command of all British forces in North America during the war.  If something happened to Gage he would be the senior general.  So, The same ship that carried the three new Major Generals to Boston, also carried Haldimand’s orders to leave America.  He would return to London a few weeks later to great accolades for all his work, and would receive a cushy Inspector Generalship in the West Indies.  So, sorry for introducing Gen. Haldimand just as he is leaving us. I thought it worthwhile, though, to give this man some credit for all of his hard work.  He would eventually receive promotion to Lt. General, making him one of the highest ranking foreign born active duty officers ever to serve in the British Army.

Admiral Samuel Graves

More news arrived on the Cerberus for Admiral Graves.  He received a promotion from Vice Admiral of the Blue to Vice Admiral of the White.  He also learned of his additional orders pursuant to Parliament’s passage of the Restraining Act that I discussed a few episodes back.  His navy, already patrolling more than 1000 miles of North American coastline, also now would be responsible for preventing any colonial merchant traffic from carrying on any trade with any countries outside the British Empire.  The Navy would also prevent any colonists from fishing in the waters off Newfoundland.  He would have to do that while also defending and supplying the growing army in Boston.

Samuel Graves
(from Wikimedia)
Samuel Graves had replaced Admiral Montegu as Naval Commander in North America in 1774.  I’ve been giving the Navy rather little attention thus far.  Since I am using this episode to introduce all the Generals, I might as well give a little background on Admiral Graves as well.

Graves was in his 60’s when he received orders to take command of operations in North America.  He came from a family with a long naval tradition.  His grandfather had served as a Captain in the Royal Navy.  Samuel joined the Navy in 1732 at age 19. During the War of Austrian Succession, he served under his Uncle, Captain (and future Admiral) Thomas Graves where he served with distinction in combat.  He became Captain of his own ship in 1744.  After a series of successful commands during the Seven Years War, made Rear Admiral in 1762.  In 1770, he moved up to Vice Admiral.  Following the Boston Tea Party he received his orders to go to Boston and close the harbor in enforcement of the Boston Port Act.

It is not unusual for there to be friction between the army and navy.  Gen. Gage and Adm. Graves were no exceptions to this.  The two men did not get along well.  There were fights over the use of Royal Marines in land combat or how to deploy ships best to protect Boston.  But they also fought over little things.  The Navy controlled the harbor.  As the siege cut off food supplies, Admiral Graves charged a small fee for soldiers to take fishing boats into the harbor to feed themselves.  This frustrated the soldiers to no end.  Also, the Navy brought in food from other ports to feed the soldiers.  However, it skimmed off the best food for itself and gave the worst to the Army.

Graves played a crucial role in supplying and guarding the army in Boston.  But he and Gage remained at odds. The two men never developed a good working relationship.

Cerberus in Boston

So, with that background, The Cerberus, carrying Generals Howe, Clinton, and Burgoyne, arrived in Boston on May 25, 1775, about five weeks after Lexington.  Their regiments would continue to arrive over the next few weeks.  Before even arriving in Boston, the Generals aboard the Cerberus received word from a passing ship that the Boston garrison was besieged by 10,000 colonists.  They were shocked by this, thinking Regulars should be able to disperse civilian militia many times their number.

Gen. Gage remained commander in chief.  London had sent the three Generals to assist Gage, not to replace him.  But almost immediately, all three began writing back to friends and colleagues in London that Gage was weak and incompetent.  He had not shown any aggressive fighting spirit, and let the colonists run amok.

They arrived with the same attitude that Gage had shown a year earlier when he came to Boston as its new Governor General.  Just as Gage blamed Gov. Hutchinson for his failure to maintain a firm hand over the civilians, the new Generals hurled the same accusations at Gage.

Conventional wisdom of the time said that a professional army could always impose its will on a civilian population of much larger numbers.  Civilians and militia might talk tough, but they would not stand against a professional well trained army of regulars and take casualties with the same fortitude.  Therefore, a leader that marches around at will and unleashes the fury of the army on civilians will only remind them of what they lose when they reject the protection of the British Empire.

