- Historic Sites
Voices Of Lexington And Concord
What was it like to actually be there in April, 1775? This is how the participants, American and British, remembered it
April 1971 | Volume 22, Issue 3
I went up to the meeting-house soon after the regulars had marched off for Concord, and, at the distance of about ten or twelve rods below the meeting-house, where I was told the main body of their troops stood when they were fired upon by our militia, I distinctly saw blood on the ground, in the road, and, the ground being a little descending, the blood had run along the road about six or eight feet.
Actually, the British had suffered only two casualties. One man had been hit in the leg, and one in the hand. In addition, Major Pitcairn reported thai his horse had been wounded in two places by shots that came “from one quarter or another.” According to Lieutenant Barker, of the King’s Own, the British march to Concord was uneventful:
We met with no interruption till within a mile or two of the town, where the country people had occupied a hill which commanded the road.
One of the “country people” was Concord Minuteman Thaddeus Blood:
We … saw the British troops acoming. … The sun was rising and shined on their arms, and they made a noble appearance in their red coats and glistening arms.
Lieutenant Barker continues:
The Light Infantry were ordered away to the right and ascended the height in one line, upon which the Yankies quitted it without firing, which they did likewise for one or two more successively. … [We took] possession of a hill with a Liberty Pole on it and a flag flying, which was cut down. The Yankies had that hill, but left it to us. We expected they would have made a stand there, but they did not chuse it.
In the words of Minuteman Amos Barrett:
We … marched before them with our drums and fifes a-going, and also the British. We had grand musick. … We marched into town and over the north bridge a little more than half a mile, and then on a hill … where we could see and hear what was going on. …
One of the village residents who watched the scarlet columns approach was Martha Moulton. A poor “widow woman, ” she was later to petition the province Jor a financial reward (which she was granted) for her part in the day’s activities:
… [They], in a hostile manner, entered the town and drawed up in form before the door of the house where I live; and there they continued on the green, feeding their horses within five feet of the door; and about fifty or sixty of them was in and out the house, calling for water and what they wanted. … At the same time, all our near neighbors, in the greatest consternation, were drawn off to places far from the thickest part of the town, where I live, and had taken with them their families and what of their best effects they could carry—some to a neighboring wood, and others to remote houses. …
Your petitioner, being left to the mercy of six or seven hundred armed men, and no person near but an old man of eighty-five years, and myself seventy-one years old, and both very infirm. It may be easily imagined what a sad condition your petitioner must be in. Under these circumstances, your petitioner committed herself, more especially, to the Divine Protection, and was very remarkably helpt with so much fortitude of mind, as to wait on them, as they called for water, or what we had—chairs for Major Pitcairn and four or five more officers—who sat at the door viewing their men. At length your petitioner had, by degrees, cultivated so much favor as to talk a little with them.
At this point it must be noted that not all of the British troops remained near Martha Moulton’s house. The movements of one detachment are explained by a British ensign named Henry D’Bermcre, who was acquainted with Concord, having been there a few weeks earlier as a spy:
Capt. Parsons of the ioth was dispatched with six light companies to take possession of a bridge that lay threequarters of a mile [north of] Concord, and I was ordered to shew him the road there, and also to conduct him to a house where there was some cannon and other stores hid. When we arrived at the bridge, three companies under the command of Capt. [Lawrie] of the 43d were left to protect it. These three companies were not close together, but situated so as to be able to support each other. We then proceeded to Col. Barrett’s, where the stores were. We did not find so much as we expected, but what there was we destroyed.
There was an excellent reason why few important stores were found at Barrett’s—or elsewhere. The Patriots had been alerted early enough so that, working urgently, they were able to transfer some of the things to safer towns and to hide other items in cellars, attics, and nearby patches of woods. At the North Bridge the situation was now becoming taut. The Americans who had occupied the hill—men of Concord and neighboring Lincoln—were being joined by militia units from other villages scattered about Concord; and as the force increased in size it increased also in aggressive spirit. Among the British officers who anticipated trouble was Lieutenant Barker: