A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Back to Lexington and Concord

A Circumstantial Account of an Attack that happened on the 19th of April 1775, on his Majesty's Troops ...

Page Viewing Options NOTE

  • 1
Jump:
overview | small | large | transcription HELP

Request this image

A CIRCUMSTANTIAL ACCOUNT

Of an Attack that happened on the 19th of April 1775, on his
MAJESTY'S Troops,

By a Number of the People of the Province of MASSACHUSETTS --
BAY.

ON Tuesday the 18th of April, about half past 10
at Night, Lieutenant Colonel Smith of the 10th
Regiment, embarked from the Common at Boston,
with the Grenadiers and Light Infantry of the
Troops there, and landed on the opposite Side, from
whence he began his March towards Concord, where he
was ordered to destroy a Magazine of Military Stores, de-
posited there for the Use of an Army to be assembled, in
Order to act against his Majesty, and his Government. The
Colonel called his Officers together, and gave Orders, that the
Troops should not fire, unless fired upon; and after march-
ing a few Miles, detached six Companies of Light Infantry,
under the Command of Major Pitcairn, to take Possession
of two Bridges on the other Side of Concord : Soon after
they heard many Signal Guns, and the ringing of Alarm
Bells repeatedly, which convinced them that the Country
was rising to oppose them, and that it was a preconcerted
Scheme to oppose the King's Troops, whenever there
should be a favorable Opportunity for it. About 3 o'Clock
the next Morning, the Troops being advanced within two
Miles of Lexington, Intelligence was received that about
Five Hundred Men in Arms, were assembled, and deter-
mined to oppose the King's Troops ;* and on Major Pit-
cairn's gallopping up to the Head of the advanced Compa-
nies, two Officers informed him that a Man (advanced from
those that were assembled) had presented his Musquit and
attempted to shoot them, but the Piece flashed in the Pan :
On this the Major gave directions to the Troops to move
forward, but on no Account to fire, nor even to attempt it
without Orders. When they arrived at the End of the
Village, they observed about 200 armed Men, drawn up on
a Green, and when the Troops came within a Hundred
Yards of them, they began to file off towards some Stone
Walls, on their right Flank : The Light Infantry observing
this, ran after them ; the Major instantly called to the Sol-
diers not to fire, but to surround and disarm them ; some of
[Handwritten reference mark, "#," in margin, refers to handwritten note at bottom of broadside] them who had jumped over a Wall, then fired four or five
Shot at the Troops, wounded a Man of the 10th Regi-
ment, and the Major's Horse in two Places, and at the
same Time several Shots were fired from a Meeting-House
on the left: Upon this, without any Order or Regularity,
the Light Infantry began a scattered Fire, and killed several
of the Country People; but were silenced as soon as the
Authority of their Officers could make them.

+ After this, Colonel Smith marched up with the Remain-
der of the Detachment, and the whole Body proceeded to
Concord, where they arrived about 9 o'Clock, without
any Thing further happening; but vast numbers of armed
People were seen Assembling on all the Heights: while
Colonel Smith with the Grenadiers, and Part of the Light
Infantry remained at Concord, to search for Cannon, &c.
there ; he detached Captain Parsons with six Light Compa-
nies to secure a Bridge at some Distance from Concord, and
to proceed from thence to certain Houses, where it was
supposed there was Cannon, and Ammunition ; Captain
Parsons in pursuance of these Orders, posted three Compa-

nies at the Bridge, and on some Heights near it, under the
Command of Captain Laurie of the 43d Regiment; and
with the Remainder went and destroyed some Cannon
Wheels, Powder, and Ball; the People still continued
encreasing on the Heights; and in about an Hour after,
a large Body of them began to move towards the Bridge,
the Light Companies of the 4th and 10th then descended,
and joined Captain Laurie, the People continued to ad-
vance in great Numbers; and fired upon the Kings Troops,
killed three Men, wounded four Officers, one Serjeant,
and four private Men, upon which (after returning the fire)
Captain Laurie and his Officers, thought it prudent to
retreat towards the Main Body at Concord, and were soon
joined by two Companies of Grenadiers; when Captain
Parsons returned with the three Companies over the
Bridge, they observed three Soldiers on the Ground one of
them scalped, his Head much mangled, and his Ears cut
off, tho' not quite dead; a Sight which struck the Soldiers
with Horror; Captain Parsons marched on and joined the
Main Body, who were only waiting for his coming up, to
march back to Boston; Colonel Smith had executed his
Orders, without Opposition, by destroying all the Military
Stores he could find; both the Colonel, and Major
Pitcairn, having taken all possible Pains to convince the
Inhabitants that no Injury was intended them, and that if
they opened their Doors when required, to search for said
Stores, not the slightest Mischief should be done; neither
had any of the People the least Occasion to complain, but
they were sulky, and one of them even struck Major
Pitcairn. Except upon Captain Laurie, at the Bridge,
no Hostilities happened from the Affair at Lexington,
until the Troops began their March back. As soon as
the Troops had got out of the Town of Concord, they
received a heavy Fire from all Sides, from Walls, Fences,
Houses, Trees, Barns, &c. which continued without Inter-
mission, till they met the first Brigade, with two Field Pieces,
near Lexington; ordered out under the Command of Lord
Percy to support them; (advice having been received
about 7 o'Clock next Morning, that Signals had been
made, and Expresses gone out to alarm the Country, and
that the People were rising to attack the Troops under
Colonel Smith.) Upon the Firing of the Field Pieces, the
People's Fire was for a while silenced, but as they still con-
tinued to encrease greatly in Numbers, they fired again as
before, from all Places where they could find Cover, upon
the whole Body, and continued so doing for the Space of
Fifteen Miles: Notwithstanding their Numbers they did not
attack openly during the Whole Day, but kept under Cover
on all Occasions. The Troops were very much fatigued,
the greater Part of them having been under Arms all
Night, and made a March of upwards of Forty Miles
before they arrived at Charlestown, from whence they
were ferryed over to Boston.

The Troops had above Fifty killed, and many more
wounded: Reports are various about the Loss sustained
by the Country People, some make it very considerable,
others not so much.

Thus this unfortunate Affair has happened through the
Rashness and Imprudence of a few People, who began
Firing on the Troops at Lexington.

* At this Time the advanc'd Light Companies loaded, but the
Grenadiers were not loaded when they received their first Fire.

+ Notwithstanding the Fire from the Meeting House, Colonel
Smith and Major Pitcairn, with the greatest Difficulty, kept the Soldiers
from forcing into the Meeting-House and putting all those in it to Death.

[ [This is a handwritten note at the bottom of the page.] ] # the People say the Troops fired first & I
believe they did