Evacuation Day in Massachusetts Date in the current year: March 17, 2024

Evacuation Day in Massachusetts Evacuation Day is the commemoration of the withdrawal of the British army during the American Revolutionary War. In Suffolk County, Massachusetts, it is celebrated on March 17 to commemorate the end of the siege of Boston in 1776. The day is also observed by public schools in Sommerville, Middlesex County.

Massachusetts was essentially the cradle of the American Revolutionary War. It was here that the Boston Tea Party, which would escalate into the American Revolution, took place on December 16, 1773. The war proper began in April 1775 with the Battles of Lexington and Concord and the subsequent siege of Boston.

On April 19, 1775, British forces were tasked with capturing and destroying Colonial military supplies that the Massachusetts militia reportedly stored at Concord. The raid resulted in a battle between the British and the Patriots, who had been warned and prepared. Although British forces successfully destroyed the supplies, they were driven back to Boston.

Immediately after the battle, the Massachusetts militia besieged Boston, surrounding the city on three sides (except for the harbor). In the following days, militias from Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode Island arrived at the siege line. To coordinate the military efforts of the local militias, the Continental Congress created the Continental Army with General George Washington as its Commander in Chief.

The Battle of Bunker Hill was the first major battle of the siege of Boston and the American Revolutionary War in general. Fought on June 17, 1775, it ended with the British victory. However, the British losses were so heavy that they could not carry out any more direct attacks, and the siege of Boston continued. For several months, the siege essentially was a stalemate.

The American forces finally took control over Boston due to the successful Knox Expedition. In January 1776, a group of men led by Colonel Henry Knox arrived at the Continental Army camps outside Boston with 60 tons of armaments that had been captured at Fort Ticonderoga.

On March 5, the Americans occupied Dorchester Heights, overlooking Boston. Since the British cannons could not reach the colonists at such heights, and an assault was impossible due to a storm, the British chose to withdraw from Boston. In the morning of March 17, the British fleet departed from the Boston harbor.

Evacuation Day was first celebrated in Boston in 1901 and became an official holiday in Suffolk County in 1938. Schools and government offices are usually closed for the day, but businesses remain open; if Evacuation Day falls on a weekend, the following Monday is declared a non-working day in schools and government offices instead.

Since Evacuation Day coincides with Saint Patrick’s Day, the annual March 17 parade is designated as both the Saint Patrick’s Day and Evacuation Day parade. In addition to the parade, the day is marked by a commemoration ceremony at Dorchester Heights.

Evacuation Day in Massachusetts shouldn’t be confused with Evacuation Day in New York City. The latter is observed on November 25 to commemorate the withdrawal of the British forces from New York City in 1783.

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Evacuation Day in Massachusetts, observances in the United States, observances in Massachusetts, American Revolution, siege of Boston