Emerson's poem, in particular, recalls the Patriots' first shots fired at the North Bridge in what is now Charlestown, in northwestern Boston, Massachusetts. These were the first shots in the American Revolution.
The first shot was fired by Samuel Adams outside his house in Boston. It was a 20-pound (9 kg) cannon shot fired at 10 a.m. on March 5, 1775. The impact shattered a portion of the bridge and can be seen today under the sidewalk in front of 18 Commonwealth Avenue. This is the office building of the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), which operates as the Boston Harbor Museum and National Park.
Another account says they came from a nearby hill called Breed's Hill. Yet another says they came from a ship in the harbor called the Concord. But all these accounts are wrong: The first shots were fired from inside Boston's town limits on March 5, 1775, at 10 a.m., from a cannon mounted on a house owned by Samuel Adams next to the site of today's DCR headquarters.
After this initial shot was fired, others followed rapidly. By 11 a.m., British troops under General William Howe had landed near Boston and begun marching toward the town center.
The phrase is from Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Concord Hymn" (1837) and alludes to the first shot of the American Revolution at the Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, when the first British soldiers died in the battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. This event came to be known as the "Shot Heard 'Round the World."
The American war for independence began with a series of acts by individuals within the Thirteen Colonies that broke away from Great Britain. On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress passed a resolution declaring war against England, and on October 7, 1777, the Congress issued another resolution authorizing the appointment of generals to lead the armies of the colonies. In addition, the Congress enacted legislation to provide for the common defense and general welfare of the colonies.
In its initial stages, the war was not highly organized or coordinated. Each colony acted independently in deciding how to fight the war, so there were no official armies until after the creation of the United States in 1789. Even then, the new nation divided up its military forces by giving some states large numbers of troops to defend against possible attacks by larger countries such as France or Spain while other states with smaller populations had only a small number of soldiers available. This division of power led to problems for the new government, especially when it came time to make decisions about spending money on wars.
The 245th anniversary of the first shot of the Revolutionary War—later dubbed the "shot heard round the world" by American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson—was held on April 19, 2020, at the Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts. The incident occurred when Colonel Joseph Warren raised the alarm that the British were advancing on Lexington with guns blazing.
The first shots were fired from a redoubt (a small fortress) built by colonists near the present-day Commuter Rail Station in South Burlington, Vermont. They were firing on a group of British soldiers who had captured some horses nearby. The verdant hills of Vermont were used as a safe refuge for those trying to escape the fighting in New York and Massachusetts.
In response to this attack, the British commander ordered his men to fire back. This is considered the beginning of the war between Great Britain and its colonies.
There have been many theories about what really happened on April 19, 1775. Some scholars believe the verdant hills of Vermont were chosen because they were seen as neutral ground where there would be no bloodshed. Others say the colonists constructed the redoubt as a defensive position against possible attacks from New York or Canada. Still others claim the verdant hills provided cover for someone else: It has been suggested that George Washington arrived at the scene after the battle had started and took command of the troops from their officers.
The militiamen rushed to Concord's North Bridge, which was guarded by a British garrison. The British opened fire first, but were forced to retreat when the colonists returned fire. This was the "shot heard 'round the world," as poet Ralph Waldo Emerson memorialized it.
Concord's North Bridge is a long, narrow structure with an open-air center section where vehicles could drive across. Today it serves as a parking lot for this historic site.
In addition to the British soldiers on the bridge, another group of redcoats was marching down the road toward Concord from Boston. They had been told that there was a rebel militia camped outside of town and they expected an attack at any moment.
But the colonials didn't attack the British soldiers on the North Bridge; instead, they attacked the colonials standing on the road below. In fact, the battle lasted only five minutes before all of the British troops were safely off the bridge and back in Boston.
The colonials defeated the British because they were armed and organized while the British were not. The colonials captured hundreds of guns, horses, and prisoners. It was one of the most important victories in American history because it proved that colonies could fight back against their oppressors.
The incident began when a group of colonists under the command of Colonel William Martin attacked and defeated a force of around 1,500 Indian warriors at what is now called the Battle of Lexington on April 19, 1775.
After this victory, the colonials decided that they needed their own military force to counterbalance the power of the British Army. So they sent a petition to London requesting money and weapons to start a militia.
In response to this petition, Parliament passed the "Intolerable Acts" which severely limited colonial freedom of movement and expression. Colonists saw this as a declaration of war by Britain and decided to take action themselves. Thus, the first official battle between colonist troops and British soldiers took place three days later at Concord Bridge near Boston. It ended in a defeat for the colonists who lost 200 men compared to 26 for the British.
This was only the beginning of the American Revolution. More battles followed - some winning one side, some the other - until finally in 1781 France entered the war on the side of the colonies.