Victory by Storm: History for March 5

During the American Revolutionary war, British troops besieged Boston leading to a long stand-off with troops led by George Washington.  Seeking a decisive move to gain advantage and end long weeks of inactivity that weighed on troop morale, George Washington ordered his men to fortify Dorchester Heights, a hill overlooking Boston, in the middle of the night.  These fortifications included artillery that had been painstakingly snuck down from Fort Ticonderoga over rough winter terrain by boat and sleds pulled by oxen.  These cannons had earlier been abandoned by the French.  The date of March 5th was intentionally chosen by Washington in part because it was the 6-year anniversary of the Boston Massacre, giving it symbolic meaning and motivating the troops.

On the morning of March 5th, the British awoke to find the Heights fortified, “with an expedition equal to that of the genie belonging to Aladdin’s wonderful lamp”, according to an unattributed letter to London newspapers.  Some, remembering losses sustained at Bunker Hill, urged retreat, but British General Howe was determined to drive the Americans off the Heights.  However, sudden, sustained storms including high winds and sleet, caused Howe to reconsider, leaving no option but to evacuate Boston.[1]

Because of this sudden change in weather, a long, deadly battle was avoided, and Boston was surrendered by the British without loss of life on either side.  This would not be the last time that weather – or Providence – would play a key role in the American struggle to break away from British rule.

Let every people and nation seek the LORD this day, who can wield nature itself in favor of – or against – the very nations.

“Are there any among the false gods of the nations that can bring rain?
            Or can the heavens give showers?
Are you not he, O LORD our God?
            We set our hope on you,
            for you do all these things.” – Jeremiah 14:22

[1] McCullough, David.  1776 (2005).  P. 90-97.

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