tv Beginning of the Revolutionary War CSPAN October 9, 2016 8:45am-9:49am EDT
and strive on roads they never seen before. >> monday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span2. join us next week. caller: [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] \ [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] >> on the way, patriots met first shotsps where of the revolutionary war were fired. -- how four stolen tenants intimated the war. steal thethe plot to british cannons and the plan to get it back. the society of cincinnati hosted the hour-long event.
>> good evening. i am the executive director of the society of the cincinnati. it is my pleasure to introduce our speaker this evening. i want you all to do me a favor. this is his book. he's going to talk to us about it. the book is "the road to concord: how four stolen cannon ignited the revolutionary war." he will defend that premise for us a little bit later. i want to tell you what my reaction to this book is because i have had the opportunity to read it already. it is one of three books in the last 20 years i read cover to cover in one sitting. i don't read quickly. the reason i read it cover to cover in one sitting is it is extremely well written. it is graceful prose of an old-fashioned sort. and second, it is wonderfully researched, when i was taught in graduate school to refer to as a revisionist work in history.
all good works of history if they are good are revisionist in some way, but he is telling us a new story about the coming of the revolution in massachusetts. a story you might have thought was already told to death. this book is a reflection of two things. one, really good old-fashioned history writing of a kind we don't see as much as we used to. and the second thing is, it is indicative of the emergence of what i think is a new sort of history writing or a new kind of history research. it is now possible in ways it was not possible 20 years ago to research the lives of second and third and fourth tier kind of historical characters, the people who did not leave behind for us large bodies of paper like george washington and james
madison and thomas jefferson. it is possible to talk about the revolution through the experience of fairly ordinary people who did extraordinary things. doing that kind of research is extremely difficult and time-consuming. it is analogous to crushing lots of low yield ore to extract a small knot of precious metal. it is not something you could do easily 50 years ago. you had to travel from place to place. if you were lucky, you got to crank reels of microfilm looking for fugitive references to the particular actors in the drama you were trying to reconstruct. the only people who would do that were antiquarians, people doing it for a hobby, and genealogists tracking their ancestors in a kind of maniac
the internet is both to be praised and despised. it contains a lot of junk, but it contains an awful lot, a growing amount of really valuable, original, primary source material which is being made available by institutions all over the country and the world so you can reach and mine what i describe is the low yield ore and crush it and draw from it precious metals. you can tell stories that it was once impossible or so arduous to tell it that they never got told. there is a whole new generation of practitioners of this kind of historical research. we see them here in our old-fashioned library downstairs. it is old-fashioned libraries like ours downstairs in the process of digitizing and putting their material on the internet that are helping to facilitate this kind of work. this is not an entirely new thing. it is a new way of doing something which historians, good ones, have been doing for a very long time. if you have the patience for it. j.l. bell has the patience for it. and in this book at the end of
tonight's lecture each and every one of you will go to the back table and acquire for yourself -- i hope you will. you have already acquired one. shame on you. you need two. [laughter] and you will find what he is talking about. let me assure you know matter how good he is as a public speaker, and i have no idea because i have never heard him before, he is probably a better writer because he is an extraordinarily good one. he is an historian. that is all you really need to know. i will not stand up here and tell you about his credentials because they don't matter. if you want to see some of his work which is the basis for his claim for your attention, go to his website which is a extraordinary site detailing events and people and ideas that relate to the american revolution in its early stages in boston. i have to confess. i have talked with him and tried to persuade him the american revolution did not end in march of 1776 when the british evacuated boston. it continued thereafter.
the entire story is not the story of what happened in boston. there are things in philadelphia, virginia, south carolina, and georgia that happened in the american revolution which seems to be a revelation to him. [laughter] but by mining this ore in and around boston, he is telling us the extraordinary story, a new story about what you would think is the one day of the american revolution, april 19, 1775, we would already have done all the research on. we have not. there's a lot more to be done. i have plugged him. i'm going to plug us for a moment before i turn the lectern over to him. this is the first in a series of programs over the next several months that relate to the theme of artillery in the american revolution.
he is talking about stolen cannons and the role in the coming of the revolution. at the end of this month, october 1, we will open at exhibition in the adjacent room on artillery in the american revolution. artillery was central to the story of the revolution. you cannot run an 18th-century revolution without them. washington was desperate to have a fine artillery service. his commander of artillery, general henry knox looking down on us from the painting over here, was in extraordinary commander who developed the american artillery from the beginning of the revolution into a creditable arm of the american military that was admired by the french and the british. and they did not admit when they admired the americans in the
revolutionary war very often. it is an extraordinary american success story. along the way, we overcame lots of problems in manufacturing, repair, training, to have an effective artillery service that made it possible for us to win the revolutionary war. we are going to touch on this theme repeatedly over the next six or seven months. it is exciting to start tonight with the cannons that started the american revolution, at least that is what our author is going to persuade us up tonight. i would ask you to welcome j.l. bell. [applause] j.l. bell: thank you to everybody here at the anderson house for inviting me back and to the society of the cincinnati for supporting my travel. this talk begins with the basic question. what were the british soldiers in concord on april 19, 1775, looking for? we usually say the revolutionary war started that day, so it is important that they were there. it started at dawn on the 19th
when british soldiers killed eight militiamen on the lexington town common. but the british soldiers were in lexington because they were on the way to concord because they had been ordered west to search concord for something in particular. what did he hope the men would find? the usual answer is military supplies. but what sort of military supplies? a standard description of what the provincial congress had gathered in concord appears in "the siege of boston" published in 1911. the committee gathered together a few hundred pickaxes, muskets, 4000 flints, and a small supply of peas and flour. this is what james warren, a plymouth delegate to the provincial congress, wrote to his wife on april 6, 1775. this town is full of cannons, ammunition, etc. the people are ready and
determined to defend this country into by inch. allen french's history reflected how lots of americans like to look back on the revolutionary soldier as poorly armed underdogs. james warren's letter reflects how they saw themselves as well armed defenders of their traditional rights including the rights to a collective military self-defense which meant cannons. for seven months before the british marched to concord, the military authorities and new england resistance had been an arms race. the goal was artillery, cannons and mortars, field pieces, cannons designed for use in battle.
the most advanced battlefield weapons of the time. unlike muskets, there was no peacetime use for cannons. these were weapons of war and nothing but war. there were many cannon around boston in the summer of 1774. many were on castle islands and other islands. this is near governors island, on shore batteries. at that time, boston was a peninsula connected to the mainland by a neck very narrow at high tide so it was easily defended from the land. that is why they have chosen boston as their town location in the first place in 1630. by 1774, the town's defenses were designed to protect it from attack by sea, particularly from the french navy. on september 1, the royal governor ordered the soldiers
under his command to empty this provincial gunpowder storehouse outside of boston. he had his men take two small cannon away from the local county militia. the next day, the men of eastern massachusetts rose up. 4000 armed new englanders marched to cambridge. they forced the lieutenant governor and every other royal appointee to resign. that confrontation ended without violence, but it was revolutionary. by the end of the day, it was clear to everyone there was a new political and military order in massachusetts. general gage's authority stopped at the gates of boston. he could not enforce royal laws unless he had troops nearby. september 1774, all the rest of massachusetts was for all intents and purposes politically independent.
gage was back to the situation of the earliest english settlers worrying about how to defend boston from the mainland. between the royal navy and his men at castle william, the major fort, the harbor was safe but the countryside was hostile. fortunately for gage, he had a contingent of the king's army including the royal artillery. on september 3, four large field pieces were dragged from the common and placed at the only entrance to the town by land on the boston neck. to the people in the countryside, that looked like the royal government was taking away their militia cannon on the first and applying regular army cannon against them on the third. that came on top of a long line of disputes over taxes and governance. the people of the countryside began to collect cannon themselves.
