History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the Continent - Vol. 4

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X.
TO LEXINGTON AND CONCORD, AND BACK TO BOSTON.
APRIL 19, 1775.

GAGE, who had under his command about three thousand effective men, was informed by his spies of military stores, pitiful in their amount, collected by provincial committees at Worcester and Concord; and he resolved on striking a blow, as the king desired. On the afternoon of the day on which the provincial congress of Massachusetts adjourned he took the light infantry and grenadiers off duty, and secretly prepared an expedition to destroy the colony’s stores at Concord. The attempt had for several weeks been expected; and signals were concerted to announce the first movement of troops for the country. Samuel Adams and Hancock, who had not yet left Lexington for Philadelphia, received a timely message from Warren, and, in consequence, the committee of safety removed a part of the public stores and secreted the cannon.

On Tuesday, the eighteenth of April, ten or more British sergeants in disguise dispersed themselves through Cambridge and farther west to intercept all communication. In the following night the grenadiers and light infantry, not less than eight hundred in number, the flower of the army at Boston, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, crossed in the boats of the transport ships from the foot of the common to East Cambridge. There they received a day’s provisions; and near midnight, after wading through wet marshes that are now covered by a stately city, they took the road through West Cambridge to Concord.

Gage directed that no one else should leave the town; but

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