Norman Desmarais, the author of The Guide to the American Revolutionary War series, picks the 5 best revolutionary war sites in New England.
Norman Desmarais frequently escapes into the 18th century for reenactments, Colonial fairs, heritage days, school presentations, and talks. He’s the author of The Guide to the American Revolutionary War series, a six-volume set covering almost 4,000 battles, raids, and skirmishes of the American War for Independence on the East Coast and the frontier. Here he picks the 5 best revolutionary war sites in New England.
Minute Man National Historical Park
Minute Man National Historical Park encompasses land in Concord, Lincoln, and Lexington, Massachusetts, and commemorates the opening battles of the Revolution in 1775. The majority of the park is a narrow strip of land on either side of Battle Road, with the Minute Man Visitor Center, just off I-95 in Lexington, at one end and the North Bridge Visitor Center, outside Concord, at the other. Among other events, the bridge is the site of a 21-gun musket and cannon salute each year at 6:00 a.m. on the anniversary of the battles, April 19. And on Patriots’ Day (observed in Massachusetts and Maine on the third Monday in April, this year the 21st), the Lexington Minutemen reenact the first engagement at dawn on Lexington Battle Green. nps.gov/mima
The Freedom Trail is a self-guided walking trail (about 2½ miles) that connects many Revolutionary War sites in Boston. It begins at the Common and ends at Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown (above). Along the way, visit Faneuil Hall (the scene of many protest meetings against Parliamentary acts); the Old South Meeting House (where the Boston Tea Party began); the Old State House (site of the Boston Massacre); the Old North Church; Paul Revere’s house; and the U.S.S. Constitution, among other stops. The route is marked with red bricks or a painted red line along the walkway. Guided tours are also available. thefreedomtrail.org
Fort Griswold State Park
Fort Griswold in Groton, Connecticut, is the site of the last of the war’s New England battles (1781). Benedict Arnold, by that time fighting for the British, burned New London and captured Fort Griswold as a diversion to keep George Washington from marching south to Yorktown, Virginia. ct.gov/deep/fortgriswold
Fort George State Historic Site
The British used Fort George in Castine, Maine, as a base to attack New England coastal towns. This partially restored fort was the site of the worst American naval defeat of the war (1779); Paul Revere was subsequently court-martialed for disobeying orders, unsoldierly conduct, and cowardice. (He was acquitted of all charges, however.) Markers around the town explain the fort’s role in the war. castine.me.us/history-of-castine
Fort Halifax State Historic Site
The blockhouse on U.S. Route 201, a mile south of Maine’s Winslow–Waterville bridge, is all that remains of Fort Halifax. It’s the oldest blockhouse in the nation. Benedict Arnold’s ill-fated 1775 expedition to Quebec, which set out from Fort Western (16 Cony St. in Augusta, Maine), used it as a waystation. visitmaine.com/fort-halifax-state-historic-site; forthalifaxpark.org