The British soldiers (redcoats) arrive in Boston under martial law to punish and control the defiant Americans in Boston who deemed the taxes implemented as unconstitutional since the Americans had no representation in Parliament to vote or voice their opinions. The British kept approximately 2000 redcoats in and around Boston.
The troops disembarked and initially encamped on the Boston Commons, as well as, in the Court House, and in Faneuil Hall. Friction immediately broke out when the Governor offered the troops Manufactory House as a barracks. The inhabitants of the Manufactory House refused to be evicted and the troops were forced to find other locations.
The British officers had no trouble finding lodging and being accepted into the Bostonian Society. This was not the case, however, with their soldiers. The British soldiers were consumers of both large quantities of rum and prostitutes. Both these activities were an anathema to the rather puritan population of Boston. Worse still was the harsh discipline meted out to British soldiers.
The British had a major problem with desertions. In the first few months of their stay in Boston, 70 troops deserted and found their way into the interior of the colony. Placing sentries on the outskirts of the city to stop deserters did nothing but inflame colonists further. Finally, General Gage, who had taken command of the British troops in Boston, ordered the next deserters be captured executed. That tragic fate fell on a young deserter named Ames. He was executed on the Boston Commons after and elaborate ceremony. This act disgusted the general population of Boston, even more than the regular whipping of British soldiers on the same location for infractions against army rules.
The colonists’ views of the average British soldier varied from resentment to pity. However, while on duty, an almost guerilla war seemed to rage between the soldiers and the colonists. This, of course, eventually resulted in the most well-known and tragic action, known as “the Boston Massacre“.
From the moment the British forces entered Boston to the moment they were forced by colonial troops to leave seven years later, their presence did the British no good. The extended British troop presence only served to bring the day of American independence closer.