What could Massachusetts’ military governor, Thomas Gage, do about the uprising? Nothing. In Salem, the temporary provincial capital, patriots held a town meeting one block from the governor’s office, in direct violation of the Massachusetts Government Act. Then, when Gage arrested seven so-called ring-leaders for calling the meeting, three thousand farmers formed in an instant and marched on the jail, forcing the prisoners’ release. In neighboring Danvers, a town meeting continued “three howers longer than was necessary, to see if he [Gage] would interrupt them.” He did not. “Damn ’em,” he was said to blurt out. “I won’t do anything about it unless his Majesty send me more troops.”
Those troops finally arrived the following April, and it was then that Gage, under extreme pressure, moved to recapture the province that had been lost the previous year. Before sending out his troops, Gage dispatched spies to determine where to attack. They reported that a march on Worcester, a patriot stronghold and the largest storehouse of weaponry and powder, would be disastrous. Gage decided to go after Concord instead.