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Shot Heard 'Round the World

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by mac66, Feb 4, 2013.

  1. mac66

    mac66 Well-Known Member

    I thought this forum may be interested in a little history

    Note, I wrote the following as a brief lesson in what happened 238 years ago to create this country. It has probably been a long time since you heard it. Some may have not heard this version or some of the facts here in. It has been on a couple other gun forums recently as some folks find it interesting enough to pass it around. I hope it will inspire some to remember the sacrifices of our forefathers to create this country and our form of government. They fought and died so we don't have to. All we need to do is become involved in the process they created.

    Full disclosure, I am the RWVA History Program Coordinator for my state and an Appleseed instructor. It you want more information about the Revolutionary War Veterans Association (a non-profit, non-political, all volunteer national org) and the Appleseed Project got to www.rwva.org. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

    Part 1-Powder Raids

    In September of 1774, a company of British troops crossed the Charles River by boat from Boston to Cambridge in the middle of night. By early morning they had arrived at the Massachusetts Provisional Powder house. The powder house was a stone silo type structure used as a powder magazine to house the black powder used by the surrounding communities. They were let in by the local sheriff and subsequently confiscated 250 half barrels of powder belonging to the Massachusetts colony.

    The redcoats marched back through Cambridge drawing the attention of the locals who spread the word "the powder raids have begun!" The locals were so outraged at this raid that nearly four thousand assembled. They took the sheriff hostage and made him write notice that he would never help the red coats again. They rampaged through the Tory/loyalist section of town and ran the most prominent of them out of town, never to return. It was only the intervention of local patriot leaders who kept the mob from marching to Boston and confronting the army stationed there.

    This raid did two things. It confirmed the fear of the colonists that "the Regulars" (what they called the army) could and would raid and confiscate arms. The second thing it did was motivate colonial leaders such as Paul Revere and Dr. Joseph Warren to set up a network of citizens to keep an eye on the troops in Boston for any indication of them mobilizing for future raids.

    The early warning system and subsequent alert notification system developed by Revere and Warren would be tested in the coming months.

    To be continued...
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2013
  2. mac66

    mac66 Well-Known Member

    Part 2-Intollerable Acts

    In 1773 as a result of the Boston Tea Party, the Parliament had passed a series of laws to bring the colonies under control. These laws were called "The Coercive Acts" and did exactly what they meant, to coerce the colonies into submission.The colonists didn't hear about the Coercive Act until 1774 and by then started referring to them as the "Intolerable Acts".

    The Coercive Acts banned free speech. Troops raided newspapers and smashed or confiscated printing presses.They did away with local control of towns, cities, counties and colonies. It removed local judges. A person could now be held without warrant and sent back to England to be judged for any crime the crown could think up.

    Under the Coercive Acts, militias were banned as was military type training. Importation of black powder and muskets was stopped.

    In December of 1774, General Thomas Gage, commander of all British forces in north America and military governor of Massachusetts ordered another raid. This time the plan was to send a ship load of troops up to New Hampshire to secure the powder and weapons stored at an outpost called Fort William and Mary. The fort was manned by an officer and a small number of regulars.

    Paul Revere's intelligence network, called "The Mechanics" because the were all tradesmen, notified him and he made the long ride to the fort in a snowstorm. He contacted the local militia, which was now outlawed and they gathered 250 men and stormed the fort. Shots were fired, people were wounded but no one was killed. The fort was taken and the militia relieved the fort of powder, muskets and small artillery pieces. The militia melted back into the country side.

    The governor of New Hampshire was outraged. He sent a message to Gen. Gage telling him of the armed insurrection. The ship load of soldiers had been delayed because of a snow squall and didn't make it for another day. To add insult to injury the ship was run aground (some say intentionally) by the harbor pilot.

    The score was now the Regulars 1, Colonists 1. The next raid wouldn't be tried for another couple months.

    to be continued...
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2013
  3. mac66

    mac66 Well-Known Member

    Part 3- Setting The Stage

    The conflict between the crown and colonists didn't happen over night. In fact it was a decade long escalation of push and push back. By 1764, England was on the edge of a fiscal cliff. They had just finished the "7 years war" with France around the globe. In north America it was known as the French and Indian war because that's who they were fighting.

    To pay for the wars the crown turned to the American colonies. Britain like most of the major powers generated wealth by exploiting the natural resources of the regions they conquered or settled and then created a market in those locations to sell finished products back to. The American colonies had the most resources and were their biggest market. They enjoyed the highest standard of living of all of Britain's colonies including that of the home island. It is always the way to go after the rich, they can afford it. So the crown imposed new taxes on the colonies. First it was for sugar and then they devalued the money basically creating run away inflation.

