“Our flag means what all our fathers meant in the Revolutionary War. It means all that in the Declaration of Independence meant. It means justice. It means liberty. It means happiness.…Every color means liberty. Every star, stripe means liberty.” — Henry Ward Beecher
A warm welcome back to the Summer House. Today we are greeted by a family of ducks with seven ducklings, our snapping turtle is lurking about, and a pair of swans gently swim by.
The ospreys are back to their elegant, albeit messy, nest that sits on top of the telephone pole at the end of our driveway. As our three big dogs jump out the back of the car and start racing around the yard the ospreys begin their “danger, beware” squawking.
The smell of the salty air, the sea breeze and Nobska’s foghorn are all welcoming signs of summer.
One of the first things we do is go to the beach. I have spent my whole life going to Surf Drive Beach. Generations of my family learned to swim there. After hours, when the lifeguards left, we would make a beeline to the jetty with our pails and nets in search of hermit crabs and minnows.
Looking out over the sound, I wonder how many people that come here year after year know anything about the “Battle of Falmouth?”
During the Revolutionary War Falmouth was a leader in the Colonial rebel movement. Many Cape Codders took part in the Boston Tea Party of 1773 and many other rebellious acts against Great Britain.
In 1774 Falmouth’s townspeople saw British warships in Vineyard Sound. Falmouth resident Major Joseph Dimmick was put in command of the local militia. The town put together a company of minutemen who were tough, salty and ready to protect their town and coast. In 1776 Falmouth declared its independence from Great Britain.
April 1, 1779, the British landed at Little Harbor in Woods Hole; they were short on supplies. They raided the farm of Ephraim Swift, took 12 head of cattle and slaughtered them. As the British were killing the animals, Major Dimmick and his local militia snuck up and ambushed them. The British were forced to leave the bludgeoned animals and return to their ships with no food. Within a couple of days they decided the best revenge was to burn Falmouth down to the ground. On April 3, 1779, 10 British sloops and schooners appeared.
The night before, Major Dimmick learned of their plan and the next morning four companies of militia— two from Falmouth, two from Sandwich—were hiding along the beach.
The British loaded into a small boat with cannons and small arms. The militia was ready.…Nothing would take down Falmouth. The fierce fighting took five solid hours of cannon fire and shots heard ‘round the town from the shore of what is now Surf Drive Beach.
Major Dimmick and Colonel Freeman repeatedly challenged the British to land. They tried, but in the end our militia won, Major Dimmick was a hero and the British never dared to land.
Special thanks to Meg Costello, Tamsen George and Nora Schneider at the Falmouth Historical Society.