After the Boston Tea Party in December 1773,  British General Thomas Gage ordered the removal of gunpowder from the Powder Magazine in Massachusetts.  As a response, in September 1774, the first Continental Congress called the colonies to prepare to defend themselves and to organize militia companies.

In early 1775, Patrick Henry gave his famous “Liberty or Death” speech.  Virginians began to organize militia companies and seek out supplies so that they could be armed and equipped. Lord Dunmore, Virginia’s royal governor, was well aware of the disgruntled citizens.

To remove the potential threat of an active militia, Dunmore directed Royal Navy sailors go to the Williamsburg Powder Magazine, take the gunpowder and transport it to a ship that was on the James River.  The local populous saw what was happening and sounded the alarm.  Militia companies began mustering throughout the colonies.

An angry crowd planned to storm Governor Dunmore’s mansion.  Several patriot leaders convinced the crowd to disperse.  The City Council demanded that Lord Dunmore return of the confiscated powder.  Dunmore claimed that he was moved the powder as protection against its seizure during a rumored slave uprising, and would eventually return it.

A day or two later, Dunmore reacted angrily, warning that if attacked, he would “declare freedom to the slaves, and reduce the City of Williamsburg to ashes.” He also told a Williamsburg city councilman that he had “once fought for the Virginians” but “By God, I would let them see that I could fight against them”.

The Hanover County Militia set out response to the gunpowder confiscation.  Rather than go into Williamsburg, 150 militiamen, led by Patrick Henry, went to home of the Deputy Collector of the Royal Revenue to demand return of the gunpowder or to get a payment for it. The Deputy Collector was not at home, but the next day a payment of £330 was made to Henry.

Dunmore then issued a proclamation charging Henry with extortion of the £330 before moving to a naval vessel.  This ended royal control of Virginia.






The Revolution in Virgina, Selby & Higginbotham, 2007.


Welcome to “Sharing the Stories of History with Tim Mann”!


Meet Timothy A. Mann, a passionate historian born and raised in the heart of Shelby County, Ohio where Tim’s roots run deep in the rich soil of American history. As the author of articles and books, including “Frontier Miscellany Concerning the Miami County Ohio Militia,” “Colonel John Mann, His Kith and Kin,” and “Frontier Militia – The War of 1812,” Tim’s literary contributions have enlightened and inspired countless history enthusiasts.

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