each side for the other was preparing for war so they wanted to keep cannons and other weapons away from the other side. but it is very easy to slide from keeping weapons away to taking them for yourself and preparing to use it. as i said before, there were lots of cannon around boston. the charlestown battery on this peninsula north of boston contained five cannon. they could fire balls that weighed 18 pounds apiece. in the first week of september, people in charlestown began to move ammunition away from the battery. the governor heard about this and sent an officer over on september 7 to investigate. here's how the boston merchant described how people in charlestown reacted. the inhabitants, suspecting what would take place, provided a number of teams and slung all
the guns together belonging to the battery and carried them upcountry. about midnight, another formidable expedition set off. the royal navy ships were manned with soldiers ordered to dismantle the fort and bring up all the ordinance stored. i imagine the chagrin was as great as their disappointment. teams had hauled the guns away. they were reportedly hidden on schoolhouse hill under what an 1845 historian turned "stable dirt." people in other towns followed charlestown's example. on september 12, he recorded in his diary the great gun was removed from preston's point at the mouth of the river. there were also cannon inside boston proper. this is a map showing the town of military facilities as of september 1, 1774. the pieces in red were under the
control of the british military. the pieces in blue were boston militia buildings. two large batteries overlooked the main harbor. in 1770, they contained 22 cannon between them. the royal artillery was using the cell battery already to store supplies, so that was under the control of the regular army. for the north battery was still under militia control. on september 14, sailors of the royal navy entered the north battery and spiked all the guns inside. it was reported the cannon were cleared the next day without difficulty. spiking would render a gun useless temporarily but not permanently. why would they do this if they knew they could be repaired? the cannon in the back of governors island were removed by the governor's order. the sailors disabled the north battery so locals cannot attack
them while they disabled the harbor island battery which provided the list presented more of a threat to the navy. they were keeping the shipping channels safe for the royal navy guns and causing a headache for the local militia. gage and his commanders won that lap of the arms race. cannons in the batteries were old, heavy, not easily maneuvered for battles. a provincial army would need field pieces, smaller cannon, light enough to move with teams of horses and men. the best field pieces were made of brass. in boston, the militia had only four brass cannon. they belong to the town's artillery company and were stored into the brick armories in the town's south end. these were small even by the standard of field pieces.
some sources identify the older pair as being able to fire cannon balls weighing two pounds and the others as three pounders. the other pair was ordered specially from london. they arrived in 1768, and "the boston gazette" described them proudly as having the massachusetts emblem. when the army spent something, that showed they valued having this militia artillery. the boston train displayed their skills on training days in september 1772, the boston newsletter published a long description of wargames on boston commons without cap portraying the noble british army and the other half for trying the hated french. firing a cannon required a squad of men to work.
everybody doing their job properly at the right time or else they could blow themselves up. i would argue that meant the militia company had a more -- greater sense of cohesion, of trust, working together, than your average 18th-century infantrymen. but the boston train was developing a split. the man in charge of the company had been born in england and he leaned toward the crown. the other officers and most of the men were strong whigs against the crown. on september 5, 1774, the boston company was to have a training day. instead of drilling, the company seems to have fallen apart. the major reaffirmed his loyalty to the royal government and the men refused to serve under him. it dissolved as a working unit. gage did not want to lose control of the field pieces.
since the cannon were taken away, the governor has ordered a double guard to the new and old gun houses. but that guard was not enough. on september 14, the same night the royal navy was busy, we know the half moon set about 10:00. one man later wrote in his diary that it rained. it was literally a dark and stormy night. when the sun came up at 5:45 a.m., people found a hole in the side of the older gun house and the two cannon stored inside were missing. naturally, general gage put an even stronger guard in front of the new gun house. that site already seemed secure. it was right next to the common, very near the common, meaning it was close to the kings regiment. they were camped on the comments right across the street.
