£54 for Three Months Service

As part of our Revolutionary Characters program, each visitor to the Old State House receives a card that tells the story of a real person who lived in Boston on the eve of the American Revolution. Revolutionary Characters help visitors to see the Revolution through the eyes of the people who lived it.  When I am selecting a document to go in the special archival case in Representatives' Hall, I sometimes try to find an item that pertains to one of our Revolutionary Characters.  I feel that seeing a letter, legal document, or financial record written in a Revolutionary Character's own hand or bearing their signature helps our visitors to connect to these Bostonians of the past.  For July, I've selected an item that pertains to Richard Gridley.

Colonel Richard Gridley was a veteran of the French and Indian War and was the Chief Engineer of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.  Currently on display at the Old State House is an order to pay him for three months service in April, May, and June of 1776.  For these three months of service, Gridley was due fifty-four pounds (listed in the order as equal to 180 dollars). According to Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the War of the Revolution, Gridley "had been appointed Chief Engineer by a resolve of the Provincial Congress of April 26, 1775, and by a later resolve of May 19, 1775 he had been commissioned Chief Engineer and Colonel of Artillery with rank of Major General."  Col. Gridley is remembered as laying the defenses at Breed's Hill in April 1775, and for constructing the fortifications on Dorchester Heights, which led to the British evacuation of Boston in March 1776.  Gridley died in 1796 and is buried in Canton, Massachusetts, and a monument to him there includes a quote from George Washington that states, "I know of no man better fitted to be Chief Engineer than General Gridley."

If you look closely at this order, you can see that it was submitted by major general Artemas Ward to Ebenezer Hancock, brother to John Hancock, who was the Deputy Paymaster-General of the Continental Army. It includes Ward's signature, along with Gridley's signature acknowledging receipt of the payment on July 16, 1776 - 239 years ago this month.

By Elizabeth Roscio, Library and Archives Manager