At the start of the war, seasoned British forces fortified themselves in Boston. Washington had only novice troops under his command but still wanted to storm Boston. General Gates convinced Washington that a better idea was to take Dorchester Heights, which was 100 feet above Boston, in order to bombard the city. On March 9 1776, Washington, using the cover of darkness, moved heavy artillery to the higher ground and began shelling British ships in the port. For ten days the artillery barrage continued until the last loyalist and British fled the city. Washington then took Boston with only 500 troops.