The Boston Massacre: Who's to Blame

1911 words 8 pages
On the evening of March 5, 1770, with a foot of snow on the ground, groups of Bostonians gathered around the Custom House on King Street. Some had buckets of water, after responding to a fire alarm. Others had clubs to defend themselves or perhaps to threaten the despised “lobsterbacks.” Private Hugh White was, in fact, being threatened by several wigmakers’ apprentices (Aron 24). When Captain Thomas Preston heard of Private White’s situation, he came with seven other soldiers to help. Words escalated into snowballs and stones, and the soldiers began to fight back with the butts of their guns. The crowd of Bostonians was growing and now numbered about 100 (24). Then, a huge chunk of ice came flying in from the mob and knocked …show more content…

As for the soldiers who fired on the ground, there are many other ways to disperse a crowd than by firing point-blank into it.
Captain Thomas Preston is said to have given the soldiers the order to fire (“Boston”). This would remove the blame from the individual British troops, as they would have been acting on his command. Captain Preston’s statement, “On my asking the soldiers why they fired without orders, they said they heard the word fire and supposed it came from me… but I assured the men that I gave no such order” shows that this was not the case at all (Preston). The soldiers may have heard the word “fire” come from the mob. Preston also recalls, “… some persons at the same time from behind calling out, damn your bloods-- why don’t you fire?” (Preston). This information suggests that perhaps another soldier was calling for the others to fire since Preston was advanced in front of his men (Preston). Some historians speculate that it was Private Hugh Montgomery who was calling for the other soldiers to fire, because he was the first one to fire after being knocked down. Another theory is that when Preston ordered them not to fire, some of the nervous Redcoats, amidst all the confusion and confronted by an angry Boston mob, heard only the final word "fire!" and thus opened up on the unarmed Bostonians (Leddy). Whatever happened, the soldiers