Did Four Small, Stolen Cannons Help Kindle the Revolutionary War?

Submitted by the Bedford Historical Society

Several events led to the start of the American Revolution.  Most Americans remember that some of turning points included the taxes imposed on the colonies by King George III — to recoup his expenses of the French and Indian War, and the boycott of British goods done by the colonists in retaliation for the taxes; the dumping of tea into Boston Harbor to protest the taxes; and King George’s imposition of the “Intolerable Acts”  — including the Quartering Act that required colonists to house British soldiers in their homes.

Tension was high, and the colonists began to amass arms and prepare for what they felt was an inevitable battle with the oppressive British army.

The Bedford Historical Society’s guest speaker on Sunday, March 25th believes another activity of the colonists helped to ignite the Revolutionary War: their efforts to build an artillery force and attempts by British General Thomas Gage – the commander of all British forces in North America at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War — to prevent that insurgency.

The program will begin with a refreshment period from 2-2:30 pm in the Common Room of the First Parish Church on Bedford Common.  Guest speaker Bell will start his talk around 2:30 pm.  The public is invited to this free Historical Society program.

Author J.L. Bell will describe the Patriots’ efforts to form an artillery group, which includes a little-known story about four cannons stolen by the colonists from the British in Boston.   He has written a book on the same topic, and will have autographed copies available for sale at this event.

The small brass cannons were smuggled out of Boston to the countryside, and later located by royal spies in Concord. The Patriots and Gen. Gage both had reasons to keep those guns out of their public reports on the start of the war, meaning this narrative has never been fully told.

J.L. Bell is a writer concentrating on the Revolutionary War.  Fascinated with the history of that period while growing up in the Boston area, he has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults.  His website at Boston1775.net includes daily updates that he describes as “doses of history, analysis, and unabashed gossip about Revolutionary New England.”

Bell is an assistant editor and writer of “Colonial Comics: New England,” edited by Jason Rodriguez.
Especially intrigued by the experiences of children in 1765-75, he has contributed chapters and articles to a number of books, including “Children in Colonial America” by James Marten, “Reporting the Revolutionary War” by Todd Andrlik; and volumes of the “Journal of the American Revolution” and the “Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife.”


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