    The colonists had always considered themselves lucky to be "free Englishmen" protected by one of the first codified statement of human rights from centuries before, the Magna Carta. They were also somewhat autonomous from the direct government involvement. They were a long way from Parliament and as such had developed their own style of local government and justice system over a period of decades. The colonists had pushed back the frontier with their own hands. They had fought the French, Spanish, pirates, Indians and marauders of all kinds. They had cleared the land with their own hands. The had bore and buried their children on it. They developed a system that worked and they highly resented the crown taking what they considered to be theirs.

    The new taxes shocked and angered them. They formed groups to protest the new taxes. One group that was particularly vocal was The Sons of Liberty. Men like Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, Dr. Joseph Warren, John Hancock and others became leaders. They were able to successfully argue down new taxes only to have them replaced with others.

    The more the crown pushed, the more the colonists resisted and pushed back. This caused the crown to send more troops to enforce the regulations and protect the tax collectors and government officials. Of course this escalated the tension between the two sides and increased the odds of a confrontation. With the passing of the Stamp Act (taxing every commercial piece of paper such as newspapers, contracts, letters etc) the resistance intensified.

    Samuel Adams one of the major agitators and was in charge of the Boston Mob. Not an organized crime mob but laborers and tradesmen whom he could get on short notice to start a demonstration or antagonize the soldiers in Boston. This came to a head in March of 1770 when soldiers taunted by the mob and pelted with snowballs opened fired on the crowd, the infamous Boston Massacre. The British sent more troops into the city in a show of force and of course the Boston Massacre became galvanizing event for the resistance.

    The crown backed off for a time and for several years an uneasy peace reigned with only minor conflicts. However, with the passing of the Tea Tax in 1773, colonial passions were again flamed which resulted in the Boston Tea Party. As everyone knows, Sons of Liberty dressed as Indians went aboard ship and dumped the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of tea into the harbor. While the Indian garb may have been to disguise those involved, it was actually used because Indians were considered the symbol of a free people.

    The crown was outraged and sent more troops. They created more restrictions such as the Townsend Acts which implemented financial sanctions and import, export regulations. These were met with more resistance. By 1774, the American colonies were under martial law and Boston was occupied by thousands of troops sent in to enforce the mandates of the Coercive/Intolerable Acts.

    Stay tuned...
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2013
  4. mac66

    mac66 Well-Known Member

    Let me know if you want me to keep going
  5. Teachu2

    Teachu2 Well-Known Member

    Please, go on!
  6. sanman513

    sanman513 Active Member


    Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2
  7. minuteman1970

    minuteman1970 Well-Known Member

    Nice job, please do continue!
  8. Valor35

    Valor35 Active Member

    Keep it coming -- it is very well done!
  9. Dorin62

    Dorin62 Well-Known Member

    Very good, never was interested in history in school, now I find it fascinating. Tells us more.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2013
  10. LevelHead

    LevelHead Well-Known Member

    I'm loving this! You write well. A lot of history in small, easy to digest chunks.
  11. footballboy3

    footballboy3 Member

    another vote to continue!
  12. mac66

    mac66 Well-Known Member

    Part 4-More Trouble

    By 1774, the colonists were not only resisting but actively planning for the inevitable. Because the crown banned public meetings and militias the colonists set up "Committees of Correspondence". Paul Revere became the chief messenger and director of communications between the various groups spread throughout the colonies. He often made long dangerous rides carrying dispatches from the leaders in Boston to New York, Philadelphia and the other colonies.

    Banning the militias only heightened their activities. What was for years a rag tag group of farmers and shop keepers were now openly arming and training out in the towns and villages. Colonies had also formed provisional governments and holding meetings in open defiance of the law. John Hancock was the president of Massachusetts colonial congress and worked side by side with his chief mentor and aide Sam Adams.

    General Gage of course knew all of this. Most of the people in the colonies were not for a revolution. Many did not support the movement and were loyal to the king. As loyalists they felt obligated to keep the Gage's forces apprized of what was going on out in the countryside. Even many of leaders of the resistance were not openly for revolution but belonged to stand up for their rights as free Englishmen thinking that the crown would eventually come to their senses.

    In February of 1775, Gen. Gage received information of more stock piling of weapons in Salem, Massachusetts. With good intelligence at hand he sent a ship load of soldiers to Salem. The orders were to arrive early Sunday morning, stand off until daybreak and then make their way to town while everyone was still sleeping or at church. The prize was a local forge where they had information that ship's cannons were being converted to field pieces.

