Evacuation Day, 1776
A second parade (of sorts) could be said to have occurred in 1776, when British ships, troops, and sympathizers evacuated the city en masse during a violent storm.
Their retreat came after Continental troops moved 59 cannons from the newly captured Fort Ticonderoga to Boston earlier that month, under the leadership of Colonel Henry Knox (pictured). The cannons — including imitations made of blackened logs — were strategically placed on Dorchester Heights in South Boston overlooking Boston Harbor and the British Navy’s ships, said Philip Wuschke Jr., the organizer of the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.
The British left Boston peacefully, sparing any casualties, a move that George Washington later called a “most remarkable Interposition by Providence,” according to the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade’s website.
And while the evacuation’s occurrence on Saint Patrick’s feast day was a coincidence, the Catholic saint played a role that day. Washington used “Saint Patrick” as a code word for soldiers to pass through the Continental lines, said Wuschke.