The Boston Massacre was a mix of civilian tension against the royal troops that were in Massachusetts. The Boston Massacre took place on March 5, 1770 when a mob of civilians retaliated against the royal troops. Five civilian men ended up killed by the civilian troops. But what led up the death of 5 men?
In October 1768 the royal troops were placed in Boston to help and assist with the heavy taxation that was taking place by the Townshend acts. The civilians within the town viewed the royal troops as a threat and not a group to help keep order and help with the taxation. Many small fights were started and it was hard for the royal troops to keep control of the civilians. In 1768 the Commissioners of Customs felt uncomfortable with the civilians and asked for assistance. General Thomas Gage agreed that assistance was needed. The “14th West Yorkshire Fuseliers” and the “29th Worcestershire” Regiments were sent from Halifax to Boston in September. Only six weeks later the “64th”, “65th” and the “59th” Regiments were sent to assists. They arrived with artillery and two cannons. The regiments totaled over 700 men to help protect the taxation created by the King of England.
The civilians did not like that there were so many royal troops within the city and started to retaliate. Paul Revere’s famous ride took place the night the royal troops arrived in Boston. Colonel Dalrymple made the request that each one of his soldiers be placed in the homes of the civilians for room and board. The Boston council and citizens requested that they royal troops stay at the barracks and once the barracks were full, they would board the royal troops in their homes. The royal troops would number the civilians, one royal troop to four civilians.
With the large number of troops that arrived, the civilians were beginning to feel the tension as the royal troops began to get greedy and brutal. Civilians became afraid to let the troops in their home with their wives and daughters. By 1770, Boston had become an occupied town by the British royal troops. The troops started street fights, treated the civilians with insolence and posted sentries in front of public offices and public places.
A young barber’s apprentice, Edward Garrick started the Boston Massacre. Shouting an insult at a solider of the 29th regiment, Hugh White, in front of the Customs House, White knocked the apprentice on the ear with the butt of his rifle. Edward Garrick started to shout out and created a sizeable crowd that came back upset and rowdy. As the crowd started to assemble, someone rang the church bells which signaled for a fire. The bell ringing brought more civilians to the crowd that was turning into a mob. Hugh White stood his ground and called for a main guard. A corporal and six soldiers responded to White and came to assist with the mob. Captain John Preston of the “29th” was the officer on duty also arrived with guns that were unloaded, but had the fixed bayonets.
The mob continued to grow and they started to shout at the soldiers to fire their weapons and attack. As the mob taunted the soldiers, they soldiers loaded their guns. The soldiers fired the guns at the mob and killed five men and wounded six others. Captain Preston and the soldiers were admitted to shooting their guns and were indicted for murder and held in prison pending a trial. The remaining troops were with withdrawn from the town and the men were found guilty of manslaughter.