Battle of Noddle’s Island

The Battle of Noddle’s Island (also known as the Battle of Chelsea Creek) was the second military engagement of the American Revolution. It was fought on Chelsea Creek and on salt marshes, mudflats, and islands of Boston Harbor. Known more as a skirmish rather than a major battle, it was fought primarily over cows and hay!

Farmers in the coastal areas and on the harbor islands found themselves vulnerable to British raids once the Siege of Boston began. The British began raiding these farms, seizing hay and livestock to deprive the rebels of the supplies. Forced to either let the supplies of hay fall into enemy hands, or burn it, Joseph Warren and Colonel John Stark gave the order to burn the hay on Hog and Noddle’s Islands first.

The smoke was noticed by Vice-Admiral Graves on his flagship, the HMS Preston, and signaled for the marines to land on the island and engage Stark’s forces. The HMS Diana also came upon the scene and offered covering cannon fire. But misjudging the depth of the water, the Diana soon became trapped in the shallow waters between the islands. Stark, noticing that the Diana was in trouble, called for reinforcements. Dr. Joseph Warren and Israel Putnam arrived along with nearly 1,000 soldiers. Putnam waded out into the harbor up to his waist and yelled to the sailors on the stranded Diana that they would not be harmed if they offered their full surrender. Despite the fact that the ship had begun listing to one side and was hopelessly stuck, the crew ignored Putnam’s offer and continued to fire their cannons. The angle of the guns made it nearly impossible for the Diana to inflict any damage and the colonials simply hunkered down and waited. When the order was eventually given to abandon the Diana, the colonials raided her and rapidly removed everything of value, including guns, rigging, sails, and money. They laid the very hay the British had come to collect under her sides and set fire to the ship.

The colonials suffered no fatalities and had only a small number of men wounded. Their morale was greatly boosted by their successful capture and destruction the Diana.

Today the area once known as Noddle’s Island is taken up by Logan International Airport.