|These are two of four watercolors by Lt Richard Williams , a|
British engineer, who drew them between July and November 1775,
of the British and American defenses during the siege of Boston.
They are now in the British Library. They cannot be adequately
presented on this blog. They can be seen in better detail at:
|Taken from Osprey Campaign Series|
The Colonial troops were spread out in a great arc some twelve miles in length. Manning the colonial fortifications were troops from all of the New England states. (Maine was part of Massachusetts until 1820). In his history of the Siege of Boston, Richard Frothingham, provides this return of the New England troops besieging Boston.
On July 9, 1775 Washington held a council of war with his senior officers and they estimated that the British forces defending Boston were 11,000 strong and that it would take an army of 22,000 to successfully maintain the siege that was currently in progress.. It was estimated that only 14,500 colonial troops were fit for duty. It was decided that the prudent course of action was to maintain the status quo and apply for reinforcements. For some reason, it was decided that it was not necessary to take and fortify Dorchester Heights nor to opposes the British should they choose to take it.
|A Map drawn by a British Engineer in October 1775|
Perhaps, most importantly, Washington discovered an incredible shortage of gunpowder. Within days of his arrival in Cambridge, Washington asked for an inventory of available gunpowder. The response from the Massachusetts Provincial Congress was : "303 1/2 bbbl's [barrels] of Powder." This, in itself, was an astonishingly small amount for an army of 15,000 men, but a further report gobsmacked Washington. On 1 August, 1775, the Massachusetts Committee of Supplies told him that in reserve “there remains but 36 barrels in Store of the Quantity collected from the Towns in this Colony & recd from others.” The larger number had been “an Account of all the Ammunition, which had been collected by the Province” over time. Training, Bunker Hill, and other actions had drawn down that stock. Soldiers and artillery companies had powder in their cartridges, but “the whole Stock of the Army at Roxbury & Cambridge & the adjacent posts, consists of 90 Bbbls [Barrels]or thereabouts.”
Politically, although it seems incongruous, those actively engaged in rebellion were not ready for independence. Just how they expected to be reconciled with a Great Britain that treated uprisings against it with incredible ferocity is a mystery. They were well aware of what happened to the Highland Scots at Culloden, some thirty years earlier. Indeed, one of Washington's best friends, Hugh Mercer (killed at Princeton) was an assistant surgeon in Bonnie Prince Charlie's army and present at Culloden. He fled to the United States as a fugitive after months in hiding. Washington had to be aware of that whole affair. It is extremely difficult to ascertain just what percentage of the colonists did, indeed, support those who rose in rebellion. Loyalists were a significant percentage of the population and could have been of even more assistance to the British had the British Army not been so stupidly antagonistic towards them (Then again, outside of the Duke of Marlborough and Robert Clive, British generals haven't astonished the world with their military genius.) And, of course, you had those who were pinning their hopes on a swift reconciliation and those who would support whomever eventually prevailed.
Upon returning to Cambridge from escorting Generals Washington, Lee and their aides from Springfield, Dr. Benjamin Church, Jr resumed his position as a delegate to the Third Provincial Congress and as a prominent member of the Committee of Safety. I can find no indication that Dr. Church was involved in practicing medicine or that he was in receipt of any type of income. His wife and family were safely housed with friends near Taunton but since a mob burned his papers later, it is impossible to determine just what kind of drain they were on his finances, which had to be in very poor shape since there was no indication that he received any income since Lexington and Concord, some two and a half months earlier, except for whatever expenses he received in reimbursement for business conducted for the Provincial Congress.
|Andrew Craigie by Archibald Robertson, 1800|
Craigie is a fascinating character. See more
Abut him here:
On Sunday July 10th, Church, along with James Warren, the President of the Provincial Congress, and Elbridge Gerry were appointed a committee to prepare a letter to MGen Charles Lee who had informed the Congress that he had been in written communication with British General John Burgoyne who held a command in the British Army in Boston. The importance the Congress placed in that letter can be seen by the individuals who were selected to respond to General Lee. On July 11, Church and two other doctors were appointed to "take into their custody all the medicines, medical stores and instruments, which are, or may be provided for the use of the army, by this colony, and to distribute them at their best discretion, so that no peculation or needless waste be made of the medicinal stores belonging to the public."
On July 13th, 1775 Dr. Benjamin Church, Jr was reappointed to the Massachusetts Provincial Congress' Committee of Safety with 10 other delegates. The most prominent member was John Hancock. Benjamin Church was listed second.
|Edmund Fowles House, Watertown, Mass|