General John Sullivan: Attack on Portsmouth



America was aroused by expectation of awful conflict and mighty change. New England, upon which the first violence of the storm seemed likely to descend, was agitated by rumors and alarms, of which the import and the influence strikingly portrayed the sentiments and temper of the people. Reports that Gage had commanded his troops to attack the Massachusetts militia, or to fire upon the town of Boston, were swallowed the avidity of rage and hatred, and instantly covered the highways with thousands of armed men, mustering in hot haste, and eager to rush forward to death or revenge. Everything betokened the explosion of a tempest; and some partial gusts announced its near approach, and proved the harbingers of its fury. In the close of the year there reached America a proclamation issued by the king, prohibiting the exportation of military stores from Great Britain. The inhabitants of Rhode Island no sooner received intelligence of this mandate than they removed from the public battery about forty pieces of cannon; and the Assembly of the province gave orders for procuring arms and martial stores, and for the immediate equipment of a martial force. In New Hampshire, a band of four hundred men, suddenly assembling in arms, and conducted by John Sullivan, an eminent lawyer and a man of great ambition and intrepidity, gained possession by surprise of the castle of Portsmouth, and confined the royal garrison till the powder-magazine was ransacked and its contents carried away.





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