On March 5th,1770 Private Hugh White was the only soldier guarding the King’s money stored inside the Custom House on King Street. It wasn’t long before angry colonists joined him and insulted him and threatened violence.
At some point, White fought back and struck a colonist with his bayonet. In retaliation, the colonists pelted him with snowballs, ice and stones. Bells started ringing throughout the town—usually a warning of fire—sending a mass of male colonists into the streets. As the assault on White continued, he eventually fell and called for reinforcements.
The colonists struck the soldiers with clubs and sticks on King Street. Reports differ of exactly what happened next, but after someone supposedly said the word “fire,” a soldier fired his gun, although it’s unclear if the discharge was intentional.
Once the first shot rang out, other soldiers opened fire, killing five colonists–including Crispus Attucks, a local dockworker of mixed racial heritage–and wounding six.
Within hours, Preston and his soldiers were arrested and jailed and the propaganda machine was in full force on both sides of the conflict.