The Battle of Lexington

  • Wars And Conflict
  • 5 mins

By Crusader1307

The first engagement between American Patriot Forces (Militia) and a British Military Force, The Battle of Lexington, Massachusetts on April 16, 1775 - was the catalyst which served in “starting” the Military phase of The American Revolution. The “Battle” (as it was described by The Americans), was anything but. Much has been written about this first encounter. Most was propaganda by Contemporary sources on both sides. The causes of The Battle of Lexington were rooted in 5 years of mostly poor administration by The British Government. Heavy and numerous Taxes leveled against it's American Colonists, ineffective Government Leaders and lack of representation in Politics, all led to feelings that boiled to a point of rebellion. Most of the dissatisfaction stemmed from America's “Aristocracy” of Landowners and Colonial Politicians. It was their “purse” that was most effected and their decisions to implement resistance that spurred a response. The average “Common” American was “on The Fence” with regards to the eventual “cry” that The American Colonies should be an independent Nation. As the “Propaganda Machine” that was the early Media of Newspapers churned out tale after tale of “injustices” (both real and imagined), more and more America's began to join or form defense Militias. Many of these were formed under The British auspices of The French and Indian Wars of the 1760s. These Colonial Militias were trained by British Officers (and learned their “trade” from their Native American Enemies). Newer Militias had little of The War training and were mostly untrained and undisciplined. “Lucky” if any of these Militias had a “seasoned” former Officer, The Militias began to secretly Arm and store powder and munitions.


England was well aware of The Militias. The King of England, George III – had begun to send hundreds and hundreds of British Soldiers to America. Occupying major Colonial Cities, a state of undeclared “Martial Law” began to be declared. Patrols of Soldiers made arrests of anyone who spoke out against The King or “preached” Rebellion. In many smaller Townships, British Patrols would search for stores of illegal Arms and Gunpowder. British Military Authorities in Boston had it on reliable information of a large store of Guns and Powder at the Towns of both Lexington and Concord. A Detachment of 700 Soldiers were dispatched. The Force split with 400 Soldiers marching to Lexington, Massachusetts. The Township of Lexington had a tacit Militia of 100 Men. Several were French and Indian War Veterans, while the majority were either very old or very young. None would be considered adequately trained. 7 Companies of Militia formed after word reached them of a sizable Force of British Regulars was coming their way. Most had been well informed after Paul Revere and others had established The “Powder Alarm” System. Captain John Parker of The Lexington Militia spoke to The Militia assembeld on The Town's “Common” (Center Grounds). They would array in mass, showing their weapons in protest but make make no overt move. This was agreed to by most (but not all).



At 5 PM, elements of The 38th Regiment of Foot arrived on the outskirts of Lexington. Drums and Fife loudly playing as rank after rank of Soldiers marched with resplendent “martial step”. The Royal Colors and Regimental Flag billowing. No doubt The American Militia stood in awe at their precision, as The 38th stopped in line of March. They could go no farther, The American Militia blocked their path – lined up somewhat haphazardly. They had no fine uniforms or fluttering Flags. British Officer Major John Pitcarin rode forward and (as History states) – announced loudly the immortal phrase “Disperse Ye Rebels!” (or give Right of Way). It was said that Captain Parker of The American Militia told his Men to give way. However, he was suffering from Tuberculous, was not clearly heard in the Rear Ranks. No doubt nervous (as were the mostly young and combat inexperienced British Soldiers), something went wrong. Some Sources state it was a nervous British Soldier or an American Colonial “Hothead” - but “someone” fired their Musket. The “shot” smashed into the Front British Rank, hitting a British Soldier – who fell to the ground. Major Pitcarin yelled “Fire”.


The Ranks of British Infantry poured their Musket fire into The American Militia. Seeing only tacit resistance, The British Soldiers were ordered to “Fix Bayonets” and to “Advance”. The American Militia began to scatter and run for various Town structures and buildings. As The Force prepared to enter private homes to “root out” The Rebels, Colonel Francis Smith (only 10 minutes ride out before the start of the engagement), arrived. He ordered The Force to stand down and reform. Wagons arrived to collect the dead and wounded. Smith commanded The Force to continue on with it's Mission to Concord. The final tally listed 50 American Militia killed with 39 wounded and 5 “unaccounted” for. The British losses were listed at 10 killed and 5 wounded. Historians on both sides for Centuries had argued the real cause for Lexington. British Soldiers pushed to exhaustion or nervous and untrained Colonial Militia (perhaps both) – were the cause. Some Sorces cite that neither side were overtly responsible.



The “Shot Heard 'Round The World” may have come from angered Colonials hiding in the nearby woods – angered that Captain Parker was giving into The British and not “engaging” them. Others still, state that The British were angered that they may have to be ordered to “March around” The Rabble (something the “Mightiest Army in The World” should not do). The “Battle” took on mythic proportions. Hundreds of Militia were killed as were hundreds of British Soldiers. Homes were burned, Women and Children killed – all manner of fiction was told and printed. The result was one greatly desired by such Leaders as John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. Lexington stirred up such anti-British fervor, that most Colonial American's readily accepted the notion of Rebellion – and Independence. An “august gathering” of Representatives from all Colonial States would soon meet and begin to work on establishing both an Army, Government and soon – a Nation.