“About 2 o Clock a Letter came from Israel Putnam into Town forwarded by Expresses
in about 70 hours from Boston, by which we were informed that the Soldiers had fired
on the People and Town at Boston, this news occasioned the Congress to adjourn to
8 o Clock pm. The City of Phila. in great Concern, Bells muffled rang all pm.”
This alarm sprang from the bloodless seizure by Gage's troops, in the early hours
of 1 Sept., of powder stored in a public magazine in that part of Charlestown which
is now Somerville, bordering Cambridge (
Commonwealth Hist. of Mass.
, 2:548; see entry of 8 Sept.
, below). The whole countryside from Boston almost to New York City was roused by
the report, and the ever-curious Ezra Stiles made an elaborate and valuable investigation
of the spread of the false rumor of bloodshed (Stiles, Literary Diary
, 1:477–485). See also entry of 6 Nov.