Inevitability as an Act of Choice
On both sides large preparations are making . . . bloodshed and desolation seem inevitable."
-- Robert Auchmuty to Thomas Hutchinson, March 3, 1775, Hutchinson papers, BL
It is certain both sides were ripe for it, and a single blow would have occasioned the commencement of hostilities."
--Lt. Frederick Mackenzie, Royal Welch Fusiliers, Boston, March 6, 1775
AS SPRING APPROACHED in 1775, the atmosphere in Boston grew heavy with foreboding. "Things now every day begin to grow more and more serious," Lord Percy wrote home on April 8. It was one of the few facts on which everyone could agree. Here was a curious phenomenon, rarely studied by historians of war, and yet always part of its antecedents. On both sides, men acquiesced in a growing sense that conflict was inevitable. Many adopted this idea of inevitability, as an act of choice. That expanding attitude rapidly became the father of the fact. 1
The wretched weather did not help. A dreary season of mud and flood and drizzle that New England dignifies by the name of spring literally created a climate of despair. One British soldier wrote home that even springtime in New England was "cold and disagreeable, a kind of second winter." 2
After many months of frost, Boston larders were empty, and food was increasingly scarce. The price of fresh provisions rose so high in the crowded town that General Gage was forced to put his army on salt rations. One of his officers wrote privately, "Tommy