The “Shot Heard Round the World”

The British retreat from Concord, April 19, 1775. | Courtesy of In Britain and The Americas: Culture, Politics, and History

“BANG!” The first shots were fired on the village green at Lexington, Massachusetts on April 18, 1775. The British initiated the battle at Lexington, followed by Concord, Massachusetts. There were several events that led up to the Battles of Lexington and Concord, including the Stamp Act of 1765, the Boston Massacre of 1770, and the Boston Tea Party of 1773. These events illustrated the struggles the thirteen colonies had to undergo because of the British Crown and its numerous, restrictive policies. For months leading up to the war, townsmen and farmers of Massachusetts had been training and gathering arms and ammunition in order to be prepared to fight at a minute’s notice; these men were known as minutemen. Continental Congress had approved their preparations and these minutemen sat in wait for the British to make their first move.1

Paul Revere's Ride as described in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, "Paul Revere's Ride."
Paul Revere’s Ride as described in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride” | Courtesy of New York Public Library Digital Collection

General Thomas Gage, commander of the British Garrison in Boston, had been aware of military preparations in the countryside. Given orders from England to arrest rebel leaders Sam Adams and John Hancock, Gage finally decided to act after learning about the large supply of ammunition in Concord. A detachment of roughly one thousand soldiers headed out from Boston to surprise the colonists and seize the supplies. General Gage’s moves were being closely monitored by the Patriots.2 General Joseph Warren, a spokesman for the anti-British rebels and a member of the committee, began to pay close attention to the British increasingly suspicious movement toward both Lexington and Concord. His attention to detail proved to be a main factor, serving to prepare the minutemen for battle. That night, Paul Revere and William Dawes were assigned to watch the movements of the British and to notify the people in the case of an advance.3 As Revere and Dawes caught sight of the British advancement, they rushed to notify the minutemen. Revere’s famous midnight ride has been immortalized ever since in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride.”4

Battle of Lexington and Concord, Collision on Old North Bridge
Battle of Lexington and Concord, Collision on Old North Bridge | Courtesy of  Flickr

Now, armed with the knowledge that British troops were advancing on Lexington, Captain John Parker and his single company of minutemen stood on the Lexington village green awaiting the British arrival.5 The British arrived and shots rang out. Eight minutemen died and nine were wounded. The Patriots’ attack proved to be fatal to their own militia, but it helped slow down the British arrival to Concord. At this time word reached Concord and the minutemen were able to hide away some of their supplies and prepare for battle. As the British advanced through the ranks of British Major John Pitcairn, the Patriots stood on the Old North Bridge awaiting them. When the two sides came face to face, the first shot—known as the “shot heard round the world”—was fired. This loud statement of retaliation would be pivotal to the Americans, who were in anguish over British rule. The British retreated from Concord where they would encounter multiple surprise attacks from the Patriots.6 Neither side could have predicted that this would be the first battles of what would become the American War for Independence. The British army’s underestimation of the Americans’ resistance proved to be fatal, as they lost many soldiers and ignited something greater. The Patriots would not stop until they had independence; the American Revolution had officially begun.

 

  1. Alan Brinkley, American History: Connecting with the Past Volume 2, 15 edition. (Columbia University: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015): 124-126.
  2. Ormby Gilbert Seeley, Views and Description History of Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts (Lexington, Mass, O.G Seeley, 1901), 12-15.
  3.  American National Biography,  2010, s.v. “Joseph Warren,” by Ethan S. Rafuse.
  4. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Paul Revere’s Ride and Other Poems (New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1894): 1-5.
  5.  Salem Press Encyclopedia, October 2015, s.v. “Battle of Lexington and Concord,” by Don R. Higginbotham and Richard Adler.
  6. Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia, October 2016, s.v. “Battle of Concord.”

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This Post Has 24 Comments

  1. I still remember learning about this in middle school and “the shot heard around the world” which sparked the fight for Americas Independence from Britain. This article was very well written and informative! I really enjoyed the exaggeration of the minutemen’s role because they really did play one of the most important part in these wars. Great job!

  2. This article did a good job in describing the events leading up to the start of the Revolutionary War and describes the event itself. I disnt realize what all happened at this battle and just how important it was. This single event made the colonies fight against their leader. I enjoyed reading about this event and the article does a good job of grabbing the readers attention, so overall this article is very good.

  3. I loved the recount of this story. There was so much patriotism, and it served as a simple refresher to that moment in history. It highlighted the bravery of simple townsmen and farmers who had answered a higher calling to defend their beliefs. Also it underlined the importance of Paul Reveres warning and the courage of the minutemen to give their lives, and their fierce defiance which was enough to make the British retreat.

  4. Great article overall! I love how you decided to write about a very important time in History. I don’t really know a whole lot about the American Revolution but I do know that this event was specifically an impact to history. Such a great job describing in detail the way the battle ended up and in total the whole event. Also how you mentioned the “Minute-Men” and how they were a crucial part at the time. I really liked how you incorporated both the British and the American sides of the battle.

  5. I have to say, you did a great job with grabbing the audience and captivating their attention with the beginning of the article. I lose interest fast in reading and in this case you have all of my attention. you did a great job at explaining what was going on and had some great information in there too. o didn’t know that general lee had staged that attack until reading this article.

  6. Very informative, nice. I had no idea that the minutemen had carried out surprise attacks and had even been trying to hide their munitions and supplies. I had understood that while the minutemen were always ready for the war, they had never engaged the British until the start of the war. While everyone knows the story of the Midnight Ride not many know what led up to it or allowed it to happen.

  7. Great job in describing and mentioning the minutemen who played a vital part in the American Revolution. If it weren’t for their valiant efforts we might have never been able to get rid of the tyranny of the British King. Before reading this article I did not know how the patriots were able to get the upper-hand on the much larger army of the British. Great facts and writing!

  8. Aaron Jaramillo

    Great Article! Very well written introduction you had my attention from the beginning. Your article was very informative and easy to follow. I liked how you retold a old story and still have information to keep the reader interested. I can’t wait to read more!

  9. Maalik Stansbury

    I love the depth you went into about the Patriots, i think that was cool and had my attention. I love reading about strategy and there was a lot going from both sides. I think you described this very well and informed us in a very intricate way that was fun and an eye opener.

  10. Jacob Hall

    What a great way to retell an old story. I never realized that that much happened at the battle of Lexington and Concord. Mostly all we learned in my history classes was that this is where the revolution began, and where the shot heard round the world was fired. However it’s interesting to know how much strategy went into the revolutionists plans, and how greatly the British underestimated them.

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