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God's Hand in the American Revolution- Dorchester Heights

There is a pattern that becomes apparent when you study early American history. It is something that makes the unexplainable suddenly explainable. God’s intervention makes the impossible possible. Many times, that intervention is in the form of controlling the weather.

When we look at the story of the Pilgrims, we see just that. The Pilgrims left England in September of the year 1620 and set out to create a new colony near the mouth of the Hudson River in modern day New York. This was the plan, but because of severe storms that raged on the ocean they were put off course by about 250 miles and ended up in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Even when the mistake was realized and they tried to correct it, the weather forbid them do so. Plymouth would be where they would stay, and if you know anything about the miracles that occurred once they landed, you can clearly see that they were supposed to be in Plymouth- it was the only way. You can hear all about their story by listening to the first season of Because They Were Brave. It’s an incredible story.

Today, I wanted to focus on the intervention of God during the American Revolution. The American Revolution began in 1775, with the Battle of Lexington and Concord. This is where British troops came to Lexington to seize arms and ammunition that the colonists had been stockpiling, and this is where the first shots of the war would occur.

In June of 1775, one of the first big battles will be the Battle of Bunker Hill that takes place in Boston. Bunker Hill was necessary to control, since it is the high ground in Boston. The British come out as victors in this battle, but not without a very intense fight. It is clear that the colonists will not surrender and give up easily, which is surprising to the British. It’s important to remember that at this time the British had the most established, organized and powerful army and navy in the world. Logically, a group of unorganized, ill-trained colonists would not be able to withstand a fight against the British. This should have been an easy war for them to win. So why does history tell another story? God’s intervention.

With the British in control of Bunker Hill, they have a leg up in the war now. They now occupy all of Boston and they spend much of their time and resources fortifying that hill so that it does not fall to the colonists. George Washington became the commander of the Continental Army right after Bunker Hill, and he knows that the only way that they can possibly take Boston back is by gaining control of another hill just across the bay from Bunker Hill- Dorchester Heights. If the colonists have Dorchester Heights, they will have clear shots at the British Navy in the bay. The British will not be able to stay in Boston.

Washington orders a man by the name of Henry Knox to transport a large number of weapons, cannons, and gunpowder from Fort Ticonderoga in New York all the way to Boston- about 300 miles. It is the middle of winter, and somehow Knox is able to accomplish this in a months’ time. With the artillery needed to take and fortify the Heights, Washington plans for thousands of men to move the weaponry to Dorchester Heights under the cover of night in March of 1776.

This is where the weather proves to work for the benefit of the colonists. As the men are busy moving the heavy artillery up the hill, the moonlight perfectly illuminates the hill, making it easy for the men to see what they are doing. Across the bay, there is a haze that covers Boston and Bunker Hill, making it so the British cannot see what is happening on the other side of the bay. The ground is frozen, which allows the men to move quickly, and there is a wind that is carries the sounds of the Continental Army away from the British.

The sun comes up the next day and the British are shocked at what they see. Not only has the Continental Army gotten the artillery up the hill, but they were also able to build 2 fortifications that would be able to withstand British attack. As George Washington recounts “When the enemy first discovered our works in the morning, they seemed to be in great confusion..”

The British commit to attacking Dorchester Heights, since they know that if they do not gain control of it, they will have to leave Boston. In order to attack in the most effective way, the British army needs to sail across the harbor and up a small inlet, using very small boats to do so. On paper, this seems very doable. So, imagine everyone’s surprise when a storm with the fierceness of a hurricane descends and rests on the small inlet of water. The storm is so intense that it scatters the boats and makes it impossible for them to land safely. By now, it is determined that the colonists have had enough time to fortify their position enough to withstand an attack, the British will no longer attack Dorchester Heights.

This failed attack leads to the British voluntarily leaving Boston, and as they do so, they leave behind many of their weapons.

It may be easy for some to say that these two accounts of the weather working in favor of the colonists was just a coincidence. I guess that is possible. One or two of these instances are easily refutable, but what if it continues throughout the war, time and time again? That is exactly the case during the American Revolution, making the existence of God and his helping hand irrefutable. We will continue talking about these events over the next few weeks.

“That God rules in the affairs of men is as certain as any truth of physical science. Nothing is by chance- though men in their ignorance of causes may think so.”

-George Bancroft

Spivey, Larkin. Miracles of the American Revolution. Chattanooga, Tennessee, God and Country Press, 2010.

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