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J. L. Bell

Washington in Cambridge and the Siege of Boston

Visit the sites of George Washington’s first campaign as a general with J. L. Bell, proprietor of the Boston1775.

Washington took command of the Continental Army in Cambridge on July 2, 1775, with a mission to push the British military out of Boston. Within days he was writing back to the Continental Congress, warning that the situation was far worse than he expected.

For months Washington worried about the enemy charging out of of their well defended territory, or his own army dissolving at the end of the year. Meanwhile, he was learning valuable lessons about his generals, his staff, and his soldiers. Hear about Washington’s first campaign from the crucial sites: the homes he made his headquarters, the only surviving earthworks from the siege, and the high spot on the Dorchester peninsula that his army fortified overnight in March 1776. Also hear about the important lesson Washington didn’t learn on this campaign and had to pick up painfully later in the war.

The tour concludes at night, atop Dorchester Heights—looking out over Boston from the spot where canon were placed under the cover of darkness in 1775. Cannon that shocked the British the next morning when they realized that their ships were now vulnerable.

While these sites are public sites, many are ones that people seldom visit and others are in busy spots all but ignored by the people walking or driving by. John takes you through them in chronological order and provides context for each.

Even if you are deeply read on Washington and this period, you’ll learn new things and visit a some sites you probably didn’t even know existed.

J. L. Bell is the proprietor of the Boston 1775 website (boston1775.blogspot.com), providing daily helpings of history, analysis, and unabashed gossip about Revolutionary New England. He is the author of The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War, a book-length study for the National Park Service about General George Washington in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and numerous articles and book chapters.