Revolutionary War: Boston (1775)

Figure 1.--F.O.C. Darley (1822-88) is perhaps best known as America’s first great illustrator, producing numerous images for books and magazines. His works adorned the works of Anmerica's great 19th century authors. He produced many historical images. This dramatic image of the Battle of Lexington was entitled 'First blow for liberty'. It is a classic representation of the fight for liberty by the American patriots. It was published just before the Civil War. Although beautifually done and stirring, they were not always very accurate. Here the Pariots around Lexington are shown defending their homes. This is not what hapened at Lexington, the British were after arms and munitions. It must be said that the British, however, could be extrodinarly brutal. Just before the Revolution the British came close to committing genocide in the Scottish Higlands (1740s). They were, however, more restrained in America. The Scotts-Irish who came to America would be among the most implacable foes of Britain. Darley’s influence through his illustrations and prints was such that one sources sees him as 'seminal in the forging of the American national identity'. The engraver was A.H. Ritchie. t the time psintings and illystrations had to be engravd to be publidhed.

Boston became the epicenter for the Revolution, in part because it was one of the few places that Britain held on to in the colonies and punished the citizery for their disobedience. Thus the Revolutionarty War began in Massachusettes. The British held Boston, but not the countryside around the city. And what the British did not anticipated, the other colonies except Canada stood with Boston. The War began with the British attempt to seize military supplies that were reportedly being stockpiled at Lexington and Concord outside Boston (April 1775). Gen. Gates ordered a strong military force to venture out from the city and seize the military stores of the Patriot militias. It was to be apremptive strike to defuse the situation. Instead it ignited the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the official beginning of the Revolutionry War. The British reached Lexington where they did not find militry stores. It was there the shot heard round the world was fired and several miklitiamen killed. Militiamen then stoped the British at a stone bridge before reaching Concord. The subsequent withdrawl back to Boston turnd into a bloody route. The Colonial militia then managed to bottle the British trops up in Boston. Gage gained a Pyrrhic victory in the Battle of Bunker Hill (June 1775). The Continental Congress chose Virginian George Washington who had served in the Virginia Militia during the French and Indian War to take command of the militia force gathering around Boston. Washington had a military reputation abd was the only delegated to attend Congressional sessions in a military uniform. In part this was the work of John Adams who saw the importance of drawing Virginia into the conflict. This was a year before independence was declared and the war officially began. Washington was agast at what he saw when he reached the militia fotces outdide of Boston (July 1775). They were disorganized and undisciplined. Gage was then replaced by General William Howe (October 1775). John Knox seized Fort Ticondaroga to the north and managed to transport the cannon to Washington. The cannon made the British position in Boston untenable and they were eventually forced to evacuate on Royal Navy ships. This left the Patriots in total comtrol of the Colonies. But Washington still had a huge problem, how to convert a poorly trained militia into a force that could face a disciplined European Army. Warfare in the 18th century required superbly disciplined infantry units. Militias could harass the British. They were not going to win battles gainst competent British commanders.


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Created: 8:31 PM 1/25/2013
Last updated: 1:44 AM 2/3/2015