The town of Concord, Massachusetts, was alerted to the advance of British forces by Dr. Samuel Prescott shortly after midnight on April 19. Church bells rang out the alarm, summoning Minutemen from the vicinity. By the early morning hours, several hundred men had gathered in the town and began a slow march toward the oncoming redcoats, who had easily scattered the militia in Lexington. However, when the Americans first sighted the British advance force, they abruptly reversed direction and retreated to a hilltop outside of town.
By 7:30 a.m., the British force entered Concord intent on two objectives: destroying weapons and eating breakfast. A local man was forced at gunpoint to reveal where the town cannon had been buried a few hours earlier. It was quickly unearthed and disabled. Other redcoats searched homes in the town for arms and purchased food from reluctant residents.
The nearby militia had grown to a force of more than 400 men. From their vantage point, they saw smoke billowing from the town and assumed that their homes had been torched. In fact, the British had simply built a bonfire to dispose of some military equipment and the local liberty pole.
The militia left their hilltop retreat and moved back toward town. On the way, they confronted a contingent of British forces at the North Bridge over the Concord River. Several shots rang out from uncertain sources. No one fell and some of the militiamen assumed that the redcoats were simply trying to intimidate them, and that they had no intention of opening fire. That illusion was quickly shattered when a crackling volley was loosed from the British side. Two Americans were killed, and the fire was promptly returned. The British ranks broke and the soldiers hurried back to Concord where they waited until noon for reinforcements from Boston. The anticipated relief had not departed from the city until 9 a.m. and was still miles away. The British decision to leave Concord without reinforcements at first appeared to be wise. The American militiamen initially stood silently and watched the departure, but later the local men began to take positions behind trees and fences and pour fire into the departing army. The church bells continued their tolling and increasing numbers of farmers and workmen left their tasks to join the rout.The British were outraged by the American tactics, believing that real soldiers would confront their enemies in the open. Instead, the colonists opened fire from hidden positions as the army passed, then sprinted ahead to another protected spot and repeat the process. The tired and angry British soldiers broke into houses along the path of retreat. Any man remotely suspected of being one of the snipers was shot and his house burned.
British prospects improved somewhat in Lexington, where they finally linked up with the relief forces. Two cannons had been brought from Boston and were used with some effect on the march back. Nevertheless, sniper attacks dogged the British to the city outskirts. At the end of the day, American militiamen began to encircle their opponents and started preparations for a siege.
One of the day’s heroes was Dr. Joseph Warren, the Patriot leader, who risked his life repeatedly while tending the wounded and dying. The fighting at Lexington, Concord, and along the road back to Boston, had negligible long-range military consequences. The British suffered horribly, sustaining 73 killed, 174 wounded, and 26 missing. The Americans listed 49 killed, 39 wounded and five as missing. The colonists, however, received a tremendous boost in morale by embarrassing the vaunted British army.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the name of the river?
How old is the North Bridge?
Are there really bodies buried in the Grave of the British Soldiers? Do we know who they were?
Who wrote the poem on the British gravestone?
They came three thousand miles and died,
To keep the past upon its throne.
Unheard beyond the ocean tide,
Their English mother made her moan.
This is a stanza of a poem called "Lines Suggested by the Graves of two English Soldiers on Concord Battleground." by James Russell Lowell.
|THE SAME good blood that now refills|
|The dotard Orient’s shrunken veins,|
|The same whose vigor westward thrills,|
|Bursting Nevada’s silver chains,|
|Poured here upon the April grass,|
|Freckled with red the herbage new|
|On reeled the battle’s trampling mass,|
|Back to the ash the bluebird flew.|
|Poured here in vain—that sturdy blood|
|Was meant to make the earth more green,|
|But in a higher, gentler mood|
|Than broke this April noon serene|
|Two graves are here: to mark the place,|
|At head and foot, an unhewn stone,|
|O’er which the herald lichens trace|
|The blazon of Oblivion.|
|These men were brave enough, and true|
|To the hired soldier’s bull-dog creed|
|What brought them here they never knew,|
|They fought as suits the English breed:|
|They came three thousand miles, and died,|
|To keep the Past upon its throne|
|Unheard, beyond the ocean tide,|
|Their English mother made her moan.|
|The turf that covers them no thrill|
|Sends up to fire the heart and brain|
|No stronger purpose nerves the will,|
|No hope renews its youth again:|
|From farm to farm the Concord glides,|
|And trails my fancy with its flow|
|O’erhead the balanced hen-hawk slides,|
|Twinned in the river’s heaven below.|
|But go, whose Bay State bosom stirs,|
|Proud of thy birth and neighbor’s right,|
|Where sleep the heroic villagers|
|Borne red and stiff from Concord fight|
|Thought Reuben, snatching down his gun,|
|Or Seth, as ebbed the life away,|
|What earthquake rifts would shoot and run|
|World-wide from that short April fray?|
|What then? With heart and hand they wrought,|
|According to their village light|
|’T was for the Future that they fought,|
|Their rustic faith in what was right.|
|Upon earth’s tragic stage they burst|
|Unsummoned, in the humble sock|
|Theirs the fifth act the curtain first|
|Rose long ago on Charles’s block.|
|Their graves have voices: if they threw|
|Dice charged with fates beyond their ken,|
|Yet to their instincts they were true,|
|And had the genius to be men.|
|Fine privilege of Freedom’s host,|
|Of even foot-soldiers for the Right!—|
|For centuries dead, ye are not lost,|
|Your graves send courage forth, and might.|
Who sculpted the Minute Man Statue?
Does the Statue represent a particular person?
Lexington and Concord
In this first battle of the American Revolution, Massachusetts colonists defied British authority, outnumbered and outfought the Redcoats, and embarked on a lengthy war to earn their independence.
HOW IT ENDED
American victory. The British marched into Lexington and Concord intending to suppress the possibility of rebellion by seizing weapons from the colonists. Instead, their actions sparked the first battle of the Revolutionary War. The colonists’ intricate alarm system summoned local militia companies, enabling them to successfully counter the British threat.
Thomas Gage was appointed Royal Governor of Massachusetts in 1774 and tasked by the British Parliament with stamping out rising unrest caused by restrictive British policies. Gage inflamed tensions between the colonies and the mother country and practiced harsh enforcement of British law. He drafted the Coercive Acts, a series of laws intended to punish colonists for deeds of defiance against the King, such as the Boston Tea Party.
By April 1775, Gage was facing the threat of outright rebellion. He hoped to prevent violence by ordering the seizure of weapons and powder being stored in Concord, Massachusetts, twenty miles northwest of Boston. But he underestimated the courage and determination of the colonists. Patriot spies got wind of Gage’s plan. On the evening of April 18, Paul Revere and other riders raised the alarm that British regulars were on their way to Concord. Minute Men and militias rushed to confront them early on April 19. Though it is uncertain who actually fired the first shot that day, it reverberated throughout history. Eight years of war followed, and those who stood their ground against Gage’s troops eventually earned independence from Britain and became citizens of the democratic United States of America.
British Lt. Col. Francis Smith assembles the 700 regulars under his command to capture and destroy military stores presumably hidden by the Massachusetts militia at Concord. When the King’s troops depart Boston for Concord on the evening of April 18, anti-British intelligence quickly informs patriot leader Dr. Joseph Warren about their intentions. Warren sends for riders Paul Revere and William Dawes to spread the alarm. Revere takes the short water route from Boston across the harbor to Charlestown, while Dawes rides out across Boston Neck. Revere and Dawes depart Boston around 10:00 p.m. At the same time, two lanterns briefly flicker from the Old North Church steeple, a prearranged signal designed by Revere to alert the patriot network that the British will row across Boston harbor instead of marching out over the Neck.
On reaching the Charlestown shore, Revere mounts and begins his ride to Lexington. As he passes through the towns of Somerville, Medford, and Menotomy (now Arlington), other riders set out, guns fire, and church bells peal—all warning the countryside of the coming threat. Minute Men grab their weapons and head for town greens, followed by the rest of the militia. By the time the British cross the water, word of their imminent arrival has already reached Concord.
April 19. British troops march into the small town of Lexington at about 5:00 a.m. to find themselves faced by a militia company of more 70 men led by Capt. John Parker. When the vanguard of the British force rushes toward them across the town green, Parker immediately orders his company to disperse. At some point a shot rings out—historians still debate who fired it—and the nervous British soldiers fire a volley, killing seven and mortally wounding one of the retreating militiamen. The British column moves on toward Concord, leaving the dead, wounded, and dying in their wake.
Arriving in Concord at approximately 8:00 a.m., British commanders Francis Smith and John Pitcairn order several companies, about 220 troops in all, to secure the North Bridge across the Concord River and then continue on another mile to the Barrett Farm, where a cache of arms and powder is presumably located. A growing assembly of close to 400 militia from Concord and the surrounding towns gather on the high ground, where they see smoke rising from Concord. Mistakenly assuming the Redcoats are torching the town, the militia companies advance. The Acton Company, commanded by 30-year-old Capt. Isaac Davis, is at the head of the column. When asked if his men are prepared to confront the British troops, Davis says, “I haven’t a man afraid to go.”
As the Minute Men march down the hill, the British soldiers, intimidated by their numbers and orderly advance, retreat to the opposite shore and prepare to defend themselves. When Davis’s company comes within range, the Redcoats open fire, killing Davis and also Abner Hosmer, another Acton Minute Man. Major Buttrick of Concord shouts, “For God’s sake, fire!” and the Minute Men respond, killing three British soldiers and wounding nine others. This volley is considered “the shot heard round the world” and sends the British troops retreating back to town.
Smith and Pitcairn order a return to Boston, which devolves into a rout as the British are attacked from all sides by swarms of angry Minute Men along what is now known as Battle Road. When they reach Lexington, Parker’s men take their revenge for the violence suffered that morning, firing on the British regulars from behind cover. For the next 12 miles, the British are continually ambushed by Minute Men shooting from behind trees, rock walls, and buildings. British reinforcements reach Smith and Pitcairn’s men on the eastern outskirts of Lexington, but the Minute Men pursue them as they retreat back to Boston.
Tag Archives: Battle of Concord
(Readers: I will be on the road June 18-28 attending a workshop for college teachers at Yale and visiting a variety of East Coast historical sites. While I am away–and with July 4th looming on the horizon, I will be reposting a series of past essays on Faith and the American Founding. The books that I recommend below were all ones that I included in my course on the American Revolution this past semester. They are wonderfully accessible for anyone interested in the American founding.)
In his wonderful book Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good, Steven Garber observes that “history is mostly . . . very ordinary people in very ordinary places.” Garber’s reminder prompts me to share some books with you that offer insight into the way that common Americans responded to and were changed by the American Revolution. The Fourth of July will soon be upon us, and the anniversary of American independence will prompt many of us to reflect on the origins of the United States. We will zero in on the values of the first “Greatest Generation,” and we’ll debate the nature of the beliefs that propelled them and the vision that sustained them. I think that’s a good thing. But we’ll undoubtedly focus our attention primarily on the same small cast of characters, the extraordinary leaders who would eventually get their pictures on our folding money. And they were extraordinary men—brilliant, visionary, and courageous.
Yet understanding what the American Revolution meant in the lives of everyday people is important as well. When we focus exclusively on the leading statesmen—Adams, Jefferson, Franklin & Co.—the Revolution has a way of becoming a debate among philosophers over abstract propositions. I am not denigrating for a moment the power of their ideas or the importance of the questions that drove them. We need to return regularly to both and enter into the conversation of which these remarkable thinkers were a part.
But I am suggesting that we lose something by not broadening our focus. Most obviously, by concentrating so exclusively on the leading Founders, we close our eyes to 99 percent of those who contributed to the cause of American independence. How can we claim to know what the Revolution stood for, if we have no idea what the vast majority of Americans thought it was about? If we don’t know why they supported it (if they did)? If we’re unsure how they contributed to its outcome? If we have no clue how it changed their lives?
I think we miss something else as well. Readers of this blog will know that I think one of the most important reasons to study the past is to gain wisdom. At its best, the study of history can be a marvelous vehicle for moral reflection. For those who have eyes to see, the past has much to reveal to us about the present and much to teach us about how to meet the future. In this regard, focusing on the lives of extraordinary leaders is a two-edged sword. We may marvel at their extraordinary character or accomplishments, but precisely because they are so extraordinary, we may find it hard to relate to them. My suspicion is that we are more likely to admire them than to be challenged or convicted by them. This, then, is another reason why it is so important to recapture the perspective of common folk. Few of us will ever be called to lead armies or frame new governments, but we may be able to relate to—and learn from—the many mundane moral decisions that our anonymous ancestors have faced before us.
So here are three books that I have long appreciated for their ability to take us into the world of everyday Americans during the era of the American Revolution. They’re each fairly short, readily available, and relatively inexpensive. They’re also each very different. They rest on different kinds of sources, offer different understandings, and model different ways that historians try to glean insight into the world of common people in ages past.
The first is The Shoemaker and the Tea Party, by Alfred Young. In the first half of the book, Young painstakingly recreates the life of a poor Boston shoemaker named George Robert Twelves Hewes. (Some name, huh?) Hewes was born in Massachusetts in 1742 and lived his life in obscurity until the 1830s, when through an unusual chain of events it was discovered that he was one of the last living participants in the Boston Tea Party. Young describes Hewes as “a nobody who briefly became a somebody in the Revolution and, for a moment near the end of his life, a hero.” Two lesser known contemporary writers quickly penned biographies of the aged patriot, who was invited to Boston in 1835 and treated as a celebrity. Young draws from both accounts—supplemented by as much corroborating evidence as he can find from other historical sources—to ask three primary questions: What was Hewes’ role in the Revolution? What did he think about it? How did it affect his life?
Robert Hewes was among the poorest of the poor. Born the youngest of nine children, his father died when he was seven and his mother passed away when he was fourteen. That same year he was apprenticed to a shoemaker (an occupation very low in status and income) because no one in his family could come up with the fee necessary to indenture him to a more lucrative trade. He later married the illiterate daughter of a church sexton and fathered fifteen children, none of whom had the means to care for him after his wife of seventy years passed away.
Hewes lacked the necessary property to be eligible to vote as the Revolution approached, but the arrival of British troops in Boston in 1768 made him keenly interested in politics nonetheless. Hewes told neither of his biographers much about his reasons for supporting the patriot cause, but his involvement in the Tea Party in December 1773 hints at the way that the transatlantic struggle with the Mother Country could draw common Americans from the periphery to the center of local politics. For Hewes, the coming of the American Revolution meant, first and foremost, the opportunity to assert his worth as an equal member of the town. As Young concludes, “Between 1768 and 1773, the shoemaker became a citizen.”
Hewes’ large family and minimal means shaped the contours of his service in the Revolutionary cause after the rupture with Britain. Unable to be away from his family for extended periods, he served numerous short stints as both a private in the militia and as a crew member on an American privateer. All told, he was in military service for a little over a year and a half of the eight-year long war. “In all this activity he claimed no moment of glory,” Young summarizes. There was a lot of marching, a lot of drudgery, and very little pay. Hewes was as poor when the war concluded as when it began.
Hewes’ numerous short stints in the militia were fairly typical of military service during the Revolution. Military historians have estimated that as many as four hundred thousand colonists served at one time or other, but the vast majority of these served in the militia for brief periods of a few weeks or months. In contrast, by 1777 the soldiers in George Washington’s Continental Army were enlisted for the duration of the war. Washington’s force never exceeded twenty thousand men, however, and was greatly smaller than that for much of the war.
The world of the Continental soldier is the focus of A Narrative of a Revolutionary Soldier: Some of the Adventures, Dangers, and Sufferings of Joseph Plumb Martin. While The Shoemaker and the Tea Party represents the efforts of a modern-day historian to recreate the life of an obscure colonist, the Narrative conveys the life of a common Continental soldier in his own words. In contrast to Hewes’ numerous short stints in military service, Joseph Martin served as a private under General George Washington for nearly eight years. The Connecticut farm boy volunteered at the ripe age of fifteen and was still scarcely an adult when he was discharged at the war’s conclusion. Martin composed his memoir nearly a half century later, right about the time Robert Hewes was being celebrated in Boston.
“War is hell,” Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman is supposed to have said. Martin would have countered that war is boredom, drudgery, and starvation. He described his experience in battle and alluded briefly to comrades who were killed or wounded, but on the whole his description of combat is brief and vague. He was much more detailed in reviewing when and where and how far he marched and the specific kinds of duty to which he was assigned. But by far his most frequent observations have to do with how hungry he was. He noted repeatedly (literally dozens of times) that he was chronically hungry. His three “constant companions,” as he put it, were “Fatigue, Hunger, and Cold.”
Like Robert Hewes, the aged Joseph Martin had little to say about his reasons for supporting the patriot cause. He hints at a teenage boy’s hankering for excitement and the torture of staying on the farm when adventure was within his grasp. A half-century removed from such innocence, he wrote in retrospect with a tinge of resentment, even bitterness. The members of the Continental Army had been shabbily treated, in his opinion. By his reckoning, the government had not honored its promises to the soldiers for pay during the war or for land bounties afterward. “When the country had drained the last drop of service it could screw out of the poor soldiers, they were turned adrift like worn out horses, and nothing said about land to pasture them upon.” In Martin’s mind, his relationship to the new country he had helped to bring into being was “much like that of a loyal and faithful husband, and a light heeled wanton of a wife.” He had been faithful, while those for whom he had sacrificed had been forgetful. “But I forgive her,” Martin concluded, “and hope she will do better in the future.”
My third and final recommendation is of a very different kind of book. While the first two focus on single individuals, in The Minutemen and Their World, historian Robert Gross tries to resurrect a community. The place of choice is Concord, Massachusetts, the New England village west of Boston where “Minutemen” squared off against British regulars in April 1775 in the first real battle of the American Revolution. While the Minutemen are a celebrated part of American lore, Gross recognized that they were faceless as well as famous. His goal was to learn everything he could about the community that they were defending when they fired the “shot heard round the world.”
At the heart of the book is the truth that key historical events emerge out of a context. The men who took their stand at Concord bridge were fathers, sons, brothers and friends. They did not take up their muskets as autonomous individuals, but as members of a community. Their lives were enmeshed in numerous relationships defined by kinship, geography, economy and religion. As we read about Concord on the eve of the Revolution, Gross uses the community as a window into the colonial world. You learn about eighteenth-century agriculture, the status of women, slavery and race relations, attitudes toward the poor, differences over revivalism, and relations between parents and their adult children. In the process, the town’s Minutemen cease to be cardboard cutouts and take on flesh and blood.
One of the great strengths of the book is how Gross connects the small stories of these “ordinary people in an ordinary place” to the grand narrative of the Revolution that is much better known. The people of Concord would briefly be agitated in response to offensive British policies like the Stamp Act or the Tea Act, but the furor would die down quickly and their attention would return to local affairs. Indeed, until the spring of 1774, the most important topics in the town meeting were local: roads, schools, support for the poor. As Gross puts it, “a large part of local government was devoted to keeping one man’s livestock out of another man’s fields.”
This changed with the arrival of news concerning a new series of acts passed by the British Parliament in response to the Boston Tea Party. Colonists quickly labeled the new laws the “Intolerable Acts.” While the measures focused primarily on punishing Boston specifically, one of the acts limited all towns in Massachusetts to one town meeting a year. As Gross explains, the people of Concord saw this as a direct assault on their freedom to manage their own community, and the response was a far greater support for resistance than had existed before then.
For the people of Concord, then, the struggle with Britain truly ignited only when British policies interfered, in a way that they had not previously, with the traditional way of life in their village. From that point forward, the people of Concord unified in support of resistance, but not so much because they desired formal independence from Britain. Their primary goal, Gross explains, “was to defend their traditional community life.” What they really wanted was to keep things the way they were. And yet one of the clear lessons of history is that the trajectory of great historical developments, once begun, is rarely predictable. Things don’t turn out the way we plan. The eight-year-long war unleashed unimagined changes. The people of Concord were looking backward more than forward in 1775. In this village, at least, “the greatest rebellion of all was undertaken in the name of tradition.”
Battle of Concord
Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Smith's 700-strong British expeditionary force was sent to Concord to destroy rebel supplies, and a contingent of British troops headed to Lexington to confront Captain John Parker's 77-strong militia company. Parker's company was scattered at the Battle of Lexington, and several militiamen from Lexington rode to Concord to warn Colonel James Barrett about the approach of the British. The British took the town of Concord and burned the Patriot cannon carriages however, this was the only significant loss of supplies for the Patriots, who recovered their shot and food from the town after the British left.
Colonel Barrett had his troops withdraw from Punkatasset Hill to a hilltop 300 yards from the Old North Bridge, and five companies of minutemen and five companies of militia from Acton, Concord, Bedford, and Lincoln occupied the hill. The 400 militiamen outnumbered Captain Walter Laurie's 95-strong light infantry forces, and the Patriots held back the British forces as they attempted to advance across the bridge and the riverbank on either side of the bridge. The Patriots fired just before the British firing lines could fire their volleys, wiping out several of their squads. Four of the eight British officers were wounded by musket volleys during the battle, and the British withdrew from their first defeat. Smith decided to withdraw towards Boston, leading to a rebel ambush that became known as "Parker's Revenge".
Prehistory and founding Edit
The area which became the town of Concord was originally known as "Musketaquid", situated at the confluence of the Sudbury and Assabet rivers.  The name was an Algonquian word for "grassy plain", fitting the area's low-lying marshes and kettle holes.  Native Americans had cultivated corn crops there the rivers were rich with fish and the land was lush and arable.  The area was largely depopulated by the smallpox plague that swept across the Americas after Europeans arrived. 
In 1635, a group of English settlers led by Rev. Peter Bulkeley and Major Simon Willard received a land grant from the General Court and negotiated a land purchase with the local indigenous tribes. Bulkeley was an influential religious leader who "carried a good number of planters with him into the woods"  Willard was a canny trader who spoke the Algonquian language and had gained the trust of Native Americans.  They exchanged wampum, hatchets, knives, cloth, and other useful items for the six-square-mile purchase from Squaw Sachem of Mistick, which formed the basis of the new town, called "Concord" in appreciation of the peaceful acquisition.  
Battle of Lexington and Concord Edit
The Battle of Lexington and Concord was the first conflict in the American Revolutionary War.  On April 19, 1775, a force of British Army regulars marched from Boston to Concord to capture a cache of arms that was reportedly stored in the town. Forewarned by Samuel Prescott (who had received the news from Paul Revere), the colonists mustered in opposition. Following an early-morning skirmish at Lexington, where the first shots of the battle were fired, the British expedition under the command of Lt. Col. Francis Smith advanced to Concord. There, colonists from Concord and surrounding towns (notably a highly drilled company from Acton led by Isaac Davis) repulsed a British detachment at the Old North Bridge and forced the British troops to retreat.  Subsequently, militia arriving from across the region harried the British troops on their return to Boston, culminating in the Siege of Boston and the outbreak of the war.
The colonists initially publicized the battle as an example of British brutality and aggression one colonial broadside decried the "Bloody Butchery by the British Troops".  But a century later, the conflict was remembered proudly by Americans, taking on a patriotic, almost mythic status ("the shot heard 'round the world") in works like the "Concord Hymn" and "Paul Revere's Ride".  In 1894, the Lexington Historical Society petitioned the Massachusetts State Legislature to proclaim April 19 "Lexington Day". Concord countered with "Concord Day". Governor Greenhalge opted for a compromise: Patriots' Day. In April 1975, Concord hosted a bicentennial celebration of the battle, featuring an address at the Old North Bridge by President Gerald Ford. 
Literary history Edit
Concord has a remarkably rich literary history centered in the 19th century around Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), who moved there in 1835 and quickly became its most prominent citizen.  A successful lecturer and philosopher, Emerson had deep roots in the town: his father Rev. William Emerson (1769–1811) grew up in Concord before becoming an eminent Boston minister, and his grandfather, William Emerson Sr., witnessed the battle at the North Bridge from his house, and later became a chaplain in the Continental Army.  Emerson was at the center of a group of like-minded Transcendentalists living in Concord.  Among them were the author Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864) and the philosopher Amos Bronson Alcott (1799–1888), the father of Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888). A native Concordian, Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862) was another notable member of Emerson's circle. This substantial collection of literary talent in one small town led Henry James to dub Concord "the biggest little place in America." 
Among the products of this intellectually stimulating environment were Emerson's many essays, including Self-Reliance (1841), Louisa May Alcott's novel Little Women (1868), and Hawthorne's story collection Mosses from an Old Manse (1846).  Thoreau famously lived in a small cabin near Walden Pond, where he wrote Walden (1854).  After being imprisoned in the Concord jail for refusing to pay taxes in political protest against slavery and the Mexican–American War, Thoreau penned the influential essay "Resistance to Civil Government", popularly known as Civil Disobedience (1849).  Evidencing their strong political beliefs through actions, Thoreau and many of his neighbors served as station masters and agents on the Underground Railroad. 
The Wayside, a house on Lexington Road, has been home to a number of authors.  It was occupied by scientist John Winthrop (1714–1779) when Harvard College was temporarily moved to Concord during the Revolutionary War.  The Wayside was later the home of the Alcott family (who referred to it as "Hillside") the Alcotts sold it to Hawthorne in 1852, and the family moved into the adjacent Orchard House in 1858. Hawthorne dubbed the house "The Wayside" and lived there until his death. The house was purchased in 1883 by Boston publisher Daniel Lothrop and his wife, Harriett, who wrote the Five Little Peppers series and other children's books under the pen name Margaret Sidney.  Today, The Wayside and the Orchard House are both museums. Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, and the Alcotts are buried on Authors' Ridge in Concord's Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. 
The 20th-century composer Charles Ives wrote his Concord Sonata (c. 1904–15) as a series of impressionistic portraits of literary figures associated with the town. Concord maintains a lively literary culture to this day notable authors who have called the town home in recent years include Doris Kearns Goodwin, Alan Lightman, Robert B. Parker, and Gregory Maguire.
Concord grape Edit
In 1849, Ephraim Bull developed the now-ubiquitous Concord grape at his home on Lexington Road, where the original vine still grows.  Welch's, the first company to sell grape juice, maintains a headquarters in Concord.  The Boston-born Bull developed the Concord grape by experimenting with seeds from some of the native species. On his farm outside Concord, down the road from the Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne and Alcott homesteads, he planted some 22,000 seedlings before producing the ideal grape. Early ripening, to escape the killing northern frosts, but with a rich, full-bodied flavor, the hardy Concord grape thrives where European cuttings had failed to survive. In 1853, Bull felt ready to put the first bunches of Concord grapes before the public and won a prize at the Boston Horticultural Society Exhibition. From these early arbors, the fame of Bull's ("the father of the Concord grape") Concord grape spread worldwide, bringing him up to $1,000 a cutting, but he died a relatively poor man. The inscription on his tombstone reads, "He sowed—others reaped." 
Plastic bottle ban Edit
On September 5, 2012, Concord became the first community in the United States to approve a ban of the sale of water in single-serving plastic bottles. The law banned the sale of PET bottles of one liter or less starting January 1, 2013.  The ban provoked significant national controversy. An editorial in the Los Angeles Times characterized the ban as "born of convoluted reasoning" and "wrongheaded."  Some residents believed the ban would do little to affect the sales of bottled water, which was still highly accessible in the surrounding areas,  and that it restricted consumers' freedom of choice.  Opponents also considered the ban to unfairly target one product in particular, when other, less healthy alternatives such as soda and fruit juice were still readily available in bottled form.   Nonetheless, subsequent efforts to repeal the ban have failed in open town meetings.  An effort to repeal Concord's ban on the sale of plastic water bottles was resoundingly defeated at a Town Meeting. Resident Jean Hill, who led the initial fight for the ban, said, "I really feel at the age of 86 that I've really accomplished something." Town Moderator Eric Van Loon didn't even bother taking an official tally because opposition to repeal was so overwhelming. It appeared that upwards of 80 to 90 percent of the 1,127 voters in attendance raised their ballots against the repeal measure. The issue has been bubbling in Concord for several years. In 2010, a town meeting-approved ban, which wasn't written as a bylaw, was rejected by the state attorney general's office. In 2011, a new version of the ban narrowly failed at town meeting by a vote of 265 to 272. The ban on selling water in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles of one liter or less passed in 2012 by a vote of 403 to 364, and a repeal effort in April failed by a vote of 621 to 687.
The militias had been warned in time, and were ready and waiting for the approaching British soldiers.
The British soldiers approached eagerly. They were sure the colonists would surrender at the first sign of a soldier, no shots would be fired and their victory was assured.
Meanwhile, the colonists had been joined by a medieval knight, who was armed with a crossbow and was twice as tall as everyone else.
The soldiers kept approaching and the colonists realized this was a moment that would make history, but they were ordered not to fire, maybe it could be talked out if everyone remained calm.
But someone didn’t listen. No one knows for sure who fired the first shot, but shots were fired and there were casualties on both sides. The British and Americans left the battle with no clear winner, but obviously at war.
The British troops continued on to Concord, this time the Colonists were aided by a zombie spearman. He is formidable in battle.
But again everyone’s hopes were dashed as shots were fired yet again.
I was really impressed at how well my kids remembered all of this lesson, some of it was from reading it, but most of it was from watching Liberty Kids. If you haven’t seen the show, it’s currently available on Netflix streaming or you can buy the DVDs (which we have done). It gives a very accurate and unbiased (there is a main character who represents the British side) view of the whole thing from the Boston Tea Party all the way to the signing of Constitution.
Jeff and I have watched pretty much all of them with the kids and have gotten into arguments about whether it was accurate, and then looked it up and discovered they were right and we were wrong.
So, I’m gonna link up to All Things Beautiful, and Journey to Excellence.
Why The Battles of Lexington And Concord So Important?
Obviously, as we have mentioned above, this was the very first military conflict between American colonists (militias) and British soldiers.
This armed conflict fully kicked off the revolutionary war of America’s independence.
After this incident, all other attempts failed to make discussion and negotiation between British authority and colonists.
Although, till the end, colonists tried from their side for peace negotiation but due to the arrogance of the English Parliament and King George III, all their attempts transformed into dust.
As a result, on July 4th, 1776, colonists’ obliged to declare full independence from the Empire of Great Britain.
|Interesting Fact: As The Last Attempt For Peace Negotiation, On July 5th, 1775, Leaders Like John Dickinson, John Jay Sent The Olive Branch Petition To The British King George III. But His Arrogance Was So High That He Refused To Accept, Even Read It. Contrary He Declared Colonists As Traitors.|
What Was Britishers Intention of Starting This Conflict?
