LEXINGTON, MA — Shortly after dawn broke under a full moon, at 6:30AM on Monday 4/18/22, the Battle of Lexington was reenacted on the Lexington Battle Green. This reenactment commemorates the first battle of the Revolutionary War that birthed the United States of America. This first battle, more of a skirmish really, took place on the morning of April 19th, 1775. Hours after Paul Revere’s famous midnight ride, about 250 British troops were marching to Concord to seize a stockpile of guns and gunpowder that the American colonists had stored there. The British regulars encountered 77 armed militiamen, known as the Minutemen, standing their ground on Lexington Green. The British told the Americans to lay down their arms and disperse. Captain John Parker told his Minutemen to hold their fire. The Minutemen stood their ground, and refused to lay down their guns.
At some point a shot was fired. After that first shot, the British Redcoats opened fire and the Americans fired back. Eight Americans were killed, a similar number wounded and one British soldier was also wounded before the Minutemen dispersed into the surrounding countryside. To this day, no one knows who fired that first shot, or whether it was fired by the British or the Americans. Regardless, that first shot would begin the birth of a new nation based on Liberty and change the entire world, thus it became known as “The Shot Heard Round the World.”
The British then marched on to Concord where a larger contingent of Minutemen met them in a skirmish on the North Bridge. Three British regulars and two Minutemen were killed. The British then retreated back to Boston under constant harassing fire by the Minutemen taking more casualties all along the way.
The American Revolution had begun.
In 1837, a poem named “The Concord Hymn” by Ralph Waldo Emerson was sung for a dedication of the Battle Monument at the North Bridge on July 4, 1837. That poem used the famous line “the shot heard round the world” in the first stanza.
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
Spirit, that made those heroes dare— Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1837
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.
However, the first shot that day was really fired on Lexington Green. That first shot, fired by an unknown party, would be more appropriately considered “The Shot Heard Round the World,” since that shot set off the hostilities that fateful day, on April 19th 1775.
2022 Reenactment of the Battle of Lexington that Took Place on April 19th, 1775
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