John Crane – Continental Army Officer – Rhode Island


John Crane (7 December 1744 – 21 August 1805) was a participant in the Boston Tea Party and a soldier during the American Revolutionary War.

Crane was born in Braintree, Massachusetts. He served in the French and Indian War as a substitute for his father, who had been drafted. After the war he became a housewright. He married Mehitable Wheeler in 1767 and opened a shop in Boston.

Early in the American Revolutionary movement Crane became active in the Sons of Liberty. Before the Boston Tea Party, Crane and the other participants met at his shop to disguise themselves as American Indians. At the harbor, Crane was in the hold of a ship when he was knocked unconscious by a crate of tea that fell on him. Taking him for dead, his companions hid him under a pile of wood shavings in a carpenter’s shop near the wharf, but he soon recovered.

Crane moved to Providence, Rhode Island, in 1774 because the Boston Port Bill harmed his business. After shooting began at the battles of Lexington and Concord, he joined the siege of Boston with an artillery company from Rhode Island, and saw action in July 1775. That year he joined the newly organized Continental Army as a major in the artillery regiment commanded by Henry Knox. In 1777 Crane was promoted to colonel in command of the 3rd Continental Artillery Regiment. He served for the duration of the war, and his regiment saw much action.

In June 1783 Crane was appointed commander of the newly formed Corps of Artillery, succeeding Knox as the head of American artillery forces. He received a brevet promotion to brigadier general in September 1783, but he resigned from the army less than two months later.

After the war, Crane moved to Whiting, Maine, to settle on land granted to him by Massachusetts for his wartime service. In 1790 he was appointed a judge of the court of common pleas by Massachusetts governor John Hancock, and he served in this position for the rest of his life.