Happy Evacuation Day

Boston from Dorchester Heights, 1776. From the BPL Leventhal map collection.Boston from Dorchester Heights, 1776. From the BPL Leventhal map collection.

Today, it's mainly a day for free parking downtown and for Boston municipal workers and school kids to get a day off. But back in the day, it honored the first major victory of the Revolution - the day the British fled the capital of the colony where the fighting had begun.

Washington at Dorchester Heights
Washington at Dorchester Heights
For months, Boston had been a town under seige: After Lexington and Concord, the Redcoats had retreated to Boston, then a hilly neck easily defended by land and sea. Unless the colonials could somehow get cannons up on Dorchester Heights - another peninsula to its south with a clear shot at Boston. Which they did - thanks to Henry Knox and his oxen (with wagon wheels wrapped with straw to dampen their noise).

Gen. Howe spotted the new cannons and planned to take the hills - but then it rained, hard enough to prevent an assault, but not hard enough to keep Washington's men from reinforcing their armaments. When the clouds cleared, Howe realized he had no chance and decided to avoid ignominious surrender by fleeing - after reaching an agreement with Washington to not burn down Boston in exchange for being allowed to leave unmolested.

J.L. Bell posts a letter from Col. Jedidiah Huntington on watching the British troops leave:

This morning we had the Agreeable Sight of a number of ships leaving the Town of Boston with a large number of Boats full of Soldiers, about ten of Clock several Lads came to our out Centries and informed us that the Troops had intirely left the Town and that the Selectmen were coming out to see us.



Free tagging: 



    It definitely depends on the contract for municipal employees. Currently (I believe for most union and non-union employees besides teachers), employees receive two floating holidays, since municipal offices are now open both Evacuation and Bunker Hill Days. I believe there is a movement to phase this out at some point though.

    Speaking as an employee of

    Speaking as an employee of the Attorney General's office, we are open on Evacuation Day and Bunker Hill Day but closed on Patriot's Day (the latter is a state holiday). Presently, we get a total of four personal days per year.

    Evacuation Day was one of biggest in Boston's history

    If not THE biggest.

    Thanks for posting this Adam.

    I'm not a state or county worker and have never gotten this day off but this is such a monumental day in American and Boston history. It shouldn't be sullied by modern arguments about unions or hacks.

    It's arguable that w/o Evacuation Day there'd be no 4th of July.