Boston Massacre Bullets: Using Live-Fire Validation Techniques to Refute a Myth

Author(s): Douglas Scott; Joel Bohy

Year: 2020


This is an abstract from the session entitled "Northeast Region National Park Service Archeological Landscapes and the Stories They Tell" , at the 2020 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.

The Boston Massacre occurred at the Custom House on King Street on March 5, 1770 when British regular troops fired on colonists. Five colonists were killed and six wounded. One British officer and eight soldiers participated in the event. How did eight soldiers firing only one shot kill or wound eleven colonists? One theory is that the British loaded their muskets with two balls, doubling their fire power. Live-fire research studied the ballistics of single and two-ball loads. Conclusions from this study applied to the two surviving balls demonstrate that the two-ball load myth is effectively debunked. This scientific research enables us in this case, to focus on two individual artifacts to better understand what happened at the Boston Massacre. The live-fire research provides vital information for new perspectives on interpreting tactical engagements on both small and large landscapes to more accurately tell the story of conflict throughout the region.

Cite this Record

Boston Massacre Bullets: Using Live-Fire Validation Techniques to Refute a Myth. Douglas Scott, Joel Bohy. 2020 ( tDAR id: 457169)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 422