Gage had tried to push back against civil resistance to his policies as governor.  But he did not really use his army to enforce his will until Lexington and Concord.  Then, he sent out a party that was too small and without sufficient ammunition for battle.  The three new Generals assured themselves and each other that they could do better.

Remaining in Boston was not an option. Food and supplies were difficult to import and attempts to secure them would prove problematic.  I already discussed some of the skirmishes over resources last week.  But keeping thousands of soldiers in Boston only risked death from hunger and disease.  Sitting around would probably be more deadly to British soldiers than any attack.

Gage had not yet even declared martial law in the colony.  With some convincing, he finally would declare martial law on June 12.  His Declaration promised pardons for anyone who laid down their arms and returned home, with exceptions of Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who would be tried for treason.  Although released under Gage’s name, the pompous language sounds much more like it was the work of Gen. Burgoyne.  No patriots seem to have acted on this offer of pardon, and nothing changed.  The declaration, however, provided the legal justification for levying war on the rebellious population.

The three ambitious Generals pushed to take the newly enlarged army on the offensive.  The beginning of summer was the time one started a military campaign.  The obvious first steps were to reclaim the heights outside of Boston.  To the south of the city, near Roxbury, rose Dorchester Heights.  To the north of the city, on the Charlestown peninsula, sat Bunker and Breed’s Hills.  If the provincials occupied either of these heights with artillery, both Boston and the fleet in the harbor would be at risk.  So far, British threats had intimidated the provincials from occupying either.  But that could not last forever.  Taking control of these high ground areas would be the first step toward tackling the militia mobs surrounding Boston.

- - -

Next Episode 63: Buzzard's Bay and Machias

Previous Episode 61: Battle of Chelsea Creek

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.  Make a one time donation through my PayPal account.
Mike Troy

Click here to see my Patreon Page
You can support the American Revolution Podcast as a Patreon subscriber.  This is an option for people who want to make monthly pledges.  Patreon support will give you access to Podcast extras and help make the podcast a sustainable project.  Thanks again!

Visit for a list of all episodes.

Visit for free downloads of all podcast episodes.

Further Reading:


Gen. William Howe:

Gen. Henry Clinton:

Gen. John Burgoyne:

Belcher, Henry “Burgoyne” Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association, 1913, pp. 172-195

Gen. Frederick Haldimand:

Adm. Samuel Graves:

Gen. Gage’s Declaration of Martial Law:

Free eBooks
(from unless noted)

De Fonblanque, Edward Political and military episodes in the latter half of the eighteenth century. Derived from the life and correspondence of the Right Hon. John Burgoyne, London: MacMillan & Co. 1876.

Ford, Worthington British Officers Serving in the American Revolution, 1774-1783, by Worthington Ford, Brooklyn: Historical Printing Club, 1897.

French, Allen The Siege of Boston, New York: Macmillan, 1911.

Frothingham, Richard History of the Siege of Boston, Boston: CC Little & J. Brown, 1851.

Frothingham, Richard Life and times of Joseph Warren, Boston: Little, Brown & Co. 1865.

Hudleston, Francis Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne: Misadventures of an English General in the Revolution, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co. 1927.

McIlwraith, Jean N. Sir Frederick Haldimand, Toronto: Morang & Co. 1910.

Swett, Samuel History of Bunker Hill Battle: With a Plan, Boston: Munroe and Francis, 1826.

Books Worth Buying
(links to unless otherwise noted)

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

Borneman, Walter American Spring: Lexington, Concord, and the Road to Revolution, New York: Little, Brown & Co. 2014.

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

Nelson, James George Washington’s Secret Navy, New York: McGraw Hill, 2008.

O’Shaughnessy, Andrew Jackson The Men Who Lost America, New Haven: Yale University Press, 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.

Wilcox, William Portrait of a general: Sir Henry Clinton in the War of Independence, New York: Knopf, 1964.