Henry Knox and “The Noble Train of Artillery”

This week is the anniversary of one of the most interesting events of the American Revolution. After the initial battles of the Revolution in 1775, the British army held the city of Boston while Continental troops under command of George Washington attempted to lay siege to the city while holding the high ground in neighboring communities. Things were in deadlock though because the British controlled the sea and could easily sail in and out of the port.

A young man named Colonel Henry Knox came up with a logical solution. The Green Mountain Boys had captured a large number of cannon at Fort Ticonderoga in New York. If this artillery could be brought to Boston and used to fortify Dorchester Heights, the Continentals Army would then be able to take shots at British shipping and thus control the harbor.

The story of the band of men under Colonel Knox swiftly transporting 60 tons of artillery across Massachusetts in the winter of 1776 is one of daring and intrigue. On the one hand marching through the snow and ice must have been miserable, but on the other hand crossing frozen rivers and transporting cannon by sleigh made actually eased the effort compared to what difficulty they may have faced in warmer months. Knox and his men successfully brought the cannon to Boston and in the dark of night fortified Dorchester Heights. The British had no choice but to evacuate the city.

The story is so fascinating to me I am surprised there aren’t really and books or documentaries about it. Last year I read Ye cohorn caravan: The Knox Expedition in the winter of 1775-76 by Wm. L. Bowne, but it was no more than a pamphlet and dry one at that. One can still follow the Knox Trail to this day. I think an interesting book would be to follow the trail today and recount the adventures of Knox and his noble train of artillery. Perhaps that will be a book I will write.

Concert Review: Marcia Ball

Jan. 25, 2007 — Marcia Ball at the Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.

At the invitation of Susan’s friend Donna, we met up with a large group at the Regattabar in Harvard Square’s posh Charles Hotel for a concert by Marcia Ball and her band. Self-described as honky tonk, Ball plays a mix of electric blues, cajun, and a lot of stuff that actually sounds like early rock & roll along the lines of Fats Domino, Buddy Holly, and Bill Haley. Each song left a lot of time for improvisation and solos by the guitarist, saxophonist, and Ball herself on piano. A highlight of the show was Marcia Balls’s performance of Randy Newman’s “Louisiana 1927”.

The Regattabar is an odd venue with high ceilings around the edge of the room and the performance space all but shoved in a corner under a low ceiling. We owe much praise to Donna for getting us excellent front row seats, but it is still a bit odd watching a show in this cavelike environment, albeit it is not as clausterphobic as Club Passim.

Susan and I felt the guitarist bore a stunning resemblance to our friend Mike G. Not just that he was a skinny guy with glasses, but als that the guitarist seemed to stand and have mannerisms in the way of Mike G. When we found out the guitarist was also named Mike we knew we couldn’t be fooled anymore by his simple disguise of a soul patch.

All in all it was a fun and entertaining show. The best part for me though was to see Donna so thouroughly enjoying herself, snapping her fingers, and singing along.