March 17: Evacuation Day in Boston
*Originally posted March 18th 2019*
On the morning of March 17, 1776, a British armada of ships filled with soldiers, officers, Loyalists, and others, left Boston for good, never to return. The redcoats had occupied Boston since October of 1768. This was a monumental victory for the nascent Continental army and the people of Boston (most of whom had fled to the countryside after Lexington and Concord). The patriots had enacted a “Siege of Boston” right after April 25, 1775, surrounding most of Boston with camps and redoubts. The biggest “skirmish” of the Siege of Boston was the Battle of Bunker Hill–one of the most brutal battles of the nine-year long war. So how did the patriots “encourage” the Brits to leave?
Jedediah “Jed” Huntington of Norwich, CT (1743-1821) one of the leaders of the Siege of Boston. Photo courtesy of Connecticut Historical Society.
Jedediah “Jed” Huntington of Norwich, CT was a colonel of Connecticut’s 8th & 17th regiment during the Siege of Boston. According to Charles H. Lewis’ author ofCut Off: Colonel Jedediah Huntington’s 17th Continental (Conn.) Regiment at the Battle of Long Island, August 27, 1776, Huntington was one of the key leaders in the daring nighttime capture of Dorchester Heights on March 4-5, 1776. As the story goes, similar to the all-night redoubt efforts on Bunker Hill (Breed’s Hill) on the night of June 17th, 1775, the patriots would use the cover of darkness to erect redoubts and mock forts on the hilly terrain of Dorchester.
Washington inspecting the newly claimed Dorchester Heights, early March 1776.
Upon arising, the British looked over to see cannons, fortifications and rebels on formerly unoccupied land. They made plans to leave Boston, an inhospitable place. They threatened to burn the city, however, if the patriots attacked. On March 17, 1776 they sailed to Nova Scotia and then later to New York for the next campaign.