Diary of Captain Benjamin Farnum, 1775-1777

This document highlights the experience of Captain Benjamin Farnum. He led troops at the Battle of Lexington and Concord and later at the Battle of Bunker Hill, where he was severely injured.

[The writer of this diary was one of the yeomen of Andover North Parish, who enlisted at the first call for minutemen in February 1775. He was chosen lieutenant of the company. As he chronicles, they marched at the Lexington Alarm, April nineteenth. Promoted to the rank of captain, he commanded a company at Bunker Hill and was there severely wounded by two balls in the thigh. This wound never fully healed, but through his long life continued at times to fester and be painful. He kept a bullet and piece of bone taken from the wound as trophies and mementos of that bloody day. He lived to the age of eighty-seven, dying in 1833. He was, till his death, deacon of the North (First) Church, the records of which office he made with the same exactness as he had those of his military duty. As I copy his diary, I can see the stone which marks his grave in the Old North Burying Ground not far from where repose the two North Andover Colonels, Frye and Johnson under whom he successively served.” — S.L.B]

April 19. 1775  This Day the Mittel Men of [Colonel] Fry’s Regiment [were] alarmed with the [news] of the [troops] marching from Boston to [Concord] at which [news] [they] marched [very] quick from Andover and marched within about 5 [miles] of [Concord], then [meeting] with the [news] of their [retreat] for Boston again with which [news] we turned [our course] in order to catch them we traveled that Day to [menotomy] but we could not come up with them. The nite coming on we [stopped] the next Day we marched to [Cambridge].”

[Here the diary of 1775 ends. It is written on the inside of the cover. The narrative following begins with the first page.]

March 28th 1777 This Day [Lieutenant] Stephen Abbot with about 40 men marched from Andover in order for [Bennington, VT.]

April 15 I set out for [Ticonderoga (14 [hours] 10 men that marched with me set out.) [Dined] at Capt Polerds[‘] in Westford. Put [up at] Gutredges[‘] in [Lunenburg]

[April] 16 [Dined] at Holders[‘] in Westford. Put [up] at Joneses in Templeton
[April] 17 [Breakfast] at Whites[‘] Templeton. [Dined] at [Bucks’] in New Salem


Benjamin Farnum, The Diary of Benjamin Farnum (1775, 1777-1778). MS S394, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, MA.