Why did General Gage send British troops to Lexington and Concord in 1775?
There were a few reasons why General Gage sent his British troops to Lexington and Concord in 1775. The British had heard that the colonists were storing gunpowder in Concord. They wanted to move to Concord to capture the gunpowder. Additionally, the British hoped that if they could capture some of the colonial leaders, such as John Hancock and Samuel Adams, that this might impact the protests and disobedient actions of the colonists in Massachusetts. The colonists had formed militias to possibly fight the British. Relations had been deteriorating with the British, and the colonists wanted to be prepared in case of a British attack. The British believed that if they could capture these leaders, the protests might stop or at least be reduced. They also hoped to weaken the potential effectiveness of the colonial militias if they captured these colonial leaders.
There were two reasons why General Thomas Gage (who was the governor of Massachusetts at the time) sent British troops to Lexington and Concord in April of 1775. Both had to do with the rebellion that was brewing in the colony at the time.
First, Gage had heard that the Patriots had been collecting weapons to use in a potential rebellion. The Patriots were said to have stored the weapons in Concord. Gage sent troops to Concord to find and confiscate the weapons.
Second, Gage felt that he would be able to capture some Patriot leaders in this way. He had heard that John Hancock and Samuel Adams were hiding in Concord as well.
Gage sent the troops to Concord for these two reasons. Lexington was simply a town along the way to Concord.
700 British Army Regulars under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith were sent by General Gage on order of the crown for the purposes of:
1) Seizing, capturing, and destroying all stores of ammunition, powder, and any arms discoverd, including individual arms belonging to private British Subjects, ... and ...
2) To arrest John Hancock and Samuel Adams. While locals viewed them as Patriots and Champions of Liberty, the crown considered them traitors.