Lexington and Concord By Nicholas Lowe

Introduction

I chose this topic because of what I thought I could do about it. Since it didn't specifically what to write about Lexington and Concord, I decided to write about several aspects of both to inform people better of the sites of the first battles of the American Revolution.

Lexington

Founding

Lexington, MA was established as a settlement of growth for the Massachusetts Bay colony in 1641. Beginning as part Cambridge town, the people who settled the area (commonly known as a parish of Cambridge farms) sought to become a town, increasing social and economic status and truly making a name for itself in colonial America and for the increased spreading of the Puritan religion. The area was given a order in March of 1712 to become a town of its own. The officers chosen to lead this new town were: Matthew Bridge, Capt. William Reed, Lieut. Francis Bowman, Ensign Joseph Simonds, Deacon and John Merriam.

Social

Socially, the area was made up of Puritans that had fled England, determined to seek religious freedom and tranquility from the lack thereof in their mother country. As an individual identity within the Massachusetts Bay Colony, it was very similar to most other towns and townships: it had a town meeting house, stocks, some farming where it was possible, and homes usually with a pattern similar to those of Boston and Cambridge. The people with most power in Lexington were those who belonged to the church, which required being a visible saint, or those who professed being visited by God's spirit, were baptized, and had some semblance of wealth for tithing.

Geography

Lexington is located towards the interior of Massachusetts very close to Cambridge as it used to be a subsection of the town. Lexington’s geography was very consistent with the rest of Massachusetts Bay; very rocky soil that was not good for farming, but a sturdy base for structures in comparison to the swamped colonies south to them such as the Virginia company’s Plymouth. Because of this rocky geography, Massachusetts bay became the way of life with towns under the charter. The bay was their way of life through fishing and trading with other cities and colonies across colonial America and beyond.

Economy

The Lexington economy was very closely tied to the Massachusetts Bay colonies economy of fishing, hunting, and trading. It largely supported the growth of the bayside cities and towns by supplying them with foodstuffs available through the better land inward.

French and Indian War

The constant raids and attacks on British owned colonies and cities such as Lexington slowed population growth to a halt. No major events occurred in Lexington during the French and Indian war, but news did spread of the contempt held by the British that had come to assist the colonies to Lexington, deteriorating relations between the town and England as well as with numerous others towns in New England.

Pre-Revolutionary War

Lexington, like much of New England at the time, was getting rowdy because of the tariffs and taxation forced on all of the colonies by England for reparations for the French and Indian war. Though nothing major was happening specifically in Lexington, there were undoubtedly protesters similar to Boston Massachusetts, the largest city in the Massachusetts bay colony and arguably the most rebellious of all the cities in the colonies. One thing to note is that small forces of Minutemen were in the area, prepared for battle against Britain if necessary. On April 18, 1775 the army became a necessity as both William Dawes and Paul Revere came to warn the town of what was to happen. They had little time to prepare for the wave of regulars that was to come.

Battle of Lexington

The confrontation at Lexington is known to be the first real battle of the American Revolution
"I told them what was Acting, and went to git me a Horse; I got a Horse of Deacon Larkin . . . I set off upon a very good Horse; it was then about 11 O'Clock and very pleasant" -Letter Paul Revere to Jeremy Belknap, 1798

After receiving the signal that the British regulars were coming by land, Paul Revere set out for Lexington from Boston Massachusetts on April 18, 1775 at about 11:00 at night *. At Menotomy (present day Arlington) he met up with William Dawes and continued to Lexington. After the two galloped through the town of Lexington, they continued through the area, attempting to reach Concord. Revere was captured on the road leading to concord but Dawes and another important rider, Samuel Prescott, continued to warn the town of Concord. Early that morning, the British army came upon Lexington. The colonial militia, being led by Captain John Parker, was somewhat prepared for battle. Despite the assertion that John Parker said something valiantly before battling along the lines of ‘don’t fire before you see whites of their eyes’. However he actually later admitted...

“I, John Parker... do testify and declare, that on the 19th Instant in the Morning, about one of the Clock, being informed that there were a Number of Regular Officers, riding up and down the Road... ordered our Militia to meet on the Common in said Lexington to consult what to do, and concluded...meddle or make with said Regular Troops... upon their sudden Approach, I immediately ordered our Militia to disperse, and not to fire:—Immediately said Troops made their appearance and rushed furiously, fired upon, and killed eight of our Party” -Captain John Parker

As the British militia began to line up in ranks, an officer of the British rode up to tell the militia to stand down and go home. After a bit of confusion, and despite orders from both sides to disperse, someone shot. No one knows who truly shot the gun, but that the signaled the beginning of colonial-crown battling and was dubbed ‘the shot heard round the world’. A very one sided battle ensued in which a few colonists were killed, causing the militia to retreat. The British began to march on to seize the munitions found in Concord.

Concord

Founding

Concord was founded in 1635 by a group of white settlers from the Massachusetts Bay colony. The land they got for the growth of the settlement was purchased from Native Americans. Due to the lack of interest in attacking the settlement during King Philip's war and that it's considered one of the first interior towns the Massachusetts bay Colony creates, it quickly becomes a bustling center for trade and commerce.

Social

The relations with the Natives were very peaceful in comparison of how many other European towns (especially of English descent) treated them. The two peoples often traded together on fairly equal terms with each other. Besides that, Concord was similar to that of the many New England towns through the similar layout prevalent between almost all towns.

Geographically

The geography of Concord is very similar to that of Lexington-surrounded by forests and farmlands in all directions. This is due to the lack of bustling centers so far inland because of the plentiful resources found there. Concord however, features a river, with which, colonists used during the battle of Lexington and Concord.

Economy

Concord’s economy was similar to many of the larger cities but featured much more farming in comparison.

French and Indian War

A sizable force of minutemen had actually accumulated in the area during the French and Indian War due to English lethargy to act on behalf of the colonists at the onset of the French and Indian War. This force fought off many Native American forces sufficiently until the English came to do the real fighting.

Pre-Revolutionary War

Many of the aforementioned minutemen were preparing for American attacks and proved to be reliable to the regular citizens in times of trouble.

battle as tensions rose surrounding the English-Colonists relations. They began to create a stock of munitions in Concord that the British regulars deemed dangerous. The regulars planned in secret to siege the munitions from the colonists, but word reached them due to the midnight riders William Dawes and Samuel Prescott who spread the word about the English plots. Lexington had already yielded to the English with little fight, but only because they had little time to react to the news-Concord did.

Battle of Concord

Depiction of the Battle of Concord

Upon entrance into the city, the minutemen allowed the British to come and destroy/take any munitions because of their hugely outnumbered and outclassed 250 soldiers, to the regulars finely trained and relatively well outfitted 900 soldiers. After some time, however, the colonial numbers began to rise as more showed up from in the countryside of Massachusetts Bay Colony. As the British began leaving with the munitions, the colonies began firing. Being hindered by the weight and not expecting much of a fight, they began to retreat more quickly, being picked by the colonists using guerilla warfare from the trees and from behind natural and artificial cover. The regulars eventually escaped with the , but could not escape the heavy loses of battle: about 70 killed, 50 captured, and 170 wounded. Though they loss a lot of supplies, the colonists considered this a pretty good fight in terms of numbers defeated.

Conclusion

Lexington and Concord served as important townships that not only supplied the major cities in which revolution was taken at a large scale, but major points in the revolution which ultimately began to spur the colonists into fighting. They will be known for all time as a turning point in our relations with England; Instead of bowing down to England, they rose and fought, and the rewards of their sacrifices are still being enjoyed today

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