Picture Source

After the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, the British army retreated into the city of Boston where they were besieged by various state militias. A strategic move, this entrenchment nevertheless had drastic consequences for civilians who lived in and around Boston. Residing in a besieged city altered civilians’ lives in profound ways; they faced hunger, disease, property destruction, and the pervasive threat of violence and invasion as war raged around them, including the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775. That same summer, the newly-appointed General George Washington arrived in Boston to take command of the new Continental Army. This research kit allows you to explore the intensifying military conflict in the early months of the Revolution through the daily lives and eyewitness accounts of the people who lived through this tumultuous period. –Prof. Lauren Duval

Please note: the links in these kits go to either a source on the web, an OU Libraries’ resource, requiring you to login with your OUNetID (4×4), or a companion Canvas page, requiring you to enroll here before you can access the document. The links open in a new window/tab. Report link problems to lscrivener@ou.edu.

Primary Sources: Original Documents from the Time

Adams, Samuel. “Letter to Samuel Purviance,” May 19, 1775. Siege of Boston: Eyewitness Accounts from the Collections. Massachusetts Historical Society.

“Boston Town Meeting Minutes,” April 22, 1775. Massachusetts Historical Society.

Cheever, William. “A Boston Merchant’s, Diary, 1775-1776.” Massachusetts Historical Society.

Declaration of the Causes and Necessity for Taking Up Arms, 1775. Founders Online. National Archives and Records Administration.

Haslewood, Captain William. “A British Officer’s Diary, 1775” in Kellogg, Louise Phelps. “Journal of a British Officer During the American Revolution.” The Mississippi Valley Historical Review 7, no. 1 (1920): 51–58.

“Letters between Abigail and John Adams,” 1775. Massachusetts Historical Society.

“Letters between Mercy Otis Warren and Hannah Winthrop,” 1774-1775. Massachusetts Historical Society.

“Letters from Mercy Otis Warren to John Adams,” 1775. Founders Online. National Archives and Records Administration.

“Siege of Boston: Eyewitness Accounts from the Collections.” Massachusetts Historical Society.”

Warren, Mercy Otis. The Blockheads: Or, The Affrighted Officers. A Farce. Boston: John Gill, 1776. (Companion Canvas page.)

Washington, George. “Letter to John Hancock,” July 21, 1775. Founders Online. National Archives and Records Administration.

Secondary Sources: What Historians Have Written

Becker, Ann M. “Smallpox in Washington’s Army: Strategic Implications of the Disease during the American Revolutionary War.” The Journal of Military History 68, no. 2 (2004): 381–430.

“Editorial Note: Declaration of the Causes and Necessity for Taking Up Arms.” Founders Online. National Archives and Records Administration.

Philbrick, Nathaniel. Excerpt from Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution, 274–77. New York: Viking, 2013. (Companion Canvas page.)

Royster, Charles. “1776: The Army of Israel.” In A Revolutionary People At War, 54–126.  University of North Carolina Press, 1979. (Companion Canvas page; read chapter and notes.)

Stern, Jermey A. “Jane Franklin Mecom: A Boston Woman in Revolutionary Times.” Early American Studies 4, no. 1 (2006): 147–91.

Stuart, Nancy Rubin. “Conscience of the Revolution.” American History 43, no. 3 (August 2008): 50–55.