Figure 1: Lexington
During the first six decades of the eighteenth century, the (17) 13 (5) American colonies (5,17) were mostly allowed to govern themselves. (17) In exchange, they loyally fought for Great Britain in imperial wars against the French and Spanish. (17) But in 1763, after the British and Americans won the French and Indian War, King George III began working to eliminate American self-government. (17) Tensions had been building for many years between residents of the colonies and the British authorities, particularly in Massachusetts. (5) The succeeding years saw a series of political crises provoked by the king and parliament. (17) Starting in 1764, Great Britain enacted a series of measures aimed at raising revenue from its 13 American colonies. (16) Many of those measures, including the Sugar Act, Stamp Act and Townshend Acts, generated fierce resentment among the colonists, who protested against “taxation without representation.” (16) Boston, the site of the 1770 Boston Massacre and the 1773 Boston Tea Party, was one of the main points of resistance. (16) King George III of Britain ramped up the military presence there, and in June 1774 he shut down the city’s harbor until colonists paid for tea dumped overboard the previous year. (16) Soon after, the British Parliament declared that Massachusetts was in open rebellion. (16) A Provincial Congress, determined on independence for the American colonies, was established in Cambridge, Massachusetts, outside Boston. (18) In late 1774, Colonial leaders adopted the Suffolk Resolves in resistance to the alterations made to the Massachusetts colonial government by the British parliament following the Boston Tea Party. (13) The colonial assembly responded by forming a Patriot provisional government known as the Massachusetts Provincial Congress and calling for local militias to train for possible hostilities. (13) “Magnanimity in politics” declared Burke “is not seldom the truest wisdom and a great empire and little minds go ill together”. (14) If the Americans were offered freedom, they would cleave to the mother country in gratitude: if they were allowed to grow rich, even by evasion of just demand’s, so much the greater would be the resources and power which they could bring to the common effort in case another war with France and Spain. (14)) Neither English nor Americans were in a mood where his speech could be opportune. (14) Burke’s practical work in 1775 was to advise his New York clients, who were dragging their feet in the colonial movement, not to trust any of the acts of the British government. (14) After the two conciliatory motions of the opposition, Lord North, in spite of grumbling on his own side, made his official proposition for re-establishing harmony. (14) North proposals were that each colony which should return to its obedience and acknowledge English sovereignty and show itself willing to raise its just part of common expenses, should be allowed to decide for itself the Ways and Means of finding the money. (14) On the American side, John Dickinson, now a conservative, persuaded Congress to approach London with an olive branch petition setting out their grievances and asking for redress of them. (14) But these two gestures showed only how men on each side wished for agreement which attitudes of mind now habitual made impossible. (14)
The small (11) battles of Lexington and Concord were the first phase where American patriots and the British military came to a series of armed conflicts against each other. (8,11) The battles were fought on April 19th, 1775 (1,2) in five places in (8,11) Middlesex County, Province of Massachusetts Bay (1,11), [OR] of Massachusetts (3,5) within the towns of Lexington, (1,3) Concord, (1,3) [OR] Concorde (2,4) Lincoln, Menotomy (1,8) (present-day Arlington) (13) and Cambridge. (1,8) The British commander was General Thomas Gage, (4,12) born in 1721, the second son of the first Viscount Gage. (4) He had accompanied Braddock’s ill fated expedition in 1755 and become military governor of Montreal in 1760. (4) From 1763 to 1772 he was commander in chief of the British forces in America, and in 1774 (4) governor of Massachusetts. (4,12) By the spring of 1775, (9) Massachusetts had formed a (9,14) volunteer home guard, (9) or ‘militia’ (5,14) made up of farmers, blacksmiths and shopkeepers, to be America’s first line of defence (9) to resist attack from General Gage. (14) In nearly every town in the colonies, similar militias were preparing. (9,18) In Massachusetts, a third of all men were ready to bear arms, (9) and General Gage exercised little effective control of the colony outside of (13,20) British-controlled Boston. (13,17) which had been occupied by a British army since 1768. (17) He dissolved the Massachusetts legislature. (20) They reconvened to the west, beyond his reach. (20) In response, the British government in February 1775 declared Massachusetts to be in a state of rebellion. (13)
British learn of supplies
1774, the British government had realized that because armed Americans were so numerous, they could not be frightened into compliance with British demands. (17) So in the latter months of 1774, the King and his Royal Governors in America instituted a gun control program. (17) All firearms and ammunition imports to the American colonies were forbidden. (17) At Gage’s command, British soldiers began raiding American armouries, which stored firearms for militiamen who could not afford their own, and also held large quantities of gunpowder. (17) Inside Boston, a Committee of Observation was formed, under the leadership of Paul Revere. (20) The committee’s job was to monitor British troop movements. (20) Because the raids were accomplished peacefully in surprise pre-dawn manoeuvres, they caused outrage, but nothing more. (17) Both sides knew that if the British attempted to seize arms by force, the Americans would fight. (17) In September of 1774, General Gage ordered that the provincial store of gunpowder in Summerville (6 miles from Boston) should be seized. (20) Much of it had already been moved elsewhere. (20) The colonists lit signal fires and militia units were called up, while Loyalists fled to Boston for safety. (20) In Rhode Island and New Hampshire, militia units seized weapons and ammo. (20) In February of 1775, Gage tried to seize more weapons and ammo at Salem. (20) Militia units turned him back. (20) In April 1775, a spy (17) informed General Gage (10,17) [OR] Gage began to hear rumors (20) that (10,17) the American rebels (10,14) [OR] “rebels” (21) were keeping a large number of weapons (10,14) and ammunition, (16) military supplies (11,12) including gunpowder (17,20) in store at Concorde, (2,4) some 20 (14,19) [OR] 18 (16) [OR] 17 (22) [OR] 15 (18) miles (14,18) northwest (19) from Boston. (14,18) The Massachusetts militias had indeed been gathering a stock of weapons, powder, and supplies at Concord, as well as an even greater amount much (22) further west in Worcester. (22,23) Gage began planning a mission to seize the weapons and gunpowder. (20) Gage also heard that (20) two of the key rebel leaders, Samuel Adams and John Hancock, were staying in Lexington, (20,21) which was on the road to Concord. (20) Gage ordered the British troops (1,3) to destroy (2,3) the colonists’ military (3,4) stores (2,4) in the armoury (18) at Concorde (2,4) and arrest revolutionaries, (3,21) such as Samuel Adams and John Hancock. (21) In short, the Redcoats planned to arrive in Lexington and Concord at dawn and cut the legs out from under the burgeoning American rebellion. (21)
The plan is implemented
The British Force
Around dusk on the 18th, General Gage called a meeting of his senior officers at the Province House. (22) He informed them that orders from Lord Dartmouth had arrived, ordering him to take action against the colonials. (22) He also told them that the senior colonel of his regiments, Lieutenant Colonel Smith, would command, with Major John Pitcairn as his executive officer. (22) The meeting adjourned around 8:30 pm, after which Lord Percy mingled with town folk on Boston Common. (22) According to one account, the discussion among people there turned to the unusual movement of the British soldiers in the town. (22) When Percy questioned one man further, the man replied, “Well, the regulars will miss their aim”. (22) “What aim?” asked Percy. (22) “Why, the cannon at Concord” was the reply. Upon hearing this, Percy quickly returned to Province House and relayed this information to General Gage. (22) Stunned, Gage issued orders to prevent messengers from getting out of Boston, but these were too late to prevent Dawes and Revere from leaving. (22) The British began to awaken their troops at 9 pm on the night of April 18th and assembled them on the water’s edge on the western end of Boston Common by 10 pm. (22) Colonel Smith was late in arriving, and there was no organized boat-loading operation, resulting in confusion at the staging area. (22) The boats used were naval barges that were packed so tightly that there was no room to sit down. (22) When they disembarked, it was into waist-deep water at midnight. (22) At midnight, (9,22) [OR] late (18) on the night of April (5,7) 18th (5,18) [OR] 19th (7) 1775, (5,6) hundreds of redcoated (5,7) British troops, (5,7) marched from (3,5) [OR] slunk out of (21) Boston (3,5) [OR] Phipps Farm in Cambridge. (22) They were (5,7) 700 (10,11) [OR] 800 (20) [OR] 770 (22) light infantry and grenadiers (18,20) in 16 companies (7) from 11 of Gage’s 13 occupying infantry regiments. (22) These included 350 grenadiers in 11 companies from (22) the 4th (18,22) (King’s Own), (22) 5th, 10th, 18th (18,22) (Royal Irish) (22) 23rd (18,22) Royal Welch Fusiliers (18) 38th, 43rd, 52nd, 59th Regiments of Foot plus (18,22) 1st Battalion of (22) Marines, (18,22) under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Bernard. (22) Protecting the grenadier companies were about 320 light infantry from the 4th, 5th, 10th, 23rd, 38th, 43rd, 47th, 52nd and 59th Regiments. (22) They were under the leadership of Major John Pitcairn (20,22) (a marine). (20) Both grenadiers and light infantry were under the overall command of Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith. (10,11) Smith and Pitcairn had not commanded these men before, (20) [OR] Each company had its own lieutenant, but the majority of the captains commanding them were volunteers attached to them at the last minute, drawn from all of the regiments stationed in Boston. (22) This lack of bond between commander and company (22) would lead to confusion when fighting broke out (20,22)
En route to Lexington
They marched (3,5) [OR] rowed (18,21) [OR] were ferried (17,20) in British warships (17) across (17,20) [OR] to (18) the Charles River (17,20) [OR] Boston Harbour (17,18) [OR] to Lechmere Point in Cambridge (although some sources say they actually landed on the Charlestown peninsula). (20) From there they could march (17) towards Concord, (5,9) and nearby Lexington, (9) with secret (13) orders (9,11) to arrest the rebel leaders (9) and seize their weapons. (9,11) It was likely in such a situation that any chance event would start the firing. (14,17)
Who was Revere
Paul Revere was an American Patriot (6,16) who had been born in 1735 in Boston. (6) A silversmith (6,16) and copperplate printer by trade, he had served as a lieutenant of artillery during the Seven Years’ War in 1756. (6) He was one of those who had destroyed the tea in Boston Harbour in 1773 and was at the head of a secret society formed to watch the British, (6) and was the man who made the Boston Massacre infamous. (9)
News of the British move
Fortunately for the cause of Liberty, the patriots had developed an intricate surveillance and information network. (21) Committees of Correspondence carried critical messages between the colonies. (21) Informants spied on British troop movements. (21) And messengers on horseback raced between towns with instructions from (21) leaders like Samuel Adams. (20,21) These organizations were entirely extralegal, but served critical functions and were indispensable to the American Revolution. (21) Through this effective intelligence gathering, (11,12) the Americans found out in advance (11,17) that their supplies might be at risk. (11) On April 8th, Paul Revere had ridden to Concord to warn the inhabitants that the British appeared to be planning an expedition. (22) They had moved most (11,12) [OR] all (10) of them to other locations (11,12) or destroyed them. (12) [OR] In the residents began moving the military supplies out of Concord, when they got the news on the night of 18th/19th. (20) [OR] word reached the rebel leaders that British officers had been observed examining the roads to Concord. (22) Boston was sealed overnight to prevent word being passed of the departure of the force (18) And on April 18th, a group of 20 men galloped out to secure road crossings and to prevent Patriot express riders from warning the militias at Lexington and Concord. (20)
