Rebellion in New England

“View of the attack on Bunker’s Hill, with the burning of Charles Town, June 17, 1775,” drawn by Mr. Millar; engraved by Lodge. Library of Congress.

The Pursuit of History: The Outbreak of War

Spring 2025 | Location and Schedule in Formation

The first shots of what would become the war for American independence were fired in April 1775. For some months before that clash at Lexington and Concord, patriots had been gathering arms and powder and had been training to fight the British if that became necessary. General Thomas Gage, commander of British forces around Boston, had been cautious; he did not wish to provoke the Americans. In April, however, Gage received orders to arrest several patriot leaders, rumored to be around Lexington. Gage sent his troops out on the night of April 18, hoping to catch the colonists by surprise and thus to avoid bloodshed. When the British arrived in Lexington, however, colonial militia awaited them. A fire fight soon ensued. Even so, it was not obvious that this clash would lead to war. American opinion was split. Some wanted to declare independence immediately; others hoped for a quick reconciliation.

The majority of Americans remained undecided but watching and waiting. (Library of Congress)

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