the gun house also looked secure. the door to the street was guarded and locked, and the admiral had the only key. there was another wider door around this side. it was barred on the inside. even to get to that side dormant going through a gate in the view of the camp were over a high fence around the yard or through the south school which shared that yard with the gun house. that school was in session nearly the full day with about 200 boys inside. even that situation did not seem secure enough to general gage. royal artillery officers went to take the gun house key and move the gun house into their camp. on friday, september 16, john andrews wrote the officer on guard brought a number of
artillery to move the cannon. but the guns were gone. [laughter] how did the patriots move those guns without the guards hearing? almost 50 years later, one of the men involved claimed to know what happened. contemporaneous records confirmed gore was an active patriot. as a teenager, he was wounded in a right 11 days before the boston massacre. his family hosted a spinning bee. he participated in the boston tea party. about 50 years later, every revolutionary war veteran accepted his story about the cannon. he seems to be a very reliable person, a very reliable witness of this. we have a portrait of john
singleton gore. would you like to see a picture of this old and dangerous rebel? [laughter] this is a portrait of john gore's four oldest children. it is now at the museum in delaware. by 1774, sammy gore, the second brother who became the oldest brother. he was 23. he was a member of the militia artillery company. his oldest sister on the left is doing the thing you do in 18th-century portraits where you sit the girl down so she does not tower over the boy. she was the wife of thomas kraft, a commander of the train and an active political organizer. this family had great ties to the train. let's go back to the gun house beside the common. gore and other patriot members of the train waited until the
fourth regiment on the common had roll call, which meant lots of marching and shouting. all of that noise covered their movement. they made the proximity of the camp into an advantage. when the riding school was not in session, they went through the schoolhouse into the yard. the second obstacle of the high fence also became an advantage because it was hiding them from the soldiers across the street and the back door of the gun house was barred on the inside but it was not locked. it just had a bar across it. they lifted the two cannon off the carriages, carried them out of the gun house and into the school, and hid them inside the firewood box next to the schoolmaster's desk and walked away. he went into the schoolhouse to
look for them and found 200 plus boys on handwriting and arithmetic. he found a teacher at his desk with a bandage on his foot and his foot propped on the firewood box. the officer was too much of a gentleman to ask the teacher to move. the teacher was in on the secret and kept secret. the cannon stayed in the firewood box for two more weeks. i'm sure the boy saw them. no one told royal authorities. during dinner breaks, girls came in to the school for handwriting lessons as well. some of them probably saw the cannon. no one told the royal authorities. after a couple of weeks with the centuries removed from the gun house, gore and his comrades returned to the school with a wheelbarrow. they were carried to a blacksmith shop and deposited
under the coal. the blacksmith had a long record of resisting royal authorities, sometimes violently. in 1769, he shoved his way into the redcoats and slugged a guy in the face. clearly, he was a brave and determined patriot, just the sort of person you could trust with cannon in his shop. how did the situation in boston change? at the end of the month, general gage's army had control of more sites inside boston and captured more weapons. but the patriots had hidden the four small cannon. two were on pleasant street. the other two concealed in a stable somewhere on the south side of queen street in the center of boston. later that month, they shifted
their attention to cannon in private hands because sea captains and merchants sometimes owned candidates to arm a ship in times of war. some had them on sale in the shops. on september 20, a boat carrying iron cannon out of town run aground on the mill pond and that cargo was seized by the royal navy. at the end of the month, there was a confrontation over the inventory of a hardware merchant and the royal artillery carried away all his goods. and he went into hiding from the mob who thought he should have resisted more. september was a very busy start to the arms race in boston. this calendar lists all the major military developments in and around town. the blue stars indicate where the provincial resistance gained control of cannon and the red stars indicate where the royal military did. the next month, the political
