Thursday, March 17, 2011

Evacution Day

We'll take a break from our Homestead-related posts with a bit of history today:

March 17th is Evacuation Day which commemorates the evacuation of Boston by the British Army in March of 1776 during the early phases of the American Revolution. The initial battle of that war happened almost a year earlier, on April 19, 1775 in Lexington and Concord. After that, the colonial militia mobilized and ringed Boston, the garrison town the British inhabited. On June 17, 1775, the two forces fought a costly engagement that became known as the Battle of Bunker Hill. That was followed by a stalemate around Boston that persisted through the winter of 1775-76. During that same winter, Henry Knox, a 25 year-old Boston book seller who read a lot of books on artillery, volunteered to retrieve 50 cannon from Fort Ticonderoga, a British fortress that had been captured early in the war. Knox's expedition dragged the cannon all the way from Ticonderoga (on the western shore of Lake Champlain) to Boston where the colonial militia secretly emplaced the guns on Dorchester Heights. When the British awoke, they found that the colonial artillery made Boston indefensible, so they boarded their ships and sailed to Nova Scotia, never to return.

It was in 1901 that the city of Boston made Evacuation Day an official holiday. While the exact date the British withdrew in 1776 was in the month of March, it wasn't the 17th. For other reasons, the Boston city administration of that time chose March 17th as the holiday. For a full account of that, check out the Mass Moments website.

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