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. The incident led to the Revolutionary War.
Concord, Massachusetts - site of the "Shot Heard 'Round the World" - where colonial militia under the command of Major John Pitcairn shot and killed five members of a British military patrol on April 18, 1775
American Independence from Great Britain
John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, gave the order for the attack. The militiamen marched to Lexington and then to Concord. In total, they met up with about 300 other men and boys and began marching toward Boston. It is estimated that there were about 1,500 British soldiers in and around Boston at the time. Most were stationed in eastern Massachusetts, but a few hundred were also camped out west of the town.
The colonials had signed a peace agreement with France earlier in the year, but now they were breaking off relations with England. The colonials believed they had the right to govern themselves, and they wanted more control over their own government and its activities. The British government disagreed and declared war on April 19, 1775.
There is no agreement among historians about who fired the first shot at Lexington. Some claim it was a colonist in a tree, some that it was a soldier on patrol, but all agree that the British began the battle by firing upon the colonists.
After being fired upon, several British soldiers went into the town of Lexington to collect tax money from the inhabitants. When they failed to return, more troops were sent out to find them. These men too were never seen again. With only 60 soldiers left, the British commander ordered his men to withdraw back across the river into Boston.
This was not good news for the colonists, who had lost nearly half their number already. They knew that more British troops were coming, so they decided to follow up their victory by attacking another large force of British soldiers stationed in Boston. This second battle took place three days later in a region called Concord. It was there that the colonists found many important items that today are kept in museums around the country. These include a powder horn used by one of the colonists, Paul Revere, and a book written by Thomas Hancock, one of the richest men in Massachusetts.
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 occasion was marked with a new interpretation of an old monument.
The original wooden bridge across the Concord River had become too small to carry traffic so in 1848 it was replaced with a stone one. But the new bridge wasn't long-lasting either and by 1852 it too had been destroyed by heavy traffic. By then, several other bridges had been built over the river, so the town leaders decided not to replace the old north bridge but to mark its historic significance by placing a granite marker on it bearing an inscription commemorating the first shot of the war.
The shot was fired by a British soldier named John Parker who was standing near his regiment's cannon on top of the north bridge. According to historical records, he aimed the gun at a group of Americans protesting the raising of taxes without representation from England. The protesters included men, women and children when the gun went off, killing one person and injuring several others. This is considered the first blood shed in what would become the United States.
Local militias battled with British forces in the Battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts on April 19, signaling the commencement of the Revolutionary War with the "shot heard round the world." The war would last for more than a decade and involve multiple countries.
Americans at the time were not united against Britain. Instead, they were divided between those who wanted to negotiate an agreement with the king and those who did not. In June 1775, a group of Americans met near Philadelphia to discuss ways to resist the British occupation of their country. This meeting led to the formation of the Continental Congress, which managed the affairs of the colonies not under their control. On July 4, 1776, the Congress voted to declare independence from Great Britain.
The news of the declaration reached London on July 2, at which point the king issued orders for his military forces in America to cease fighting the rebels. He also sent a message to the Congress offering peace negotiations. But the new American government had no intention of settling for anything other than complete freedom from Britain. Instead, it proposed a series of wars against its old enemy to ensure their right to protest against royal policy.
In the years following the Declaration of Independence, several battles were fought between the Americans and the British.
The phrase is taken from the first stanza of Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Concord Hymn" (1837), and it refers to the first shot of the American Revolution fired at the Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, where the first British soldiers fell in the battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. However, there was an incident several weeks earlier near Fort William & Mary that some historians say may have been the first shot of the American Revolution.
The story goes that in February 1775, a British soldier named John Parker was out hunting with his friend and fellow soldier Henry Dearborn. The two men came across four Americans building a house, and asked them what they were doing. The Americans told them they were building a church for themselves. The British laughed at this idea and said that if they were looking for God, he could have found him in England. After this exchange, the men went back to their construction project and left them alone. A few days later, however, the two British soldiers returned with a company of their own troops and destroyed the house without even going inside. No one was hurt during this incident.
Some historians believe that this event was the beginning of the American Revolution because it showed the people that Britain was not willing to protect them from violence by their colonist neighbors. Others argue that the incident was really just a fight between friends that got out of control and had nothing to do with politics or religion.
Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Concord Hymn" Their flag to the breeze of April was unfurled. The besieged farmers previously stood here and fired the shot heard around the globe. Now they watch in awe as their enemies march on Lexington toward what will become a long and bloody war.
The British government had ordered its troops not to fire on the Americans but instead to only use non-lethal force. However, several soldiers ignored this order and fired off rounds, which hit some protesters but didn't hurt them seriously.
This is now known as the First Shot of the American Revolution.