The Real James Caldwell (of the Boston Massacre)

by | Jul 11, 2017 | Heidi's Updates

Gravestone of Victims of Boston Massacre

Something I love to do in historical fiction is to portray real historical people. I believe it adds an authentic element to my stories, and honestly, I’d find it strange to write about historical events without including the individuals who were so important to them! One of the people I took from history, but fictionalized in Freedom’s Ring, was that of James Caldwell.


We have surprisingly little historical knowledge of this victim of the Boston Massacre. He was a seventeen-year-old young man on a ship called the Hawk, commanded under Captain Thomas Morton. Records indicate he was not from Boston, since he had no family to take his body upon his demise in the Massacre. He was killed when two musket balls entered his back. Later records show a Luther Caldwell from New York claiming to be James’s ancestor.


As I began the manuscript, there were two things I changed about James’s history.


1) I made James a year younger.


2) I gave James a family—I gave him my historical heroine, Liberty Caldwell, as a sister.


It’s funny how these two small pieces of fictitious license can inspire a slew of “What if?” questions. What if James and Liberty’s parents died when they were young? What if James left Liberty with their grandmother to strike out at sea? What if that grandmother died? And what if Liberty went to Boston to reunite with James, her last living relative?


And so it goes until Liberty finds herself alone in a rebellious town, and after being briefly reunited with her Patriotic brother, she is torn from him again, this time in death, by way of the Boston Massacre.


His demise, and her complicated feelings for a red-coated Lieutenant propel the historical story forward…and into the American Revolution.






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