previous next


In 1811 the West Cambridge Light Infantry was organized, and made their first appearance in September of that year, in a handsome uniform dress, under the command of Capt. Stephen Wheeler, with Joseph Adams as lieutenant, and Stephen Locke, ensign. Capt. David Hill having resigned, Charles Wellington was elected captain of the old militia company, with his brother Henry, lieutenant, and Jeremiah Russell, ensign. In the same year, an exciting volunteer muster took place in the upper part of the town, where a fort was built on an immense boulder rock, about one fourth of a mile back of the old Baptist meeting-house, that stood empty for many years, just above Tufts's tavern. The fort, with its white-washed walls land tall flag-staff, really made an imposing appearance from the road, and was filled with British troops, under the command of Major Brown, of Lexington. The American troops, composed of West Cambridge, Medford and Woburn Light Infantry companies, the Lexington Artillery, a squadron of cavalry, and several militia companies, were commanded by Col. Thomas Russell. The fort had two pieces of cannon, a four-and a six-pounder. With the British flag flying, the volunteers defied the American troops. Col. Russell began the attack with a cannonade from the Lexington Artillery, which was stationed in a level field on the road, adjoining and just below the old Baptist meeting-house, holding his infantry in reserve in an orchard in the rear of Tufts's tavern, ready to storm the fort as soon as a breach was made by the artillery. But the fort returned a vigorous fire, and as things began to look desperate, Col. Russell resolved on a flank movement—drew off his artillery, which made a double quick march down the road, through Tufts's yard and orchards, soon gaining a hill that commanded the fort. They then opened another furious cannonade on its rear, and right flank. It being evident the British could not long stand this, Col. Russell ordered a general charge and storming of the fort, from the front. This was done in really handsome style the column of uniform companies all firing on their way up (like the British at Bunker Hill), then fixed bayonets, and were rushing in, when Major Brown struck his flag, and, like the Rebels at Fort Donelson, made an ‘Unconditional Surrender ’ (as U. S. Grant demanded in 1862) rather than have his men slaughtered.

J. B. Russell, Reminiscences.


‘The next year, the “War of 1812” was declared. Increased attention was paid to military matters. After a couple of years, it was feared, in 1814, the British might attack Boston, which caused great excitement. Thousands volunteered to work on the forts in the harbor. ‘Exempt companies’ were formed in the neighboring towns of persons without distinction of party, exempted by age or otherwise from military duty. A large one was formed in West Cambridge, commanded by Capt. David Hill, with William S. Brooks as Orderly Sergeant. I forget the names of the other officers. Many members were old veterans who had fought at Concord, ’

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1862 AD (1)
1814 AD (1)
1811 AD (1)
September (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: