Sunday, April 19, 2015
Concord and Lexington
On the morning of April 19, 1775, the American Revolutionary War started. It started outside of Boston, Massachusetts.
When I was in middle school I went to visit my Aunt out in Massachusetts. It was one of those family vacations that was long enough ago that I can’t quite remember all the details. To this day I can’t remember when exactly we visited or if there was a reason for our trip out east. More importantly, I think it was this trip that really solidified my love of history. The whole region has so much.
While I was there we took a tour of Paul Revere’s house, walked the Freedom Trail in Boston, and more importantly visited Concord and Lexington. And from what I remember, the experiences were truly amazing. I think they helped open my eyes to the power of history, of truly being able to connect those dots between the past and present. I remember being in Lexington reading the plaques and realizing the impact that the past action of a few men had a profound impact on my current life.
We’ve all heard the story: On the night of April 18, the British Army marched from Boston to nearby Concord to seize their weapons stockpile. Seeing the movements, a beacon was placed in Old North Church, which helped sound the alarm. From there Paul Revere rode out to warm the Minute Men yelling “The British are coming!” When the two armies met in Lexington fighting broke out
(I just learned a fact that really made me laugh a bit; a fact that had me edit what I typed above to include this fun nugget of historical learning. This is the fact that Paul Revere probably never yelled out “The British are coming!” as he rode out to sound the alarm. First, many of the British were hiding in the countryside so the operation was meant to be discrete (even in terms of 1775 timelines a man shouting “The British are coming!” was not discreet). Secondly, the colonists still considered themselves British at the time, so that probably wasn’t the exact phrase Mr. Revere used.)
At dawn on April 19, the British army of 700 came upon 77 militiamen outside of Lexington. After being ordered to lay down their weapons a shot was fired. To this day, nobody knows which side fired first. Several British volleys were unleashed and eventually order was restored. Eight militiamen lay dead on the soon-to-be-American side with nine wounded, and one Redcoat was injured.
The British continued into Concord to search for the weapons being stockpiled there (which had been relocated by this time) and decided to burn what little they did find. Militiamen occupying the high ground outside of Concord moved to Concord’s North Bridge, which was being defended y a contingent of British soldiers. The British fired first, but their fire was returned.
After searching Concord for about four hours the British prepared to return to Boston. But by this time almost 2,000 militiamen had descended to the area. They followed the army and engaged them. When the British column reached Lexington, it ran into an entire brigade of fresh Redcoats, but this did not stop the colonists from continuing their fighting.
What does this event signify? Perhaps I’m overemphasizing the American Revolution because I myself am an American, but we were the first country to seize the ideals for the Enlightenment and fight for them. From nothing, the men and women of our country have created something wonderful. America is revered as one of the greatest countries in the world. While we may be far from perfect, we have withstood 240 from that first day of fighting. Let’s come full circle from where I started – the actions of the men that fought 240 years ago shaped the country we are today. Without their actions, the present may have been very different indeed.