BOSTON – National Guard units seeking to  confiscate a cache of recently banned assault weapons were ambushed on April 19th by elements of a para-military faction. Military and  enforcement sources estimate that 72 were killed and more than 200 injured before government forces were compelled to withdraw.

Speaking  after the clash Massachusetts Governor Thomas Gage declared that the extremist  faction, which was made up of local citizens, has links to the radical  right-wing tax protest movement. Gage blamed the extremists for recent incidents  of vandalism directed against internal revenue offices. The governor, who described the group’s organizers as “criminals,” issued an executive order authorizing the summary arrest of any individual who has interfered with the  government’s efforts to secure and order. The military raid on the extremist  arsenal followed wide-spread refusal by the local citizenry to turn over  recently outlawed assault weapons.

Gage issued a ban on military-style assault weapons and earlier in the week. This decision followed a meeting in early this month between government  and military leaders at which the governor authorized the forcible confiscation of illegal arms.

One government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, pointed out that “none of these people would have been killed had the extremists obeyed the and turned over their weapons voluntarily.” Government troops initially succeeded in confiscating a large supply of outlawed weapons and ammunition. However, troops attempting to seize arms and in Lexington met with from heavily armed extremists who had been tipped off regarding the government’s plans.

During a tense standoff in Lexington’s town park, National Guard Colonel Francis Smith, commander of the government operation, ordered the armed group to surrender and return to their homes. The impasse was broken by a single shot, which was  reportedly fired by one of the right-wing extremists. Eight civilians were killed in the ensuing exchange. Ironically, the local citizenry blamed government forces rather than the extremists for the civilian deaths.

Before order could be restored, armed citizens from surrounding areas had descended  upon the guard units. Colonel Smith, finding his forces overmatched by the armed mob, ordered a retreat. Governor Gage has called upon citizens to support the  state/national joint task force in its effort to restore and order. The governor also demanded the surrender of those responsible for planning and  leading the attack against the government troops. Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and  John Hancock, who have been identified as “ringleaders” of the extremist  faction, remain at large.

April 20, 1775

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