The Battles of Lexington and Concord

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The Battles of Lexington and Concord

Boston is a hotbed of problems in the spring of 1775. Preparations for conflict with the Royal authority have been underway throughout the winter with the production of arms and munitions, the training of militia (including the minutemen), and the organization of defenses. In April, General Thomas Gage, military governor of Massachusetts decides to counter these moves by sending a force out of Boston to confiscate weapons stored in the village of Concord and capture patriot leaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock reported to be staying in the village of Lexington.
The atmosphere is tense, word of General Gage's intentions spreads through Boston prompting the patriots to set up a messaging system to alert the countryside of any advance of British troops. Paul Revere arranges for a signal to be sent by lantern from the steeple of North Church - one if by land, two if by sea. On the night of April 18, 1775 the lantern's alarm sends Revere, William Dawes and other riders on the road to spread the news. The messengers cry out the alarm, awakening every house, warning of the British column making its way towards Lexington. In the rider's wake there erupts the ringing of church bells, the beating of drums and the roar of gun shots - all announcing the danger and calling the local militias to action.

April 19, 1775

2:00 – 3:00 AM

General Gage wants this to be a secret and surprise mission. He instructs his officers to awaken and organize their men quietly. The soldiers are to move down to the docks where boats are waiting for them to take them across the harbor. To ensure that they keep this mission as secret as possible, the troops bayonet and kill a barking dog so that it will not give them away.

3:00 – 5:00 AM

Things go wrong for the British right away. The boats that are carrying the troops can’t make it all the way to the shore and so the soldiers have to wade in waist-deep water and muck to reach the beach. They are cold, wet, and worried – as they gather on the beach, they hear church bells in the distance. They know that surprise is lost.

5:00 – 6:00 AM

As the British march up to Lexington green, they find a small group of minutemen. They have been hearing reports of men forming on Lexington green for a while now and there have been rumors that there are 100+ men waiting for them. But there is in actuality only 70 or so.

In the predawn light of April 19, the beating drums and ringing bells summon between 50 and 70 militiamen (led by Jonas Parker) to the town green at Lexington. As they line up in battle formation the distant sound of marching feet and shouted orders alert them of the Redcoats' approach. Soon the British column emerges through the morning fog. Standing in front of the militiamen is the world’s best army made up of soldiers who have never been defeated.
Jonas Parker orders his minutemen "Stand your ground! Don't fire unless fired upon! But if they mean to have a war, let it begin here!" Then Pitcairn (the British General in charge) rides in front of the minutemen and shouts "Lay down your arms, you rebels and disperse!"
A single shot rings out and both sides fire upon each other. One British soldier falls, though only wounded, and the British infantry proceeds with a bayonet charge. Jonas Parker is wounded, falls to his knees and tries to reload. Before he can finish he is run through with a bayonet. The smoke clears and the British regroup and move on. In the short fight eight minutemen have died and ten more are wounded.

Although Paul Revere is captured by British scouts before reaching Concord, other messengers manage to get through and warn the people. While the British soldiers continue on their way to Concord, the men and women of Concord are busy moving the arms and ammunition to new hiding places in surrounding towns. When the soldiers arrive they are only able to destroy part of the supplies.

6:00 – 8:00 AM (from Lexington to Concord)

The Minutemen stationed in Concord cross the Concord River and await reinforcements on Pankatasset Hill. As soon as the Minutemen are on Pankatasset Hill, the British arrive at North Bridge and enter Concord.

8:00 – 10:00 AM (Concord: North Bridge)

The Minutemen on Punkatasset Hill now make up a force of around 400 and they begin to move down the hill, closer to North Bridge.

When the Minutemen are within 75 yards the British let off their first volley. Major Buttrick of the Americans shouts "Fire fellow soldiers, for God's sake fire!" Then every Minuteman fires who "can fire and not kill their own men." British soldiers' morale is broken by the overwhelming numbers and they run back across North Bridge and out of Concord.

The British Retreat to Boston

Minutemen from nearby towns are now responding to the messengers' warnings. The smoke from the burning supplies is also attracting local farmers and townspeople. A large force of patriots is now gathered in response to the British troops.

As the British soldiers head back to Boston, they are attacked by the Minutemen. All along the route, Minutemen, local farmers and townspeople continue the attack against the British. By the time the soldiers reach Boston, 73 British soldiers are dead and 174 more are wounded.

In the days fighting, 49 patriots are killed, and 39 more are wounded.

Interesting Facts about Paul Revere / Timeline

  • On the day of Revere's ride his wife, Rachael, had become concerned over his absence. Fearing the worst, she contacted Benjamin Church who was a member of the Sons of Liberty and gave him 125 pounds to see if he could locate Paul and deliver the money. She probably thought that Paul could use the money to bribe his way out if he had been arrested. A short time later Revere arrived home.

  • Paul Revere participated in the Boston Tea Party dressed as "Mohawk”.

April 18 @ 10:00 P.M. - Revere begins his 'Midnight Ride' to Lexington.

April 18 @ 11:00 P.M. – Arrival across the river in Charlestown
April 19 @ 12:00 A.M. - Arrival at Reverend Josiah Clarke's house in Lexington.
April 19 @ 1:00 A.M. - Paul Revere is intercepted by British officers. Dawes and Prescott escape.
April 19 @ 2:00 A.M. - Revere is released.
April 19 @ 3:00 A.M. – Arrival back at Reverend Clarke's house in Lexington.
April 19 @ 5:00 A.M. - Revere is on the outskirts of Lexington when the first shots was fired starting the Battle of Lexington and Concord.

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