Continental Congress: Paul Revere and the Penobscot Expedition

Continental Congress: Paul Revere and the Penobscot Expedition


Read about Paul Revere's part in the defeat of the Penobscot Expedition

Stories about Continental Congress: Paul Revere and the Penobscot Expedition

Paul Revere did more than ride a horse!

  • Penobscot, MA (now Maine)

Paul Revere was born, probably, in December 1734 in Boston. He became a prominent and prosperous craftsman, and was active in the military during the Revolutionary War. His feat of riding throughout that April night in 1775 to warn colonists that the British soldiers were on their way is well known. What is not so well known is his part in America's worst naval defeat prior to Pearl Harbor.

In April 1776, Revere was commissioned a Major of infantry in the Massachusetts militia. The following November he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel of artillery. In mid-June 1779, the British sent two regiments to Bagaduce Peninsula in Penobscot Bay on the east coast of Maine, then part of Massachusetts. Three American warships and 40 private and naval vessels were put under the command of Commodore Dudley Saltonstall to drive the British from the area. Over 1000 militia and 6 small field cannons were placed under Brigadier General Solomon Lovell. They departed 24 July. Paul Revere was with them.

Instead of attacking the British camp, they began constructing siege works. On 11 August, about 250 American militia advanced to an abandoned battery. British troops advanced to meet them. The result was that the poorly-trained Americans dropped their weapons and ran. The next day Saltonstall decided to launch a naval attack but, by then, British reinforcements had arrived and chased the American fleet up the Penobscot River. Eventually the Americans burned their ships and fled overland back to Boston. They lost all their ships and 474 men dead, wounded or captured. The British reported only 13 men killed or wounded.

Saltonstall was court-martialed, found guilty of mismanaging the campaign, and dismissed. Paul Revere was court-martialed and acquitted under a charge of disobedience. Testimony was given that the blame lay on lack of communication between Saltonstall and Lovell.

You can read the official records of the Expedition on Footnote at Papers of the Continental Congress - Massachusetts State Papers, 1775-87 - Vol. 2. The image to the right is the first page of the reports which include testimonies in the trials, minutes of councils, voting records and lists of men who were involved.

You can see Paul Revere's name listed in the 1790 and 1810 censuses of Boston, MA.

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