Lexington and ConcordEvents were now moving towards war as the ‘patriots’ seized the initiative, intimidating loyalists and training the militia into a serious fighting force. As the protests mounted, the British authorities tried to stamp out unrest. On the night of 18 April 1775 General Thomas Gage, the commander in Boston, sent seven hundred redcoats from Boston to seize an arms depot at nearby Concord. Hearing of the plan, Boston’s Committee of Safety sent Paul Revere and William Dawes ahead on horseback, by separate routes, to warn of the British approach. This famous ride later became immortalised in Longfellow’s poem of 1861.
Revere reached Lexington about midnight and then rode on towards Concord.
At dawn on 19 April the British advance guard were confronted by about seventy Minute Men at Lexington. In the shooting that followed, eight colonists died. The battle of Lexington (‘the shot that rang around the world’) was followed by the engagement at Concord in which ‘Minute Men’ forced British troops back to Boston.
|Statue of a Minute Man, thought|
to be Colonel John Parker
on Lexington Green, Massachusetts
In a European setting these would have been minor skirmishes, but the effect in America was enormous. For the first time American blood had been deliberately shed by British hands.