Battle of Lexington and Concord

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The first shots starting the revolution were fired at Lexington, Massachusetts. On April 18, 1775, British General Thomas Gage sent 700 soldiers to destroy guns and ammunition the colonists had stored in the town of Concord, just outside of Boston. They also planned to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock, two of the key leaders of the patriot movement.

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The Battle of Lexington and Concord

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Church Steeple
Church Steeple where Paul Revere hung lanterns
warning colonists the British were coming
(Source: Library of Congress)
Dr. Joseph Warren learned of the British plans and sent Paul Revere to alert John Hancock and Samuel Adams. Paul Revere promised to warn them when the British soldiers started to march. Since he wasn't sure that he would be able to get out of Boston with the message, he made plans to alert people by putting lanterns in the Old North Church steeple. He would light one lantern if the British were coming by land, and two lanterns if the British were coming by sea.

On the evening of April 18th, the British troops were ferried across the Boston Harbor to start their march on Lexington. Paul Revere hung two lanterns in the church steeple. Then Paul Revere, William Dawes and Dr. Samuel Prescott rode to warn the colonists that the British were coming.

Paul Revere rode to Lexington and alerted Samual Adams and John Hancock. By the time the British soldiers reached Lexington, Samual Adams and John Hancock had escaped.

Minute Man
Minute Man Memorial, Concord, Massachusetts
(Source: Library of Congress)
The colonists had been expecting a fight with the British. They had organized a group of militia, called the Minutemen. They were called Minutemen because they needed to be prepared to fight on a minutes notice.

When the British soldiers reached Lexington, Captain Jonas Parker and 75 armed Minutemen were there to meet them. The Minutemen were greatly outnumbered. The British soldiers fired, killing 8 Minutemen and injuring 10 others.

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


The British Retreat to Boston

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Lexington Battle
Battle of Lexington and Concord
(Source: Library of Congress)
Minutemen from nearby towns were now responding to the messengers' warnings. The smoke from the burning supplies was also attracting local farmers and townspeople. A large force of patriots was now gathered in response to the British troops.

As the British soldiers headed back to Boston, they were attacked by the Minutemen. All along the route, Minutemen, local farmers and townspeople continued the attack against the British. By the time the soldiers reached Boston, 73 British solders were dead and 174 more were wounded.

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


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