Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Damn Those Redcoats!

J.G. Hales, 1819 (BPL).

On April 19th, 1775, the King's troops marched from Boston to Lexington, firing shots that began a revolution. Of course, the skirmishes between British troops and Minute Men in Lexington was just the end of a long beginning. From the pen of Edward Everett Hale come these words:

"All parties had had fair notice that the crisis was coming. On the 30th of March, by way of seeing how people would bear the presence of an army, and how the army would march after a winter's rest and rust, Earl Percy with five regiments marched out over Boston Neck, into the country. Boston People can trace him by walking out on Washington Street, where the sea-water then flowed on both sides, up the hill at Roxbury, on the right of the church, and heeding Gov. Dudley's parting-stone, which still stands, let them take Centre Street, "to Dedham and Rhode Island." Along that road to Jamaica Plain, Earl Percy marched, his drums and fifes playing "Yankee Doodle."The spring was very early. Some soldiers straggled, and trampled down gardens and fields that were planted, perhaps since last fall. From Jamaica Plain, Earl Percy led them across to Dorchester; and by Dorchester road they came home. Very indignant was the Provincial Congress and the committee of safety at this first "invasion" of the country; and all people guessed that Concord would be the point of the next "excursion," because at Concord was one of the largest deposits of stores which the Province of Massachusetts had collected in its preparations against the British empire."

So how did the troops get from Jamaica Plain to Dorchester? There was no Morton street until the 1850s. Records suggest that Walk Hill street was not laid out until 1802, but the acceptance of roads often came about long after informal use. The 1819 map above suggests the route. Centre street to South street, then south-east on on Walk Hill street, turning north-east on Canterbury street until reaching Brush Hill (now Blue Hill avenue), and north towards Boston.

Do they teach this to Jamaica Plain school children? They didn't when I was in school.

Source: Old and New, by Edward Everett Hale


  1. There were roads between JP and Dot, I think Morton Street is the likely route. Here's a map from Leventhal Center at BPL (later but gives the idea)

  2. Hmmm.... I don't see anything there, but the Hales map cited and the 1832 Hales map available at both show no Morton street. Morton street between Forest Hills and Canterbury streets wasn't laid out until about 1850.