March 17 is not only a celebration of Saint Patrick’s day, but also….. EVACUATION DAY
The day British troops and their tory loyalist marched to the docks and sailed out of Boston.
The event not only marked George Washington’s first victory of the war but gave the people of Massachusetts a yearly reason to celebrate their crucial role in defeating the British. Here is the story:
In one of the most remarkable feats in colonial history, former Boston bookseller, Colonel Henry Knox traversed some 300 miles from Forts Ticonderoga and Crown Point in upstate New York to Cambridge, transporting fifty-nine cannons weighing in excess of sixty tons. Amazingly, Knox acquired most of his military acumen from reading and studying his beloved books. Only when recognizing the rugged wilderness terrain, frozen wintry conditions, and endless obstacles that Knox’s expedition crossed, can the “noble train of artillery” be fully appreciated. Imagine the thrill General Washington experienced realizing his newly appointed, highly inexperienced, colonel had accomplished the unthinkable. Cannons delivered Washington finally possessed the military fire power needed to secure his first military victory and abruptly end the British army’s eight- year occupation of Boston.
Like most of Washington’s military operations, surprise would be its defining element. Under the cover of darkness and the distracting and deafening sounds of cannon fire shot from strategic locations around Boston Harbor, Washington’s troops worked tirelessly to install fortifications that housed their newly acquired cannons. On the morning of March 5,1776 British General William Howe awoke to a new battery of perfectly positioned cannons on Dorchester Heights (now South Boston) aimed directly at his defenseless warships. After proclaiming, “My God, these men have done more work in one night than my men could do in three months,” Howe prepared a counter-attack that never occurred due to a sudden snow storm. Given time to rethink his situation, Howe made the humiliating decision to negotiate with General Washington for safe withdrawal of his troops without any bloodshed, looting or burning of Boston. Washington’s checkmate ended Massachusetts’ era of playing stage to the war as Britain shifted its focus south to New York and beyond.
Provincially, the events that culminated with Britain’s evacuation on March 17th ignited celebrations in Boston and its surrounding communities. No doubt finding an open stool at local taverns, like “The Rising Eagle” in Malden, was all but impossible.
Massachusetts had defied and expelled the world’s greatest military power, but still much fighting, suffering, and dying remained. Within months, the odds of Britain’s anticipated rout of its American colonies would plummet when Second Continental Congress delegates, led by John and Samuel Adams, voted to unite, making their new country the most formidable nation on the planet.
Our ancestors faced unfathomable challenges in forging this country we all love. So, as we face unprecedent times today, please remember “Together we survive, together we win, and TOGETHER WE ARE AMERICA!” the freest and greatest nation on earth!
Happy Evacuation Day! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Stay Healthy, Stay Safe. We look forward to when we can serve you again soon.
The Turner Family and Rising Eagle Team