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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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With a Clash Between American Rebels and Royal Authorities Heating Up, Radicals Smuggled Cannon Out of Boston—and the British Came Looking for Them
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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594162497
Publisher: Westholme Publishing
Publication date: 05/30/2016
Series: Journal of the American Revolution Books
Edition description: 1
Pages: 248
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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