We pick up where we left off yesterday, with British troops having left Boston in search of Samuel Adams and John Hancock. Revere and Dawes had reached both and warned them of the British approach, at which point both packed their bags and headed for Philadelphia.
And as the dawn began to break on April 19, 1775′s version of Lexington, Major John Pitcairn led 700 British regulars into town. There to greet them were 75-80 Colonial Minutemen, led by Captain John Parker. The British major probably looked on the “rabble” assembled before him and chuckled. He ordered the forces arrayed against him to pack up and head home…probably with the condescending tone of an arrogant schoolmaster scolding a wayward child.
Of course, we know what happened next. A shot was fired (“the shot heard round the world”) from an unknown gun, and the skirmish was on. Scattered shots were soon replaced by organized volleys from the British. The wiser of the Minutemen (most all of them) turned and ran for cover, but not before 8 men were killed, including Parker’s cousin.
News carried quickly even in those computer-less, telephone-less days. When the British arrived in Concord (to seize military supplies) less than 2 hours later, he found an enemy that numbered in the hundreds. Bullying tactics now would be a much more difficult proposition. While the British were able to capture and destroy some weapons, it quickly became apparent that the Colonials were not backing down. So as fighting broke out anew and British began taking casualties, the orders were given to head back to Boston.
And throughout the 15-mile retreat, they were shot at by an ever-growing number of Minutemen, who picked off their targets from behind rocks and trees. At the end of these engagements, casualty counts showed the British with more than 300 killed, wounded, or missing. The “rabble” they faced suffered fewer than 100.
The Americian Revolution had begun, and it began with American victory.
Recommended Recreation: Minuteman National Historical Park