In April of 1775, the opening shots of the American Revolutionary War were fired at the village green of Lexington. Although the Declaration of Independence was still 15 months away, open conflict had started and it lit a powderkeg that would engulf all of the 13 colonies. 

As a result of the incidents in the towns west of Boston, the Colonial Army began a siege of British-held Boston, which was then on a peninsula. The siege would last nearly 11 months before the British forces of General Howe would withdraw by ships in March 1776, and sail to Nova Scotia. 

But the war between the British Empire and the 13 colonies had been brewing for quite some time. It all began with several hotheads from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Massachusetts had been the scene of many acts of defiance, including the Boston Tea Party, the Boston Massacre and it generally was a hotbed of disdain for the occupying British Army (redcoats) who were stationed in Boston.

But the long-simmering feelings of resentment on both sides would ignite in April 1775. General Gage, the British military governor and commander, gave orders to 3,000 regulars to destroy the arms and powder of the Colonials in Concord with the hope that this would diffuse the situation and avoid open rebellion. It would have the opposite effect.

Gage was considered an oppressor by the colonists, but he considered himself a lover of liberty. He was trying to avoid bloodshed and open warfare with the English colonists — no one at that time used the term “American,” that would come much later.

Gage knew that Conrod, as each town, had a militia company as per orders from the Crown to defend against potential Indian attacks; and these militias had also fought for the British in the recent French and Indian War. That’s why he was trying to conduct the raid as stealthily as possible and do so without bloodshed.

The city of Boston in 1775. Wikipedia

Gage ordered LTC Francis Smith to move “with utmost expedition and secrecy to Concord, where you will seize and destroy … all Military stores … But you will take care that the soldiers do not plunder the inhabitants or hurt private property.” 

Another 20 riders were sent out in the countryside to for colonial leaders John Hancock and Samuel Adams, the biggest hotheads, and stirrers of trouble in Massachusetts. One account from that day in a colonial newspaper stated that Adams and Hancock rode out of Boston to “hide in the wilds of Woburn,” (little did that writer know how true that statement would become some 200 years later).