A shot pierced the upper works of his ship – Massachusetts State Quarter Coin

Today, the Massachusetts State Quarter Coin remembers the defense at Nantasket 240 years ago.

From The Diary of the Revolution, A Centennial Volume, by Frank Moore, published in 1876:


June 14. — Yesterday, the inhabitants of the town of Boston were made acquainted, by beat of drum, that an expedition was to be undertaken against the enemy’s ships in Nantasket road, and for erecting proper fortifications in the lower harbor.

Accordingly detachments from the colonial regiments, commanded by the Colonels Marshall and Whitney, and the battalion of train, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Crafts, were embarked on board boats at the long wharf, together with cannon, ammunition, provision, entrenching tools, and every necessary implement, and sailed for Pettick’s Island and Hull, where they were joined by some continental troops, and seacoast companies, so as to make near six hundred men at each place.

A like number of the militia, from the towns in the vicinity of Boston harbor, with a detachment from the train, and some field-pieces, took post at Moon Island, Hoff’s Neck, and Point Alderton.

At the same time, a detachment from the continental army, under the command of Colonel Whitcomb, with two eighteen-pounders, one thirteen-inch mortar, with the necessary apparatus, entrenching tools, etc., were embarked for Long Island to take post there.

The troops, delayed by a calm, did not arrive at their several places of destination till near day light this morning.

Notwithstanding this, however, such was their activity and alertness, that they had the cannon planted, and a line of defense hove up on Long Island and Nantasket hill in a few hours, when a cannon-shot from Long Island announced to the enemy our design.

Soon after, a signal was made for the whole fleet, consisting of eight ships, two snows, two brigs, and one schooner, to unmoor and get under weigh.

The Commodore Banks bore our fire, and returned it with spirit, till a shot from Long Island pierced the upper works of his ship, when he immediately unmoored or cut his cables, and got under sail, and happy for him that he did so, for in a small space of time afterwards, a shell from our works fell into the very spot he had but just before quitted.

Unhappily, our cannon did not arrive at Pettick’s Island and Nantasket as soon as might have been wished, but the fire from the latter place, being properly pointed against the commodore’s ship, which came to in the Light House channel, is apprehended to have done considerable execution.

However, the enemy were compelled once more to make a disgraceful precipitate flight; and we have it now in our power to congratulate our friends on our being in full possession of the lowest harbor of Boston; and, had the wind been to the eastward, we are confident we should have had the much greater pleasure of giving them joy on our being in the possession of many of the enemy’s ships.

Through Divine Providence, not one of our men were hurt.

It is now certain, that there is not a ministerial troop in all New England, except such as are prisoners; nor is there a ministerial ship in any harbor in New England.

And it is worthy of special notice that the fourteenth day of June, 1774, was the last day allowed for trading vessels to leave or enter the port of Boston, through the cruelty of a British act of Parliament; and that the fourteenth of June, 1776, through the blessings of God upon the operations of a much injured and oppressed people, is the last day for British men-of-war, or ministerial vessels, to remain or enter within the said port, but as American prizes.

Thus has Providence retaliated.


The Massachusetts State Quarter Coin shows with an artist’s image of Nantasket Beach, circa 1879.

Massachusetts State Quarter Coin