Nevertheless, on April 18th 1775, (16,19) the night before the battle, Revere’s contacts (11,16) [OR] contact, Joseph Warren, (16,19) a physician and member of the Sons of Liberty (16) received details about British plans (11,16) from a source inside the British high command, (16,19) possibly via Gage’s New Jersey-born wife Margaret Kemble Gage, who had sympathies with the Colonial cause and a friendly relationship with Warren. (22)
Warren learned that Redcoat troops would march that night on Concord. (16,19) Warren dispatched (16) two (16,17,18) [OR] three (5,13,15) [OR] several (13) couriers to alert residents of the news. (13,16) The initial mode of the Army’s arrival by water was signalled from the Old North Church in Boston to Charlestown using lanterns to communicate. (13,16) The patriots had been instructed to look at the steeple of Boston’s Old North Church, which was visible to them because it was the highest point in the city. (13,16) If there was one lantern hanging in the steeple, the British were arriving by land, if there were two, the British were coming by sea. (13,16)
They spotted that two lanterns had been set out. (16) [OR] the sound of bells ringing showed that the countryside had been alerted.’ (18) The covert signal was memorialized in American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride,” in which he wrote: (16) “One, if by land, and two, if by sea; (16,20) And I on the opposite shore will be, Ready to ride and spread the alarm Through every Middlesex village and farm, For the country folk to be up and to arm.” (16)
The ‘Ride’ 1. To Lexington
On that same night of 18th of April 1775 (6,13) [OR] a day before, (10) Paul Revere, who was instrumental in the local courier network and in the secret group of spies called the Mechanics, visited the home of Dr. Joseph Warren of the Boston Committee of Correspondence. (21) Dr. Warren had already dispatched a messenger named William Dawes to Concord with the alarming news. (21) [OR] Paul Revere, (5,15) tanner (16) William Dawes (16,20) and Samuel Prescott, (13,16) set off ahead of the British, (9) They went by separate routes in case one of them was captured. (16) [OR] Two express riders, Paul Revere, and William Dawes, galloped out of Boston (20) [OR] Dawes covered the southern land route by horseback across Boston Neck and over the Great Bridge to Lexington. (22) Revere first gave instructions to send a signal to Charlestown (22) and then he travelled the northern water route. (16,22) rowing across the Charles River to get to Charlestown, (16,22) slipping past the British warship HMS Somerset at anchor on the way. (22) Crossings were banned at that hour, but Revere made it. (22) The Charlestown colonists dispatched additional riders to the north, (22) while Revere carefully rode through the countryside (21) heading to Lexington (21,22) and Concord (20) to warn the militias there (20,21) that the troops were on the move. (21) He made his famous ride, (3,5) from Boston to Lexington (6,12) and Lincoln (6) to sound the alarm, (3,5) alerting the Americans to the British movement. (3,5) Dawes left Boston and travelled along the Boston Neck peninsula. (16) Revere rode to Lexington, (21,22) avoiding a British patrol and later warning almost every house along the route. (22) and arriving in Lexington just before Dawes, (21) The two met up in Lexington, a few miles east of Concord, where revolutionary leaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock had temporarily holed up (16) in the Lexington home of Reverend Jonas Clark (also spelled Clarke) where they were actively guarded by a number of men from his parish. (21) They immediately went and roused Adams and Hancock, (20,21) to warn them of the danger. (21) persuading them to flee (16,20) [OR] They alerted the Lexington militia (16,20) and discussed the situation with Hancock, Adams and the militia assembling there. (22) They believed that the forces leaving the city were too large for the sole task of arresting two men and that Concord was the main target. (22) The Lexington men dispatched riders to the surrounding towns, and Revere and Dawes continued along the road to Concord accompanied by Samuel Prescott. (22)
The Ride 2. From Lexington to Concord
The weary (16) Revere and Dawes then set out again (16,21) for Concord. (21) The warning spread from town to town, (9) and the militia (5,9) began mobilizing to intercept the Redcoat column. (5) at Lexington, (20,21) [OR] Between Lexington and Concord (20,22) they met a third rider, Samuel Prescott. (16,21) The trio was soon intercepted by British soldiers (16,19) in Lincoln, where (22) Revere was captured by a British patrol, (16,19) led by Major Mitchell (22,23) of the 5th Regiment of Foot. (23) These were 20 mounted men under the command of Major Mitchell who had been into the surrounding country to intercept messengers who might be out on horseback. (23) This patrol behaved differently from patrols sent out from Boston in the past, staying out after dark and asking travelers about the location of Samuel Adams and John Hancock. (23) This had the unintended effect of alarming many residents and increasing their preparedness. (23) Revere was detained and questioned. (21) Shooting and bells could be heard (20) as alarm guns were fired (19,20) and militiamen turned out everywhere. (19, 20) as the regulars marched to Lexington, (19,20) He was then released (19,21) but his horse was commandeered and he had to walk back to Lexington where he arrived before the first shots of the American Revolution were fired. (21) Dawes and Prescott managed to escape and ride on to Concord, (21) [OR] Dawes (16,20) was thrown from his horse (16,20) and also had to walk (16) back to Lexington (16,20) Thus Prescott was the only one of the three who made it to Concord. (16,20) [OR] Dawes and Prescott managed to escaped and rode on to Concord. (21) Additional riders were sent out from Concord. (22) The ride of Revere, Dawes, and Prescott had thus triggered a flexible system of “alarm and muster” that had been carefully developed months before, in reaction to the colonists’ impotent response to the Powder Alarm. (22) This system was so effective that people in towns 25 miles from Boston were aware of the army’s movements while they were still unloading boats in Cambridge. (22) These early warnings played a crucial role in assembling a sufficient number of colonial militia to inflict heavy damage on the British regulars later in the day. (22)
To get to Concord, to seize the supplies. (2,3) the British would have to march through Lexington, (17) so on the next day (4) they marched towards the town. (2,3) The Lobsterbacks roughed up and arrested various people along their way, (21) reaching the outskirts of the town (20,21) around 4:30 AM. (20) The men of Lexington prepared to meet the British, while the women of Lexington worked assembling ammunition cartridges late into the night. (17) At about 3 am, (22) after having being warned of opposition on the road ahead, (15,22) by hearing the firing of signal guns, (22) Colonel Smith ordered (15,18) six companies of (22) his light infantry, (15,18) under Major John Pitcairn, (15,17) to move forward (15,18) to secure the bridges at Concord (18) while he stayed with the main body of troops. (15,18) At about 4 am he made the wise but belated decision to send a messenger back to Boston asking for reinforcements. (22) At 5 a.m., (9) on April 19th, (16) just as the sun was rising, (11,13) Pitcairn’s (15,17) advance unit of (20) 700 men (16,17) [OR] the entire force consisted of 700 men. (10,11) entered Lexington. (2,4) There they encountered 77 (12,16) [OR] 200 [OR] about 80 (15,22) [OR] 80 (22) [OR] 60 (9) [OR] about 60-70 (20) local (12) armed (20,21) militiamen (9,15) called ‘minutemen’ (3,12) who had emerged from Buckman Tavern and (22) lined up, (21,22) rifles in hand, (21) on the town green (5,12) at Lexington (2,4) [OR] at Concord. (1,3) Between 40 and 100 spectators watched from along the side of the road. (22)
The Americans at Lexington
They were under the command of (20,22) farmer (9) Captain (20,22) John Parker, (9,15) a veteran of the French and Indian War, who was suffering from tuberculosis and was at times difficult to hear. (22) Parker was putting on a show of political strength rather than placing his men in fighting position, (15) which is why they were drawn up in parade-ground formation. (15,18) [OR] Lieutenant John Barker, 4th Regiment of Foot, said that after the battle they could not estimate how many Americans they had killed ‘because they were behind walls’ (22) They were almost all able-bodied men aged between sixteen to sixty, and had supplied their own firearms, although a few poor men had to borrow a gun, (17) but they had had virtually no training. (9) Parker knew he was outnumbered, (15,16) but probably thought violence could be avoided. (15) He told his men: “Stand your ground! (19,20) “Don’t fire unless fired upon! But if they (17,19) mean to have (19) [OR] want to have (17,20) a war, let it begin here!” (17,19)
A British officer, probably Pitcairn, (22) [OR] Major Pitcairn, (16,17) but accounts are uncertain, as it may also have been Lieutenant William Sutherland, then rode forward, waving his sword, and (22) called on the militia to disperse, (15,16) yelling “Throw (16,20) [OR] lay (22) down your arms! (16,20) Ye villains, ye rebels.” (16) [OR] you Rebels (17) [OR] you damned rebels! (22) “Disperse Damn you,” (17,20) disperse!” (20) The British now met resistance from the provincials. (2,3) Parker had told his men to disperse and go home, but, because of the confusion, the yelling all around, and due to the raspiness of Parker’s tubercular voice, some did not hear him, some left very slowly, and none laid down their arms. (22) [OR] The minutemen turned to leave but kept their arms. (20) Pitcairn shouted “Damn you! Why don’t you lay down your arms?” (20) Another officer shouted “Damn them! We will have them!” (20) Both sides had given orders not to fire. (15,22) The American policy was to put the onus of firing first on the British, (17) and eventually, just before Parker could give the order to withdraw, (15) It remains unclear which side fired first. (9,12) Someone pulled a trigger (17,20) and a shot rang out, (19,22) [OR] the first shots were fired, (11,15) [OR] The gun did not go off, but the sight of the powder flash in the firing pan instantly prompted (17) the nervous (19) [OR] well disciplined (9) red-coated (5,9) British troops (2,3) to discharge a volley (15,17) [OR] several volleys, (16) without receiving orders to do so. (22) They killed 8 (19,20) [OR] 7 and mortally wounded one of the retreating militiamen. (19) [OR] Most books today claim that no one knows who fired the first shot, but the evidence suggests it came from the British side – not from the American militiamen who were at the time falling back. (21) [OR] one of the British soldiers fired without orders or had an accidental discharge. (20) It is claimed that it was Major Pitcairn firing his pistols at the Americans. (18) [OR] Parker wrote afterwards “immediately said Troops made their appearance and rushed furiously, fired upon, and killed eight of our Party without receiving any Provocation therefor from us.” (22) Lieutenant Barker, gives a very different account: “on our coming near them they fired on us two shots, upon which our men without any orders… (22) [OR] Pitcairn then formally ordered his men, with profanity and anger, to fire. (21) …rushed upon them, fired and put them to flight; several of them were killed, we could not tell how many. (22) We had a man of the 10th light Infantry wounded, nobody else was hurt. (22) We then formed on the Common, but with some difficulty, the men were so wild they could hear no orders; we waited a considerable time there, and at length proceeded our way to Concord.” (22) Some witnesses among the regulars reported the first shot was fired by a colonial onlooker from behind a hedge or around the corner of a tavern. (22) Some observers reported a mounted British officer firing first. (22) Both sides generally agreed that the initial shot did not come from the men on the ground immediately facing each other. (22) The American patriots returned fire and the War for Independence had begun. (21) The British then charged with fixed bayonets. (15) They had fought to victory on five continents, (9) and outnumbered (9,11) and outclassed (9) the militia (11,15) who were quickly routed. (17) They scattered (20) and fell back. (11,15) The battle lasted only a couple of minutes. (21) When the smoke cleared, and order was restored, (16) it was found that eight Americans had been killed (9,13) including Ensign Robert Munroe, their third in command, (13) [OR] Seven had been killed and one died later. (19) Ten were wounded, (9,15) one of whom was a black slave, Prince Estabrook (9,22) Amongst the militia were free blacks, but Prince Estabrook was fighting for a freedom he would be denied. (9) Some of those who died had been shot in the back and others were bayoneted by the British jackals. (21) The others melted away into the town or nearby countryside. (21)
