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British Expedition to Concord. Its Discovery by the Americans. Lexington aroused. Midnight March of the Enemy.
city. Fortunately, they were persuaded to remain at Lexington, at the house of the Reverend Jonas Clark. On Tuesday night, the 18th of April, Gage sent eight hundred British troops, light infantry and grenadiers, under Lieutenant-colonel Smith, aided by Major Pitcairn, to destroy the stores at Concord. They embarked at the Common, and, landing at Phipps's Farm, marched with great secrecy, arresting every person they met on the way, to prevent intelligence of their expedition being given. They left Boston at about midnight, Gage supposing the movement to be a profound secret; but the patriots had become aware of the expedition early in the evening. As Lord Percy was crossing the Common, about nine o'clock, he joined a group of persons, one of whom said, “The British troops will miss their aim.” “What aim 7” inquired Percy, who was Gage's confidant in the matter. “The cannon at Concord,” replied the man. Percy hastened to inform Gage, and guards were immediately set at every avenue leading from the town, to prevent persons from leaving it. Warren and his friends had anticipated this, and left. Paul Revere and William Dawes had just rowed across the river to Charlestown, with a message from Warren to Hancock and Adams at Lexington. They were almost captured at Charlestown Neck by the guard, but escaped, and reached Lexington, thirteen miles northward of Boston, a little after midnight. A guard of eight minute men was placed around Mr. Clark's house to protect Adams and Hancock. The messengers made themselves known to these, but were refused admission to the house, as orders had been -- given not to allow the inmates to be disturbed by noise. o “Noise!” said Revere; “you'll have noise enough before long; the regulars are coming !” Hancock and Adams were aroused, and their safety being regarded as of the utmost importance, they were persuaded to retire to Woburn. Revere and Dawes pushed on toward Con. cord to give the alarm there. One hundred and thirty of the Lexington militia were collected at the meeting-house upon the green by two o'clock in the morning, when the roll was called, and, the air being chilly, they were dismissed with orders to remain
within drum-beat. The midnight march of the British regulars was performed in silence, and, as they supposed, in secret. But vigilant eyes were upon them. Messrs. Gerry, Orne, and Lee, members of the Provincial Congress, were at Menotomy (West Cambridge), and saw them passing; and, as they approached Lexington, the sound of bells and guns warned them that their expedition was known.” Colonel Smith detached six companies under Major Pitcairn, with orders to press on to
* This building was standing when I visited Lexington in 1848. It was built by Thomas Hancock, Esq., of Boston, as a parsonage for his father, the Reverend John Hancock, of Lexington, about 130 years ago. Mr. Hancock was a minister at Lexington fifty-two years, and was succeeded by the Reverend Jonas Clark, the occupant of the house at the time of the skirmish at Lexington. Mr. Clark lived in the house fifty-two years. The room in which the two patriots, Samuel Adams and John Hancock, were sleeping on the night before the skirmish at Lexington, is retained in its original condition. The wainscoting is of Carolina pine, and the sides of the room are covered with a heavy paper, with dark figures, pasted upon the boards in rectangular pieces about fourteen inches square. In an adjoining room is one of those ancient fire-places, ornamented with pictorial tiles, so rarely found in New England.
* These three patriots had a narrow escape. They saw the head of the column pass by. Just before the rear-guard had come up, a detachment was sent to search the house where they were staying. They escaped to the fields by a back door, where they kept in concealment until the house was searched and the troops moved on.
The British Troops and Minute Men at Lexington. Conduct of Major Pitcairn. Battle on Lexington Common.
Concord and secure the two bridges; at the same time he sent a messenger to Boston for re-enforcements. Pitcairn advanced rapidly toward Lexington by the light of a waning moon, capturing several persons on the way. One, named Bowman, escaped, and, hastening on horseback to Lexington, notified Captain Parker, commander of the minute men, of the approach of the enemy. It was now between four and five o'clock in the morning. The bells were rung, guns were fired, and the drums were beaten. About one hundred of the militia were speedily collected upon the green, armed with loaded muskets, but in much confusion and alarm, for the number of the approaching regulars was unknown. In the gray of the early morning the scarlet uniforms of the troops appeared, and an overwhelming force halted, within a few rods of the meeting-house, and loaded their pieces. The militia, undismayed, stood firm. They had been ordered not to draw a trigger until fired upon by the enemy, and for a moment silence and hesitation prevailed, for neither party seemed willing to become the aggressor. The parley with judgment was but for a moment. Pitcairn and other officers galloped forward, waving their swords over their heads, and followed by their troops in double-quick time. They shouted, “Disperse, you villains' lay down your arms! Why don't you disperse, you rebels? disperse !” In rushing forward the troops became confused. As the patriots did not instantly obey the command to lay down their arms, Pitcairn wheeled his horse, and, waving his sword, gave orders to press forward and surround the militia. At the same moment some random shots were fired by the British, but without effect, which were promptly returned by the Americans. Pitcairn then drew
SKIRMISH At LExENGToN.”
