Patriot spies in Boston learn of British plans for military operations. Fictional.
He walked at a brisk pace towards the tavern and pushed through the door with the green dragon over it. With a nod, he showed the tavern keeper the medallion he wore around his neck, an elm tree stamped in pewter. The tavern keeper wordlessly handed him a key kept under the bar. With key in hand he then walked around back, unlocked the door and hurried up the staircase. Upon reaching the door at the top of the staircase, he knocked appropriately and spoke the words that would gain him entrance.
They were all already waiting for him around the long table and upon his arrival they all exchanged words of greeting and took their seats. He removed his cover and cloak and stood at the head of the table.
“My apologies for calling this meeting on such short notice, but events of the last twenty-four hours have brought critical information to my attention that must be shared amongst all of us. I’ll put niceties aside and go straight to the subject at hand.
“I have acted today without the approval of this committee, however, as you will learn, I did so due to the urgency of this situation. You will understand the significance of this meeting when I tell you that an informant of mine has revealed to me intelligence regarding secret British operations from Boston into the countryside. The purpose of these secret missions, it has been ascertained, is to do nothing less than disarm the country folk of their powder and arms stores and to arrest the leading members of the Massachusetts Whigs.
“My informant is a local Boston townsman who is the owner of the house where Colonel Leslie and his staff are quartered. Early this morning a currier from General Gage arrived and ordered the Colonel to send to him one of his most trusted officers and an enlisted man with adequate knowledge of the Massachusetts countryside. These men were to travel incognito and conduct a secret reconnaissance of the roads from Boston to Worcester. Along with this special reconnaissance, the Colonel was also instructed to have a contingent of twenty officers conduct a reconnaissance of the roads leading from Boston to the town of Concord.
“Included in these orders was a list of Tory loyalists who were to provide the reconnaissance parties with guidance and safe passage through the countryside.”
From his waistcoat pocket he withdrew a folded piece of paper and began to read from it.
“William Brattle of Cambridge, Colonel David Phips, the Middlesex County Sheriff, Thomas Oliver of Cambridge, Jonathan Sewall of Medford, Benjamin Hollowell of Newton, and Joseph Hosmer of Woburn. These “American loyalists,” as the English like to call them, are to help these spies locate our supplies of musket, powder and cannon. My courageous informant managed to make a copy of this list as his “guests of the crown” ate their breakfast in his dining room.
“While examining the Colonel’s orders from Gage, my informant also divulged the identities of the leading Whigs that are also the objective of this secret reconnaissance and subjects for arrest. It is none other than Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who have left Boston to attend the Massachusetts Congressional Meeting in Concord just a few short days ago.”
There were murmurs of shock and concern that he quieted with outstretched arms.
“Gentlemen, please, allow me to continue. Upon receiving this information earlier this afternoon, I took the liberty to send messengers to inform both Doctor Warren and Paul Revere, who are, at this moment, sending the warning to Concord and Lexington in order to warn Mister Adams and Mister Hancock of their impending predicament. They will also instruct the local militias at Lexington and Concord to disperse the powder and arms and hide them amongst the countryside.
“With these warnings sent, it is apparent to me, and by now, to you, my compatriots, that the outbreak of violence appears almost inevitable. With careful prudence, action must be taken against these Torys with the utmost swiftness.”
This time there were murmurs of approval.
“Gentlemen, action by the British regulars is fast approaching. A major operation is in the works for tomorrow or the day after. With caution and secrecy we must swiftly move against those who mean to oppose us. The Crown wishes to disarm and arrest us all for treason. Decisive action must be immediately taken to secure what is rightfully ours.”
A few hours later, they one by one immerged from the room above the tavern and each went there separate ways with plans for the inevitably tumultuous days ahead.
The messenger, once again cloaked and covered, walked the now sleeping streets of Boston. He changed his clothes in a stable behind a house and walked back to the British garrison encamped on the Commons.
It was the 17th of April, 1775.