After the shooting
The companies under Pitcairn’s command got beyond their officers’ control in part because they were unaware of the actual purpose of the day’s mission. (22) [OR] Smith arrived soon after (15,22) with the remainder of the regulars: hearing the musket fire he had ridden forward from the grenadier column to see the action. (22) He found Pitcairn’s troops scattered and pursuing the retreating militiamen (15) firing in different directions and preparing to enter private homes. (22) He quickly found a drummer and ordered him to beat assembly. (22) The grenadiers arrived shortly thereafter, (22) and once order was restored (15,20) the light infantry (15,22) were permitted to fire a victory volley, (22) after which the column was reformed (15,22) and with a “huzzah” of victory, the Redcoats (17) pushed on to Concord (11,15) to search for the arms, (16) having suffered only one casualty. (13,15) This confrontation at Lexington (5,11) started off the War of Independence. (5,15)
As the British marched towards Concord, (20,21) they heard alarm guns going off to summon more militiamen, (20) and began seeing militiamen in the hills along the route. (21) They saw a Liberty pole that had been erected, and cut it down. (21) By one account, the first man in Concord to assemble after the sounding of the alarm was the Reverend William Emerson, gun in hand. (17) The British arrived (11,15) at about 8:00 a.m., (19) [OR] at daybreak, (20) They immediately (21) broke apart into companies (13) to search for the supplies, (9,11) carrying out their search-and-destroy mission, (21,22) aided by lists of patriots’ names provided to them by Tory traitors. (21) [OR] Loyalist spies. (22) Two companies of regulars searched a farmhouse west of town, but found nothing. (20) They were too late. (9,17) The vast majority had already been relocated, (16) so they didn’t get too many arms to destroy. (10,15) [OR] They failed to get the arms (7,9) because the main powder stores at Concord had been hauled to safety before the British arrived. (17) [OR] They destroyed (2,21) some of (21) the stores (2,21) [OR] fruitlessly searched the town for arms (15) [OR] seized a few weapons (15!) (along with the town’s liberty pole). (20) [OR] They found three wooden cannon, (20) which they burned (16,20) [OR] three massive pieces, firing 24-pound shot, that were much too heavy to use defensively, but very effective against fortifications, with sufficient range to bombard the city of Boston from other parts of nearby mainland. The grenadiers smashed the trunnions of these three guns so they could not be mounted. (22) Nearly a hundred barrels of flour and salted food were thrown into the millpond, as were 550 pounds of musket balls. (22) Of the damage done, only that done to the cannon was significant. (22) All of the shot and much of the food was recovered after the British left. (22) During the search, the regulars were generally scrupulous in their treatment of the locals, including paying for food and drink consumed. (22) This excessive politeness was used to advantage by the locals, who were able to misdirect searches from several smaller caches of militia supplies. Barrett’s Farm had been an arsenal weeks before but few weapons remained now, and these were, according to family legend, quickly buried in furrows to look like a crop had been planted. (22) Some weapons were successfully hidden and certain townswomen were instrumental in diverting the British away from others. (21) Other public provisions were likewise protected by villagers pretending it was their private property. (21) Despite these efforts, the British soldiers looted a number of the homes, burned some of the buildings, and found some of the armaments, which they destroyed. (21) The fire got slightly out of control. (16)
Rather than fight in Concord itself, the town militia had withdrawn to the North Bridge (15,16) , which spanned the Concord River. (20) They occupied higher ground (16,20) known as Punkatasset Hill, (20,22) to await reinforcements there. (15) Colonel Smith sent (19,20) a covering party (12) of 90 (15) [OR] 100 (13) light infantrymen (15,20) from several (13,20) 7 (20) [OR] 3 (13) companies (19,20) through the town and across the North Bridge to form a protective line, (20) securing the bridge (19,20) 17 says “notwithstanding the setback at the bridge, the Redcoats had sufficient force to search the town for arms and ammunition” (17) [most other sources, e.g. (16,20) say that the fighting at the bridge began after they had finished searching.]
At the North bridge: 1.
By late morning, another group of (9,11) several companies of militiamen (20) comprising 1,000 (9) [OR] hundreds (16,20) [OR] approximately 500 (11,15) militia (9,11) gathered on Punkatasset Hill (20) outside Concord, (9) [OR] at the North Bridge. (11,12) because it was being defended by a contingent of British (16,18) light infantry (15,18) soldiers. (16,18) They were commanded by Colonel James Barrett. (19,20) The British paid little attention to them. (20) One (19,20) militia (16,20) lieutenant, Joseph Hosmer, (19,20) of Concord, (19) saw the smoke from (20,21) the burning artillery pieces (20) and houses. (21) He said (20) [OR] shouted to his fellow officers: (19) “I often heard it said that the British have boasted that they could march through our country, laying waste to our hamlets and villages and we would not oppose them, and I begin to think it is true. (20) Will you let them burn the town down?” (19,20) The colonists were not about to let that happen and decided to act. (19) Colonel James Barrett ordered his companies to march upon the North Bridge (19) so they marched to a ridge 300 yards west of the North Bridge and deployed in battle formation. (20) Barrett instructed his men not to fire upon the British soldiers unless first fired upon. (19) The Acton Company, led by thirty-year old Captain Isaac Davis was placed at the head of the column. (19) Davis had previously organized a Minuteman Company after the British Parliament revoked the provincial charter of Massachusetts. (19) His men had spent six months training in his backyard, making bayonets and cartridge boxes and practicing their aim. (19) Now as Davis prepared to advance on the North Bridge, he was asked if his men were ready to confront the Redcoats. (19) Davis answered, “I haven’t a man afraid to go.” (19) Davis’s Minutemen formed up and marched down the hill. (19) [OR] Hosmer marched the