his pistol and discharged it, at the same moment giving the word fire." A general discharge of musketry ensued; four patriots were killed, and the remainder were dispersed. Finding themselves fired upon while retreating, several of them halted, and returned the shots, and then secured themselves behind stone walls and buildings. Three British soldiers, and Pitcairn's horse, were wounded, while eight Americans were killed: four on the
* This is the picture alluded to on page 421, from the one drawn by Earl, and engraved by Doolittle in 1775. The largest building in the picture is the meeting-house, and the officer on horseback in front of it is Major Pitcairn. The figures in the foreground are the provincial militia. The dwelling with the two chimneys, on the left (which is still standing), was Buckman's Tavern. The position of the monument since erected upon Lexington Green, is about where the provincials on the left are seen dispersing. The merit of this picture consists in its truthfulness in depicting the appearance of the spot at the time of the engagement.
The Concord People aroused. Assembling of the Militia. Concord taken Possession of by the Enemy. Colonel Barrett.
ground, near the spot where the monument stands, and four others while escaping over the fences.” As soon as the patriots dispersed, the detachment of regulars, joined by Colonel Smith and his party, pushed on toward Concord, six miles distant. Confident of success, the whole party were in high spirits. But Concord had been aroused, and a formidable body of militia had collected to receive the invaders. We have noticed that Revere and Dawes started from Lexington to alarm the country toward Concord. They met Dr. Samuel Prescott, and, while in conference with him, some British officers came upon them. Revere and Dawes were made prisoners, but Prescott escaped over a wall, and reached Concord about two in the morning. The bells were rung, and before daylight the people were under arms. When the guns at Lexington were heard in the morning, the Committee of Safety, and the principal citizens of Concord, had assembled, and arranged a plan of reception for the British troops. The military operations were under the able management of Colonel James Barrett,” while the whole male population, to-22, 2/ & and some women, aided in removing the stores to a place SIGNATURE of Colonel BARRETT. of safety in distant woods. - The militia of Lincoln and other places hastened to join those of Concord, and the whole paraded on the Common. Guards were stationed at the North and South Bridges, and in the center of the town, all tunder the command of Captain Jonathan Farrar. At about seven o'clock the British column was seen advancing on the Lexington Road. Some companies of militia that had marched down that road returned in haste and reported the number of the British as three times that of the Americans. These companies, with those in the town, fell back to an eminence some eighty rods from the center of the village, where they were joined by Colonel Barrett, and were formed into two battalions. They had hardly formed, before the glittering of the bayonets and flashing of the red uniforms of the British in the bright morning sun were seen, but a quarter of a mile distant, rapidly advancing. A short consultation was held. Some were for making a desperate stand upon the spot, while others proposed a present retreat, until re-enforced by the neighboring militia. The latter council prevailed, and the provincials retired to the high ground over the North Bridge, about a mile from the Common. The British troops entered Concord in two divisions: one by the main road, the other on the hill north of it. Colonel Smith and Major Pitcairn, who had immediate command of the grenadiers and light infantry, remained in the town, but detached six companies under Captain Parsons to secure the bridges, prevent the militia from crossing them, and to ferret out and destroy the secreted stores, information concerning which had been given by Captain Beeman of Petersham, and other Tories. Captain Lawrie, with three companies, was stationed on the North Bridge, while Parsons, with the other three companies, marched to destroy the stores at the residence of Colonel Barrett. Captain Pole, with a party, took post at the South Bridge, and destroyed what few stores were found in that vicinity; but so
* The names of the slain are recorded on the monument erected to their memory on the green at Lexington. A picture of the monument and a copy of the inscription may be found on page 553. Captain Jonas Parker was among the slain. He had repeatedly said that he never would run from the British. He was wounded at the first fire, but, continuing to discharge his gun, without retreating, was killed by a bavonet.
* Colonel Barrett had been a captain in the provincial army during the French and Indian war. He was with Shirley at Oswego, and afterward accompanied Abercrombie to Ticonderoga and Amherst to Crown Point. Becoming aged, he resigned his commission. When the Massachusetts militia were organized at the beginning of 1775, Captain Barrett was solicited to take command of a regiment, but declined on account of his age. “We don't want active service, we want your advice,” said his earnest townsmen. Thus urged, and actuated by patriotic zeal, he took the command. Colonel Barrett died at about the close of the war. These facts I obtained from his grandson, Major Barrett, eighty-seven years old when I visited him in 1848.
