Spirit of '76
by Archibald Willard
Starting today and continuing through the weekend (Sept. 12-14) Billerica, Mass. is celebrating its 17th annual Yankee Doodle Homecoming. This event, held every September, commemorates the role Billerica's Colonial Militia and the townspeople of Billerica played in America's War of Independence. The Billerica Minute Men took part in the fighting at Meriam's Corner in Concord on April 19, 1775 and the Battle of Bunker Hill.
As part of the weekends events the recreated Billerica Colonial Minute Men will have a weekend long Revolutionary War encampment and on Saturday members of the 4th Kings Own Light Company will "Tar and Feather" a member of the militia. This event is a recreation of the actual tar and feathering of Thomas Ditson Jr. (Billerica's Yankee Doodle) in Boston in 1775.
Seeking to arm himself in order to join the local militia, Ditson traveled into Boston and attempted to buy a musket from a Serjeant of the 47th Regiment of Foot. The Serjeant took him prisoner and the next day Ditson was "tarred and feathered" and paraded in public by members of the 47th. Ditson survived this brutal treatment and later fought with Billerica's Minute Men Company at Meriam's corner in Concord. A fuller account of this story is told here.
Also this weekend, on Saturday (Sept. 13), the Rebecca Nurse Homestead in Danvers and the Danvers Alarm List Company is hosting a Colonial Muster Day. In addition to having its muster the Colonial militia will skirmish with British Revolutionary War reenactors from the area, to include members of the 4th Kings Own.