April 18, 1775


Lieut. Colonel Smith, 10th Regiment ‘Foot,

Sir,

Having received intelligence, that a quantity of Ammunition, Provisions, Artillery, Tents and small Arms, have been collected at Concord, for the avowed purpose of raising and supporting a Rebellion against His Majesty, you will march with a corps of Grenadiers and Light Infantry, put under your command, with the utmost expedition and secrecy to Concord, where you will seize and distroy all Artillery, Ammunition, Provisions, Tents, Small Arms, and all Military Stores whatever. But you will take care that the Soldiers do not plunder the Inhabitants, or hurt private property…

I am, Sir,
Your most obedient humble servant
Thos. Gage.

Let’s break this down to find some of the reasons why this will go so terribly wrong for General Gage:

"…have been collected at Concord." Well, that WAS true, but the intel is stale. On the other hand the colonists have current intel, and they will move most of that stuff long before you get there.

"…a Rebellion against His Majesty." Baseball won’t be invented for another century, but this is pure base-stealing. The colonists don’t mind having a king (yet) as long as he minds his own kingly business and leaves them to theirs. If regulars are being sent out to harass the citizenry in violation of their rights as Englishmen (see previous posts) it is THEY who are acting outside the law of the realm and the realm’s king; not men who arm themselves to block their depredations. And by the way, Paul Revere never rode around yelling "The British are coming!" He was warning people who still considered themselves British, and entitled to the rights and privileges thereunto appertaining. Revere would have called them "Regulars" or "Redcoats."
"…with the utmost expedition and secrecy." Hahahahahaha… Good luck with that. Dr. Warren has set up one of the most effective intelligence, spying and warning networks ever seen to date. His spies in London got him a copy of your orders before you read them, and the Concord militia were alerted before your troops were across the Charles. Have you checked up on the wee missus lately? She’s a good friend of the good doctor.
"…to Concord." Nobody ordered anybody to veer off the road into Lexington, just because a "training band" had assembled there with their muskets, LAWFULLY AND IN GOOD ORDER, and not in any way interfering with the march – and the hot-headed lieutenant who did so should have been court-martialed. In the tension and confusion that followed, they tried to disburse, when a shot comes out of nowhere (to this day, it is unknown who fired it, or from whence it came). The regulars open fire, and then use the bayonet. Eight colonists are killed and ten wounded. The news of this bloodshed would reach Concord and the militia assembling there long before the Redcoats come up the road. It would not be well received.

Then at length the Redcoats march into Concord, find a few stores here and there, and set a few fires (one of which started to get out of control, and they had to suffer the embarrassment of having to help extinguish). Meanwhile, on hills overlooking the town, the Concord militia think some of their homes are being torched. Only they’re not alone anymore. Men are arriving by the minute from Acton, Bedford, Carlyle and Lincoln. Later in the day they would be joined by militia from Chelmsford, Framingham, Reading and Salem… and a lot of these guys, especially the earliest to arrive, are not just some raggedy-assed "training band." They’re Minutemen, carefully selected for their strength, skill and courage to be first responders when trouble their way comes. They chase some Redcoats back across the Old North Bridge, and exchange fire. Both militia and regulars are killed, but for the first time the Redcoats show their backsides to these farmers and shopkeepers, and RUN. All the way along the "tactical withdrawal" back to Boston the militia keep up a hot fire – at first in traditional volleys, until the redcoats bring up a couple of cannon, along with reinforcements near Lexington. Then the famous roving pot shots begin. By the time these 1700 or so Redcoats reach the safety of Charlestown, there are 4000 militiamen nipping at their heels. By the next morning there would be 15,000 and Boston itself would be under siege. As independence came, these men would become the cadre around which was built the Continental Army of the United States of America – a nation that would form alliances with others, especially the French, and make Lord North rue the day he thought taxation without representation was such a splendid idea.
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