Author Topic: Gage's Orders to Smith: "You will March with a Corps of Grenadiers..."  (Read 375 times)

Offline Fred

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Lieut. Colonel Smith, 10th Regiment �Foot,

Sir,

Having received intelligence, that a quantity of Ammunition, Provisions, Artillery, Tents and small Arms, have been collected at Concord, for the Avowed Purpose of raising and supporting a Rebellion against His Majesty, you will March with a Corps of Grenadiers and Light Infantry, put under your Command, with the utmost expedition and Secrecy to Concord, where you will seize and distroy all Artillery, Ammunition, Provisions, Tents, Small Arms, and all Military Stores whatever. But you will take care that the Soldiers do not plunder the Inhabitants, or hurt private property.

You have a Draught of Concord, on which is marked the Houses, Barns, &c, which contain the above military Stores. You will order a Trunion to be knocked off each Gun, but if its found impracticable on any, they must be spiked, and the Carriages destroyed. The Powder and flower must be shook out of the Barrels into the River, the Tents burnt, Pork or Beef destroyed in the best way you can devise. And the Men may put Balls of lead in their pockets, throwing them by degrees into Ponds, Ditches &c., but no Quantity together, so that they may be recovered afterwards. If you meet any Brass Artillery, you will order their muzzles to be beat in so as to render them useless.

You will observe by the Draught that it will be necessary to secure the two Bridges as soon as possible, you will therefore Order a party of the best Marchers, to go on with expedition for the purpose.

A small party of Horseback is ordered out to stop all advice of your March getting to Concord before you, and a small number of Artillery go out in Chaises to wait for you on the road, with Sledge Hammers, Spikes, &c.

You will open your business and return with the Troops, as soon as possible, with I must leave to your own Judgment and Discretion.

I am, Sir,

Your most obedient humble servant
Thos. Gage.

Source: http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=864
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jimbtv

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If Thomas Gage was a General, and Smith was a Lt. Colonel, why would Gage refer to himself as "Your most obedient humble servant" ?

Offline crak

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Fischer made it sound like part of Smith's orders were explicit about the Barrett house, but according to that, it was probably just another X on the map of suspected munition sites.

But never mind the guns.... destroy the pork and beef?  Them's fightin words...  :~
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Offline gunville

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If Thomas Gage was a General, and Smith was a Lt. Colonel, why would Gage refer to himself as "Your most obedient humble servant" ?

A common salutation of the time, between gentlemen.
-----------------------------
"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

Offline TAZDevil

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Fred
thank you for the quotes you've provided
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Offline JoeZ

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But never mind the guns.... destroy the pork and beef?  Them's fightin words... 

I mention this as part of my 2nd strike. It's April and that means the harvest was five months ago. All you have left is dried (militia) food.
This is difficult for us to identify with. I have a wife and children and can't imagine them having to go with very little food for at least a month yet because some joker dictated that my food was a military store.
"What is she, that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the Moon, elect as the sun, terrible as the army of a camp set in array?" Canticle of Canticles 6:9

Offline Redchrome

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Re: Gage's Orders to Smith: "You will March with a Corps of Grenadiers..."
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2009, 01:18:51 PM »
You have a Draught of Concord, on which is marked the Houses, Barns, &c, which contain the above military Stores. You will order a Trunion to be knocked off each Gun, but if its found impracticable on any, they must be spiked, and the Carriages destroyed.

I never quite understood this business of cutting a trunnion off a gun. AFAIK the trunnions are the big round lugs on each side of the gun, which direct the recoil into the carriage when the gun fires. Perhaps I am ignorant of how these were typically attached; but they're pretty stout things, and designed *not* to come off easily. Given time, a fire, a chisel and a hammer, or a really long time and a metal saw, yes, it can be removed... but my time working in a machine shop taught me just how much trouble it would be.

Can someone enlighten me and our gentle instructors on this matter, that we may convey the importance of it to our students?

Offline Nickle

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Re: Gage's Orders to Smith: "You will March with a Corps of Grenadiers..."
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2009, 01:40:21 PM »
Think smaller cannons.

I'll grant that an 18 pounder would be serious work to remove/detroy the trunions.

But, a 2 pounder or so would be much easier. Still a chisel and hammer.
They have men amongst them who know very well what they are about, having been employed as Rangers against the Indians and Canadians and this country being much covered with wood, and hilly, is very advantageous for their method of fighting. . . . ".  Lord Percy

Sounds like New Englanders to me.

Offline Redchrome

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Re: Gage's Orders to Smith: "You will March with a Corps of Grenadiers..."
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2009, 02:10:51 PM »
Thanks Nickle.
Good point; I forget sometimes how small some of the cannon were. The ones you see in parks and museums are probably the more impressive ones. I've seen *one* two-pounder historic cannon in my life; from a settlement on the Minnesota frontier. (Alexandria, near the Kensington Runestone Museum, which actually has a decent collection of old guns & ammunition).

Kind of makes me wonder about having a small cannon (like one of the .50-cal miniature ones) at an Appleseed shoot as a prop... probably not appropriate for the weekend ones, where time is so short; but perhaps at a Boot Camp, where there's a little more time to go into depth on things.

