Showing posts from May, 2020

Boston: Bunker Hill Monument

It is fitting that we come to the end of the Freedom Trail in Boston at Bunker Hill this week.  The skirmishes along the roads to Lexington and Concord may have provided the first armed conflict of the American Revolution, but the Battle of Bunker Hill was the first organized battle of the war.  It is seemingly appropriate that we close out Memorial Day weekend at the location of the memorial to our nation's first soldiers.  Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill cost 164 American lives - the first military blood spilled in the struggle to create the nation we call home. The Bunker Hill Monument is a stone obelisk rising 221 feet above...Breed's Hill.  That's right, most of the fighting occurred, and the memorial is therefore placed, upon Breed's Hill.  The battle itself was named after another hill north of Charlestown, which is where the commanders of the Colonists (Colonel William Prescott and General Israel Putnam) were initially ordered to secure.  Although Bunk

Boston: USS Constitution

This week we cross the water where the Charles River empties into Boston Harbor, much as Paul Revere did all those years ago.  Our destination is the oldest commissioned naval vessel in America (and oldest currently afloat in the world), USS Constitution - a ship that was built, interestingly, using fastening bolts and copper sheathing provided by Revere himself!  She resides in the Charlestown Navy Yard as the namesake of the USS Constitution Museum, and is still crewed by naval officers to "preserve, protect and promote" both her and the U.S. Navy. When Americans finally achieved independence, it became clear that a naval presence would be necessary to protect the assets and interests of the fledgling nation.  After the Continental Navy was disbanded following the war, the remaining ships had been sold to help pay debts (although only 11 of the original 65 boats had survived the war).  Launched in 1797 from Edmund Hartt's shipyard in Boston, USS Constitution repres

Boston: Copp's Hill Burying Ground

The third and final cemetery along the Freedom Trail sits near the northern end of the city, and is the second-oldest burial site in Boston.  Copp's Hill Burying Ground is the final stop of the Freedom Trail that sits on the Shawmut Peninsula, the original extents of the city, and is perched on one of three hills that rise above the surrounding land and harbor.  Formerly known as the North Burying Ground, this plot of ground has served as the final resting place of Boston residents since 1659 and is the largest of the town's colonial cemeteries. Copp's Hill was a tactically important location for the British during the American Revolution, as it provided a vantage point from which cannon could be fired towards Charlestown across the river.  During the Battle of Bunker Hill, artillery posted at this location fired on colonial fortifications atop Breed's Hill, apparently to little effect.  It is said that British infantry used the grave markers within the Copp's Hil

Boston: Old North Church

From the high steeple to the underground crypts, this week's stop along the Freedom Trail has history from top to bottom.  And from the sweet colonial chocolate to a spicy controversy, there remain plenty of delicious reasons to visit.  The Old North Church remains a house of worship and one of the most-visited historical locations in Boston. Standing longer than any church in town since its construction in 1723, "Old North" was officially named Christ Church in the City of Boston.  There were actually two different locations known as "Old North" - in addition to Christ Church, there was also a Congregationalist meeting house that was led by such men as Increase Mather (note that I've corrected my error from last week mistaking these two!).  The second church was torn down by the British in 1775 for firewood, and there are some who believe that structure, which stood diagonally across the street from Paul Revere's home, was the real location of the lan