This Day in History: March 2

On this day in 1776, a key event marked the opening phase of the Revolutionary War took place: General George Washington ordered American artillery forces to bombard Boston from their positions at Lechmere Point ahead of the Continental Army's occupation of Dorchester Heights. The so-called Siege of Boston began after the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

Following two consecutive days of bombardment, American Brigadier General John Thomas positioned 2,000 cannons, artillery, and troops just south of Boston at Dorchester Heights.

By March 5, 1776, the Continental Army's had artillery troops in position around Boston, including the elevated position at Dorchester Heights. British General William Howe came to the realization that Boston was indefensible to the American positions and opted to leave the city on March 7. Ten days later, on March 17, the eight-year British occupation of Boston finally ended when British troops fled the city and sailed to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The victory in Boston led to John Thomas' promotion to major general, but he would die of smallpox only a few days later.

The Siege of Boston lasted nearly 11 months. Following the siege, Boston ceased to be a military target, but its port was still used for fitting ships.

Boston and other area communities mark the March 17 end of the siege as Evacuation Day.

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