At Lexington Green, MA, the British were met by approximately seventy American Minute Men led by John Parker in a British attempt to confiscate American arms. At the North Bridge in Concord, the British were confronted again, this time by 300-400 armed colonists, and were forced to march back to Boston with the Americans firing on them all the way. By the end of the day, the colonists were singing “Yankee Doodle” and the American Revolution had begun. With the Americans pushing back against the British use of military force to seize their firearms, Gen. Gage sought to offer the people of Boston the opportunity to leave town, but only if they surrendered their arms. Some accepted the offer and some 2,674 guns were surrendered, but Gage didn’t let the people go.
After the First Continental Congress, King George III told General Thomas Gage, the Governor of Massachusetts and the commander of all the British soldiers in North America, to use force when necessary to make certain the British rule in the colonies was maintained.
In February of 1775, Massachusetts, the colony the British considered most rebellious, was declared in rebellion and the British soldiers were told to be strict with those who showed disrespect for the British rule.
This did not improve the relations between the British and colonies. The colonies were more convinced than ever to bear arms and be prepared for war at any time. In Massachusetts, the men became known as Minutemen, because they were known to be ready at a minute’s notice. The colonists called themselves Patriots.
By April of 1775, British General Thomas Gage heard that the Patriots had gathered together an arsenal of weapons in Concord, sixteen miles from Boston. He ordered his soldiers to go to Concord and capture the weapons. They decided to go through Lexington to look for Sam Adams who they wanted to arrest.
Somehow the Minutemen learned about the British troops going to Concord to take their weapons. So they went to Lexington and waited for the British to march through the city. The British marched into Lexington early in the morning of April 19 and were met by seventy Minutemen drawn upon in two lines.
There were between 600 and 700 British soldiers. When the Minutemen saw that they were outnumbered, they started to back down. It was then that the shot heard around the world was fired. Even today, no one knows who fired first, the British or the Patriots?
But that shot caused the British to fire two volleys. The first went over the Minutemen’s heads and the second was fired right into their midst. The Minutemen scattered, but not before eighteen of them were killed.
The British marched on to Concord where they hoped to find a stockpile of rebel weapons.
Who did fire that shot heard around the world? James Perloff discusses who he thinks fired it (Sam Adams) below. He has a very interesting, well researched article on his website here:
“Tourtellot’s book is the best account we have of the day of Lexington and Concord. The actions of each individual who played a conspicuous part in the day’s work are minutely traced but Mr. Tourtellot never loses the main thread of his narrative and the wealth of detail he has included gives substance and color to an exciting story.”― J. C. Miller, New York Herald Tribune Book Review “Tourtellot does not let his 19th of April float up in the spring air unconnected with a past or a future. He has built in very skillfully the story of the months before that day and then sends its echoes rolling on through time―and into distant states and nations….No other book generally available performs an even remotely comparable job….Makes full use of old material, adds a good deal that has come to light in the intervening years and, standing firmly on its own base, presents magnificently for the general reader and the specialist this immortal opening chapter of our beginnings as a nation.”―Bruce Lancaster, The Saturday Review “The result of thoughtful examination of the evidence and clear writing.”―Walter Muir Whitehill, New England Quarterly “An absorbing and vital history, containing much newly published information about a crucial week in the history of the United States. “―J.M. Goodsell, Christian Science Monitor
On April 18th at 9:30 p.m. Paul Revere learned that the British Army was marching toward Lexington and Concord to arrest rebel leaders. At 5:20 the next morning, a shot rang out and the American Revolution had begun. Told in a step-by-step account of the 24 hours leading up to the battles that sparked a revolution, this tale is sure to both inform and entertain.