This site has a number of cannon designs for sale.
http://www.hernironworks.com/cannons.html
The "english swivel gun 1750-1815" would be about a 41mm bore, slightly larger than a 2-pdr. (37mm). the 1.5" trunnions would be difficult to knock off; but doable with some tools and effort I guess.


Offline Nickle

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Re: Gage's Orders to Smith: "You will March with a Corps of Grenadiers..."
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2009, 02:20:28 PM »
Contact Cannonman61 about it, he's big into this kind of stuff. My involvement with cannons is the more modern stuff, like 155mm.
They have men amongst them who know very well what they are about, having been employed as Rangers against the Indians and Canadians and this country being much covered with wood, and hilly, is very advantageous for their method of fighting. . . . ".  Lord Percy

Sounds like New Englanders to me.

Offline VAshooter

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Re: Gage's Orders to Smith: "You will March with a Corps of Grenadiers..."
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2009, 02:41:40 PM »
Redchrome,

The trunions were cast with the barrel and a sledge hammer was often capable of fracturing the cast metal. I broke a trunion just shooting a two pounder. I sure miss that little guy.

VAshooter

Offline cannonman61

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Re: Gage's Orders to Smith: "You will March with a Corps of Grenadiers..."
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2009, 05:01:04 PM »
In the 18th century there was no greater honor for an attacking army than to capture and use an enemys artillery. Therefore there was no greater shame for an artillery unit than to loose their still functional guns to an enemy.

Consequently, there were two accepted and commonly practiced methods of dealing with the prospect of a piece being in immenent danger of capture.

First, if the piece was thought to be salvageable in an organized rally or likely to be retaken in some fashion during or after the battle, the piece was to be spiked. That is, the vent was to be pluged solid by a heavy but soft iron wire that was included in all gunners pouches to temporarily disable a gun. It does this as the iron is longer than the vent is to the bottom of the gun tube and when struck smartly by the gunners hammer, bends over into a J shape that both plugs the bore to prevent being turned on its owners and is relatively difficult to remove. ( I have removed a few spikes from originals and they are a pain with modern equipment! One was plugged with the point of a british bayonet!)

The more permanant option when the guns were likely to be carried away before they could be "reclaimed" through the point of a bayonet were expected to be demiled by knocking off one or the other trunions. Each unit was issued a "gunners Mallet" read sledgehammer here, and was expected the whack off the trunnion at the base so as to perrmanantly disable the gun. Keep in mind that this applied to land guns that were generally at that time cast iron. Cast iron, even fairly large diameters pices of cast iron are not that difficult to break. ( Kind of scary when you think of the war shot being half the weigh of the ball in powder followed by whatever projectile in the bore. Lead to some pretty major accidents with the iron guns. Bronze was a superior gun metal but was vastly more expensive and was generally reserved for sea duty at this time due to its better ability to stand up to sea salt environs.

I have seen cast iron cannons up to 24pdrs that have had the trunions knocked off. Though I read that the larger ones, over 12 pounders, had to take some pretty ingenious methods and lots ot time to achieve. One enterprising artillery officer who was supposed to surrender his fort intact with artillery had his men set up a gun gin and dropped one cannon on top of another until he had disabled all of his guns, even the very large cannon he was not expected to be able to disable.

The things those people could accomplish with the tools and technology they had available to them never ceases to amaze me.

CM61
« Last Edit: August 07, 2009, 04:20:38 PM by cannonman61 »
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Offline Redchrome

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Re: Gage's Orders to Smith: "You will March with a Corps of Grenadiers..."
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2009, 05:29:20 PM »
Thanks for the info cannonman61. Lots of stuff I was not aware of.

I read once of some enterprising Southerners during the War for Southern Independence who repaired some cannon by having a blacksmith attach some new trunnions to them. It was a while ago that I read about it, but I got the impression that the repairing trunnions were attached by some shrunk-on bands.

I keep thinking of cannon being forged iron (my uncle engineers giant furnaces and forging hammers, and I know I've seen pictures of cannons being forged as far back as the mid 1800s); so thanks for informing me of how late guns were just cast iron. At least it beat the ancient stave-built guns!

Having spent some time breaking iron, I can now relate to breaking trunnions. Even a Model T engine block comes apart pretty quickly when you start applying a large hammer to it.

Offline Nickle

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Re: Gage's Orders to Smith: "You will March with a Corps of Grenadiers..."
« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2009, 05:52:20 PM »
85 years (1775-1860) made a huge difference.

Cast iron cannons to forged iron or steel cannons, smooth bore to rifled bore (in the cannons).

Loose fitting cannon ball to tight fitting conical projectile (rifled).

Lock n' Load on the History channel did a bit on Artillery recently that was pretty good.
They have men amongst them who know very well what they are about, having been employed as Rangers against the Indians and Canadians and this country being much covered with wood, and hilly, is very advantageous for their method of fighting. . . . ".  Lord Percy

Sounds like New Englanders to me.

Mark D

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Re: Gage's Orders to Smith: "You will March with a Corps of Grenadiers..."
« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2009, 09:00:01 PM »
One other thing about those orders...there's no mention of Adams or Hancock confirming that Warren's concerns were rumor.

Offline ahhshoot

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Re: Gage's Orders to Smith: "You will March with a Corps of Grenadiers..."
« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2009, 11:42:07 PM »

You will open your business and return with the Troops, as soon as possible, with I must leave to your own Judgment and Discretion.

Source: http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=864

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