The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War

The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War

by J. L. Bell


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The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War by J. L. Bell

In the early spring of 1775, on a farm in Concord, Massachusetts, British army spies located four brass cannon belonging to Boston’s colonial militia that had gone missing months before. British general Thomas Gage had been searching for them, both to stymie New England’s growing rebellion and to erase the embarrassment of having let cannon disappear from armories under redcoat guard. Anxious to regain those weapons, he drew up plans for his troops to march nineteen miles into unfriendly territory. The Massachusetts Patriots, meanwhile, prepared to thwart the general’s mission. There was one goal Gage and his enemies shared: for different reasons, they all wanted to keep the stolen cannon as secret as possible. Both sides succeeded well enough that the full story has never appeared until now.
The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War by historian J. L. Bell reveals a new dimension to the start of America’s War for Independence by tracing the spark of its first battle back to little-known events beginning in September 1774. The author relates how radical Patriots secured those four cannon and smuggled them out of Boston, and how Gage sent out spies and search parties to track them down. Drawing on archives in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, the book creates a lively, original, and deeply documented picture of a society perched on the brink of war.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594162497
Publisher: Westholme Publishing
Publication date: 05/30/2016
Series: Journal of the American Revolution Books Series
Edition description: 1
Pages: 258
Sales rank: 380,260
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

J. L. BELL is the proprietor of, a popular website dedicated to the history of the American Revolution in New England. A Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society and American Antiquarian Society, he is author of the National Park Service’s study of George Washington’s work in Cambridge, and has delivered papers to the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Organization of American Historians, and historic sites around greater Boston.

Table of Contents

List of Maps viii

Introduction: "The Commencement of the War" ix

September 1774 xiii

1 "Ordered Out by the Capt. General" 1

2 "An Extensive Insurrection thro' the Province" 17

3 "Behold, the Guns Were Gone!" 39

4 "Townspeople Took Four Brass Cannon" 56

5 "Not One Lisped a Word" 83

6 "Selling Warlike Stores" 91

7 "Out of Boston to Some Place in the Country" 103

8 "To Act the Traitor" 119

9 "This Town Is Lull of Cannon" 134

10 "If You Meet with Any Brass Artillery" 149

Epilogue: "Through All Our History, to the Last" 167

Notes 179

Acknowledgments 223

Index 227


1 Boston Harbor, 1774 10

2 Town of Boston, 1774 47

3 The Road to Concord, April 18-19, 1775 158

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The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
kengr More than 1 year ago
Mr. Bell excellent book The Road to Concord provide great detail on overlooked aspect in early American Revolutionary history the story of American patriot artillery 1775- 1776. The book narrative flows well and tells the story from both viewpoints that of the Patriot and British forces on this subject . I highly recommend this book to all reader interested in getting full story about this important part in American Revolutionary History
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An interesting account of what triggered the start of the American Revolution. Extremely informative and thoroughly researched, this book documents how four missing brass cannon created a significant concern among Gen. Gage and the British occupiers of Boston in late 1774 and early 1775. Using new research and actual detail from Gage's own records, J.L. Bell tells an important story about how the wheels were set in motion for the "shot heard 'round the world" in Lexington and subsequent skirmish in Concord, Mass., that kicked off the American Revolution. Full of detail and interesting information about key players from that seminal moment, "The Road to Concord" is both revealing and intriguing in the idea of how strong the fervor for "civil war" was on both sides of the Atlantic. Certainly this was just the trigger point of a highly explosive situation but it underscores how misinformation and supposition can flame passions and excite political opponents. The book is a little slow in places but more than makes up for it with its attention to detail and the author's dedication to getting it right. Personally, I would have preferred more description on the events at Lexington and Concord, but that was not the intent of the book, which was written to document the role of four missing brass cannon and the determination by the British army to get them back before hostilities began. Very enjoyable and informative!