Military garrisons have always brought contracts and revenue to their local civilian populations. The friction (usually of the 'Friday Night' sort) that sometimes occurs between them is 'nipped in the bud' quickly by the army so that the status quo can continue as normal.
I guess you could say the 'civvies' for their part make a sort of compromise, weighing up the good against the bad.
Alas, for the 'townies' in this tale, there was none of the former and plenty of the latter.
The end of the Seven Years' War saw Britain victorious but broke (so whats new 😉).
Via a string of acts, begining in 1764, she drew on all her colonies as a way to fill the coffers and ease the burden. There was some resistance against the new laws but the protestors had to walk
a very thin line, as revolution could be easily translated as treason.
The Bostonians, for their part, demanded representation in Parliment. When these demands were ignored their anger increased … the dishonest leeches of London had to be taught a lesson.
The fact that the colonials (who shared the same monarch) had been allied (and protected) by British troops during the French-Indian War of 1754-60, seemed to have been forgotten. Although having said this, there were still thousands of Americans that stayed loyal to the crown.
On a snow carpeted spring eve, an argument occurred outside the Customs House between a young civillian and a British officer over (of all things) the bill for a wig!
This was too much for a nearby Grenadier of the 29th Regt of Foot on guard duty, who after giving a few warnings, promptly readjusted the young fella's own thatch with his rifle butt. One call led to another and so the yob (or wigmakers apprentice) grew into a mob (or a gathering of demonstrators).
The seven-man Guard (or 'Lobsterback' thugs) were called out, headed by a certain Captain William Preston. A long exchange of insults and missiles from the crowd were pitted against the orders and warnings of the officer. Things came no closer to cooling down and after the Captain was struck, an order was given to fire. To this day there is controversy as to who shouted the order … who was wrong and who was right. Maybe it was Preston's direct order or maybe he shouted: „Hold your …. Fire!“ Perhaps from the mysterious man behind the soldiers or even the townspeople themselves: „Come on then …. Fire!“
The truth we'll never know but the result left five townsmen dead and a handfull wounded.
Henceforth, the 29th Regiment of Foot became known as "The Vein-Openers".
For the colonials it was a propaganda coup. The (in)famous Paul Revere painting depicting the "cold controlled" execution on a "peacefull gathering".
The leeches, this time on both sides, had drawn blood. After an ensuing court case, things quietened down slightly. The incident becoming another path on the road to revolution - or open treason,
according to your viewpoint.
I've had this story on my mind for a few years now, but a full depiction of the actual incident was not my aim. My interest here lay with the modelling of the old uniforms (1768) and the contrast of the tall Grenadier (modelled with Tommy Cooper in mind) to the older and smaller Sergeant. As there was no such figure (with halberd) in the actual incident, I decided to make them part of the "rescue" garrisson sent later to protect the besieged Guard.
As stated in the building report, there is still some debate as to the correct (old or new) uniform and headgear worn on the night.
"Pelting" the two of them with objects actually flung during the incident raised a grin. These included oystershells, snowballs (some with a stone center), bricks and ... well, basically anything. The pale yellow contents of the bursting bottle striking the halberd, I'll leave to your imagination. As for the galloping hound returning to his master … well, sticks were also thrown that night 😉
Is „Honesty is the best policy“ or is „Truth is the first casualty of war“? I suppose it all depends on where your standing.
To find that out, I can only invite ye to step back in time - onto those icy cobblestones of the 5th of March 1770 …. the night of the Boston "Massacre".
Back to Boston for my next vignette ... and as you can see, I've spared no expense in getting my material together. The old Airfix 'bits' came from a boxload of the stuff I got from Ebay many moons ago ... methinks I paid 'tuppence' for 'em ;o)
My scene is a bit of a sideshow of the actual events of 1770 - two 'lobsterbacks' from the garrison, racing to assist Captain Preston and his beleaguered men after The Incident on King Street.
The Napoleonic Airfix carbine was converted into a British Long Land Pattern Musket and the Espontoon into a Halberd.
Next time I'll be looking into some of the controversy surrounding the uniforms worn on that cold March night.
Damm! … just lost my keys.Getting a bit forgetful in my old age ... I suppose, while I wait for them to turn up, I'll take the time and go into the uniforms worn by my figures.
The unit involved in the 'Boston Massacre' were members of the 29th Regiment of Foot, who had been stationd in Boston since 1768. This was the same year as the new Royal Warrant on clothing was decreed - regulating the codes of dress. Thus, 1700 caught the 29 th in a state of transition. They were aware of the changes and could well have been issued the new uniforms, but evidence suggests that the old kit was to be 'worn out' first (used for guard/routine duty). The new garb being held back for as long as possible by their tight fisted commander/quartermaster.
"Oh aye" I hear the old soldiers sigh ... "some things never change".
As to the type of headress worn, well ... According to the famous Paul Revere (1700) print, they all wore hats (black tricorns). By other depictions, tall mitre caps.
If you want to make your own decision as to the correct 'nightly attire', take a look through Google pictures – Boston Massacre Prints … and 'The best of British to you' ;o)
I tend toward the Don Troiani version(s) myself, not only because his works are very well researched and executed but out of logic.
If I had to pick a group of men to guard money in a troubled town, I'd make well sure they'd look 'threateningly imposing'. The biggest and the best – Grenadiers with big caps, a bit like the old time 6ft 'Bobbies'. Saying this, it was not unusual for some of these men to wear tricorns
(3 in the Troiani print) to save wear and tear on the more expensive mitre caps.
I think though, that the weather conditions on that fatefull night (possible rain/snow) required the use of black sealskin covers over the caps. Pushing the fabric together and downward, they could have looked like … er … you want to take in that Paul Revere print again?
Before I sign off, I'll leave you with this link from The Minatures Page site.
Ah Ha! … there they are. Now where the hell did I park that Time Machine?
All primed and ready for the paint brush ...
... see you at the finishing tape.