History 140: History/Americas thru 1800Dr. ArguelloPatricia FonsecaDecember 5, 2011
• General Gage was trying to escape further embarrassment by attacking his opposition before they were able to advance against his small force. His key points were to be secrecy, the element of surprise, and intelligence. Whig leaders in New England had been informed that the British army was preparing a strike. Samuel Adams determined that the British must fire first. For America to be united against England, this would be a vital key point.• The two sides differed in the ways that they gathered their information. England gathered from the top down while Americans gathered from the bottom up. While England put General Gage as commander, America didn’t establish any single person in charge.• General Gage started to gather information two months prior to the surprise attack. Gage decided to send two British plain clothed officers from Boston to Worcester. They were to report back to Gage with intelligence about the countryside. They were warned numerous times along their journey not to advance any further up to Worcester. Knowing they could not return to Boston without any information, they continued on. They were guided by many Loyalists along the way and eventually made it back to Boston.• General Gage decided not to attack Worcester afterall. The distance was too far which would eliminate the concept of a surprise attack. He set his sights on Concord. He again sent out the two British officers in plain clothes to explore the road to Concord.
• General Gage decided to attack Concord by way of Lexington. Gage had many Loyalists describing the munitions stored in town, house by house and barn by barn. Gage Set Colonel Francis Smith to command the secret march into Concord. Gage believed there was nothing to fear in terms of resistance. He didn’t believe the Whigs had anyone of quality to take command and direct the opposing army.• General Gage ordered the navy to prepare for movement of troops by boat. Admiral Graves did not like Gage and decided to conduct his business in full view of the town. The Whigs of Boston quickly concluded that General Gage was set to make a move against Concord. Paul Revere rode out on April 8th with a letter from Doctor Warren to the leaders of Concord. Concord scattered its ammunition and the Whig members moved out of town. On April 16th, Revere rode to Lexington to inform Samuel Adams and John Hancock of the grenadiers and light infantry movements. He also met with Whigs to discuss and early warning system. They came up with special messengers by clandestine routes and a back-up system of lantern signals.
• On April 18th, 1775, a stable boy alerted Paul Revere that he Regulars were ready to march. Revere had heard the warning for the third time that day.• Doctor Warren was carefully connected to a confidential informer at the uppermost levels of the British command. Doctor Warren received the whole design of the British plan to attack Concord and seize Samuel Adams and John Hancock. It is strongly believed that Doctor Warren’s informer was General Gage’s American wife. Gage had confided in only Lord Percy and his wife. After the Whigs had proved their knowledge of the attack on Concord, Gage sent his wife to England and they remained separated for an additional year once Gage returned to England as well.• Doctor Warren sent out William Dawes and Paul Revere to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock. William Dawes was a tanner whose work often took him through the British “lines” on Boston Neck. He knew many of the guards and Doctor Warren believed he would have an easier time of getting through the British security.• Revere enlisted the help of numerous Whig members to alarm the countryside of the looming British attack. After leaving Doctor Warren’s, Revere went to the Newman house. There, Revere enlisted Newman, Bernard, and Pulling to hang two lanterns in the Christ Church steeple at the North End facing Charlestown.
• Charlestown Whigs were waiting and watching for those lantern signals. They saw clearly two glowing lights. The signal Revere promised if British troops were leaving by boat across Back Bay to Cambridge.• The lights were only up in the steeple for a moment. Newman and Pulling put out the candles. As they were about to exit the church, they saw a band of British troops near the door. They quickly escaped through a window by the altar.• Once the lights were visible, the Whigs of Charlestown prepared for Revere’s ride. In Boston, Revere enlisted the aid of two friends to help him make the trip across the Charles River. Revere met a few Whig members as he landed on Charlestown ferry landing.• John Larkin gave his horse to Revere who set off toward Lexington. He soon came in contact with two British officers. Revere reversed his trail and followed Mystic Road. This route was longer but took him safely out of British reach. He reached Lexington and warned Adams and Hancock. Dawes and Revere were sent on to Concord to continue the warning that the British would soon attack.
• That same night Gage set his army in motion. The soldiers were quietly woken up and they all prepared as silently as was possible. The men were instructed to move in small parties so the town would not be alarmed. The met on a remote beach of Back Bay. Between 8-900 Regulars formed on the beach. These men were from different regiments and were unfamiliar with working together. There was no clear leader to command this band of men and too few navy ships had arrived to carry the full team across the river in a single trip.• The system of tying the longboats together from bow to stern was seen as a necessary precaution against any boat being lost in the dark. This made the crossing more difficult and slower when speed would have determined the success of the expedition. The entire process of moving the men across the river took two hours. Once across the river, confusion continued as the officers struggled to pull their companies together.• Once the march began the company found themselves in a swamp and found it difficult to maneuver across this terrain. These men were soon soaked through up to their middles. The uniforms that were uncomfortable to begin with grew increasingly uncomfortable as they became wet.
• The men sat for an hour in their wet uniforms on the banks waiting for two days provisions to be delivered to them. Four hours after they had initially set out, they had to double back a mile east to escape the marshes. As the uniforms were beginning to dry out, they came to a stream with melted snow. The men had to wade through these cold waters up to their middles again. Many were tired, thirsty, hungry, and cold. As the soldiers progressed through the town, word of the Regulars quickly spread.• As the Regulars marched on, they seized many Yankees on the road and forced the men to march with them. Soon the Regulars were meeting many horsemen on the road. Signal guns and alarm bells were heard from ahead and behind.• Colonel Smith halted his company of grenadiers and ordered an aide to ride back to Boston with a message that the element of surprise had been lost and that reinforcements would be needed.• The aide rode off and the company took up its march into the countryside once again.
• Revere and Dawes were on their way to Concord when they were overtaken on the road by a gentleman who introduced himself as Doctor Prescott. As the three men conversed, Revere came up with a plan to alert all the residents along the way to Concord in case the men were taken over by the Regulars.• Revere, Dawes, and Prescott were intercepted in Lincoln. Prescott and Dawes got away from the Regulars but Revere was captured.• Revere was interrogated by the Regulars and he answered truthfully. As the questioning continued, Revere revealed the entire British plan to the Regulars who were still unaware of their own mission. Revere informed them of the Regular’s trip across the Back Bay and their coming ashore in Cambridge.• He told them where he had and that he had warned the militia in Lexington.
• The Regulars rode up the highway and retrieved their commander, Major Edward Mitchell. Revere’s main goal was to pull these Regulars away from Lexington and away from the Whig leaders, Adams and Hancock.• The soldiers conversed together and decided to ride on to Boston after listening to Revere’s warning of looming danger in Lexington.• The soldiers became increasingly nervous as they neared Lexington Green. As a gunshot rang out, Major Mitchell asked Revere what it signified. Revere responded that it was a signal “to alarm the country.”• As more gunfire sounded, the soldiers realized the weight of Revere’s words. The soldiers again conversed among themselves. They decided to release all of their prisoners and ride east toward Cambridge.• Sanderson went into Buckman’s Tavern and fell asleep by the fire.• Revere remained outside. He stood contemplating the events of the night and what still needed to be done. He walked north across the countryside intent on completing another mission.