Afternoon. April 18, 1775. British soldiers in Boston are quietly preparing to raid the countryside to seize weapons stockpiled by “rebel” Patriots. The army recently attempted two similar missions at Portsmouth, NH and Salem, MA. Both times they are driven back empty-handed by mobs of angry, armed colonists. The army’s failure to subdue the rebels is a huge embarrassment to General Thomas Gage, commander of the British forces in North America. This raid must succeed and secrecy is Gage’s most important weapon. But as the night unfolds, it becomes clear the rebels have been forewarned. Who has betrayed Gage’s secret plan?
Margaret Kemble Gage is General Gage’s wife. American-born, her family has a long history of supporting the King and hold positions of prominence in the Royal government. The Gages meet and marry in the colonies, but move their family to England in 1773, only to return in 1774 to Boston when Thomas is appointed Royal Governor of Massachusetts. He is charged with crushing the growing rebellion in the unruly colony.
During their short time away, much has changed. Once the fashionable center of New York society, Margaret finds the social situation in Boston noticeably less friendly, even hostile, to her and her husband. The colonists’ anger with the King and Parliament is openly expressed and seems to be building toward armed conflict.
As an American, Margaret is torn. Her close friends and relatives are choosing sides, and not everyone is supporting the King, whom her husband serves. Her father back in New York seems to have had a change of heart, while her brothers work as military aides to her husband. With the port of Boston closed as punishment for the Tea Party, the cost of supplies and food has skyrocketed, causing great hardship for both citizens and soldiers. Tensions are reaching a breaking point.
If Gage’s secret raid succeeds, the struggle may erupt into all-out war, tearing the colonies apart. If it fails, Gage and his family may be recalled to England in shame. But, as with the previous failed attempts, an uneasy peace may be preserved. Margaret makes no secret of her distress over the impending conflict, confiding in a friend that no matter who wins, she feels she will lose. Yet, with a simple warning to the rebels, war might be avoided.