The Battles of Lexington and Concord

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• Part 2: The Fighting Begins

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Part 1: Poor Beginnings

It was the worst of times for the American militia. British troops were everywhere, and they were bent on keeping the unruly colonists in line. The British generals worried that the Americans would take up arms and fight for their right to think and believe what they wanted and to tax themselves if they so chose. That's why British troops were marching toward Concord—to seize guns and ammunition.

British Major General Thomas Gage ordered a group of 700 soldiers to march to Concord, Massachusetts, and take ownership of the guns and gunpowder stored there. The march begin in the middle of April 1775. One of the first responses was the famous ride of Paul Revere, who was accompanied by Charles Dawes and Dr. Samuel Prescott on a ride through the countryside on the night of April 18, spreading the news that "The British Are Coming!"

The following day, the British soldiers reached Concord. They had some trouble on the way, though. They were fired on in nearby Lexington, on the way to Concord.

Major John Pitcairn was in charge of the Redcoats as they marched through Lexington. They found a group of Minutemen lined up in the village green. They had guns, and they were ready to use them.

Captain John Parker was in charge of the Minutemen. They had strict orders to give the appearance of resistance, but they wanted to let the British soldiers march on to Concord because they knew that the guns and ammunition that had been stored there had already been spirited away and split up, thanks to the efforts of Dr. Prescott, the only one of Paul Revere's group to make it all the way with the warning.

But somewhere along the way, one of the Minutemen fired a shot. They had moved from their original positions to behind a stone wall; and as the British soldiers marched by, some Colonial soldier fired. This has come to be known as "The Shot Heard 'Round the World."

The British fired back, of course. In the end, a handful of men died and many were wounded, on both sides. The Americans tended to their wounded, and the British marched on to Concord.

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Social Studies for Kids
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David White