No one in the crowd expected the soldiers to fire. The crowd was teasing them and throwing snowballs. There was, I believe, no reason to shoot. Then Captain Preston must have given the word to fire because the soldiers began to shoot and I was hit in the wrist. Over the past few months, many citizens teased soldiers and even fought with them with their fists or clubs, but never did we believe that British soldiers would fire on British citizens.
I heard bells ringing and thinking there was a fire, I followed the sound of the alarm. I saw no fire, only a crowd. I was standing in the middle of the street watching the riots from a distance. I was pushed by a British solider when I refused to get out of his way. I stood my ground. I admit that I am hot-tempered when it comes to British soldiers. Later at the Custom House I tried to strike down a soldier’s bayonet with a stick. The soldier struck me in the chest and arm hard enough to draw blood. A stick is not much match for a bayonet. I recognized the officer in charge by his wig and drawn sword. I do not believe that he gave the order to fire but rather one of his soldiers. First one shot went off, then several others a minute later.
I saw the Captain clearly. I was within four feet of him. He became angry with the crowd, swore at them, then ordered his men to fire. He was wearing a red coat with a rose on his shoulder. He wore no surcoat. I saw people in the crowd moving their arms, but no one carrying sticks or clubs.
The soldiers came to the guard and the officer told them to form a half moon in front of the guard box. He then told the boys to go home or they might be shot. The boys stayed and threw snowballs at the soldiers. The captain was behind the soldiers. One gun went off. The captain was struck by one of the crowd. The captain cursed and gave the order to fire. The soldiers all fired one after another. I was so near the captain when he gave the word to fire that I could have touched him. His face was towards me. He never moved from behind his men.
I was there when the shooting happened. I was about thirty feet away when I heard the officer who I recognized to be Captain Preston give the order to fire twice. I looked him in the face when he gave the word and saw his mouth move. It was moonlight and I could see well enough. I ran after I heard the word “Fire.”
Private James Hartegan
Before we marched to the Custom House, I remember Captain Preston ordering us not to load our muskets unless there was a clear threat and, that under no circumstances, were we to fire without his orders. When the squad reached the Custom House, we were ordered to load our weapons. The crowd jeered and threw stones and ice at us. I heard the word “fire” and amid the confusion assumed that the command came from Captain Preston. I then fired into the crowd. The crowd fell back after a moment as if they were stunned by what was happening. After a few minutes, some of them came back. Thinking that they were going to attack, we raised our weapons but Captain Preston ordered us to shoulder arms and march back to the barracks about six blocks away.
I am a landlord. Many rope makers stay at my boarding house. Earlier in the week of March 2nd, I had to chase a soldier away from my boarding house with a stick. On March 5th, in the evening around nine o’clock, I was present when shots were fired by British soldiers into a crowd of Bostonians. I asked one of the soldiers if he was going to fire and he said “yes,” then threatened me with his bayonet. I had a broad sword with me and would have killed the man if he threatened me again.
After the shooting I went up to Captain Preston and his squad to get a better look at their faces. I told Preston that I wanted a closer look at each soldier so I could testify against them later. Preston said “Perhaps, sir, you may.” The soldiers then left.
I was ordered by Captain Preston to join a squad, march to the Custom House, and save Private White. We kept our muskets unloaded until we were almost to the Custom House and then the whole squad loaded. After we got to Private White, the crowd would not let us leave. They were yelling and throwing things at us. I was angry and frightened. Suddenly a heavy club struck me in the shoulder and knocked me down. I got up and fired into the crowd, missing everyone. At that point a man struck me in the arm with a club. A moment later, Private Kilroy fired into the crowd and a man went down. I reloaded as I heard other shots being fired. If I had not fired, the crowd might have killed us. The crowd retreated after a moment but some came back to retrieve the bodies. We then marched back into the barracks.
Corporal William Wemms
I knew that Private White was in trouble down near the Custom House and was anxious to go to his aid. I hoped that show of force would disperse the mob. I was given orders to fix bayonets by Captain Preston but not to load my weapon unless necessary. On the way to the Custom House, I pushed a man who was in the way but did not otherwise harm him. After struggling through the crowd in order to rescue Private White, I was pelted with ice, snow, and sticks. My bayonet was struck by men with clubs but I held my fire until I heard Captain Preston yell “Fire.” When I heard two shots, I opened fire as well. I am a good soldier. I fired only because I was obeying orders.