The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Life in Besieged Boston

Our November Object of the Month is a diary kept by Boston merchant William Cheever (1752-1786) during the siege of Boston in the beginning months of the Revolutionary War. As Digital Projects Coordinator Nancy Heywood notes in her introductory essay, "Cheever's succinct entries cover the realities of living through a long military campaign. He describes press gangs and imprisonments within the town on 19 June (on page 2) as 'the usual consequence of martial law.' His diary entries describe raids and vandalism committed by both sides (see entries for 30 May, 12 July and 9 January), bombardments (2 August, page 4) and the scarceness and expensiveness of food (12 August, page 5). He also describes the Battle of Bunker Hill in his entry for 17 June (on page 2) and the damage the British troops did to the Old South Meeting House (15 November, page 7). Cheever's final diary entry describes the last day of the Siege, 17 March 1776 (page 12) and records that General Howe and the British troops left town 'upon which the Continental Army enter'd it.'"

See hi-res scans of the diary or read transcriptions of the text, here.

Stay tuned for additional Siege of Boston documents later this month, as we launch a new digital collection devoted to materials from that period in Boston's history.

permalink | Published: Thursday, 4 November, 2010, 8:01 AM


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