I admit it; I don’t know as much about the American Revolutionary War as I feel I should, especially for a resident of Concord, MA – arguably the birthplace of the American Revolution. (My wife, born in Philadelphia where the Declaration of Independence was signed 442 days later, always finds a way to debate this.)
Patriots Day is around the corner (Monday, April 18th) and has long been one of my favorite holidays for several reasons. Seasonally, it’s been a turning point for nice weather. Athletically, it’s “Marathon Monday”, or home to the famous Boston Marathon. Historically, and most importantly, it’s the milestone for our countries independence from England some 236 years ago. This last point has grown increasingly important to me over the years as I’ve begun to appreciate the magnitude and significance of April 19, 1775.
In the early morning of April 19, 1775, the British Army marched from Boston toward Concord to seize military supplies. Determined to protect their freedoms in the wake of British taxation without representation the Massachusetts militia was waiting in Lexington center to intercept the British Army. Their 80 militiamen, however, were no match for the 700 prepared British. It is unclear who fired the first shot but the quick skirmish left one British soldier wounded with 10 colonists wounded and 8 killed.
By the time the British had arrived in Concord the situation had changed drastically. While the British had spread themselves through Concord in their hunt for arms the Minutemen and militiamen from Acton, Concord, Bedford, and Lincoln had grouped near the Old North Bridge. The Battle of the Old North Bridge included roughly 400 militiamen to the British Army’s 90-95 soldiers. What triggered the battle by an unknown shooter would later be dubbed as “the shot heard around the world” by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Both sides suffered casualties and fatalities but ultimately the British were forced to retreat back to Boston during which they continued to take fire and suffer fatalities from pursuing militiamen.
Following the Battles of Lexington and Concord thousands of militiamen from around New England continued to flood toward Boston. The Siege of Boston, led by George Washington, lasted from April 19, 1775 until March 17, 1776 when the 120 British ships sailed out of Boston Harbor. It would be seven more years before the American Revolution would end but on July 4, 1776 the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence stating that the 13 American colonies were now independent states. Two hundred and thirty six years sounds like an unfathomable time period but the towns of Lexington and Concord do a great job of keeping the spirit of the day alive.
Today Patriots Day is a civic holiday to commemorate the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington & Concord and to remember those who lost their life fighting for our county’s independence. It is celebrated with reenactments’, parades, and even a retracing of Paul Revere’s famous ride from Boston.
I also use it as a day to appreciate those who continue to take arms to protect this country. They’re putting themselves in harm’s way so many of us don’t have to and for that, my family says thank you.
Want to learn more?
- John Adams is an entertaining and fantastic miniseries on DVD (& Blu-ray)
- The Minute Man National Historic Park is the hub of information for the topic.
- Full list of Patriots’ Day Events on NPS.gov
- Dedicated to the event: BattleRoad.org
- Check out Concord, MA’s homepage for information on events. [Patriots Day Parade is Monday, April 18th from 9am to noon. Muster at Armory on Stow St.]
- Concord Journal Article on 2010 Patriots’ Day Parade