Although hardly a massacre this event was a milestone on the road to American independence, being the first powerful influence in forming an outspoken Anti British public opinion.
On Monday March 5, 1770, after a weekend of minor clashes, the conflicts between Boston Garrison Soldiers and colonialists came to a head. Insults exchanged between a British soldier and a local merchant ended with a butt-stroke of a musket. This lead to a small riot, and the Boston Garrison responded with a small squad of soldiers under the command of Captain Thomas Preston. The colonial mob taunted and menaced the squad, but it wasn’t until Private Hugh Montgomery was struck by a thrown club that any action occurred. When Montgomery returned to his feet he took aim into the crowd and fired, his compatriots joined him, under no command of Preston. Three colonialists were killed and two mortally wounded.
The real significance of this event was that it gave rebellious leaders propaganda against the British. Sam Adams has been accused of actually instigating the whole event for just this purpose. Popular legend has made these colonials who died heroes and martyrs, they were neither. It is widely accepted now that those who died were no more than the unlucky members of an angry crowd. The British were tried for thier acts, defended by John Adams, and were aqcuited.
After this event, and the propaganda that followed it, the British Troops had to evacuate Boston to the Castle William.