Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Evacuation Day in Boston Massachusetts

The Grand Union Flag (also the Continental Colors, the Congress Flag, the Cambridge Flag, and the First Navy Ensign) is considered to be the first national flag of the United States. This flag consisted of 13 red and white stripes with the British Union Flag of the time in the canton. The flag was first flown on December 2, 1775 by John Paul Jones (then a Continental Navy lieutenant) on the ship Alfred in Philadelphia. The Alfred flag has been credited to Margaret Manny. It was used by the American Continental forces as a naval ensign and garrison flag in 1776 and early 1777. It is widely believed that the flag was raised by George Washington's army on New Year's Day 1776 at Prospect Hill in Charlestown (now part of Somerville), near his headquarters at Cambridge, Massachusetts, and that the flag was interpreted by British observers as a sign of surrender. Some scholars dispute this traditional account, concluding that the flag raised at Prospect Hill was likely a British union flag. The Flag Act of 1777 authorized as the official national flag a design similar to that of the Grand Union, with thirteen stars (representing the thirteen seceding colonies) on a field of blue replacing the British Union flag in the canton.
     March 17 is Evacuation Day, a holiday observed in Suffolk County (which includes the city of Boston, Massachusetts.) The holiday commemorates the evacuation of British forces from the town of Boston following the Siege of Boston, (April 19, 1775 – March 17, 1776), early in the American Revolutionary War. The Siege of Boston began on April 19 after the battles of Lexington and Concord, when the militia from many Massachusetts communities surrounded Boston and blocked land access to the then-peninsular town, limiting British resupply to naval operations. The Continental Congress chose to adopt the militia and form the Continental Army, and unanimously elected George Washington as its Commander in Chief. In June 1775, the British seized Bunker and Breeds Hills, but the casualties they suffered were so heavy that they could not break the siege. For the rest of the siege, there was little action other than occasional raids, minor skirmishes, and sniper fire. Both sides had to deal with resource supply, illness, and personnel issues over the course of the siege. In November 1775, General Washington sent a 25 year-old bookseller-turned-soldier named Henry Knox to bring heavy artillery that had been captured at Fort Ticonderoga to Boston. In a technically complex and demanding operation, Knox brought many cannons to the Boston area in January 1776. In March 1776, these artillery were used to fortify Dorchester Heights, overlooking Boston and its harbor and threatening the British naval supply lifeline. The British commander William Howe, realizing he could no longer hold the town, chose to evacuate it. He withdrew the British forces, departing on March 17 (celebrated today as Evacuation Day) for Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Some Historical Info from Wikipedia

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