On April 19, 1775, a small band of militiamen from the British Crown seized cannon and ammunition from a local store and marched to Concord to take arms from the stores there. This led to an engagement between “minutemen” from Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. One hundred seventy militiamen met the British under Captain John Parker, armed with hunting muskets that proved significantly more accurate than the British regulars. In this engagement, eight men were killed for each man lost by the British forces.
- Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith led the British.
- There were 700 British regulars.
- The British soldiers were called “regulars” or sometimes red coats because they wore red uniforms.
- The leader of the militiamen in Lexington was Captain John Parker. A lot of his soldiers, around 25% of them, were his relatives.
- Some of the American militia were called minutemen.
- This meant they were ready to fight with just a minute’s notice.
- Around 15,000 militiamen surrounded Boston the day after these two battles occurred.
- Artillery was also used in the battle. The British had two six-pound cannons, but they were ineffective. They eventually withdrew to Charlestown.
The Americans retreated into nearby woods with their British prisoners but were soon surrounded by the leading British force. When asked to surrender, Captain Parker refused because he had orders from his superiors to return to Lexington and defend it with his men if necessary.
After a short conversation, outnumbered three to one, Parker ordered his men to disperse. Some escaped; others were captured or remained hidden for several days until they could run during the confusion after the Battle of Concord.
This relatively small engagement is often called the first battle of the American Revolution. It has been cited as a critical event in motivating the colonists to fight back against the British. Although it is unclear when and where this engagement occurred, there appears to be considerable evidence that it happened on April 19, 1775. A stone marker commemorates the event on the common in Lexington, Massachusetts, where the historical marker is also located.