Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 17 >> Lemurs to Lied Von Der Glocke >> Lexington and Concord

Lexington and Concord

british, colonists, boston and qv

LEXINGTON AND CONCORD, Battles of, in the American Revolution. Learning that the colonists had collected a quantity of mili tary stores at Concord, Mass., Gen. Thomas Gage (q.v.), commander of the British troops at Boston, sent 800 troops under Lieut.-Col. Francis Smith and Maj. John Pitcairn (q.v.) to seize these stores. The colonists were warned of the expedition by William Dawes and Paul Revere (q.v.) and on their arrival at Lexington early on the morning of 19 April 1775 the British found about 70 minute-men under Capt. John Parker assembled to dispute their progress. Pitcairn ordered the provin cials to disperse and, on their refusal, fired into them, then ordering the troops to open fire. The colonists returned the fire and re treated, leaving eight dead on the field. The British next proceeded to Concord, destroyed several pieces of cannon and some stores and prepared to retire to Boston. A body of col onists under Maj. John Buttrick offered re sistance and firing was begun, resulting in a few casualties on both sides. The country having been aroused, armed men rushed to the scene so that the British were assailed from all sides.

Meanwhile, having been informed of the skirmish at Lexington and fearing disaster to his troops, Gage rushed 900 infantry under Lord Percy to Smith's aid. Being reinforced and provided with artillery the British were able to check the colonists, since the latter could not approach close, owing to the can non fire. Nevertheless they continued to fol

low and harass the British until they had reached a point too close to the city for their own safety and accordingly abandoned the pursuit. Shortly after sunset the British reached Bunker Hill in a state of utter ex haustion. Though estimates of the colonists engaged vary from 250 to 20,000, probably not more than 400 or 500 were actually en gaged at any one time. The British loss was 73 killed, 174 wounded and. 26 prisoners; 49 Americans were killed, 39 were wounded and 5 were reported as missing. On hearing of the battles, thousands of colonists hastened toward Boston and soon that city was in a state of siege, culminating in the battle of Bunker Hill (q.v.), the regular investment of Boston, the occupation of Dorchester Heights (q.v.) and the subsequent evacuation of the city by the British. Consult Froffiingham, Richard, 'The Siege of Boston); Force, Peter, 'American Archives' (4th series. Vol. II); Lossing, B. J., 'Field-Book of the Revolu tion' (Vol. I, p. 523 et seq.); Heath, William, 'Memoirs); Thacher, James, 'Military Jour nal' ; Fisher, Sidney G., 'Struggle for Amer ican Independence' (Vol. I, pp. 30G-308); Gage's 'Circumstantial Account' (in Mass. Hist. Coll., 2d series, Vol. II) ; accounts of the actions by Isaiah Thomas, Elias Phinney, Ezra Ripley and Lemuel Shattuck; and biog raphies of those engaged.