|The Battle of Falmouth- this painting hangs in Falmouth Town Hall|
"Like an oak that stands unmoved though all the winds employ their ceaseless roar."
Dimmick sounds like he put up a pretty impressive fight. In fact, the quote which began this article was used by Freeman to describe Dimmick holding his position against his enemies.
The British did manage to at least land their boats on the beach several times, but the fire from the militiamen was too fierce to allow them to carve a foothold. The British continued to fire at the town and exchange small arms fire with the militia until 5:30Pm. However, they soon began to understand that their attempts were not going to be successful. At a signal from their flagship, the smaller boats returned to the warships and the entire fleet moved off toward Nobska Point and Woods Hole. The militia followed.
|Nobska Point as seen beyond Old Stone Dock|
All animals were slaughtered on the island, including the animals of the once helpful Tories. There was one pig, whose squeals could be apparently heard from the most extreme point of the mainland. The militia had been watching the actions of the enemy from the shore when they head the poor pig. One of the men, named Simeon Hamlin, sat down and began to cry. The others asked him why he cried and he responded:
"Why, I hear that poor pig, and can’t help crying, to see how those cruel English will treat their fellow beings."
I thought that was an amusing line.
Over the next couple days the British fleet slowly broke up and headed away from the
Cape. The ships did attempt to fire on the town again, but the militiamen stayed in their trenches and the enemy did not make another attempt at a landing.
Although other parts of the Cape and Islands suffered additional attacks and invasions,
never again needed to meet the Empire of Great Britain in combat, at least in the Revolutionary War. The town’s destruction had been prevented by the skill and bravery of a couple hundred farmers and fisherman who refused to let their homes be destroyed. Joseph Dimmick, of course, deserves recognition for the major role he played in Falmouth ’s defense even after the battle. Falmouth
Dimmick remained heavily involved in the conflict even after the Battle of Falmouth. Jenkins goes as far as calling him, “the heart and soul of the military movement in this region." Although there were no more show downs on the beaches of
, Dimmick was involved in many more daring missions against the British. Falmouth
Later, during the war, a ship had been sent to the
Connecticut River to purchase corn, which had become very rare. On its return trip the ship was intercepted and captured by British Privateers just inside Vineyard Sound. However, the captain escaped and ran to seeking the help of Major Dimmick. Falmouth
Joseph Dimmick gathered his brother
Lot and about twenty other men. They headed for Woods Hole. They took three small whale boats and silently rowed out to Tarpaulin Cove, where the Privateer and the captured trading vessel lay at anchor.
|Lot Dimmick's Headstone at Falmouth's First Burying Ground|
When they came in sight of the larger ships, the militiamen and the privateers exchanged fire. The militiamen killed at least one pirate and boarded the captured ship. They got the ship under way and accidently ran it aground near the Vineyard. They waited for high tide to free the ship, defending their catch from the British.
When the tide came in, they escaped with the trading ship and arrived safely in Woods Hole with its life saving cargo.
Dimmick and the men of
even captured an English ship of their own once. The ship held 33 English soldiers, who were all delivered to Falmouth as prisoners of war. Boston
Even after peace was declared in 1781, Dimmick remained very influential and respected in town. Children gawked at their local war hero on the streets. He was honored by Governor Hancock as a guest of honor. He was elected High Sherriff, a position he held for 25 years. In addition, he served on the
senate and was raised to the rank of General after the war. According to Jenkins: Massachusetts
"It may be said of him that he feared nothing human. It was his delight to be at the post of danger, and he was generally selected when any hazardous enterprise was undertaken."
Dimmick really seems like he was quite a guy. On top of being a local war hero, he seemed somewhat modest. According to Jenkins, on his tombstone is written, “He merited this noblest of his mottoes- An honest man.” Dimmick died in 1822.
|Joseph Dimmick's Headstone at Falmouth's First Burring Ground|
Strangely I did not see the inscription that was supposed to be there
Although, I could not discover where Joseph Dimmick’s original house was, his son built a house on modern
Main Street in . The house built by Braddock Dimmick is right across the street from the Village Green, where his father trained the soldiers of Falmouth ’s militia. Falmouth
|The Dimmick House- Main Street Falmouth|
This house even has a ghost story of its own. It is said to be haunted by one of the grandchildren of Joseph Dimmick. It is currently a bed and breakfast. The story says that if you sleep in the spirit’s bed, she may wake you and ask what you are doing there. My fiancé was not willing to stay the night with me, she was way more interested in the great cupcake store down the street.
I have to say I felt a little guilty researching the martial history of the town I grew up in. I had a vague idea of the Battle of Falmouth, but had no idea where it had taken place. Nor had I ever heard of Joseph Dimmick and what an absolute local hero he was. Where is the statue, town of
’s defense the historical society has done a beautiful job with marking the headstones at the First Burying Ground, so these graves can be easily located. Plus, Falmouth has done at least two reenactments of the battle for the town. Falmouth
No, the Battle of Falmouth was not a true turning point in the American Revolution like the Siege of Yorktown. Instead, it demonstrates the growing feeling of nationalism and independence during the Revolution, even on rural
Cape Cod. Further, it demonstrates the willingness of the small town farmers and fishermen of New England to fight for their land against largely overwhelming odds.
I wish history classes could spend more time on local events like this. It really puts one’s own hometown into a meaningful historic perspective. If one is truly supposed to learn lessons from the past through the study of history, the more I look into these local stories, the more I realize it would be hard to find a better teacher than a Yankee. Certainly, General Dimmick and the men of the
Cape’s Revolutionary militia are no exception.