American force to the North Bridge. (20) The sight of the colonial numbers advancing in an orderly fashion was an intimidating sight to the British soldiers, who retreated to the opposite shore and prepared to defend themselves. (19) Before they could enter the town, the patriots had to cross Concord Bridge which was guarded by British troops. (21) When they were 50 yards away, (20) the Americans attacked, (18) opening fire (18,20) on the British (17,18) [OR] When the Acton Company came within range, (19) the British opened fire, (16,19) killing (19,21) one man (21) [OR] Captain Davis and another Minuteman. (19) [OR] 2 militiamen and wounding one. (20) [OR] The colonists responded with a volley of their own, (16,19) Major Buttrick of Concord shouted, “For God’s sake, fire!”, killing three British soldiers and wounding nine others (19) [OR] more than a dozen. (20) After a battle of two or three minutes, (17) the British (17,19) fell back (16,19) [OR] broke and ran. (20) to the town. (19) This was the “shot heard ‘round the world.” (10) A mural inside the North Bridge Visitor Center in Concord, Massachusetts, featuring Major Buttrick’s famous words. (19) On hearing gunfire, Smith marched his men towards the bridge (15) where there was a tense stand-off. (15,21)
At the North Bridge (2)
Some hours later there was a second (15) fight (2,15) in open territory (11) [OR] at the bridge, (2,11) in which the British were outnumbered (13,15) and outmanoeuvred (15) by 320 (12) to 400 (12,13) [OR] around 500 (15) American patriots (12) led by Barrett (15) and in a series of confused engagements, (7) they suffered several casualties (13,15) and inflicted casualties on the other side. (13) Smith rallied the troops (20) but they were forced to retreat (2,3) from the bridge (13,15) because they were outnumbered. (20) Trapped in a situation where they were both outnumbered and outmanoeuvred, lacking effective leadership and terrified at the superior numbers of the enemy, with their spirit broken, and likely not having experienced combat before, they abandoned their wounded, and fled to the safety of the approaching grenadier companies coming from the town center, isolating Captain Parsons and the companies searching for arms at Barrett’s Farm. (22) The colonists were stunned by their success. (22) No one had actually believed either side would shoot to kill the other. (22) After a lull, the detachment of regulars sent to Barrett’s farm marched back from their fruitless search of that area. (22) They passed through the now mostly-deserted battlefield, and saw dead and wounded comrades lying on the bridge. (22) There was one who looked to them as if he had been scalped, which angered and shocked the British soldiers. (22) They crossed the bridge and returned to the town by 11:30 am and, under the watchful eyes of the colonists, who continued to maintain defensive positions, (22) rejoined the main body of British forces in Concord. (13,15)
The Redcoats retreat from Concord to Lexington
After searching Concord (13,16) for about four hours, (16,19) but failing to get the gunpowder, (16,17) with their tyrannical work complete, (21) the British (16,17) ate lunch, reassembled for marching, and left Concord after noon. (22) to return to Boston. (16,17) By that time (16) the militia’s early warning system had assembled (15) almost 2,000 (16) militiamen from the neighbouring towns, (13,15) and more were constantly arriving. (16,17) They were commanded by Barrett, Buttrick, Robinson and many others. (18) The combined (11,13) red-coats (2,9) were hastily (5) pressured into a fighting (15) retreat (3,5) [OR] began a tactical withdrawal (11) towards Boston (13,15) along the Concord-Lexington Road. (3) At first, the militiamen simply followed the British column, (16) but gunfire erupted again between the two sides (13,16) and continued throughout the day. (9,13) Soon they outnumbered the British two-to-one. (17) Some armed American women fought in the battle. (17) So did men of color, including David Lamson, leading a group of elderly men who, like him, were too old to be in the militia, but intended to fight anyway. (17) Although some Americans cohered in militia units, many just fought on their own, taking sniper positions wherever the opportunity presented itself. (17) Rather than fight in open fields, like European soldiers, the Americans hid behind natural barriers, fired from ambush positions (17) behind trees, stone walls, (12,16) fences (20) buildings such as (20,12,16) houses (12,16) barns (12) and sheds. (16) The British were exhausted, disorganized, and running out of ammunition. (20) Before long they were abandoning weapons, clothing and equipment in order to retreat faster, (16) losing their discipline and hurrying onwards in a general retreat. (15,16) Several officers were killed or wounded as Smith struggled to maintain control. (15) By the time it reached Lexington, (2,15) the column was near collapse (15) and might have been wiped out had the Americans not started to run out of ammunition and gunpowder. (17)
Lexington to Boston
When the King’s troops reached Lexington, (19,22) Captain John Parker and his men exacted their revenge, (19) [OR] Smith’s expedition was rescued by reinforcements (11,15) in the form of an entire brigade (16) of about 1000 (20) fresh Redcoats (16) who were waiting there. (15) Percy assumed control of the combined forces (22) of about 1,700 men, (11,15) [OR] 1,800, (18) and let them rest, eat, drink, and have their wounds tended at field headquarters (Munroe Tavern) before resuming the march. (22) The Americans harassed them (3,5) with intense fire (5,11) all the 30 kilometres (9) [OR] 18 (16) [OR] 18.6411 miles, all the way through Menotomy (now Arlington) and Cambridge, (16) back to Boston (3,5) The British relieving force was commanded (11,15) by Lieutenant-General (11,17) [OR] Brigadier-General (15,20) Lord (20) Hugh Percy, (11,15) They had been sent by Gage to protect the retreat. (16) in response to Smith’s message asking for reinforcements. (22) The enlargement of the British force did not stop the colonists from resuming their attack. (16) The Americans now had sufficient numbers (15) as many as 3,500 (16) [OR] American numbers are unknown (18) to inflict heavy damage on the British (11,15) regulars. (11,12) [OR] Source 18 suggests that ‘Lexington and Concord’ was one battle. (18) The British were armed with muskets and bayonets. (15,18) Some light guns were used. (15,18) The American militia were armed with muskets, blunderbusses