The British came to know through their secret sources that the American rebels were keeping a large number of armaments in Lexington and Concord to use them against British forces.
Their intention of marching towards Lexington and Concord was to destroy the weapons somehow and arrest the rebels.
But all their intention failed due to the midnight ride of Paul Revere and his other associate patriots.
Through the midnight ride, they already alerted the American militias that the British were coming.
Knowing that earlier, they disappeared all the weapons from the places and got ready for the inevitable conflict.
This was the main reason, why the British failed in their intention and had to face two times more casualties than Americans.
But Why The Battles Happened On 19th April 1775?
After the First Continental Congress, the relationship between the British authorities and American colonists went all-time lower.
During the meeting of the First Continental Congress, the delegates of the colonies came to a decision that they would set up their own militias and armaments.
As an act of execution to this decision, patriots started gathering arms and men for the near future’s certain war.
Till April month of 1775, they succeeded in gathering a lot of weapons, men, and other pieces of stuff in the 13 colonies’ different places.
Two of them were Lexington and Concord.
But somehow, the British authority in Boston came to know about the rebels’ movement.
As a result, on 18th April 1775, 700 English troops started marching from Boston towards Lexington and Concord to neutralize the movement.
Battle of Quebec
The Death of General Montgomery at Quebec by John Trumbull
The Battle of Quebec was a major American defeat in 1775. Colonial forces, following the capture of Fort Ticonderoga, sought to invade and capture Quebec. They were turned back by British and French Canadian forces.
The Battle of Dorchester Heights:
The close proximity of Boston to Fort Ticonderoga in northern New York also played an important role in the Siege of Boston. In May of 1775, the British fort was overtaken by the Green Mountain Boys and militia volunteers from Massachusetts and Connecticut, led by Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold.
With the capture of the fort, the militia obtained a large supply of cannons and ammunition. The Continental Army was formed shortly after in June of 1775 and Washington became its leader.
In November of 1775, Washington sent Colonel Henry Knox to Ticonderoga to collect its artillery. Knox ordered the cannons to be transported to Boston on sledges during the winter of 1776. According to the book The Revolutionary War and the Military Policy of the United States, these series of actions soon lead to end of the Siege of Boston:
“Finally, however, in March – when Washington had enlisted and organized a new army, and had procured the temporary services of ten regiments of militia when Knox had dragged the heavy cannon through the snow from Ticonderoga when the privateers had captured an abundance of powder from the incoming British supply ships when the fortifications were completed so as to furnish rallying-points in case of defeat – the time for taking the offensive under favorable conditions had arrived, and Washington eagerly seized the opportunity. His plan was to send Thomas with 2,000 men, supplied with intrenching tools, fascines, etc., from the Roxbury lines to seize and fortify Dorchester heights – what is now called Telegraph hill, in Thomas Park, South Boston. These heights, at an elevation of about ninety feet, commanded the channel and the south-eastern side of Boston. If occupied, with the large guns from Ticonderoga, they made Boston and its connections with the sea untenable. Howe knew this and had long contemplated an attempt to seize these hills.”
In March, the cannons finally reached Boston and were used to fortify the hills of Dorchester Heights and were aimed directly at Boston harbor and the British navy in an attempt to take control of the harbor.
Taking Cannon from Ticonderoga to Boston, illustration published in Our Country, circa 1877
When British General William Howe first saw the cannons on Dorchester Heights, he planned to retaliate by attacking the hill from the East and ordered 2,400 troops to meet at Castle Island to carry out the plan.
Washington learned of Howe’s plan and ordered 2,000 troops to reinforce the Dorchester Heights and also ordered two brigades of about 2,000 soldiers each to row across the back bay, make their way through Boston and attack the British fortifications at Boston Neck from the rear, so they could open the gates and let the Continental army in and take control of the city.
Neither plan occurred though because a storm hit Boston that afternoon and continued into the next day, forcing both sides to abandon their plans. Howe, realizing he was outnumbered and outgunned, instead decided the British could no longer hold the city and ordered the troops to evacuate.
Although they had to wait several days for favorable winds, the British troops finally left Boston on March 17, which is now known as Evacuation Day, with their fleet of ships and over 900 loyalists and sailed to Nova Scotia, finally bringing the siege and the revolutionary war in Boston, to an end.