A readable history of the first battle of the American Revolution and the militiamen “who risked everything to defend their way of life and the freedom of future generations.”
This is hardly a new story, but Daughan (Revolution on the Hudson: New York City and the Hudson River Valley in the American War of Independence, 2016, etc.) imbues it with added nuances of character and motivation. Though King George III had not yet succumbed to the madness that would beset him in later years, he demanded nothing less than unconditional submission by the Colonies, reimbursement for tea and taxes lost during the Boston Tea Party, and vicious bombardment of coastal towns. The greatest failure of the king and his officials was their impatience in requiring rapid results without supplying sufficient resources. All, notes the author, were equally guilty of presuming that the reputation of British might would immediately frighten the colonists into submission. Nearly every one of Gen. Thomas Gage’s requests was ignored, which was especially surprising given his continuous service in the Colonies since 1755. The strength of the colonists’ militias was impressive; their numbers were considerably larger than any thought possible, while the number of loyalists were much fewer. Even though the standard of living in Massachusetts was high, the militiamen were not merely comfortable gentlemen untrained in warfare. Most were veterans of the French and Indian War and well-versed in organizing an army. While the problems seemed to begin in Boston, officials in London thought the Bostonians would be on their own in confronting the king’s taxes. They couldn’t have been more wrong, as 11 of the 12 other Colonies were quick to back up Massachusetts. As Daughan clearly shows, there were many errors of judgment in Boston, perhaps due to Gage’s fury at being ignored; his heart was not in a fight that he knew he would lose.
Just like Revolution on the Hudson, a wonderful addition to the literature on the American Revolution, full of enlightening facts and figures.