What? What do you mean you didn’t celebrate Evacuation Day? What do you mean you’ve never heard of Evacuation Day? Henry Knox? Cannons? British? No? Hmmm?
Well what else could you have been doing on Thursday? Oh, wait. were you eating corned beef, drinking green beer perhaps? I thought so. Well, since I’m Irish by descent and have a shamrock tattooed on my arm 24/7, 365, let me crack open my historical pot o’ gold and tell you about the holiday you missed.
Evacuation Day, first celebrated in Boston in 1901, marks the day in 1776 that the British troops left the city following the 11-month siege by the Continental Army. Henry Knox, who had returned from Fort Ticonderoga with his cache of artillery on January 26, 1776, began a bombardment of the city on March 2. The cannonade continued almost uninterrupted for days while the Americans stealthily setup new fortifications and gun-works on Roxbury heights.
Knox’s guns were now in such an advantageous position that General William Howe ordered the evacuation of Boston. On March 17, 1776 over 10,000 soldiers and loyalists left the city for Nova Scotia. Among the loyalist evacuees were Henry’s wife’s family. Lucy’s father Thomas Flucker, secretary to the Royal Governor of Massachusetts, her mother and her sisters left Boston never to return. Shortly after, the Continental Army took possession of Boston in what was arguably the first major victory of the American Revolution.
So, next year, when your looking for leprechauns out of the corner of your eye and busting out those shamrock-printed boxers, take a moment to remember the impact of Knox’s brave expedition. Maybe I’ll invite you over to watch the big lacrosse game and have some cannonball cake.