Gage actually had given orders to avoid conflict and only wanted to capture and remove the supplies stored by area Whig militias. He actually sympathized with the colonists' cause, and although he had received orders to capture Sam Adams and John Hancock, Gage did not order the men to be arrested for fear of an armed uprising. Gage also ordered the small force led by Colonel Francis Smith to avoid plunder or damage to private property.
He sent them to find stores of arms the rebel patriots had placed in Concord. He also wanted them to find a couple of rebel leaders, Samuel Adams and John Hancock. As a result, there was fighting in both Lexington and Concord. This was the start of the military part of the American Revolution.