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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|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.
Picture of the Church Steeple in which Paul Revere hung his lanterns to warn the colonists the British were coming (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.
Minute Man Memorial, Concord, Massachusetts (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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