On the twilight morning hours of April 19, 1775, members of the Massachusetts Militia received word that British Army regulars were marching out of Boston heading west to seize and destroy military supplies. Men like William Dawes, Paul Revere, and Samuel Prescott learned of the impending attack and were able to offer warnings to their fellow colonists during their famed midnight rides.
Just as dawn approached, British troops arrived in Lexington. A small skirmish ensued but the colonial provincial militia soon fell back in retreat. British regulars then proceeded to Concord where they split up into smaller companies to search the town for weapons and supplies.
Approximately 400 militiamen under the command of Major John Buttrick moved to seize the Old North Bridge to stop the advance of the regulars. British troops first fired a few warning shots but after refusing to disperse unleashed a full volley at the local militia. Upon seeing the dead and wounded, Buttrick ordered his men to return fire killing three and wounding nine others.
Alarmed at the lethal resolve of the provincials and with more militiamen arriving from neighboring towns, the British withdrew from Concord and began a tactical retreat back into Boston. British troops marched over 16 grueling miles while under heavy fire until they reached the safety of Charlestown within the city. The Battles of Lexington and Concord would be the opening acts of the American Revolutionary War and the skirmish at the Old North Bridge was eventually immortalized by Ralph Waldo Emerson in his 1837 poem Concord Hymn as “The shot heard around the world.”
Today, the Old North Bridge still stands having been rebuilt and restored many times over the years. Now a part of Minute Man National Historical Park, it’s located right next to The Minute Man statue and other significant locations from that fateful day. An absolute must visit for anyone interested in the American Revolution. If you close your eyes and quiet your mind, one might be able to see and hear troops marching, drums and fifes playing, and the roar of gunfire that would eventually give birth to a new nation.