and any weapons they could find, (18) such as “long guns made for Duck-Shooting.” (17) But although the Americans continually fired upon the 1,700-strong force, Percy’s well-planned defensive formations fought them off. (15) He used flanking parties (16) and fire (15,16) from his two (20) cannon, (15,20) and after he had dispersed the pursuing militia (15) he showed initiative in extracting the British force. (15,18) [OR] Percy lost control of his men. (22) Finding the bridge at Cambridge blocked by the American Colonial Militia, (18) he took the British force east to the safety of Charlestown (11,16) Neck, where they had naval support, (16,18) arriving at about 7 PM. (20) They eventually got back to Boston (11,13) in Royal Navy boats. (18) Many of them had not slept for two days and had marched 40 miles (64km) in 21 hours, much of it under fire. (15) The casualties sustained during the retreat, from an often-unseen enemy, along with the alleged scalping of a redcoat, led them to commit (15,22) atrocities against the locals, (15,18) They did not take prisoners, (20) but killed (18,20) all (20) [OR] one or two (18) militiamen they found (18,20) with weapons (18) (including the wounded). (20) They burned and (18) looted houses (18,20) and killed civilians. (20) In the evening a contingent of newly arrived minutemen from Salem and Marblehead, Massachusetts, purportedly had a chance to cut off the Redcoats and perhaps finish them off. (16) Instead, their commander ordered them not to attack, (16) [OR] By avoiding direct confrontation, the Minutemen were foreshadowing the guerrilla tactics that would help them win the war. (9,12)
Gunsmith Isaac Davis took a bullet through the heart but it was the rebels, not the red-coats who had had the upper hand. (9) On a per-shot basis, the Americans inflicted higher casualties than the British regulars. (17) An officer reported: “These fellows were generally good marksmen, and many of them used long guns made for Duck-Shooting.” (17) [OR] The colonists did not show great marksmanship that day. (16) As many as 3,500 militiamen firing constantly for 18 miles (16) inflicted ‘extensive loss’ (18) [OR] only killed or wounded (16) a third (9) [OR] 20% (20) of the red-coats (9) 300 (20) [OR] roughly 250 (16) around 247 (10) [OR] 273 (7,12) (73 (7,15) [OR] 65 (17) dead and 199 (7,15) [OR] over 200 (7) [OR] 180 (17) [OR] 173 (15) [OR] 174 (19,20) wounded or missing (7,15) including 53 (20) [OR] 26 [OR] 27 (17) missing. (15,17) The Americans considered the contest an encouraging start to the war. (18) The Americans suffered (7,10) no major (10) casualties (7,10) losing only 88 people, (7,10) [OR] 95 (12) [OR] about 90 (16) [OR] 60 (14) [OR] 94. (20) These figures included 49 (7,19) [OR] 50 (15,17) dead, 39 wounded and five missing.) (7,15) Nevertheless, the relatively low casualties of the Battles of Lexington and Concord proved the colonial militia could stand up to veterans (7,16) of one of the most powerful armies in the world. (16)
British recognised colonists fighting ability
It was enough. (14) Lexington was not a serious military defeat, but it was politically disastrous for the British. (15) Smith’s expedition had caused the very fighting it was intended to prevent: (15) the British march was a disorganized experience from start to finish. (22) One British officer called it “An ill-planned and ill-executed” expedition. (7) The battles showed that American citizen soldiers could stand up to redcoats; something previously doubted by many on both sides. (15,20) The British were now faced with the problem of “how to subdue not just another army but a population in rebellion” (20) Lord Percy wrote: (20,22)
“For my part, I have never believed, I confess, that they would have attacked the king’s troops or have had the perseverance I found in them yesterday. (20) they attacked us in a very scattered, irregular manner, but with perseverance and resolution, nor did they ever dare to form into any regular body. Indeed, they knew too well what was proper, to do so. (22) They have men amongst them who know very well what they are about, having been employed as Rangers [against] the Indians & Canadians, & this country being much [covered with] wood, and hilly, is very advantageous for their method of fighting. Nor are several of their men void of a spirit of enthusiasm, as we experienced yesterday, for many of them concealed themselves in houses, & advanced within [ten yards] to fire at me & other officers, tho’ they were morally certain of being put to death themselves in an instant” (17) … Whoever looks on them as an irregular mob will find himself very much mistaken”. (17,20)
Siege of Boston
News of the battle quickly spread: (16,20) Paul Revere and other express riders carried the news all over the colonies, (20) and by May 28th it was known in London. (16) The whole country rushed to arms, boasting of the skill of their frontier marksman. (14) bringing all the 13 American colonies together against the British Empire. (8) The night after Lexington (17) [OR] within two days (15) about 15,000 [OR] 16,000 (12) militiamen (15,20) blockaded the narrow land accesses to Charlestown and Boston, (11,14) constructing earthworks across the neck of the Peninsula at whose end Charlestown stands so as to isolate the troops there. (14) came (15,20) to the Boston area and deployed around the city. (20) General Gage proclaimed Sam Adams and John Hancock to be rebels whose crimes could not be pardoned. (14) General Gage and the British troops in Boston were now under siege. (20,17) The Battles of Lexington and Concord confirmed the alienation between the majority of colonists and the mother country. (8,12) ) Soon, the British would begin confiscating guns in Boston. (17) On May 26, Gage received reinforcements, including 3 major generals: William Howe, John Burgoyne, and Henry Clinton. (20) Each of them would love to have replaced Gage. (20) Gage had only 6000 soldiers in Boston to hold off the 15,000 militiamen around the city. (20) In the early summer (4,14) (June) (4) 1775 (4,14) Gage was relieved by (4) General Howe, (4,14) He, with two other generals, Burgoyne and Clinton, arrived in Boston with reinforcements. (14) 16,000 (12) accumulated militias (11,12) blockaded the narrow land accesses to Charlestown and Boston, (11,14) constructing earthworks across the neck of the Peninsula at whose end Charlestown stands so as to isolate the troops there. (14) The British position there was fairly secure once reinforcements arrived at the end of May 1775. (15) They were, however, continually menaced by fire from the earthworks. (15) To counter this (15) on 17th June (14,15) British troops were ferried across to Breed’s Hill on the Charlestown Peninsula. (15) Here, at a cost of more than 1,000 casualties, (15,14) (1054 men killed or wounded, half his force engaged) (14) they narrowly (16) defeated the revolutionaries at (14,15) Bunker Hill (4,14) or Breeds Hill, (14) the first major battle of the American War of Independence. (15) Major Pitcairn, who had commanded at Lexington Green, was fatally wounded in the battle. (18) The low number of American casualties once again showed the strength of patriot forces. (16)
