The Boston Massacre

On Unsolved History they attempted to reenact the Boston Massacre, and on the surface, their efforts seemed to be pretty thorough, but a couple of things weren’t addressed that I’m kind of curious about.

One is that they claimed that had the captain of the British guards been facing the mob and shouted the order to fire on the mob, the troops (all behind him) wouldn’t have been able to hear him. They came to this conclusion by recording the sounds of people shouting, and then playing them back in a special room which allowed them to mimic the acoustic characteristics that the area of Boston where the massacre occured while two techs standing roughly the same distance behind a third tech shouting “Fire” as the soldiers would have been from their captain. They claimed that they couldn’t hear him. In watching the footage, it seemed to me that using the tech wasn’t really a good idea. Whilst he might be good at his job, I don’t think that he’d have the training that a drill instructor might have in making himself heard in a noisy situation. Weren’t leadership positions handed out at one time based (at least partially) on how well a person could be heard under loud conditions?

Also, they used the terms “gave the order to” and “said” interchangably in discussing the command to fire, but that seems to me to be a mistake. After all, I know that modern armies have standard hand gestures used for communicating when either silence is desired or when conditions are such that it’d be impossible for the soldiers to hear one another. Did they have similar hand gestures back then and if so, would a captain gesturing for his troops to fire have the same authority if he gave a verbal order to fire?

Finally, does anyone know if the original accounts of the event state clearly that the captain gave a verbal order to fire?

This site says that Captain Preston, in his separate trial, claimed to have been standing before his men and, thus, that he would have been in their line of fire had he ordered them to shoot. There was conflicting testimony at the trial regarding whether he gave an order.

That site provides a link to a partial transcript of the trial of the soldiers, in which the exerpts do not even appear to address the issue of an order being given.

Well, that answers part of my questions. Thanks, tom.