Saturday, January 26, 2013

Who's the Commander?

Towering high over the Cambridge Common, just a stone's throw from Harvard Yard and the Square, stands the sign: SHERATON COMMANDER. What a strange name for a hotel, I always thought. I thought that for years. Until I went for a visit, and then I understood. That is when I learned the identity of the Commander.




So. Who's the Commander?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Four Citizens Shot and Killed in Cambridge, MA

As you know, I am documenting some of the landmarks of the American Revolution that are common but often ignored sites around Boston. This one is new to me - I saw it for the first time this week when I stopped to get a haircut in North Cambridge. It is a timely reminder that governments can and do kill their own citizens. This is the reason the right of citizens to to keep and bear arms is enshrined in our Constitution.









The inscription reads:
AT THIS PLACE
APRIL 19, 1775
FOUR CITIZENS WERE KILLED
BY BRITISH SOLDIERS
RETREATING FROM LEXINGTON
- - -
ERECTED BY THE CITY
1830
NAMES OF THOSE KILLED
ISAAC GARDINER, WILLIAM MARCY
JOHN HICKS, MOSES RICHARDSON

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The American Revolution: Battle at Lexington and Concord

On the night of April 18, 1775, 700 British soldiers marched through the night and into the morning of the 19th, on their way to confiscate and destroy American guns and military supplies in Concord, Massachusetts.

The Patriots were prepared.




The Colonists had known of the planned confiscation for weeks in advance, and were alerted by Paul Revere that the hour was nigh. Having waited through the night at the Buckman Tavern, just across from the Lexington Green, the soldiers were prepared when the British arrived at the break of dawn.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Paul Revere & Old North Church

Speaking of Paul Revere, there is a lovely statue in Boston's North End depicting Revere on his famous midnight ride. In the background, you can see the Old North Church, where the lanterns were hung -- 'One if by land, two if by sea' -- to warn the colonists of the impending British invasion.



Behind the statue is the Paul Revere Mall, which is a lovely and peaceful plaza that leads to the Old North Church. These pictures were taken on a blistering day in the Summer of 2012.



In the Mall is a Memorial Garden to honor the soldiers and civilians who lost their lives in the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars. Those are all dog tags. When the wind blows, they shimmer in the sun and make a haunting sound.



At the end of the mall is the Old North Church, where on the night of April 18, 1775, Robert Newman held high the two lanterns, as a signal that the British were departing by sea to Lexington and Concord. And thus began the American Revolution.



Paul Revere was off to warn the colonists. He was nearly intercepted in Somerville by the British, but escaped. He was finally captured in Concord, but not before spreading the word as far and wide as possible.

There is a plaque (which I have not yet visited) that reads:

"At this Point, on the old Concord road as it then was, ended the midnight ride of Paul Revere.

"He had, at about two o'clock of the morning of April 19, 1775, the night being clear and the moon in its third quarter, got thus far on his way from Lexington to Concord, alarming the inhabitants as he went, when he and his companions, William Dawes, of Boston, and Dr. Samuel Prescott, of Concord, were suddenly halted by a British patrol, who had stationed themselves at this bend of the road. Dawes, turning back, made his escape. Prescott, clearing the stone wall, and following a path known to him through the low ground, regained the highway at a point further on, and gave the alarm at Concord. Revere tried to reach the neighboring wood, but was intercepted by a party of officers accompanying the patrol, detained and kept in arrest. Presently he was carried by the patrol back to Lexington. There released, and that morning joined Hancock and Adams.

"Three men of Lexington, Sanderson, Brown and Loring, stopped at an earlier hour of the night by the same patrol, were also taken back with Revere."


Meanwhile, back in Boston's North End, at the Copps Hill Burying Ground is the grave marker of Robert Newman, who courageously held the lanterns in the Old North Church:



More pictures of his headstone can be found here.

If you ever come to visit Boston, you will find the North End to be lovely. Also known as 'Little Italy' it is home to the best Italian restaurants in the city, as well as narrow streets and alleys flanked by Boston's traditional red-brick buildings that makes you feel like you're in a little European village:






 


More on Paul Revere and the Revolution to come in future editions.



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Sunday, January 6, 2013

"I am too old to run."

What happens when you're too old to run? You stand your ground and keep shooting.

The memorial pictured below at 181 Washington Street in Somerville MA, just down the hill from America's First Flag, serves as a reminder of the great courage that built this country:






It reads:
ON THIS HILLSIDE
JAMES MILLER, MINUTE MAN
AGED 65
WAS SLAIN BY THE BRITISH
APRIL 19, 1775
. . .
"I AM TOO OLD TO RUN"


This Brief History of Somerville recounts:

...A little beyond, on the side of a hill, James Miller and another Minute Man were firing on the British from behind a stone wall when they were suddenly cut off and fired upon by a flanking party of the enemy. Miller, when urged to escape, made the heroic reply, "I am too old to run," and continued firing at the approaching foe until he fell, pierced by thirteen bullets."


Ironically (or perhaps not), on that hillside today stands a funeral home. Here is the memorial in today's context, January 5, 2012.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Somerville Library

The Somerville Public Library at dusk.


 At one time, the idea of a public library was revolutionary.

Here Was The Citadel

Another marker of the Revolution, this one sits on top of Prospect Hill in Somerville, a few steps from America's First Flag.


 Prospect Hill, Somerville, Citadel Marker - January 3, 2012

This one is hard to read. It says:
ON THIS HILL
THE UNION FLAG WITH ITS THIRTEEN STRIPES
THE EMBLEM OF THE UNITED COLONIES
FIRST BADE DEFIANCE TO AN ENEMY
JANUARY 1, 1776
- - - - -
HERE WAS THE CITADEL
THE MOST FORMIDABLE WORK IN THE
AMERICAN LINES
DURING THE SIEGE OF BOSTON
JUNE 17, 1775 TO MARCH 17, 1776

Paul Revere Eludes the British in Somerville

All around Boston and its surrounding areas one can find markers of America's first revolution. This site looks like a comprehensive community effort to document them.

I found this marker in the parking lot of the Holiday Inn on Washington Street.




It reads:
PAUL REVERE
ON HIS FAMOUS RIDE
APRIL 18 1775 WAS INTERCEPTED
NEAR HERE BY BRITISH OFFICERS
AND ESCAPED.


Painter Fred Lynch tells the story of what happened in his blog post Paul Revere's Ride Revisited: The Gruesome Landmark

Revere writes of what happened in a letter from 1798:

“I set off upon a very good Horse; it was then about 11 o’Clock, and very pleasant. After I had passed Charlestown Neck, and got nearly opposite where Mark was hung in chains, I saw two men on Horse back, under a Tree. When I got near them, I discovered they were British officer. One tryed to git a head of Me, and the other to take me. I turned my Horse very quick, and Galloped towards Charlestown neck, and then pushed for the Medford Road. The one who chased me, endeavoring to Cut me off, got into a Clay pond, near where the new Tavern is now built. I got clear of him, and went thro Medford, over the Bridge, and up to Menotomy.”


Truly you must read on to discover who Mark was. It is no wonder why Fred Lynch calls this The Gruesome Landmark. Today one would never guess such gruesome things happened. It is the site of a brightly painted and cheery Holiday Inn.



Fenway Park on New Year's Day, 2013

Near where I parked, on New Year's Day 2013, on the way to Les Misérables.



 
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