Effect on the Revolutionary politicians:
The most important result of the battle of Lexington and Concord was the strategic victory of American patriots, (8,10) because even though the British army managed to destroy some weapons and stop other supplies to the rebels, they didn’t create a major impact on them, (8) whereas the American militias had successfully driven the Britishers back to Boston. (8,9) It also increased the morale of the rebels to a great extent. (8,10) The patriotic media machine seized on the skirmishes with delight and presented them as a major victory, (7) [OR] it WAS a big win for the newly formed militia. (10) The violence turned a colonial revolt against British policy into a fight for political independence. (15) After this battle, the leaders of all the colonies now understood that they would soon have to face some major battles against the British authority. (8) Lexington and Concord led many Americans to support the ‘revolution’. (15) Americans started thinking that in the future their army would also become a powerful military power in the world. (10) John Adams’ cousin Sam, hearing the first gunfire, called out: “what a glorious morning this is, I mean, for America.” (7) Reports of these clashes reached the Second Continental Congress, which met in Philadelphia in May. (12) John Adams witnessed the engagement at Concord, (19) He said that these battles were the moment ‘the Die was cast, the Rubicon crossed’, (15) and he was profoundly disturbed at the losses. (7) It was “the most shocking event New England ever behold.” (7) He saw it as the microcosm of all the tragedy of civil war: (7) he wrote to William Barrell, “When I reflect and consider that (19) the fight was between those whose parents but a few generations ago were brothers, I shudder at the thought, and there’s no knowing where (7,19) these (7) [OR] our (19) calamities will end.” (7,19) Although most colonial leaders still hoped for reconciliation with Britain, the news stirred the delegates to more radical action. (12) They became more unified to make their security issue stronger and stronger. (8)
The British position there was fairly secure once reinforcements arrived at the end of May 1775. (15) They were, however, continually menaced by fire from the earthworks. (15) To counter this (15) on 17th June (14,15) British troops were ferried across to Breed’s Hill on the Charlestown Peninsula. (15) Here, at a cost of more than 1,000 casualties, (15,14) (1054 men killed or wounded, half his force engaged) (14) they narrowly (16) defeated the revolutionaries at (14,15) Bunker Hill (4,14) or Breeds Hill, (14) the first major battle of the American War of Independence. (15) Major Pitcairn, who had commanded at Lexington Green, was fatally wounded in the battle. (18) The low number of American casualties once again showed the strength of patriot forces. (16) Reinforced by volunteers from other colonies, and commanded by General George Washington, the American forces would maintain the siege of Boston until (17) Boston was evacuated by the British (12,17) who gave up and sailed away on March 17th, 1776. (17)
The War of American Independence begins:
The battles marked the outbreak of open armed conflict between the Kingdom of Great Britain and its thirteen colonies in the mainland of British North America. (11) By the following summer, a full-scale war of independence had broken out, paving the way for the creation of the United States of America. (16) Many more battles followed, and in 1783 the colonists formally won their independence. (5) During the Revolutionary War Paul Revere became a lieutenant colonel of artillery. (6) He also designed and printed the first issue of continental money. (6) Gage died in 1787. (4) In 1801 Revere founded the Revere copper company at Canton MA for rolling sheet copper. (6) He died in 1818. (6) Unsurprisingly, these battles were conveniently forgotten in Britain. (15) However, they soon became vital parts of the foundation story of the United States. (15) For years afterwards they were portrayed as British attacks on innocent freedom-loving Americans. (15) Many of the truths about the battles, such as who fired first and the importance of the militia preparations, were ignored. (15) Their status was elevated in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s ‘Concord Hymn’ (1837). (15)
Appendix I Bibliographical Notes
Identical wording in 11 (‘The American History’) and 13 (Small Wikipedia) – corroboration disallowed.
19 and 16 identical wording.
22 and 23 very similar.
- Foreign and Military: Seven Years’ War experience among Americans; American militias; arms caches; Espionage; minutemen; the network for raising the militia; March to Lexington; cover blown and call for reinforcements; fighting; on to Concord; search for supplies; engagement and bridge; disconnect between officers and men; retreat to Lexington; junction of British; American poor marksmanship; retreat to Boston; Percy’s leadership; war crimes; naval support; Bunker Hill; War of Independence.
- Religion and Ideas: liberty, patriotism, duty.
- Economic and Financial: the tax issue; the supply dumps;
- Social and Cultural: well mannered soldiers; black militia men; citizen militia;
- Constitutional; taxation without representation; Continental Congress; Right to bear arms;
- Individual and Random; Mrs Gage the spy; Revere, Dawes and Prescott; the first shot; Prince Estabrook; Major Buttrick; the scalping on the bridge; Lord Percy;
- Points of View: Americans, British Whigs; British Tories; Black militia;
- Language: patriot/rebel
- Alternative Hypothesis –
- Cause – Consequence – Comparison: Colonialism; Seven Years’ War; Stamp Act; E.I. Co bankruptcy; Boston Massacre, Tea Party, port closure; arms seizures; militia planning; Siege of Boston; Bunker Hill; War.
- Time: post 7 Yrs War.