Destruction of Property in Concord. Rapid Augmentation of the Militia. Preparations for Battle. March toward the Bridge.
diligently had the people worked in concealing the stores that the object of the expedition was almost frustrated. The British broke open about sixty barrels of flour in the center of the town, but nearly half of that was subsequently saved. They knocked off the trunnions of three iron twenty-four pound cannons, burned sixteen new carriage wheels, and a few barrels of wooden trenchers and spoons, cut down the liberty-pole and set the court-house on fire. The flames were extinguished by a Mrs. Moulton, before Colonel BARRETT's House.” much damage was done. About five hundred pounds of balls were thrown into the mill-pond
and wells. While the British were thus engaged, the number of the militia was rapidly increasing by accessions of minute men from Carlisle, Chelmsford, Weston, Littleton, and Acton, neighboring towns, and before ten o'clock the force amounted to nearly four hundred men. Joseph Hosmer, acting as adjutant, formed them into proper line as fast as they arrived on the field, westerly of the house since owned by Joseph Buttrick. Most of the operations of the British, within the town, could be seen from this point, and when the fires in the center of the village were lighted the people were greatly excited. Many of the prominent citizens, and the Committee of Safety, were with the militia, and, after a brief consultation, and a stirring appeal from the brave Hosmer, it was resolved to dislodge the enemy at the North Bridge. “I haven't a man that's afraid to go,” said the intrepid Captain Isaac Davis; and, wheeling into marching order, they were joined by other companies, and pushed forward toward the bridge, under the command of Major John Buttrick, of Concord.
BATTLE Gaound at Coxcond.
* This sketch is from the road leading to the village of Concord by the way of the North Bridge. The . was erected about eighty years ago, by Colonel Barrett, and is now owned by his kinsman, Prescott arrett.
Battle at Concord Bridge. Retreat of the British to the Village. The Scalping Story explained.
The Acton company, under Davis, was in front, followed by those of Captains Brown, Miles, and Nathan Barrett, and by others whose commanders' names are not recorded, in all nearly three hundred effective men. They marched in double file, with trailed arms. The British guard were on the west side.of the river, but, on seeing the Americans approaching, they crossed over, and commenced taking up the planks of the bridge. Major Buttrick called to them to desist, and urged his men forward to arrest the destruction of the bridge. The enemy formed for action, and when the Americans were within a few rods of the river, they were fired upon by some of the regulars. The first shots were ineffectual, but others that followed were fatal. One of the Acton company was wounded," and Captain Isaac Davis and Abner Hosmer, of the same company, were killed. “Fire, fellow-soldiers' for God's sake, fire" shouted Buttrick, on seeing his companions fall, and immediately a full volley was given by the provincials. Three of the British were killed, and several wounded and made prisoners. Some other shots were fired, but in a few minutes Lawrie ordered a retreat, and the provincials took possession of the bridge. Two of the British soldiers killed were left on the ground, and were buried by the provincials. Their graves are a few feet from the monument. Another, who was not yet dead, was dispatched by a blow from a hatchet in the hands of a young provincial who had more zeal than humanity. This circumstance gave rise to the horrible story sent abroad by the British and Tories, that the militia “killed and scalped the prisoners that fell into their hands.” Colonel Smith, in the village, on hearing the firing at the bridge, sent a re-enforcement. These met the retreating detachment of Lawrie, but, observing the increasing force of the militia, wheeled, and joined in the retreat. In the mean time, the party under Captain Parsons returned from Colonel Barrett's, and were Plas or rue Movements ar concorps allowed by the provincials to cross the river at the - North Bridge, where the skirmish had just occurred, unmolested. It may be asked why the militia did not cut them, off, which they might easily have done. It must be remembered that war had not been declared, and that the people had been enjoined to make Great Britain the aggressor, they acting only on the defensive. The militia at Concord had not yet heard of the deaths at Lexington; their volley that had just slain three of the king's troops was fired purely in self-defense, and they hesi
to the residence of Mr. Prescott Barrett. The point from which the sketch was made is upon an elevation a little north of that where the militia assembled under Colonel Barrett. The stream of water is the Concord, or Sudbury River. The site of the North Bridge is at the monument seen in the center of the picture. The monument stands upon the spot where the British were stationed, and in the plain, directly across the river from the monument, is the place where Davis and Hosmer, of the American militia, were killed. The house, the roof and gable of which are seen in the distance, just on the left of the largest tree. was the residence of the Reverend Dr. Ripley (afterward a chaplain in the army) at the time of the skirmish. It is upon the road leading to Concord village, which lies nearly half a mile beyond. " He was a fifer, named Blanchard. One of the Concord minute men, named Brown, was also slightly wounded. The ball that wounded them passed under the arm of Colonel Robinson, who, by request, accompanied Major Buttrick. * This plan I have copied from Frothingham's interesting work, History of the Siege of Boston, . 70. p Explanation of THE PLAN.—1. Lexington Road; 2. Hills and high land where the liberty pole stood; 3. Center of the town, and main body of the British; 4. Road to the South Bridge; 5, 5, 5. Road to the North Bridge and to Colonel Barnett's, two miles from the center of the town; 6. High ground a mile north of the meeting-house, where the militia assembled; 7. Road along which they marched to dislodge the British at North Bridge; 8. Spot where Davis and Hosmer fell; 9. Reverend Mr. Emerson's house; 10. Bridges and roads made in 1793, when the old roads with dotted lines were discontinued; 11. The monument. The arrows show the return of Captain Parsons, after the firing at the North Bridge; 12 is the place where re-enforcements met him.