Thomas Gage’s Orders to British Spies

February 22, 1775

Governor-General Thomas Gage issued orders to Captain William Brown and Ensign Henry De Berniere to survey Suffolk County and Worcester County and make a map of the roads and landmarks. This map would be used by the British expedition that marched to Concord on April 18–19, 1775.

Thomas Gage, Portrait, Copley

General Thomas Gage. Image Source: Yale Center for British Art.

Orders for Captain William Brown and Ensign Henry De Berniere

Boston, February 22, 1775


You will go through the counties of Suffolk and Worcester, taking a sketch of the country as you pass; it is not expected you should make out regular plans and surveys, but mark out the roads and distances from town to town, as also the situation and nature of the country; all passes must be particularly laid down, noticing the length and breadth of them, the entrance in and going out of them, and whether to be avoided by taking other routes.

The rivers also to be sketched out, remarking their breadth and depth and the nature of their banks on both sides, the fords, if any, and the nature of their bottoms, many of which particulars may be learned of the country people.

Lexington and Concord Map, Concord Detail, LOC
This is a detail of the map made by the two spies. Image Source: Library of Congress.

You will remark the heights you meet with, whether the ascents are difficult or easy; as also the woods and mountains, with the height and nature of the latter, whether to be got round or easily past over.

The nature of the country to be particularly noticed, whether inclosed or open; if the former, what kind of inclosures, and whether the country admits of making roads for troops on the right or left of the main road, or on the sides.

You will notice the situation of the towns and villages, their churches and church-yards, whether they are advantageous spots to take post in, and capable of being made defencible.

If any places strike you as proper for encampments, or appear strong by nature, you will remark them particularly, and give reasons for your opinions.

It would be useful if you cou’d inform yourselves of the necessaries their different counties could supply, such as provisions, forage, straw, &c. the number of cattle, horses, &c. in the several townships.

I am, Gentlemen, your most humble servant,

Thomas Gage

To — Capt. Brown 52d regiment, and Ensign D’Berniere 10th regiment

AHC Note — In older accounts, Ensign Henry De Berniere’s last name is typically spelled “D’Berniere” or “d’Bernicre.”

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  • Article Title Thomas Gage’s Orders to British Spies
  • Date February 22, 1775
  • Author
  • Keywords Thomas Gage, Captain William Brown, Ensign Henry De Berniere, British Spies, Lexington and Concord, American Revolution
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date May 30, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 19, 2024