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Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith received orders from Gage on the afternoon of April 18 with instructions that he was not to read them until his troops were underway.

They were to proceed from Boston "with utmost expedition and secrecy to Concord, where you will seize and destroy… But you will take care that the soldiers do not plunder the inhabitants or hurt private property."Gage used his discretion and did not issue written orders for the arrest of rebel leaders.

This struggle for supplies led to one British success and then to several Patriot successes in a series of nearly bloodless conflicts known as the Powder Alarms.

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This patrol behaved differently from patrols sent out from Boston in the past, staying out after dark and asking travelers about the location of Samuel Adams and John Hancock.

This had the unintended effect of alarming many residents and increasing their preparedness.

Edmund Burke described Gage's conflicted relationship with Massachusetts by saying in Parliament, "An Englishman is the unfittest person on Earth to argue another Englishman into slavery." The colonists had been forming militias of various sorts since the 17th century, at first primarily for defense against local native attacks.

These forces were also called to action in the French and Indian War in the 1750s and 1760s.

The Battles of Lexington and Concord were actually the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War.

They were fought on April 19, 1775, in Middlesex County, Province of Massachusetts Bay, within the towns of Lexington, Concord, Lincoln, Menotomy (present-day Arlington), and Cambridge, near Boston.General Thomas Gage, the military governor and commander-in-chief, still had no control over Massachusetts outside of Boston, where the Massachusetts Government Act had increased tensions between the Patriot (Whig) majority, and the Loyalist (Tory) minority.Gage's plan was to avoid conflict by removing military supplies from the Whig militias using small, secret and rapid strikes.Dartmouth gave Gage considerable discretion in his commands.On the morning of April 18, Gage ordered a mounted patrol of about 20 men under the command of Major Mitchell of the 5th Regiment into the surrounding country to intercept messengers who might be out on horseback.Samuel Adams and John Hancock had fled Boston to the Hancock-Clarke House, home of one of Hancock's relatives in Lexington where they thought they would be safe.

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