Although the battles at Lexington and Concord in April, 1775, do not have great significance in a strict military sense, the battles are responsible for the \”shot heard \’round the world,\” the beginning of the military violence between the American colonies and Great Britain. POnce the actual military conflict began, there were far fewer opportunities to settle the dispute with Great Britain through negotiations. The battle at Lexington, which began between 5:30 and 8:00 a. m. on April 19, 1775, involved approximately 700 British troops and about 75 American colonists (militiamen). PThere has never been definitive proof of which side fired the first shot, but the battle resulted in about eight Americans killed and one British soldier wounded. PThe battle continued as the British troops moved on to Concord where they believed they would find a cache of ammunition to destroy. At Concord, there was very little ammunition to destroy, but there were many more American colonials who were taking shots at the British.
PA contingent of British soldiers holding Concord\’s North Bridge was surrounded by Americans, and they fired on the Americans to move them away from the bridge. PThis is actually the \”shot\” that began the Revolution. P
As the British returned to Concord, they were reinforced by British troops from Boston, but they were also met by about 2,000 Americans. PThe British returned to Boston but found themselves attacked by Americans the entire way back. PAbout 250 British casualties resulted from this running battle, and the Americans lost about 100 militiamen. Even though the military significance of these battles is marginal, their real significance is that British and American troops finally began killing each other, bringing about a psychological and political shift in how the respective parties perceived each other.
PThe spilling of blood broke many of the ties that bound the two groups and created much more political resolve among the Americans to fight Great Britain rather than to negotiate. In the months leading up to Lexington and Concord, Patriots had begun stockpiling weapons and ammunition (that was being smuggled in via the Spanish, Dutch, and French). They were also organizing militias in case of further disagreements with the British. British troops were occupying Boston as part of the Intolerable Acts (passed in response to the Boston Tea Party) and heard that munitions were being stored in the nearby towns of Lexington and Concord along with two important Patriot leaders: Samuel Adams and John Hancock. On the night of April 18, 1775, about 700 British troops left, in secret, to capture the supplies and leaders. However, Patriot spies had learned of the plan, and Paul Revere was sent on horse to warn the towns of the coming British troops.
The British arrived in Lexington on the morning of April 19, and found themselves facing about 80 Patriot militiamen on the green. The British gave several commands to disperse (which were ignored), and then began to march towards the Patriots. At some point, somebody (nobody knows who) fired a shot. This was called the \”Shot Heard Round the World. \” The Patriots soon fled, and many of the British continued to Concord. Because of the delay in Lexington, and because of outrage at the brief battle that had taken place there, many more Patriots gathered to resist the British near Concord. Some estimate that as many as 4,000 participated in the battle, which resulted in the British troops fleeing back to Boston. Following the battle, a siege of Boston began by the Patriots. Rebels in Boston quickly fled to the countryside, while those loyal to Britain in the countryside tried to move into Boston.