The Boston Massacre: 5th March 1770

In the Spring of 1770, the 29th (Worcestershire) Regiment went to Boston, to reinforce the Garrison. Although America was still then a British colony, over the last few years the City had been a hot-bed of anti-British and anti-Government feelings, and in early March, disorder increased, with assaults upon soldiers becoming frequent.

On the 5th of March, severe disturbances broke out in the town, with attacks on merchants and barracks throughout the City. Between 7 and 8 p.m. in the evening, large mobs descended on the Custom House, a symbol of unpopular British taxes.

The Massacre

The Custom House, on King Street, was guarded by the 29th, although only one sentry, Private Hugh White, was on patrol outside. The mob closed in, pelting the sentry with snowballs, rocks and pieces of wood. The guard commander, Captain Thomas Preston, saw the attack and called out the rest of the guard – Lieutenant Bassett, a corporal and six men. They lined up to protect both the sentry and the Custom House, which contained a lot of money.

The mob kept closing in, though, now numbering about a hundred people. In another attempt to scare the crowd into leaving, Preston ordered his men to load their muskets and fix their bayonets. Still the mob closed in, shouting insults and threats and hurling missiles at the soldiers. A huge mulatto (half-Negro) man called Crispin Attucks lunged at Captain Preston, glancing off him to hit Private Montgomery, knocking his musket from his hands. Montgomery grabbed it back, but as Attucks got up, he grasped the other end and tried to pull it from his reach. Montgomery, acting through self-defence and confusion (he was dazed, and possibly mistook taunts of “Why don’t you fire?” from the crowd as an order from an officer) pulled his trigger, killing Attucks. The rest of the of the guard then fired too, killing two more people and wounding five, ropemaker Samuel Gray, mariner James Caldwell, died instantly. Samuel Maverick, an apprentice ivory turner, died a few hours later and Patrick Carr, an Irish immigrant, died two weeks later.   The shots temporarily dispersed the crowd.

They soon came back to gather up the killed and wounded, and only Preston’s quick thinking stopped his men, fearing another assault, from firing again. After the incident, dubbed the ‘Boston Massacre’ by anti-British propaganda, the 29th were forced to leave Boston, to prevent revenge attacks, although Captain Preston and his eight men (but not Lieutenant Bassett) were kept behind and arrested on charges of murder.

The Trial

The trial of Preston and his men was embroiled in politics. The obvious solution, acquittal on the grounds that they had fired in self-defence after great provocation, would outrage the people of Boston, but on the other hand, how could the British Government hang its own men for upholding the law by firing on a riotous and traitorous mob?

The solution came in the form of a lawyer called John Adams. A Bostonian, and an anti-British one at that, Adams was persuaded to put aside his own views and defend Preston, who was acquitted, and then his men. In their defence Adams argued eloquently and intelligently, cutting through the emotions and politics surrounding the trail, that they had acted justifiably in self-defence. Despite his own anti-British feelings, he argued that what the soldiers had done was right and within the law, and even natural in such circumstances. The jury acquitted all but Montgomery and Kilroy, who were found guilty of manslaughter, and branded on the thumb.

As they left, even the branded soldiers thanked Adams for his efforts in saving their lives and seeing justice done. One even voiced concern for Adam’s safety after such a pro-British act in such a hostile City, but Adams replied that he would be safe.

He was right. Only a few years later, John Adams would sign the Declaration of Independence, and eventually be 2nd President of the United States of America.

The guard picket:

Captain Thomas Preston, Lieutenant Bassett

John Carrol               Matthew Kilroy       Hugh Montgomery William Wenns

James Hartigan       William McCauley William Warren           Hugh White

Battle of Culloden April 16th 1746

The battle of Culloden was the final pitched battle to take place on British soil. It was fought between the Jacobite army of Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) and British Hanoverian government troops led by the Duke of Cumberland, son of King George II.

Charles was the grandson of James II who was exiled following the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688 which replaced the Stuart dynasty with his daughter Mary II and his Dutch nephew and Mary’s husband, William III of Orange.

The Duke Of Cumberland.

Believing there was support for a Stuart restoration in both Scotland and England, Charles landed in Scotland on July 1745 raising an army of Scots Jacobite supporters. The Jacobite campaign to restore the Stewart dynasty began with reasonable success, with support from the Scottish Charles Edward’s highland army defeated government troops at Prestonpans in September 1745 and was able to occupy Edinburgh reaching as far south as Derby but failing to gain English support forced them to retreat to Scottish territory in December 1745. The following year despite being on the defensive Charles’s army gained an impressive victory of the government army at Battle of Falkirk won in January 1746.

