Dozens of deaths and hundreds of casualties reported on both sides as members of a so-called "civilian militia" attempt to keep illegal arms and ammunition.
Military and law enforcement sources estimate that 72 people were killed and more than 200 others were injured before government forces were compelled to withdraw.
Speaking after the clash, the Massachusetts Governor declared that the extremist faction, which was made up of local citizens, has links to a radical right-wing tax-protestors movement. The governor also blamed the extremists for recent incidents of vandalism directed against internal revenue offices.
The governor, who described the group's organizers as "criminals," issued an executive order authorizing the summary arrest of any individual who has interfered with the government's efforts to secure law and order or enforce the new gun-control laws and the military-style weapons ban.
The government raid on the extremist's arsenal followed refusal by the local citizenry to turn over recently outlawed military-style weapons after the governor had issued a ban on military-style assault weapons and ammunition earlier this week. This decision followed a meeting in early April between government and military leaders at which the governor authorized the forcible confiscation of illegal arms. One government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, pointed out that "none of these people would have been killed had the extremists obeyed the law and turned over their weapons voluntarily."
Government troops had initially succeeded in confiscating a large supply of
outlawed weapons and ammunition. However, troops attempting to seize a second cache of arms and ammunition in Lexington were met with resistance from the heavily-armed extremists who had been tipped off regarding the government's plans.
During a tense standoff in Lexington's town park, National Guard Colonel Francis Smith, commander of the government operation, ordered the armed group to surrender and return to their homes. The impasse was broken by a single shot, which was reportedly fired by one of the right-wing extremists. Eight civilians were killed in the ensuing exchange.
Ironically, some of the local citizenry blamed government forces rather than the extremists for the civilian deaths. Before order could be restored, numerous armed citizens from surrounding areas had descended upon the guard units. Colonel Smith, finding his forces overmatched by the armed mob, ordered a retreat. Smith said his forces will return with reinforcements.
Massachusetts Governor Thomas Gage has called upon all citizens to support the state/national joint task force in its effort to restore law and order. It is still the governors intention to disarm and prosecute those who have resisted the military-style arms ban and other 'sensible' restrictions.
The governor has also demanded the surrender of those responsible for planning and leading the attack against the government troops. The public is asked to immediately report directly to local authorities if they locate Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, or John Hancock. These men have been identified as "ringleaders" of the extremist faction and they remain at large.
Adams, Hancock, and Revere are considered armed and extremely dangerous.