First, it is good to be back to writing after a very busy few weeks at work. While I was away, I realized the calendars from The War has Begun and the current year have aligned, so I have made it my goal to keep this blog in step with the book’s calendar. Thus, Chapter 6, A Lesson in Patience, which featured an unexpected addition to the 3rd Regiment’s staff, in the person of James McGregore. McGregore arrived in the American Army’s camp shortly after the Battle of Breed’s Hill, and shortly thereafter obtained a letter from the provincial congress appointing him as the adjutant of Colonel James Reed’s 3rd NH Regiment.
From my perspective there are two noteworthy items to convey. First, I wanted a light transition away from the tense and heavy scenes depicting the Battle of Breed’s Hill. Second, this was the last chapter I drafted; it was only a bit of luck that had me finding the correspondence regarding James McGregore in the PDF version of volume 7 of the New Hampshire State Papers. The wonderful thing about having the State Papers in PDF form is they are text searchable (ctrl-f), and I was looking to see whether Colonel James Reed had any, or appeared in any correspondence of note during July of 1775.
I took full advantage of the obviously poor and presumed communications between the commanders of the New Hampshire regiments on Winter Hill and the provincial congress, which had taken responsibility for, and formed the New Hampshire militia into said regiments two months earlier.
In Colonel James Reed’s letter of July 19 to the Provincial Congress, he used the phrase, “… I have done everything in my power to have made Mr. McGregore’s duty agreeable …”. The word agreeable struck me as a subtle barb, given what I knew of the circumstances for Colonel Reed’s staff, particularly that the current adjutant, Lieutenant Stephen Peabody, was one of only three men in Reed’s regiment I found mentioned, by name*, with regard to valorous acts during the Battle of Breed’s Hill (Frothingham). I could not imagine Reed had any other intention than to make McGregore’s duty as fully dis-agreeable as he possibly could.
The one bit of fiction I added was that the sergeant of the guard had threatened to arrest the newly minted Adjutant McGregore–Sergeants everywhere take the integrity of their army (in my experience it was very often personal) quite seriously, and any chance they have to impress that upon a green lieutenant was like gold.
I also saw that Colonel Reed recognized James McGregore as merely a young man whose enthusiasm preempted prudence and respect. James McGregore is documented as having gone on to serve well during the war and led a good and successful life afterward, including a stint as a state senator. (Note: I am not positive this is the same James McGregore, but circumstances make it seem very likely.)
*The other two men mentioned were William Lee (Frothingham), and William Adrian Hawkins (Crockett). The latter was said to have fired his musket until it was too hot to handle, but then wrapped his coat around it and continue to fire–he was promoted to Ensign for his gallant conduct during the battle.
Bouton, Nathaniel D.D. 1878. “Provincial Papers. Documents and Records Relating to the Province of New-Hampshire, From 1764 to 1776; Including the whole Administration of Gov. John Wentworth; the Events immediately preceding the Revolutionary War; the Losses at the Battle of Bunker Hill, and the Record of all Proceedings till the end of our Provincial History.” Volume VII. Orren C. Moore, State Printer. Nashua, NH.
p. 522: Letter form James McGregore to the New Hampshire Committee of Safety dated Jun 19, 1775 from Medford in which he indicates arriving in Medford that same day.
p. 530: Letter from James McGregor writing to the New Hampshire Committee of Safety Written from Medford on Jun 24, 1775.
p. 557: Committee of Safety’s letter dated Jul 1, 1775 to Colonel Reed notifying him of the commissioning of James McGregore as the Adjutant of the 3rd Regiment.
p. 565: Letter to the Committee of Safety from Colonel Reed dated Jul 19, 1775, which politely refuses the appointment of James McGregor, for various reasons.
Crockett, Walter H. 1903 “Soldiers of the Revolutionary War Buried in Vermont and Anecdotes and Incidents Relating to Some of Them. A paper read before the Vermont Historical Society in the Hall of the House of Representatives, October 27, 1904” Clearfield p. 7
Frothingham, Richard, 1875, “The Centennial: Battle of Bunker Hill, with a View of Charlestown in 1775, Pages’s Plan of the Action, Romane’s Exact View of the Battle, and Other Illustrations” Little, Brown, and Company. Boston, p 99
David McGregore Wikipedia: (David was James’ father)
10 thoughts on “On the James McGregore Affair”
It’s Breed’s Hill. Land had been owned by the Breed family. Just as Bunker’s Hill had been owned by the Bunker family. I have not yet researched if or when either family’s ownership ceased.
What is known today as Breed’s Hill was not land owned solely by the Breed family. The redoubt was built on land owned by the Russell family. Breed’s land was called Breed’s Pasture as well as the Russell family land was known as Russell’s Pasture. The redoubt was at least several hundred yards away from Breed’s land. Fact. “Seeds of American Liberty” page 31. Published; 2018 American Revolution Publishing. Author: Me. Marc Stockwell-Moniz Board of Directors-Bunker Hill Monument Association.
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Thank you, Marc – Nice to have someone close to the situation weigh in.
Thanks Jim, my error. Apostrophes added. I also changed the one reference to “Bunker Hill”, in my writing, to Breed’s Hill to be consistent. I am my own editor here. I find it curious that most references to Bunker’s Hill have been shortened to “Bunker Hill”.
The shift to “Bunker Hill” from “Bunker’s Hill” happened in the mid-1800s, according to the Google Books Ngram Viewer: link.
Good call John – nGram Viewer is becoming one of my favorite tools.
But, we still must look for why Breed’s Hill was misidentified as Bunker (Bunker’s) Hill. Many years ago, I read a Bristish Engineer tasked to map the engagement for the after-action report confused the two sites. Who knows?
Yes, Lt. Thomas Hyde Page was the engineer you mention, and both of his detailed maps have the names transposed. [“Boston, it Environs and Harbour with the Rebel Works Raised Against that Town in 1775 …” and “A Plan of the Action at Bunkers-Hill on June the 17th of 1775, Between His Majesty’s Troops and the Rebel Forces”]. One other map, “A Plan of the Battle on Bunkers Hill. Fought on the 17th of June, 1775” by “An Officer on the Spot” has a correctly placed label for “Bunkers Hill”. The Americans knew very well which hill was which.
My personal theory is as follows: General Ward fully intended to fortify Bunker’s Hill, and gave the orders to do so, knowing that it would advance the American’s cause, and that terrain could be reasonably defended. Other officers, however, desired to do more than merely advance the cause by one possibly meaningless step. They knew that fortifying Breed’s Hill would be too provocative for General Gage to ignore. I think those officers, like many of the American militiamen were hellbent on a battle. There was unresolved bad blood over the ‘collateral damage’ that occurred during the British retreat from Lexington. Those American officers knew that once the digging commenced, there was no going back, and General Gage would be forced to act.
Lt. Page has a pretty decent Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Hyde_Page
Many thanks, Charlie. Now, it’s time for me to finish my novel.