side caught up. in early october, the provincial congress convened to fill the political vacuum outside of boston and organize resistance against the crown. on october 25, a congress committee to up a military budget that called for military supplies. the provincial congress formed a committee on safety and a committee on supplies which met november 15, and they voted unanimously to get seven large pieces of cannon on the best terms and get them out of boston into the country. massachusetts was deciding to build an artillery force that would only be useful in a war. the next day, the committee secretly appointed an engineer to collect the ordinance. they chose david mason who cofounded the train of artillery in boston in the early 1760's before he moved to salem and was
away from the british troops. mason on the left, left a small notebook which shows his operation. it shows how he dated his work from mid-september -- mid-november of 1774. it shows him collecting mortars and cannon. he received guns and money from jeremiah lee of marblehead on the right, a member of the committee of supplies, as well as from other patriots north of boston. in december of 1774, the arms race spread outside of massachusetts to the neighboring colonies. on december 8, the rhode island assembly voted to remove all the guns off newport and move them to providence. five days later, the people of new london, connecticut, moved their cannon into the country away from the ocean. on that same day, december 13,
new hampshire militiamen stormed william and mary in portsmouth harbor to take its gunpowder away from the british military. the portsmouth raid was the most open confrontation yet. the local militia operated in daylight. the new hampshire patriot politicians did not condemn the takeover the way organizers had been doing about violence for many years. instead, local leaders went back to the fort two days later and took away more stuff. the skirmish was also the most dangerous confrontation so far because the captain in charge of the six british soldiers inside the fort reported shooting three cannon at the militia companies as they came into the fort. fortunately, those cannon shot did not hurt anybody. but if they had, if that fight in portsmouth harbor had caused
casualties, it is very possible we would date the start of the revolutionary war from december 13, 1774, and we would start it with americans storming a loosely defended british fort rather than the british army coming in and invading a peaceful american farmhouse the way we do. let's get back to massachusetts. what happened to those brass pieces they spirited out of their armories? on january 5, 1775, the committee voted dr. joseph warren desired to send to him two brass cannon and mortars and mr. william dawes be delighted to deliver one pair of brass cannon and that he procure carriages for said cannon and any other cannon that required
them. this bureaucratic revolution is the first evidence the patriots had gotten two of their cannon out of boston. and the committee wanted the other two to come as well. he was on the provincial congress commissary overseeing all military supplies. colonel robinson was a provincial congress delegate from dorchester. he demanded the militia company from outside boston. he was also proprietor of a tavern where the sons of liberty dined in 1769 and he had visited a brass cannon and 27 inch mortar hidden at his tavern in january of 1775, reportedly under a compost heap. many of you may have recognized another name in the resolution, william dawes. he was a tanner active in boston's militia.
a roll call lists him as an administrative officer, so he knew every militia man in boston. if he did not know where the brass cannon were already, he knew who did know and he was asked to figure out how to get them out. mr. williams, a respected farmer, drove his own team with a load of hay taken into that stable on queen street. the cannon put into the bottom of the cart which was loaded with manure. in this way, they were taken out of town without opposition. there was quite a respectful farmer in roxbury at this time named joseph williams. his daughter abigail raised william dawes' wife. it looks like he got his father-in-law and grandfather in law to smuggle the last two brass cannon out. the next month, dr. warren heard
disturbing news. the blacksmith might be switching sides. on february 10, the doctor wrote to samuel adams who was making carriages for the army. he assisted in getting pieces to colonel robinson at dorchester. he said the discovery of this will make him and he threatens to make the disclosure. adams passed on the warning to the provincial congress on february 13. three days later, they sent members to colonel robinson and removed from him the brass pieces to the town of concord. there is no evidence he told the royal authorities about the brass cannon he had kept hidden and helped to move to dorchester. nevertheless, he was cut out of the whig network and eventually became a loyalist and had to leave for canada.
dr. warren continued his letter to samuel adams this way. dr. church and i are clear. unfortunately, dr. church was warns colleague and top leader of the whigs in boston but also general gage's best placed spy. the general wanted to get the boston guns back. you knew now they were being moved out of dorchester. dr. benjamin church started to attend meetings of the committee of safety and supplies about one week later. the committees decided they had enough cannon. they would start organizing artillery companies. the committee assigned dr. warren to talk with members of the boston train to find out how many could be depended on to form an artillery company. both went home to boston that
night. dr. warren presumably went to talk with members of the train. within a day or two general gage wrote there are the country 38 pieces and 19 companies of artillery. he knew of the committee of safety plans and probably heard that from dr. church. thanks to church, gage knew that the guns were concord, watertown, and salem. the cannon at salem were under the control of david mason, the painter commissioned to collect ordinance. his biggest challenge was not buying field pieces, but painting the carriages to roll the pieces into battle. the guns used on ships were not useful on battlefields.
they had to be easily maneuvered and required the best work of the blacksmith. they were hard to make an expensive, just as expensive as buying cannon themselves. by february 1775, several of the cannon collected were collected in the north salem shop of a blacksmith named robert foster who was making carriages for them. on sunday, february 26, mason was attending church when someone ran in with the news british soldiers landed at marblehead. gage sent lieutenant colonel and 240 men to search for weapons and search for weapons at the blacksmith shop where he knew they were. mason raced out of the meeting house to move the cannon and block the soldiers. he and other men managed to delay the british column, move the cannon, force the troops to return to their ships without doing a thorough search.
that confrontation has become known as leslie's retreat. that could have been the start of the war, but no one died. so we skip over it. [laughter] on march 3, a week later, it was reported 27 pieces of cannon were removed out of the town in order to be out of the way of robbery. those cannon were removed from salem to the same place where the provincial congress moved the pieces from boston, to concord. the men and concord in charge of the new militia colonel, a 65 euros farmer and representative to the provincial congress. reportedly, he put the boston guns in his cellar. he was also organizing his neighbors in concord to store gunpowder, small arms, tools, and food for the provincial military. it looked like david mason came out to concord from salem to work on the cannon with colonel barrett.
they were still working to mount them so they could be useful. someone in concord reported the guns were melted in so bad a manner that they could not elevate them. the provincial congress met in concord in late march amidst the supplies gathered. it was halfway through that session james warren wrote to his wife that this town is full of cannon. he and his enthusiastic colleagues could overlook the problem the guns had, the fact they were not well mounted and did not have carriages. what they thought was important that the congress had any artillery at all in the population was determined to keep it out of the army's hands. meanwhile on april 14, general gage received orders from london. his superiors did not merely authorize him to take military action against the growing rebellion, they ordered him to. according to one of the british spies in concord, on that same day, dr. warren and paul revere warned the provincial congress a
body of regulars might come to take the town. locals got frightened so the delegates ordered colonel barrett to empty the townhouse of the cannon and ammunition. the concord town hall was full of 14 cannon and gunpowder. and the town said you have to take it all away. the next day, dr. church said general gage a report. he said the government was about to raise an army of 8000 men and authorized six companies of field artillery. all signs were telling general gage it was time to act. seizing the field pieces would require a march deep into hostile territory. 17 miles to concord, another two across the bridge to barrett. each mile meant the troops would
be more tired and exposed. if the mission succeeded, it would erase the embarrassment of having let those guns be stolen in the first place. when general gage wrote out his first draft of orders, the top item he wanted them to look for were four brass cannon and two mortar in the seller or outhouses of mr. barrett, a little on the other side of the bridge. already, james barrett and his family were starting to move the most important military supplies to neighboring towns and hiding the rest. colonel barrett's grandson, 14 years old, remembered how he and other boys removed the supplies into the woods and concealed them under pine bows. the speed of movement, the grandson said, they would goad the oxen into a trot. concord traditions also say
barrett laid muskets in the field and plowed dirt over them. the most specific local tradition about artillery says barrett helpers took four cannon to stow in the lower village not far from the residence of the secretary-treasurer in charge of keeping valuables, and it looked like they were now guarding the valuable brass cannon. sometime on april 18, gage received news of the removal from concord. it said the field pieces are now in the concord townhouse. was he thinking, were they the only four left in concord the only guns from boston? it was worth a shot. general gage revised his instructions to be less specific. he still hoped the troops would find artillery. he said if you meet with brass
