Ccxli meanwhile the french were enjoying the english

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ccxliMeanwhile, the French were enjoying the English discom-fort. Their observers and political analysis knew that the Ameri-cans were well prepared and well armed and were spoiling for aconfrontation. They seemed to have been amused at thenaivety of the English who were ignoring the obvious signswarning that trouble lay ahead. As early as 1774 the Frenchnewspapers observed that the militias of New England wereprepared to repel force with force. The French press reportedthat Massachusetts Bay could muster 119,600 militiamen "all ofgood will and prepared to act if they must."ccxliiFor its part the English press had little but disdain fortheir provincial cousins. The London Publick Advertiserof Janu-ary 1775 had belittled the military prowess of the colonials. NoAmerican force could begin to think realistically of challengingthe British force, the finest standing army in the world. Eachdisciplined British soldier was worth several of the backwoodsmilitiamen. There was no true standing army, but if one shouldbe formed each trained English soldier would be worth at leasttwo of their opponents. The Advertiser's reporter declared,"The Americans, though in general of our stock, appear to me tohave for the most part degenerated from the native valor aswell as [the] robust make of the men in this country."By the spring of 1775 the city was like a tinder pile,ready to be set ablaze by a single incident. Governor Gage hadinherited a time-bomb from Governor Hutchinson and seemedto have no idea how to defuse it. The citizens had been fired upby earlier confrontations such as the Boston Massacre and theBoston Tea Party. The Sons of Liberty, the Committee of Corre-spondence and other patriotic propagandists were agitatingamong the population. The city had split its loyalties betweenthe growing cause for independence and the united empire loy-alists. Clashes between the growing the two native groups oc-curred daily. Patriots had good intelligence. Men like John Han-ccxliBernard Bailyn. The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson. Cambridge, Ma.: Har-vard University Press, 1974; Peter O. Hutchinson, comp. The Diary and Lettersof His Excellency Thomas Hutchinson. 2 vols. Boston: A. M. S., 1963ccxliiGazette des Deux-Ponts,19 December 1774. Other reports which extolledthe virtues of the American militia appeared in Gazette de Leydeon 11 Februaryand 23 August 1774. The press and its reading public apparently delighted inthe discomfort and dilemma of its age-old enemy.82
cock, Francis Shaw and Paul Revere entertained the cream ofthe young and ambitious British officer corps, quietly, but effi-ciently, milking information on the number, arms, spirit and dis-position of British troops.In addition to serving as Governor of Massachusetts,Thomas Gage (c.1719-1787) was supreme commander of theKing's forces in America. He had arrived initially in America toserve on Braddock's ill-fated expedition and afterwards foughtsuccessfully against the French. In 1760 he had been appointedgovernor at Montreal, and in 1763 became supreme comman-

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