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Chapter Thirty-Six. The War for Independence, to Saratoga

Don Higginbotham

Subject History

Place Northern America » United States of America

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1700-1799

Key-Topics American War of Independence

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405116749.2003.00039.x


In the winter of 1774–5, the British ministry, frustrated and angered by a decade of disturbance and controversy in the North American provinces, elected to respond with military force. To be sure, scarlet regiments had been sent to Boston in 1768 and again – in larger numbers – in 1774. But their presence in the Massachusetts capital had scarcely intimidated the so-called Whigs or patriots there, nor had those steps had a sobering effect on popular leaders in the other English-speaking seaboard colonies. The landing of 3,500 troops in Massachusetts in 1774, the combining of civil and military authority in the appointment of General Thomas Gage as successor to the departing Governor Thomas Hutchinson, and the passing of the Coercive Acts had instead resulted in the First Continental Congress and in a groundswell of American sympathy for the beleaguered Bostonians. If the ministry did not want an all-out war, it did instruct General Gage to engage in a major display of muscle; the Massachusetts politicians would surely be sobered by such an act. So it was, then, that Gage, hesitant to move on his own in such a tense atmosphere, dispatched a troop column on the night of April 18 to destroy the Massachusetts Provincial Congress's military stores at Concord. Recently formed Massachusetts minutemen companies responded to the challenge. Although the next morning the locals were dispersed ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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