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1775

Battle of Brewster Island

On this day in 1775, Patriot minutemen in whaleboats, commanded by Major Joseph Vose, raid Nantasket Point, also known as Little Brewster Island, in Boston Harbor, Massachusetts. The raiders temporarily drive off the island’s British guard and confiscate lamps, oil, gunpowder and boats, before burning the wooden parts of the point’s lighthouse.

Ten days later, at General George Washington’s orders, American Major Benjamin Tupper returned to the island with 300 men in whaleboats to prevent the British from completing their repairs to the burned lighthouse. They successfully killed or captured all 32 Redcoats defending the island, in addition to a British soldier with the rank of subaltern (just below a captain) and 10 carpenters who were employed there. Although Tupper missed the first tide and had to engage in an unexpected battle with British reinforcements, he lost only two men. Vose rose from his position as a major in William Heath’s Massachusetts Regiment to a colonel of the 1st Massachusetts Regiment on January 1, 1777. In that capacity, he fought under General George Washington in the campaign for Monmouth, New Jersey, before moving back to New England and seeing action near Newport, Rhode Island.

In February 1781, Vose took command of a battalion consisting of the eight oldest companies of Massachusetts troops. Vose’s battalion then took its place in the Marquis de Lafayette’s division of the Continental Army, fighting in Virginia during 1781, including in the victorious Battle of Yorktown. Vose completed his service during the War for Independence by commanding a Massachusetts regiment during the evacuation of New York City on November 25, 1783.

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