The Siege of Boston: Eyewitness Accounts from the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Eyewitness Accounts from the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Eyewitness Accounts Arranged by Selected Topics

Explore the featured documents by browsing the following selected topics.

Please note: The topics below are just some examples of the many different topics found within the manuscripts and we offer them as starting points for your research.

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Battle of Bunker Hill

17 June 1775. Cheever (Merchant).
See page 2: William Cheever diary, 1775-1776

17 June 1775. Edes (Resident). Subtopic: list of prisoners taken to jail.
See page 23: Peter Edes diary, June-October 1775

11 August 1775. Edes (Resident). Subtopic: death of prisoner taken during battle.
See page 9: Peter Edes diary, June-October 1775

17 September 1775. Edes (Resident). Subtopic: account by minister who fought for Provincial army then deserted to British army.
See page 19: Peter Edes diary, June-October 1775

17 June 1775. Ober (Soldier).
See page 7: Nathaniel Ober diary, 15 May - 3 September 1775, with accounts and notes, 1776-1781

Battles of Lexington and Concord

19 April 1775. Adams (Member of Continental Congress).
See page 1: Letter from Samuel Adams to Samuel Purviance, 19 May 1775

19 April 1775. Deming (Resident).
See page 3: Sarah Winslow Deming journal, 1775

British Evacuation of Boston

March 1776. Bangs (Soldier).
See pages 15-16: Isaac Bangs journal, 1776

17 March 1776. Brown (Soldier).
See page 6: Obadiah Brown diary, 1776-1777

5 March 1776. Cheever (Merchant). Subtopic: preparations.
See page 11: William Cheever diary, 1775-1776

17 March 1776. Cheever (Merchant).
See page 12: William Cheever diary, 1775-1776

March 1776. Jackson (Merchant). Subtopic: aftermath.
See: Letter from William Jackson to the Continental Congress, 6 July 1776

Challenges of residents leaving Boston

May 1775. Adams (Member of Continental Congress).
See page 3: Letter from Samuel Adams to Samuel Purviance, 19 May 1775

6 May 1775. Andrews (Merchant).
See page 1-2: Letter from John Andrews to William Barrell, 6 May 1775

22 April 1775. Boston freeholders and inhabitants (Resident). Subtopic: including requirement to surrender firearms.
See pages 3 -5: Boston town meeting minutes, 22 April 1775

21 April 1775. Burbeck (Soldier).
See: Statement of William Burbeck certifying that he received help from Henry Howell Williams in April 1775, written on 17 April 1776

20 April 1775. Deming (Resident).
See page 3: Sarah Winslow Deming journal, 1775

23 April 1775. Elliot (Minister). Subtopic: including requirement to surrender firearms.
See page 1: Letter from Andrew Eliot to his son, 23 April 1775

Conditions in Boston

6 May 1775. Andrews (Merchant).
See page 2: Letter from John Andrews to William Barrell, 6 May 1775

1 June 1775. Andrews (Merchant). Subtopic: scarcity of food.
See pages 2-3: Letter from John Andrews to William Barrell, 1 June 1775

22 April 1775. Boston freeholders and inhabitants (Resident). Subtopic: attempts to preserve peaceful relations between soldiers and residents.
See page 2: Boston town meeting minutes, 22 April 1775

12 August 1775. Cheever (Merchant).
See page 5: William Cheever diary, 1775-1776

19-20 April 1775. Deming (Resident).
See page 3: Sarah Winslow Deming journal, 1775

23 April 1775. Eliot (Minister).
See: Letter from Andrew Eliot to his son, 23 April 1775

25 April 1775. Eliot (Minister).
See page 1: Letter from Andrew Eliot to Thomas B. Hollis (copy), 25 April 1775 and letter from Andrew Eliot to unidentified recipient (draft), 31 May 1775

31 May 1775. Eliot (Minister).
See page 4: Letter from Andrew Eliot to Thomas B. Hollis (copy), 25 April 1775 and letter from Andrew Eliot to unidentified recipient (draft), 31 May 1775

Fortification of Dorchester Heights

4 March 1776. Bangs (Soldier).
See page 4: Isaac Bangs journal, 1776

9 March 1776. Thomas (Soldier). Subtopic: preparations.
See: Letter from Gen. John Thomas to Hannah Thomas, 9 March 1776

Military generals

May 1775. Adams (Member of Continental Congress).
See page 3: Letter from Samuel Adams to Samuel Purviance, 19 May 1775

1 January 1776-17 March 1776. Bangs (Soldier).
See page 28 for one example: Isaac Bangs journal, 1776

25 May 1775. Cheever (Merchant).
See page 1: William Cheever diary, 1775-1776

13 November 1775. Harrison (Soldier).
See: Letter from Robert Harrison to Loammi Baldwin, 13 November 1775

Fall 1775-spring 1776. Jackson (Merchant).
See: Letter from William Jackson to the Continental Congress, 6 July 1776

2 July 1775. Ober (Soldier).
See page 9 for example: Nathaniel Ober diary, 15 May - 3 September 1775, with accounts and notes, 1776-1781

Circa October 1775. Unidentified woman (Resident).
See: Poem about British by an American Lady, 11 Feb. [1776]

