By early 1775, it was becoming more evident to American patriots that war with Great Britain was inevitable. Massachusetts was home to the largest concentration of patriots who were regularly challenging British rule and authority. Many of them began purchasing munitions – gun powder, cannonballs, musket balls, etc., and then stockpiling them in Concord, a small town about twenty miles from Boston.
Word of the munitions stockpile reached British authorities who ordered General Thomas Gage, the British Governor of Massachusetts to confiscate the stockpiles in Concord.
On April 18, 1775, Gage gave the order for the British troops to march to Concord to confiscate the munitions and arrest the leaders of the American patriots John Adams and John Hancock. Nearly 700 British troops were ferried across the Charles River and began their march to Lexington in the late hours of April 18.
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If you read the post for April 18, 1775, you will know that much of what you were taught about the midnight ride of Paul Revere was far from being accurate. William Dawes also rode from Boston to warn the militiamen at Lexington and Adams and Hancock in Concord. They both arrived quietly in Lexington and then were met by young Samuel Prescott as they rode to Concord. The trio was discovered by a British patrol. Revere was captured, Dawes escaped but lost his horse and it was Prescott who escaped and rode on to Concord and warned Adams and Hancock of the approaching British troops and the plans to arrest them.
On this day, April 19, 1775, alarms were sounded in Lexington before dawn, summoning the Minutemen and any other willing patriot. By the time the British troops arrived, Minuteman Captain John Parker had managed to assemble about 70 militias on the common green of the Lexington.
The British were led by Major John Pitcairn, who ordered the Minutemen to disperse. The tension was at the breaking point as silence loomed across the green. Eventually, the Minutemen, realizing they were outnumbered 10 to 1, began to withdraw from the green when suddenly a shot rang out.
No one knows who fired the shot, but once it rang out, the green was filled with a thick cloud of musket smoke. The skirmish didn’t last long, but when the smoke wafted off the green, the Minutemen suffered 8 dead and 10 wounded. The British suffered 1 injury.
In the meantime, Revere, who had been captured, interrogated and released by the British, managed to escape to Philadelphia along with John Adam and John Hancock.
That initial shot has long been referred to as the shot heard around the world as it was the shot that launched the Revolutionary War with Great Britain. Before the war ended, it also involved France and Spain.
Sources for the above includes: Today, April 18, 1775: Boston, Famous Ride, Lanterns – What is the Truth? (VIDEO); The American Revolution begins; Battle at Lexington Green, 1775; The Shot Heard ‘Round the World; The Shot Heard Round The World: Battle Breaks Out At Lexington; What was the “shot heard round the world”?; Causes of the American Revolution; Background, History, And The Beginning Of The Revolution.