Report of a Specialized Intensive (Locational) Survey, Lexington Battle Road, Hanscom Air Force Base, Middlesex County, Massachusetts

Author(s): Barbara Donohue

Year: 2007


On behalf of Hanscom Air Force Base, the Air Force Center for Environmental Excellence requested that a specialized archeological survey, consisting of a metal-detector survey followed by field excavation, be conducted in the areas with potential for battlefield debris. The survey would focus on resources associated with the Battle of April 19, 1775. The Air Force Center for Environmental Excellence originally contracted TN & Associates, which in turn subcontracted Timelines, Inc. (now John Milner Associates, Inc.) to conduct the recommended specialized archeological survey. The metal detector survey, conducted in October of 2003, recovered five artifacts highly likely to be associated with the battle and two that less likely but possibly with the battle. Battle-related artifacts were recovered from three loci indicating the possibility that activity areas associated with the battle existed. To determine if activity areas were present, a magnetic field gradient survey was conducted in November of 2004. While the presence of activity areas could not be determined, a fascine knife, believed to be from the time period under study and possibly associated with the battle, was recovered.

Another phase of field investigation, consisting of the excavation of shovel test pits, metal detector survey, and a magnetic field gradient survey, was conducted in November of 2005 in association with the transfer of a parcel of land to Minute Man National Historical Park. The property to be transferred had potential for battlefield debris as well as prehistoric and historic archeological resources. No prehistoric artifacts or activity areas or artifacts associated with the battle were identified.

The transfer of the property to Minute Man National Historical Park will, in effect, bisect the battlefield site. JMA therefore recommends that the boundaries of the battlefield site that remains in Hanscom AFB should be defined and included within the overall site boundaries associated with the Battle of April 19, 1775.

Historic research suggests that the recovered battle-related artifacts could be associated with British flanking troops firing at the Lincoln and/or Lexington Minute Men, Pitcairn’s troops firing at Parker’s Minute Men, or both scenarios occurring simultaneously. Secondary sources suggest that Lincoln Minute Man William Thorning was involved in fighting the British flankers in close proximity to the project area. Therefore, JMA recommends that additional historic research be conducted to locate the origin of the William Thorning story, as information contained in that source may clarify interpretation of the field results and facilitate interpretive efforts at Minute Man National Historical Park.

Documentary research conducted for the survey revealed that features associated with the Thomas Nelson Sr. Farm Site (19-MD-347/HA6), in particular landscape characteristics that may be associated with the Battle of April 19, 1775, may be present within Hanscom Air Force Base. Features and/or artifacts associated with this eighteenth century farm may also be present. JMA therefore recommends that further documentary research be conducted to determine the extent of the 30-acre parcel that Thomas Nelson Sr. purchased in 1770 in order to clarify its present-day boundaries.

Cite this Record

Report of a Specialized Intensive (Locational) Survey, Lexington Battle Road, Hanscom Air Force Base, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. Barbara Donohue. 2007 ( tDAR id: 438514) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8438514

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -71.312; min lat: 42.469 ; max long: -71.269; max lat: 42.486 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Hanscom Air Force Base

Contributor(s): Joshua Silver; Alan Smith; Brian Lever; Tom Maillot; Ronald Dalton; Walter Donohue, Jr.; Sarah Ruch; Margy Schoettle

Field Director(s): Karen Michalec

Lab Director(s): Martin Dudek

Principal Investigator(s): Barbara Donohue

Prepared By(s): John Milner Associates, Inc.

Submitted To(s): Hanscom Air Force Base

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JMilner_Intensive-Archaeological-Survey-Battle-Road_2007_OCR_P... 52.83mb May 1, 2007 Sep 22, 2017 11:06:26 AM Confidential
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Contact(s): Hanscom Air Force Base