The Day The Revolution Started

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Late in the evening of April 19, 1775 a large contingent (about 700) of British Army Regulars started marching from Boston, MA to the town of Concord, MA.

Their orders were to seize cannon, powder, and shot from the colonial armory located there.

The march started with a short, but disorganized ferry operation across the Charles River to the City of Cambridge, MA.

From there, the soldiers started marching northwesterly towards Concord. An advance column led by Royal Marine Lieutenant Jesse Adair turned right and headed to the town common in Lexington, MA. His intent was to protect the flank of the larger British column marching towards Concord.

A contingent of colonial militiamen were assembling on the common after being warned by Paul Revere earlier in the morning.

A British officer, no one is sure which one rode forth on his horse and ordered the assembled militiamen to “lay down your arms, you damned rebels!”

The militia Captain Charles Parker, order his men to disperse, which some started to do. Most didn’t lay down their arms, since they belonged to the individuals, not the government.

A shot rang out from the British regiment, again no one knows who fired. No militia were injured, but they stopped dispersing and stood to the British. The first colonial volley was powder only, no shot. No so the second volley which injured a couple of British soldiers.

The British soldiers then charged forward with fixed bayonets, injuring eight and wounding ten colonials.

At this point a British Colonel arrived and ordered the troops to assemble and cease firing.

The British then moved on to Concord, took the town, and started searching for the cannon and other items. Three large cannon were found and destroyed, along with shot, flour, and other items.

The main battle took place at the North Bridge in Concord. By this time several companies of militia had arrived from surrounding towns and were ready to do battle.

The British retreated across the bridge and took up defensive positions. One shot rang out from the British side, followed by two more, followed by a larger volley. More firing and after six militiamen had been killed, the militia commanders ordered return fire.

The battle was short, but bloody. It ended with the British retreating back through Lexington to Boston. Along the way, they were harassed by colonial militiamen. The battle went on all day long, with casualties on both sides.

The battle was more or less an accident, but it mattered not. The colonials were branded as traitors, which by British law, they were. America would not be officially born until July of the following year, but in reality the Revolution started on April 19, 1775.

In June of 1775, the British would suffer another defeat at Bunker (actually Breeds) Hill in Charlestown, MA.

There was no turning back now. The colonials would either succeed in freeing themselves from the British or be conquered and the leaders hanged.

Only a couple of states recognize this holiday, which is a shame. This was the day that the journey towards what would become the United States of America started. It should be remembered and celebrated as much as is July 4.

Were it not for the militia at Concord and Lexington, it might well have been several more years, if ever, before the Colonies gained independenc.

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After a long career as a field EMS provider, I'm now doing all that back office stuff I used to laugh at. Life is full of ironies, isn't it? I still live in the Northeast corner of the United States, although I hope to change that to another part of the country more in tune with my values and beliefs. I still write about EMS, but I'm adding more and more non EMS subject matter. Thanks for visiting.

1 COMMENT

  1. An excellent account of the events of the day and the lead up to the conflict can be found in “Paul Revere’s Ride” by David Hackett Fischer. Reads less like a history book and more like a novel, with the added bonus of it being non-fiction.

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