April 19, 1775
Battle of Lexington Green
Here was the first bloodshed of the American Revolution, on April 19, 1775. This photograph was taken at dawn in April.
In the spring of 1775, the Massachusetts colony was a hotbed of conflict. Stockpiles of arms and munitions were being collected and guarded, and the local militia, citizen-soldiers organized by town, were drilling and vowing to defend their rights. The military governor of Massachusetts, General Thomas Gage, ordered 700 British Regulars to march from Boston to seize caches of arms and munitions at Concord. Paul Revere, William Dawes, and other alarm riders alerted the countryside.
At dawn, 77 members of the Lexington Militia assembled on the town common pictured here to await the advancing British troops. Please rotate the picture until you are looking between the white flagpole and the rising sun. You are now standing approximately where the Militia were, looking towards the British Regulars who were approaching from the east. The road from Boston forks – on your right is the road to Concord. Instead of marching by on the road to Concord, the British Regulars came right onto the Green directly towards the militia.
They commanded the militia to "lay down your arms, you damned rebels!" Suddenly, shots rang out, possibly from the sidelines, (to this day we are not certain who fired first) and the British Regulars opened fire. When the smoke cleared, eight militia men lay dead. The British troops marched onward towards Concord where more battle awaited them.
As news of this fateful morning spread, thousands of armed militiamen responded to the "Lexington Alarm." By afternoon, 4,000 militia men were fighting along the "Battle Road" as the British ran a gauntlet of musket fire all the way back to Boston.
For Battle Green visitor information, visit the Lexington Chamber of Commerce:
Many of the nearby battle sites associated with Lexington and Concord are part of Minute Man National Historical Park: