Lieut. Williams Revolutionary War Journal

First page of Lieut. Williams' journal, 1774

First page of Lieut. Williams’ journal, 1774


Recently, the Rare Book Room has digitized the original autograph manuscript of Lieutenant Richard Williams, a British Officer of the 23rd Marines, which covers the period of January 1, 1774 to September 5, 1775. Known as, A Journal : in part describing the battles of Lexington and Concord and Bunker Hill, this unique manuscript was acquired during the Second World War under the generous guidance of then interim Library Director of the Grosvenor Library, Julian Park (son of Roswell Park). Published as a transcribed excerpt in 1954 by the library group, the Salisbury Club of Buffalo, Discord and civil wars was prepared for publication by our first Grosvenor Rare Book curator, Jane Van Arsdale. The journal contains detailed eyewitness accounts of several Revolutionary War battles, with lists of casualties and maneuvers used by the forces during battle. There is also a description of the ‘rebels’ using signal lights flashed from church belfries, reminiscent of Paul Revere’s famous ride.

Remarkably, Lieut. Williams was a talented artist who included several of his own charming watercolor drawings among the journal’s pages.

Illustrated page

Illustrated page

Williams also was surveyor of the map, A Plan of Boston and its environs shewing the true situation of His Majesty’s Army and also those of the rebels, 1775, available to be viewed online from the Boston Public Library’s digital collection: http://maps.bpl.org/id/rb16892. Other examples of Williams’ watercolor views are held at the Boston Public Library and the Nova Scotia Historical Society. Lieut. Williams died on May 20, 1776 after a brief but eventful life.

British Officer

British Officer

1 Comment

Filed under Art, Manuscripts, Uncategorized

One response to “Lieut. Williams Revolutionary War Journal

  1. Elaine Barone

    I am so happy to see that this wonderful manuscript has been digitized. Now scholars everywhere can have access and I know the author Richard Brookhiser must be delighted. I remember his enthusiasm for this work when he spoke at the library. Kudos to the staff for seeing this project through.

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