The Siege of Boston - HISTORY
Year
1776

The Siege of Boston

In advance of the Continental Army’s occupation of Dorchester Heights, Massachusetts, General George Washington orders American artillery forces to begin bombarding Boston from their positions at Lechmere Point, northwest of the city center, on this day in 1776.

After two straight days of bombardment, American Brigadier General John Thomas slipped 2,000 troops, cannons and artillery into position just south of Boston at Dorchester Heights. The 56 cannon involved in the move were those taken at Ticonderoga, New York, by Lieutenant Colonel Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen with his Green Mountain Boys, which had then been transported to Boston by Colonel of Artillery Henry Knox the previous winter.

By March 5, 1776, the Continental Army had artillery troops in position around Boston, including the elevated position at Dorchester Heights, overlooking the city. British General William Howe realized Boston was indefensible to the American positions and decided, on March 7, 1776, to leave the city. Ten days later, on March 17, 1776, the eight-year British occupation of Boston ended when British troops evacuated the city and sailed to the safety of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The victory at Boston resulted in John Thomas’ promotion to major general; soon after, he was assigned to replace General Richard Montgomery, who was killed in action as he and Benedict Arnold attempted to take Quebec. Thomas arrived at Quebec on May 1 and soon lost his own life. Although a physician by profession, he died of smallpox on June 2, as the Patriots retreated up the Richelieu River from their failed siege of the city.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Texas declares independence

During the Texas Revolution, a convention of American Texans meets at Washington-on-the-Brazos and declares the independence of Texas from Mexico. The delegates chose David Burnet as provisional president and confirmed Sam Houston as the commander in chief of all Texan forces. ...read more

Pioneer 10 launched to Jupiter

Pioneer 10, the world’s first outer-planetary probe, is launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a mission to Jupiter, the solar system’s largest planet. In December 1973, after successfully negotiating the asteroid belt and a distance of 620 million miles, Pioneer 10 reached ...read more

Dr. Seuss born

On this day in 1904, Theodor Geisel, better known to the world as Dr. Seuss, the author and illustrator of such beloved children’s books as “The Cat in the Hat” and “Green Eggs and Ham,” is born in Springfield, Massachusetts. Geisel, who used his middle name (which was also his ...read more

The Battle of the Bismarck Sea

On this day, U.S. and Australian land-based planes begin an offensive against a convoy of Japanese ships in the Bismarck Sea, in the western Pacific.On March 1, U.S. reconnaissance planes spotted 16 Japanese ships en route to Lae and Salamaua in New Guinea. The Japanese were ...read more

Kennedy proposes plan to end the war

Senator Robert Kennedy (D-New York) proposes a three-point plan to help end the war. The plan included suspension of the U.S. bombing of North Vietnam and the gradual withdrawal of U.S. and North Vietnamese troops from South Vietnam with replacement by an international force. ...read more

First Rolling Thunder raid conducted

Operation Rolling Thunder begins with more than 100 United States Air Force jet bombers striking an ammunition depot at Xom Bang, 10 miles inside North Vietnam. Simultaneously, 60 South Vietnamese Air Force propeller planes bombed the Quang Khe naval base, 65 miles north of the ...read more

Wilt Chamberlain scores 100 points

On March 2, 1962, Philadelphia Warriors center Wilt Chamberlain scores 100 points against the New York Knicks. It was the first time that a professional basketball player had scored 100 points in a single contest; the previous record, 78, had been set by Chamberlain earlier in ...read more

Bush honors the Boston Red Sox

On this day in 2005, at a White House ceremony, President George W. Bush congratulates the 2005 World Champion Boston Red Sox baseball team for winning their first World Series since 1918. Massachusetts Senators Edward Kennedy and John Kerry, and former Red Sox players were among ...read more

Sam Houston born

Samuel Houston, the first president of the independent Republic of Texas, is born in Rockbridge County, Virginia.When Houston was 14, his father died and his mother moved her nine children to the frontier village of Maryville, Tennessee. After working for a time in the Maryville ...read more

John Irving is born

American writer John Irving is born in Exeter, New Hampshire. Irving never met his real father and was raised by his mother and her second husband, who taught Russian history at Phillips Exeter Academy, which Irving attended. Having decided during his teens that he wanted to ...read more

Grave robbers steal Charlie Chaplin’s body

In one of history’s most famous cases of body-snatching, two men steal the corpse of the revered film actor Sir Charles Chaplin from a cemetery in the Swiss village of Corsier-sur-Vevey, located in the hills above Lake Geneva, near Lausanne, Switzerland, on this day in 1978.A ...read more

Train passengers suffocate

On this day in 1944, a train stops in a tunnel near Salerno, Italy, and more than 500 people on board suffocate and die. Occurring in the midst of World War II, the details of this incident were not revealed at the time and remain somewhat murky. Train Number 8017 left Salerno ...read more

Congress passes the Jones Act

The Jones Act, the last gasp of the Prohibition, is passed by Congress. Since 1920 when the Eighteenth Amendment went into effect, the United States had banned the production, importation and sale of alcoholic beverages. But the laws were ineffective at actually stopping the ...read more

Soviet Union and Chinese armed forces clash

In a dramatic confirmation of the growing rift between the two most powerful communist nations in the world, troops from the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China fire on each other at a border outpost on the Ussuri River in the eastern region of the USSR, north of ...read more

Battle of Waynesboro, Virginia

On this day in 1865, at the Battle of Waynesboro, Virginia, Union General George Custer’s troops rout Confederate General Jubal Early’s force, bringing an end to fighting in the Shenandoah Valley.The Shenandoah Valley was the scene of many battles and skirmishes during the Civil ...read more