    The troops came ashore and quietly made their way to town only to be observed by a local. He ran back to the village and raised the alarm. The villagers turned out led by the local minister. When the regulars (what they were called by the locals) reached town they were greeted by a raised draw bridge and a angry crowd on the other side. The officer in charge demanded the bridge be lowered while the minister engaged him in conversation and negotiation. Upon reaching and agreement the bridge was lowered and the troops were allowed to pass. Reaching the foundry the soldiers found it had been stripped clean while the minister stalled them at the bridge. They returned to Boston empty handed, angry and embarrassed.

    Stay tuned..
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2013
  13. mac66

    mac66 Well-Known Member

    Part 5-Tensions Rise

    In March of 1775, Dr. Joseph Warren, a prominent Boston physician and head of the intelligence gathering operation in Boston gave a rousing oration on the 5 year anniversary of the Boston Massacre. In attendance at the church that day were numerous British officers who hissed and booed so loudly that they were run out into the street. Troops were summoned to quell the near riot.

    By now, Revere, Warren and the mechanics were patrolling the streets every night looking for any signs of mobilization. In early April Warren received letters off a packet ship from England that another raid was imminent. Reports started coming in that British officers in plain clothes were seen out surveying the roads west of Boston and watching militia units. They were identified in the taverns and way stations by the fact they were carrying pistols under their cloaks. No one carried pistols but army officers.

    The concern became so great that during the second week of April Paul Revere rode the 18 miles west to Concord to warn John Hancock, Sam Adams and Dr. Benjamen Church. Church, another Boston physician, was head of the security committee. He and the others were in Concord conducting meetings of the provisional congress.

    Back in Boston, orders for Gen. Gage had arrived on the same ship from which Dr. Warren received his letters. Gages' orders were clear. He was to make all efforts to quash the insurrection and arrest the leaders, particularly Hancock, Adams and Revere. Gage had his own intelligence organization in place. He knew of the meeting in Concord. He also knew that large stores of military goods were in Concord and he exactly who had them and where they were. He knew the strength and size of the militia units along the way. He knew the conditions of the roads. He also knew that his army was being closely watched.

    Gen. Thomas Gage had up to this point been roundly criticized in London for not cracking down on the rebels earlier or more harshly. Some of his junior officers referred to him behind his back as "Old Lady Gage" for not rounding up and hanging the leaders. He chose however to use a softer hand knowing that harsh treatment would only further inflame the passions of the colonists.

    His actions were also tempered by the fact that he had lived in the colonies since the 1740s and because his wife, Margaret Kimble Gage was the American born daughter of rich family in New Jersey. She was heiress to the family fortune. She and Gage held large estates in New Jersey and large plantations in the West Indies. He also loved his wife and had a lot to lose if a revolution started.

    Margaret was the top rung of society being married to the most powerful man in north America. She was sometimes called the Queen of America but she was sympathetic to the cause of liberty.

    Gen. Gage formulated his plan. On April 18th, under cover of darkness, he would send a column of troops under the command of Col. Francis Smith. Their sealed orders, only opened after they left Boston, would be to go to Concord and confiscate or destroy all military stores hidden there. They were to arrest Hancock and Adams and any other rebel leader the ran across and return to Boston by noon of the next day. Hours before their departure, he would send out 20 officers in advance to spread out along the roads to pick up any messengers coming out of Boston.

    In order to keep the plan a secret, he would tell only three people. They were Col. Smith who would lead the brigade of 700 men, his second in command, Gen. Hugh Earl Percy, and his wife Margaret.

    On April 18th, Revere and Dr. Warren were kept busy by reports of a mobilization. Boats were being lowered from all the war ships in the harbors. Army officers were telling stable boys to get their horses ready. Troops had been confined to quarters or being called back into garrison. As the day wore on and the soldiers retreated back into their quarters Boston became quiet. Tension hung in the air. Something was up and everybody knew it.

  14. beeenbag

    beeenbag Well-Known Member

    shew, now I have to subscribe to the thread to read the rest.
  15. Akita1

    Akita1 Well-Known Member

    mac - excellent work; eat this stuff up!
  16. MattShlock

    MattShlock Well-Known Member

    U remind me to rejoin RWVA.
    PS: Benjamin Church -- boo, hiss!
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2013
  17. JTJones

    JTJones Well-Known Member

    Mac thank you for taking the time to write that. It make me wonder if present day Americans posses the fortitude and courage of that our founding fathers had. It seems history is in away repeating it self lately.
  18. blarby

    blarby Well-Known Member

    Well written.
  19. Ryanxia

    Ryanxia Well-Known Member

    There was a THR thread a week or so ago that had a link to an article on all this info, excellent stuff. Reminds us why this is America and not Russia or England.
  20. Newcatwalt

    Newcatwalt Well-Known Member

    Please keep it going....

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