The Battle of Lexington & Concord
The first engagement between the British and the Americans happened on April 19, 1775 on the grassy fields of Massachusetts. General Thomas Gage ordered his men to take or destroy the American's supply of arms and ammunition stored in Concord. He also wanted John Hancock and Sam Adams, who were staying in Lexington, arrested.
The Boston Committee leader, Dr. Joseph Warren, learned of the plans and called for William Dawes and Paul Revere. He told them to ride to Lexington, then Concord and warn the minutemen to be ready. Dawes took one road, successfully dodging British sentries by blending in with some soldiers. Revere galloped down another road and met with a friend. The man was given instructions to hang two lanterns in the steeple of the Old North Church. Revere then rowed himself to the village of Charlestown, where associates, who had seen the signal met him with a horse. Revere got to Lexington first and woke the townspeople. Hancock and Adams were taken to a safe hiding place, while Captain Jonas Parker and 130 men stood ready to block the British.
At about 4:30 in the morning the British arrived. Only 70 of Parker's men remained, most had returned home. As the 600 man army approached, Parker exclaimed "Stand your ground! Don't fire unless fired upon! But if they want to have a war, let it begin here!" The brave men held their ground when they were ordered to leave. Realizing their attempts were futile, Parker gave the order to disperse. But the British Major wanted their weapons and a single shot was fired. Other shots followed, killing Parker and 7 other Americans. The small clash only lasted a few minutes.
The British then marched on to Concord and arrived at 7:30 a.m. While the 800 men under Lieutenant Colonel Franis Smith searched for the concealed weapons, the 150 minutemen positioned themselves on the other side of the North Bridge. The townspeople rang church bells, signaling all men to find their muskets and hurry to the scene. In the end about three to four hundred Americans had appeared.
The redcoats were unable to locate most of the hidden arms and in the process accidentally set fire to the courthouse. The militiamen, upon seeing the flames, thought that the British were burning down the city and rushed to save their village. The minutemen and redcoats exchanged fire across the North Bridge for a few minutes, causing several deaths. The British retreated into the city and started back for Boston. The Americans quickly ran and hid along the side of the main road. When the British passed, they were ambushed and attacked. This type of warfare continued until the redcoats reached Boston. In the end only 300 lives were lost on each side.
The Americans were able to demonstrate their power and determination to the large Imperial Army. They showed the British that they would not go quietly and that they would received their independence.