A challenge to the "Chelsea Creek" historians
(July 4, 2016) The Fourth of July is a
good time to remember another great American misnomer - the oxymoronic term, the
so called "Battle of Chelsea Creek" which in all truth was the "Battle of
Noddle's Island, Hogg Island and Chelsea".
The series of skirmishes encompassed by that term
which took place in late May of 1775 between the Americans and the British was
never until the very late 19th century at the very earliest referred to even as
the "Battle of Chelsea " nor until 1906 as the "Battle of Chelsea Creek". That
was for good reasons. The bellicose actions took place on Noddle's Island (East
Boston), Hogg (or Hog) Island (Orient Heights) and Chelsea (today's Beachmont,
Revere, Winthrop and Chelsea), in 1775 Sales Farm, Rumney Marsh, Pullin Point
Some of the
fighting and the culmination by the burning of a British vessel, The Diana,
certainly did place along the shores of the intervening waterway between present
day East Boston and Chelsea now known as "Chelsea Creek". That body of water was
not however known as "Chelsea Creek" in 1775 nor for a half century afterwards.
The term "Chelsea Creek" name was affixed to "Chelsea Reach" in the 1830s by Gen
William H. Sumner the principal behind the development into "East Boston" of
once bucolic Noddle's Island, an oasis of culture and gracious civility in
Boston Harbour burned and rendered barren by the bellicose events of 1775
designation "Chelsea Creek" appears on no legitimate contemporaneously drawn map
of 1775 and nowhere else until the 1830s. No person actually at Noddle's, Island
Hogg Island or Chelsea who participated in the fighting in 1775, American or
British, left written recorded reference to the "Battle of Chelsea Creek". 1775
newspaper accounts of the skirmishes which sent an electrifying shock of courage
throughout the rebellious American Colonies made reference only to the events
"on Noddles Island", or "on Hogg (sometimes spelled "Hog") Island" or "at
Chelsea" and never "Chelsea Creek" The American "rebels" who participated as
belligerants there so recorded and 1775 British Admiralty records read the same
it is also true that on account of the determined efforts of some folk who have
partisanly picked up on what was a mistake (one would like to think it was that,
born only of ignorance and not deliberate) first made in 1906 by a New Hampshire
magazine writer named Lamb have tenaciously promoted the "Battle of Chelsea
Creek" mantra. Though that may be a rightful exercise in American free speech it
is however still not the truth. Perhaps the erroneous term was first conceived
in a spirit of compromise. In 20th century terms it would be an easy mistake
perhaps to make.
In 1775 I
shared in the same spirit of comprise at the BiCentennial celebration and
referred to the "Battle of Noddle's Island and Chelsea Creek". However, given
the 21st century internet's revolutionary access to early maps and documentation
from and contemporaneous with 1775 to allow this transgression to continue
unchallened would be only be to continue to give license to a wrong. A truthful
and accurate account of American history deserves better.
writers while acknowledging the many indisputable facts of the matter still
continue to repeat this grave misnaming error which flies in the face of
accuracy and truth.
recent writer of American history while accurately attesting to the focus of
these events as having happened on Noddle's Island judiciously says (the
battle)..."has come to be called the Battle of Chelsea Creek". To that this
writer would add with emphasis...The Battle of Noddle's Island, Hogg Island and
Chelsea" vs. the "Battle of Chelsea Creek" is not over yet !
Fourth of July holiday of 2016 a salvo in this naming battle is issued in the
form of the following threefold challenge to anyone who wishes to persist in
promoting the misnamning error of the "Battle of Chelsea Creek":
Produce a legitimate map of from the 1775 era drawn prior to the 1830s
designating the tidal waterway flowing between what is now East Boston and
Chelsea as "Chelsea Creek".
Produce a legitimate recorded account by any person who was actually there and
participated in the skirmishes between the Americans and the British in 1775
that makes reference to "Chelsea Creek".
Produce a legitimate 1775 newspaper account of the events that took place on
Noddle's Island, Hogg Island and at Chelsea that made reference to "Chelsea
of July to all.
Read more about the battle