Prisoner account

19 June 1775 - 3 October 1775. Edes (Resident).
See: Peter Edes diary, June-October 1775

Raids/plundering of property

1 June 1775. Andrews (Merchant).
See page 2: Letter from John Andrews to William Barrell, 1 June 1775

30 May 1775. Cheever (Merchant).
See page 1: William Cheever diary, 1775-1776

12 July 1775. Cheever (Merchant).
See page 3: William Cheever diary, 1775-1776

15 November 1775. Cheever (Merchant). Subtopic: mentions damage to Old South Meeting House.
See page 7: William Cheever diary, 1775-1776

9 January 1776. Cheever (Merchant).
See page 10: William Cheever diary, 1775-1776

30 May 1775. Doolittle (Soldier).
See: Orders to take cattle issued by Col. Ephraim Doolittle to Capt. Nathan Fuller (copy), 30 May 1775

June 1775. Gill (Soldier).
See: Statement of Moses Gill certifying that the horses, cattle, and sheep removed from Noddles Island in June 1775 were used for the benefit of American troops, undated

20 April 1775. Green (Resident). Subtopic: expenses occurred when moving cattle and horses to prevent British from obtaining livestock.
See page 1: Estimate of damages done during Siege, list by Jonathan Green, 7 May 1776

31 May 1775. Green (Resident).
See page 1: Estimate of damages done during Siege, list by Jonathan Green, 7 May 1776

10 July 1775. Green (Resident).
See page 2: Estimate of damages done during Siege, list by Jonathan Green, 7 May 1776

11 November 1775. Green (Resident). Subtopic: expenses occurred when moving cattle and horses to prevent British from obtaining livestock.
See page 2: Account of damages done during Siege to Jonathan Green, [7 May 1776]

13 November 1775. Harrison (Soldier). Subtopic: hope to prevent British from obtaining livestock.
See: Letter from Robert Harrison to Loammi Baldwin, 13 November 1775

6 July 1776. Jackson (Merchant). Subtopic: attempt to recover confiscated property.
See: Letter from William Jackson to the Continental Congress, 6 July 1776

6 August 1775. Ober (Soldier).
See page 16: Nathaniel Ober diary, 15 May - 3 September 1775, with accounts and notes, 1776-1781

May 1775. Williams, H. H. (Resident).
See: List of items belonging to Henry Howell Williams destroyed in 1775, 10 March 1787

1789. Williams, H. H. (Resident). Subtopic: attempt to recover confiscated property.
See many selections: Documents relating to Henry Howell Williams and Noddles Island

Setting of Siege

Skirmishes and bombardments

4 March 1776. Bangs (Soldier).
See pages 6-7: Isaac Bangs journal, 1776

20 February1776. Brown (Soldier). Subtopic: from the perspective of a soldier.
See page 3: Obadiah Brown diary, 1776-1777

2 March 1776. Brown (Soldier).
See page 5: Isaac Bangs journal, 1776

4 March 1776. Brown (Soldier).
See page 4: Obadiah Brown diary, 1776-1777

12 March 1776. Brown (Soldier).
See page 5: Obadiah Brown diary, 1776-1777

2 August 1775. Cheever (Merchant).
See page 4: William Cheever diary, 1775-1776

22 September 1775. Cheever (Merchant).
See page 6: William Cheever diary, 1775-1776

31 May 1775. Eliot (Minister). Subtopic: from the perspective of a Boston resident.
See page 4: Letter from Andrew Eliot to Thomas B. Hollis (copy), 25 April 1775 and letter from Andrew Eliot to unidentified recipient (draft), 31 May 1775

28 May 1775. Ober (Soldier). Subtopic: from the perspective of a soldier.
See page 4: Nathaniel Ober diary, 15 May - 3 September 1775, with accounts and notes, 1776-1781

31 July 1775. Ober (Soldier).
See page 14: Nathaniel Ober diary, 15 May - 3 September 1775, with accounts and notes, 1776-1781

27 August 1775. Ober (Soldier).
See page 19: Nathaniel Ober diary, 15 May - 3 September 1775, with accounts and notes, 1776-1781

View of Siege, written by a woman

19-20 April 1775. Deming (Resident).
See page 3: Sarah Winslow Deming journal, 1775

Circa October 1775. Unidentified woman (Resident).
See: Poem about British by an American Lady, 11 Feb. [1776]

View of Siege, written from outside of Boston

1 January 1776-17 March 1776. Bangs (Soldier).
See: Isaac Bangs journal, 1776

30 January 1776 - 17 March 1776. Brown (Soldier).
See: Obadiah Brown diary, 1776-1777

15 May 1775 - 3 September 1775. Ober (Soldier).
See: Nathaniel Ober diary, 15 May - 3 September 1775, with accounts and notes, 1776-1781

View of Siege, written from within Boston

6 May 1775. Andrews (Merchant).
See: Letter from John Andrews to William Barrell, 6 May 1775

1 June 1775. Andrews (Merchant).
See page 2: Letter from John Andrews to William Barrell, 1 June 1775

19 May 1775 - 17 March 1776. Cheever (Merchant).
See: William Cheever diary, 1775-1776

19-20 April 1775. Deming (Resident).
See page 3: Sarah Winslow Deming journal, 1775

25 April 1775. Eliot (Minister).
See: Letter from Andrew Eliot to Thomas B. Hollis (copy), 25 April 1775 and letter from Andrew Eliot to unidentified recipient (draft), 31 May 1775