The Battle of Concord and Lexington 1775
Battle: Concord and Lexington 1775
War: American Revolution
Date: 19th April 1775
Place: Boston, Massachusetts
Combatants: British Troops and the Militia of Massachusetts
Generals: Colonel Smith, Major Pitcairne and Lord Percy
commanded the British Troops. Paul Revere and William Dawes rode to
warn the villages on the route to Concord and the Congress. Militia
were commanded by Barrett, Buttrick, Robinson and many others.
Size of the armies: 1,800 British. American numbers unknown.
Uniforms, arms and equipment : The British were armed with muskets and bayonet. Some light guns were used. The American militia were armed muskets, blunderbusses and any weapons they could find.
First Shots at Lexington, 19th April 1775. Image by John Mackenzie.
Click to enlarge.
The fight on the bridge at Concord from a contemporary
Winner: The British suffered extensive loss. The Americans
considered the contest an encouraging start to the war.
The British troops march into Concord from a contemporary
American Minutemen Militia early in the War (from Tim Reese’s CD Rom
illustrations of British and American Regiments from the
4th later King’s Own Royal Regiment and now the King’s Own Royal
5th later Northumberland Fusiliers and now the Royal Regiment of
10th later the Suffolk Regiment and now the Royal Anglian Regiment
18th now the Royal Irish Regiment
23rd Royal Welch Fusiliers
38th later the South Staffordshire Regiment and now the Staffordshire
43rd later 1st Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light
Infantry and now 1st Bn Royal Green Jackets.
52nd later 2nd Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light
Infantry and now 1st Bn Royal Green Jackets
59th later the East Lancashire Regiment and now the Queen’s Lancashire
Marines: now the Royal Marines
Colonel Smith, The British officer who led the march to Concord
This engagement was the first encounter of the
Revolutionary War. General Gage commanded the British garrison in
Boston. A Provincial Congress determined on independence for the
American colonies had been established in Cambridge, Massachusetts
outside Boston and the New England militia was drilling for war.
The route of Lieutenant Colonel Smith's force to Concord on 19th
April 1775 and of Brigadier Lord Percy's relieving force from Boston
Gage determined to send a force to seize the weapons and ammunition
held by the Congress in the armoury at Concord some 15 miles from
Boston. Lieutenant Colonel Smith was dispatched with the grenadier and
light infantry companies from each of the regiments in the garrison.
Boston was sealed overnight to prevent word being passed of the
departure of the force which was rowed across the harbour late on the
night of 18th April 1775 to Charles River. The troops landed and began
the march, but the sound of bells ringing showed that the countryside
had been alerted.
Major Pitcairne's troops fire on the militia on the Green at
in the first shots of the war from a contemporary
Smith sent forward a force of light infantry under Major Pitcairne to
secure the bridges at Concord. Pitcairne entered Lexington to find a
body of militia drawn up on the village green. Shots were fired in
which 18 Americans were hit and the militia dispersed.
The troops marched on to Concord where such supplies as had not been
removed were destroyed. In the meantime American militia attacked a
body of Light Infantry on one of the bridges and drove them back.
The scene in Lexington as the militia squared up to the British
for the first shots of the war.
Smith’s troops then began the march back to Boston, shot at from
hidden positions by American militia along the whole route until they
met Percy’s relieving force and the whole force withdrew into Boston.
On the route British soldiers burned and looted houses of the
colonials. In one or two cases colonial militia caught were summarily
Casualties: The British Regiments suffered 19 officers and
250 soldiers killed and wounded. The American losses did not exceed 90
Follow-up: This serious reverse encouraged the spirit of
revolt across the American colonies and was the immediate cause of New
York being seized for the revolution. A strong force of American’s
moved spontaneously to Boston and invested the city, being eventually
formed into Washington’s Continental Army.
Regimental anecdotes and traditions:
It is claimed that the fight at Lexington was begun by Major
Pitcairne firing his pistols at the Americans.
- History of the British Army by Sir John Fortescue
- The War of the Revolution by Christopher Ward