Lexington and Concord
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
Spirit, that made those spirits dare,
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.
words written by Ralph Waldo Emerson - to commemorate that fateful day in history when the British came to Lexington and Concord.
On April 18, 1775 the Patriots came face to face with the British at Lexington, Massachusetts. The British under the direction of General Gage sent 800 soldiers to capture the magazine and any munitions. They hoped to halt any fighting from the patriots. Once they secured the weapons, they were to find Samuel Adams and John Hancock and hold them captive.
The minutemen were ready because of Paul Revere and his ride over the countryside. Without the warning from Dr. Joseph Warren who sent Revere on his way, the colonists would not have been able to face the British that day.
Paul Revere's account "We set off for Concord, and were overtaken by a young gentleman named Prescot, who belonged to Concord, and was going home. When we had got about half way from Lexington and Concord, the other two stopped at a house to awake the men, I kept along . . . In an instant I saw four of them, who rode up to me with their pistols in their bands, said, "...if you go an inch further, you are a dead man." Immediately Prescot came up. We attempted to get through them, but they kept before us, and swore if we did not turn in to that pasture, they would blow our brains out, (they had placed themselves opposite to a pair of bars, and had taken the bars down). They forced us in. When we had got in, Mr. Prescot said "Put on!" He took to the left, I to the right . . .Just as I reached it, out started six officers, seized my bridle, put their pistols to my breast, ordered me to dismount, which I did." (This is from Paul Revere's own account - "Account of Midnight Ride to Lexington" - 1775).
The Patriots retreated to the North Bridge. Hundreds of colonists marched on the bridge. Three British soldiers died. Even though the minutemen were outnumbered, they faced the British determined to push them back. The British killed 8 men and injured 10, but more men arrived to battle the British.
The British managed to destroy only some supplies. They began their trek back to Boston but were met up with more minutemen along the route. Seventy three British soldiers were dead and another 174 were wounded. The British would have perished for sure under the assault of the minutemen except another 900 men and 2 cannons arrived under orders from Lord Percy. More homes were looted and burned along the way to the harbor. As the fighting continued, more than 250 British were killed or wounded and 90 Americans.
As a result of the attack, the Massachusetts Congress called for more than 30,000 men to join forces. These men joined the minutemen and began to drill and train for the battles ahead. Anyone suspected of being a Tory was asked to surrender their arms. The Patriots were able to blockade General Gage in Boston. He waited for reinforcements to arrive.
Great Britain was not pleased by the turn of events. Martial law was proclaimed in Massachusetts. Everyone was offered a pardon for their actions against the king except for John Hancock and Samuel Adams who all knew helped the Patriot cause. No quarter would be given to anyone who went against the king or his men.
Lord Percy writes back to England - "Whoever looks upon them [the rebels] as an irregular mob will be much mistaken." And yet it did not stop the British from attempting to bend the patriots to their will.
The British would shortly learn how wrong they were to engage the Americans on their own soil.