History Will Come to Life at Scituate Lighthouse
Cedar Point, Scituate
John Galluzzo

Lighthouses have grabbed our fancy across the country, in their many shapes, sizes, color schemes, flash patterns and histories. We've come to embrace their heroes, lament lives lost in the line of duty, and celebrate their triumphant tales.

Scituate Light, at just more than 200 years old, has stories to tell.

The best may have happened right at the beginning. The light had just been built in 1811, the year before the official start of the War of 1812. Simeon Bates was keeper, and apparently quite the patriot. When a British warship appeared off the coast, he fired at it, with a little signal cannon kept at the light. The British retaliated by burning the harbor - its boats, its buildings, its foodstuffs and supplies. Then they went away.

According to local lore, they returned a few months later, but Keeper Bates was not around, in town to buy supplies for his family. Two daughters, Abigail and Rebecca, saw the British launch longboats from a warship and start to row for shore. Thinking quickly they grabbed a fife and drum, playing the mustering music of the local militia (most accounts say "Yankee Doodle"), hiding either behind the Sand Hills, the cedar trees that gave Cedar Point its name, some say the lighthouse. They played with all their might, and as the British came closer, the sound got louder. When convinced an entire opposing army awaited them ashore, the British retreated to their ship and sailed away. The girls became known as the "American Army of Two," and have been lauded in children's story books through time.

Whether or not the story is true is not known, but don't tell the people of Scituate that; they love Abigail and Rebecca like Bostonians love Paul Revere. As such, don't be surprised when in the fall of 2014 the Scituate Historical Society announces plans to reenact the "Army of Two" story. All they need is a drum. They have the original fife.

Scituate Lighthouse is on the short list of maritime history must-see sites in Plymouth County, a place where the boat traffic never seems to end, so there is always something on the move. The light has so many more stories to tell: visits from the Flying Santa of the Lighthouses, the 1956 wreck of the Etrusco, even the Jug-in-the-Chimney house legend - but that one is for another day.

Exterior open year-round; tours by appointment or on specially designated days

100 Lighthouse Road, Scituate

For more information: 
Scituate Historical Society



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