The Powder Alarm of 1774 – Removal of Gunpowder from the Storehouse
Following the Boston Tea Party, relations between the British and the American colonies continued to deteriorate. Sensing that weapons in the hands of angry colonists might prove to make governing a great challenge, Thomas Gage, the governor of Massachusetts, sent troops to remove gunpowder from a storehouse on September 1, 1774.
Thomas Gage’s men were taken to the storage facility in secret, and were able to quietly remove the powder, as well as some canons from neighboring towns. This action by the British might have gone unnoticed, but the letter from Thomas Gage to the supervisor of the storehouse was lost. How it was lost, and why remain points of speculation, but, the letter was discovered, and the information regarding the removal of gunpowder was quickly disseminated.
The Powder Alarm of 1774 – The Game of Hide and Seek and dry run for the Battle of Lexington and Concord
The purpose of this action was to remove the ability of potentially rebellious colonists to take up arms against the British. However, as word spread that British troops were to remove the gunpowder, many colonists living near Boston began rushing to the city – as a show of force ostensibly, but ready to fight if called upon to do so. Fortunately for both sides, the opposing forces in this action were not prepared for battle, and so, no fighting took place. But, Thomas Gage requested more troops from England, hoping that with enough troops, a show of force would be enough to calm the angry colonists. When the hoped for support did not arrive, Gage began removing weapons and gunpowder from as many armories as possible. In return, colonists began hiding their armaments farther and farther away from the British stronghold of Boston. This game of hide-and-seek became a pattern for the British and the American colonists, and, it was during one such raid, on the way to the stronghold of Concord, that the Revolutionary War began.
Many historians view the Powder Alarm as a dry-run for the Battle of Lexington and Concord, and as such, place great value on the lessons learned by the colonists during this period.
By : John Will