A signer of the Declaration of Independence from Delaware, Caesar Rodney (1728-1784) served as a major general in the state militia and as president of Delaware during the Revolution. In this letter, Rodney describes the rumors and paranoia following a false report of a British attack on Boston. He supports the claim of the Friends of Liberty that the rumor may have been started by loyalists to measure the support for the patriots in the countryside.
Some time ago, I do not doubt but you were all much alarmed on a Report that the Kings Ships were firing on the Town of Boston. When that news came to this City, the Bells were muffled, and kept Ringing all that day; However in a few days after, that news was contradicted here.... When the Expresses went to Contradict this false Report they found upwards of fifty thousand men well armed, actually on their march to Boston for the Relief of the inhabitants; and that every farmer who had a cart or wagon (and not able to bear arms) were with them Loaded with Provisions, ammunition and Baggage & [tha]t all headed by Experienced officers who had served in the late American war. And that vast numbers now were prepared to March upon the news being Contradicted, they Returned peaceably to their several places of Abode, but not till they had sent some of their officers from the different parts to Boston to know the...Affairs there and to direct them. What principal officers of different part of the Country they should hereafter send Signposts in case they should stand in need of their assistance. It is supposed by some of the friends of Liberty at Boston that the alarm was 1st on foot by some of the friends to the ministerial plan in order to try whether there was that true valor in the people--if this was the case, I suppose you will think with me that by this time they can have no doubts remaining--Indeed I think it is proved by the General's own conduct, for, ever since that, he has been fortifying himself, which I imagine is now for his own security, than to attack the Inhabitants.