After the defeat of General Hawley at Falkirk, William Augustus (Duke of Cumberland) was appointed as commander of the government forces in Scotland and based his army in Aberdeen, setting out in April 1746 to engage with Charles’s troops who were located at Inverness.

The two armies eventually met at Culloden with Charles Stuart’s army consisting of 5,000 men – largely formed of Scottish clansmen and 8000 government forces made up of 17 regiments including the 36th Regiment of Foot commanded by Colonel Flemming.

Painting of Grenadiers – 36th Regiment is on the far right.

The day prior to the battle the Duke of Cumberland’s celebrated his birthday at Nain  during which the Jacobite’s attempted a night attack on Cumberland’s camp, however this ended in complete failure with soldiers  falling far behind and losing themselves in the bog and with dawn close to breaking it was clear the Jacobite forces would not reach Nairn before daylight resulting in the exhausted Scottish clansmen returning  back, tired and exhausted, to their former positions on Drummossie Moor. Two hours after they had arrived, they heard news that the British army was on the march and only four miles away. The Highlanders dragged themselves to their feet and formed a line.

What followed was a gruesome and bloody one- hour battle with a swift and decisive victory by Cumberland and the government troops. Charles began the battle on the defensive expecting Cumberland to attack, instead the Cumberland’s forces remained stationary using cannons to bombard the Jacobite forces inflicting casualties on the highlanders and wreaking havoc on their morale.

Following the bombardment Charles ordered his troops to charge the enemy lines – a tactic which had proved very effective in their previous engagements.

artist impression of the Battle of Culloden.

Cumberland’s secretary, Everard Fawkener describes the charge in a letter in which he writes…

“The rebels then charged towards our right wing, waving their swords in the air and shouting: they hoped to tempt our right wing to leave the battle line and attack them. But His Royal Highness, the Duke of Cumberland, commanded these troops himself and they kept to their line. The rebels then made a mass attack on our left wing: they ran forward, sometimes stopping to fire their pistols and muskets and reload. They were met with fierce musket fire from the British and were almost cut to pieces by our cannon. The whole weight of the rebel attack fell on two battalions of the British left – the Scots Fusiliers and Munro’s. It seemed that the rebels would get round the left wing, but Colonel Wolfe moved up his battalion to stop this. Here the bayonets of the British caused great slaughter of the rebels.

The rebel charge failed, and their army fell back. On the left, the British cavalry rode through gaps which had been made in a stone wall and attacked the rebel right wing which was put to flight with its reserve. The cavalry on the British right also rode round the rebel wing and attacked the enemy from behind. At this, the rebel army fled. The British infantry advanced and gained ground where the rebels had stood. There our men gave three cheers”

By the end of the battle the Charles Stuart had lost between 1000- 1500 men out of his original 5000 strong force in comparison to Cumberland’s forces only suffering 50 dead and another 259 wounded. Charles himself was able to escape the battlefield and, after many adventures, reached France but campaign for a Stuart Monarchy would never happen again.

The 36th Regiment of Foot suffered only 6 wounded soldiers having seen very little action during the battle being placed in the second line as the 4th of 7 regiments in formation.

Officer’s of the 36th who took part at the Battle of Culloden

Below are the names of the officers who formed the 36th Regiment and took part at the battle of Culloden.

ACKLAND DUDLEY – Lieutenant

ARNOTT WILLIAM – Captain

BROWN ROBERT – Major

BUCKSTON THOMAS – Captain

CHAMIER ROBERT – Captain

CARLETON HUMPHREY – Ensign

DENNY WILLIAM – Captain

DODD GILBERT- Captain

DUDLEY WILLIAM – Lieutenant

DUNCAN ALEXANDER – Ensign

ELRINGTON THOMAS – Ensign

GORE HENRY- Captain/ Lieutenant

HAMILTON ROBERT – Ensign

JACKSON GEORGE – Lieutenant colonel

MATTHEWS JOHN – Ensign

MOREAU PAUL – Ensign

MONTGOMERIE ARCHIBALD 11th EARL OF EGLINTON – Captain

NAPPER (NAPIER) ANDREW – Lieutenant/ Adjutant?

POTTER GEORGE – Ensign

PRICE JOHN – Ensign

REMINGTON GERVAS (JERVAIS) – Captain

RICE JOHN – Ensign (Volunteer)

ROBINSON WILLIAM – Lieutenant/ Adjutant

SKENE (SHEYNE SKEYNE) GEORGE – Ensign

STRONGE BLACHFORD – Ensign

VAUGHAN HENRY – Ensign

VEALE SAMUEL BUCK – Lieutenant