The Shot Heard Round The World: Battle Breaks Out At Lexington
Engraving of the Battle of Lexington. April 19, 1775. New York Public Library.
Meanwhile, after the British forces waited two hours for additional supplies at their ships, the British continued on their journey to Concord. At the town of Menotomy, Smith decided to send an advance force commanded by Major John Pitcairn to gain control of the bridges at Concord. Pitcairn was given six companies of light infantry while Smith sent a soldier to request reinforcements from Boston. Soon, Pitcairn’s troops would arrive in Lexington and meet up with the first wave of colonial minutemen.
“What a glorious morning is this!”
~ Samuel Adams, after hearing news of the Battles of Lexington and Concord
Battle of Lexington. Tiebout, Cornelius. 1777-1832. Library of Congress.
A Shot Was Fired
Following Revere’s warning to the Patriots, Captain John Parker began assembling minutemen to meet the British. After rousing approximately 137 men, they waited for the British to arrive. However, because it had taken the British two hours to receive supplies earlier in the evening, the minutemen were way ahead of schedule. Parker requested that the minutemen retire to nearby taverns until further notice while sending a few scouts from Lexington to approximate the arrival of the British. Many of these scouts were not seen again due to British arrest. One scout, Thaddeus Bowman, did return; he had narrowly escaped arrest by British soldiers and Pitcairn’s advance troop was only half a mile behind him. Captain Parker hastily assembled his minutemen again. When Pitcairn’s forces and Parker’s minutemen met, there were 77 minutemen prepared to fight nearly 250 British soldiers. A shot was fired; although it’s not clear which side fired first. More shots ensued. After the fight came to a close, eight Americans were dead and ten were wounded. This is in comparison to one wounded British soldier and several bullet wounds in Pitcairn’s horse.