Thomas Preston

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On March 5, 1770, British soldiers were badgered to the point of outrage by a small group of boys (Wheeler and Becker, 75). The soldiers eventually retaliated at the group and the church bells started ringing alarming the town that a fire had broken out only leading the numbers in the crowd to increase (Wheeler and Becker, 75). Captain Thomas Preston and his sentry were called to the scene to assist. However, their attempts to redirect the crowd were unsuccessful. It is at this point that a musket was fired and the situation continued to escalate leaving some dead and others wounded (Wheeler and Becker, 75). Was Captain Thomas Preston guilty of murder by ordering his soldiers to fire? Or was he innocent and the soldiers fired out of provocation and their own volition?

Let us take a moment to examine the evidence which was solely based on eyewitness testimonies. According to Captain Preston, when he arrived to the commotion the crowd was still continuing to grow and becoming increasingly belligerent (Wheeler and Becker, 81). He then attempted to redirect both the crowd and soldiers which proved unavailing (Wheeler and Becker, 81). A stick struck a soldier and he responsively fired. Thereafter, the soldiers were attacked by clubs and snowballs placing them in inevitable peril where someone in the crowd begins yelling fire (Wheeler and Becker, 81). As a result, a couple of the soldiers started firing immediately. Captain Preston reprimanded the soldiers, who were under the impression the command came from him, for firing without his orders (Wheeler and Becker, 81).

In respects to the eyewitness statements made, there were far more corroborating testimonies reinforcing Captain Preston's account of what happened on that evening, some of whom stood within very close proximities of the massacre including Ebenezer Hinkley and Theodore Bliss (Wheeler and Becker, 82, 84). Peter Cunningham, who only stood four feet from the Captain, stated that he heard...
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