artillery, order the muzzles to be beat in to render them useless. and he sent off the troops. gage said mounted officers to patrol the roads between cambridge and concord and stop messengers from getting through. this is something he learned about the salem march were david mason and others received early warning. ironically, those mounted officers alerted many locals something was up. in lexington on the road to concord, militiamen saw those officers and started to gather. after sunset on april 18, 1775, about 800 british soldiers on their way to concord were too
late to catch the cannon. on the road to concord, those british soldiers would come across the alerted lexington militia company lined up on their town common. there would be fatal shots this time. and that is when the war would begin. that is how four stolen cannon ignited the revolutionary war. thank you. [applause] from the boston train, two of the canyons survived. one was engraved with the nicknames of samuel adams and john hancock who happened to be
in lexington. today, the john hancock is on display and the samuel adams was conserved by the national park service and it is also on display next to the bunker hill monument. in boston, you can see two out of the four. i will be happy to take questions. [applause] >> in the time, did they find out that young was a spy? >> dr. church. there was another doctor but he was a good one. yes. in the fall of 1775, dr. church's mistress -- he had
asked her to send a letter into boston. she was living in newport. she made the mistake of asking her ex-husband to mail the letter for her. he thought it was suspicious so he sat on it for a while. he got another question asking, have have you mailed it yet? he went to the authorities and a discovered that it was in code. nothing suspicious here. [laughter] washington had this person brought to headquarters and interrogated her for hours until giving up the name of dr. church who was not simply a patriot, he was the surgeon general of the continental army.
they interrogated him. he denied everything. they had experts decode the letter and it was suspicious that it wasn't a smoking gun they kept him in jail for a long time. after a couple years, they made a deal that said, you have to leave the united states, exiled into martinique. the ship was never seen again. not until the 20th century when historians were able to look at the papers did they discover more letters that could only have come from dr. church. it is definitely clear now that church was a spy for the british starting in early 1775. there is no longer any doubt
about that. in his lifetime, there is still a little doubt but they had detected in. >> [inaudible] you mentioned dr. warren. to the best of my memory, he died in the battle of bunker hill. >> did i research what happened to the man involved? yes. that is the last chapter of the book. indeed, dr. warren was killed in the battle of bunker hill. he was thought to have great potential as a leader and he
died in his early 30's. another man, david mason came to command the continental army's artillery regiment. he was involved in the siege of boston during the preparations for the push on to the dorchester peninsula, which was the last action. he was involved in setting off a mortar and it exploded and wounded him badly. after recovering, he started a laboratory at springfield, massachusetts. the young man who helped to steal the canyons -- cannons, he
was arrested. after the war, he more or less inherited his father's dizziness. he invested in glass factories. in the 1820's, the factories went bankrupt and he lived with his daughter and the daughter was living on the land confiscated from the head of the militia trained. although these people are still connected in strange ways in boston. >> i am curious about henry knox. we know that he was at the boston massacre and played a role there.
we see him at the dorchester heights and going up to four -- to fort ticonderoga. can you talk about what he did in that critical two years in between? >> he was a whig, a member of the patriot resistance. i have not found any evidence of that. what he felt internally, i cannot say, but he does not show up on the list of political activists, the people in charge of enforcing boycotts. instead, he married into a loyalist family, the daughter of the royal secretary. it was definitely a love match. at that point, i think he was faced with a choice of possibly becoming a loyalist, remaining
neutral, or working more strongly with the whigs. when the british were in boston, there is a letter from somebody in quincy talking about intelligence learned from army officers in "k-x's" bookstrore. -- bookstore. he chose using his status as a member of a loyalist family. at that point, he was using the status to be trusted by the british military. the war broke out in april 1775. in may, they left town.
he almost immediately went to work with the continental army to design a fortification in roxbury. he met george washington and he liked the fortification. by october, washington was lobbying for him to be appointed to a higher rank in the continental artillery. although i do not think he was an activist in the pre-war years, he clearly made a choice. his wife joined him in that choice. she never saw her family again. >> [indiscernible] how does he wind up in such a high position?
