Samuel Graves gave an order to Henry Mowatt to lead four armed vessels to punish a series of rebellious coastal communities. Falmouth was included on the list of rebellious coastal communities due to several acts of violence. Mowatt's naval squadron set sail from Boston in early October passing up the towns that were too scattered for bombardment. The British squadron arrived in Falmouth on October 16 and Mowatt read a proclamtion accusing the town of rebellion. He gave the residents two hours to leave before he started bombing the town.
Local leaders in Falmouth, Massachusetts were able to talk Mowatt into delaying the bombing until he received confirmation of orders from Boston. Mowatt set a deadline that everyone be out and ready for attack at 9:00 am on October 18. Forty minutes after nine the town appeared to be deserted so he ordered the fleet to fire. The bombing was continuous all day even thought there were still people present in the town. By the end of the day the body of the town was in one flame.