HSB41 home
Changing Course home

The Native Americans' River
The River in the Revolution
Mills and Dams: An Engine of Economic

Shaping The Environment: Mapping, Moving
and Bridging the Charles


Amos Farnsworth's Diary

In the last week of May, the newly formed American army that surrounded Boston faced its first combat with the British since Lexington and Concord. Because the British were besieged in Boston, they needed livestock for food, and hay to keep their livestock alive. With the massive royal navy controlling Boston harbor, British marines had an easy time capturing these from the dozens of islands scattered throughout the harbor. But by the end of May, the Americans were ready to make a stand. General Israel Putnam of Connecticut led a force to Hog Island, Noddle's Island (today East Boston, where Logan airport is) and Chelsea. Private Amos Farnsworth, of Groton, Massachusetts kept a diary of his experience during the skirmishes along the water.

The Diary is printed in the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society (January, 1808, pp. 80-1). Farnsworth's punctuation is irregular and his spelling is largely phonetic. If you're having difficulty understanding, try reading the prose out loud and then translating the Boston accent. For example "Sot fiar to hur" meands "set fire to her."

Friday May ye 26 in the morning I Etended prayers And at night : i hope that I Git good in this Day of grace. At night I and about ten of our Company marcht with A party of men betwixt two and three hundred for Noddels island ; heded By Col Nixson we marched throu Mistick Moldin and to Chelsea

Saturday, May ye 27. went on hog island And Brought of Six hoses twentyseven hornd Cattel And fore hundred And Eleven Sheep. about the midel of the afternoon went From hog island to Noddles island and Sot one Hous and Barn on fiar killd Some hoses and Cattel Brought of two or thre Cows one horse. I with five men get of the horse And Before we got from Noddels island to hog island we was fird upon by a Privateer Schooner. But we Crost the river and about fiften of us Squated Down in a Ditch on the mash and Stood our ground. And thare Came A Company of Regulars on the marsh on the other side of the river And the Schooner: And we had A hot fiar untill the Regulars retreeted. But notwithstanding the Bulets flue very thitch yet thare was not A Man of us kild. Suerly God has A faver towards us : And He can Save in one Place as well as Another. we left the island about Sun-Set and came to Chelsea : And on Saturday about ten At night Marched, to Winnisimit ferry whare thare was A Schooner and Sloop Afiring with grate fury on us thare. But thanks be unto god that gave us the Victry at this time for throu his Providence the Schooner that Plad upon us the day before run Aground we Sot fiar to hur And Consumed her thare And the Sloop receved much dammage. in this ingagement we had not A min kild : But fore wounded but we hope all will Recover. one of the fore was a tounsing man belonging to our Company the bulet went throu his mouth from one Cheek to the other. thanks be unto God that so little hurt was Done us when the Bauls Sung like Beees Round our heds.

Sunday May 28 Left Winnisimit ferry About ye middle of ye fore noon And Came to Chelsea And About two in ye afternoon Receved ordars to march and Came to Cambridge, by ye way of Penny ferry.



 Copyright © The President and Fellows of Harvard College