>> that is a good question. some people say he was a member of the trained artillery as well. there are not good records during peacetime. henry knox was involved in forming a different militia company in boston, the grenadier company. if you form your own militia company, you get to be an officer. they got uniforms. a parade took place a few weeks after he had wounded himself in a hunting accident so he was marching in the parade with a large bandaged hand in this young woman saw him and thought, hmm, i want to know more about this man. [laughter]
becoming a militia officer was his rise into society. as to whether he had any artillery experience, i do not know. one of his biographers actually credited him with taking the cannon out of boston. i think that his great strength as an officer may not have been this knowledge of artillery in terms of making them go boom where you want them. but, fortifications and organizations. he understood how the army worked together. i think washington recognized those strings. -- strengths. he became soured on the existing
commander of the continental artillery by october and he wanted that man out. there is a fair about of -- fair amount of political mover in, but they were a team for decades. >> at that point, while he is doing that, he is a civilian. when he gets to cambridge, he is informed of his appointment, and he is a kernel in the continental army -- -- a colonel in the army. >> you are right. i believe he was told it was
coming but it was still unclear. basically he was going to new york and action plan not on his own authority -- lake champlain not on his own authority. people talk about what a feat it was. the organizational, logistical abilities that he had -- we need to recognize that winter is when new englanders moved logs and crops. winter is when you moved things over the road. we can also talk about how the winter was terrible -- actually, it wasn't terrible enough. henry knox was always complaining that there should be more snow on the ground, because that would make it easier to move heavy objects. the rivers were not frozen enough.
it was a remarkable feat to bring this to cambridge. at the same time, it was part of the biggest articles when will we now consider to be -- what we think -- the cold, the snow, that is what he was hoping for. he managed to get the cannon into cambridge in early 1776. general washington already had larger guns, but not enough to buy having more, he was able to move on to the heights of dorchester peninsula and push the british military out of boston at last. in the back? >> i want to point out that we
would not be sitting in his building if not for henry knox. the society of cincinnati was his idea. >> indeed. he had this idea almost immediately after the siege of boston. >> thank you very much. delightful. [applause] >> i will not take back -- the book is really good. you have to go back and get it. what he says is absolutely true. henry knox imagined a veteran organization for officers of the american revolution which is
what the society of the cincinnati became. henry knox imagined in the winter of 1775, saying, we need to have some decoration, some ribbon we can put in the button of our jacket to show our grandchildren what we did. at this point, the war was less than one year on. like many soldiers, and he imagined that would be over by christmas. of course, the war was only just beginning. henry knox held onto this idea and revived in 1783. so, you begin with a story of how artillery shaped the beginning of the revolution. in the end, it shapes the founding of our organization. in between lots of stories, i do not think any one will be as
good as this one. thank you. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> you are washing american history tv, 48 hours of programming every weekend on c-span 3. follow us on twitter @c band cspan history. to keep up with the latest history news. wednesday, the national trust for historic preservation announced its 2016 list of america's 11 most endangered historic places. stephanie meeks, the ceo, is here to talk about some of the sites on the list. thanks for being with us.
first off, what is the national trust for historic preservation, and why does it create an annual list of endangered sites? the national trust is a privately funded, nonprofit mission isn whose to advocate for the protection of cultural resources in the united states. as part of our mission, we publish this list every year of most endangered places in the united states. we have been doing it now for 29 years. and we published the list to shine a spotlight on places that are facing a significant threat and where we hope the community will rally to put some sort of protections in place. >> what sites are on the list and what makes them endangered? ms. meeks: well, we have a variety of sites on this year's list that range from entire