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Friday, April 18, 2014

Lexington

Tomorrow, April 19, marks the anniversary of the "battle" of Lexington.  This was less a battle than an unintentional skirmish that grew into the battle of Concord.  Nonetheless, we grow up learning about the "Battle of Lexington and Concord."

Visitors to Lexington can observe markers showing the line formed by Captain John Parker and his 70 or so militiamen:


No one today knows who fired the first shot.  At the time, the Americans blamed the British and the British blamed the Americans.  The voice of American minuteman Sylvanus Wood, 23 reaches across the centuries: "[t]he British troops approached us rapidly in platoons, with a General officer on horse-back at their head.  The officer came up to within about two rods of the centre of the company, where I stood.--The first platoon being about three rods distant.  They there halted.  The officer then swung his sword, and said, 'Lay down your arms, you damn'd rebels, or you are all dead men--fire.' Some guns were fired by the British at us from the first platoon, but no person was killed or hurt, being probably charged only with powder.  Just at this time, Captain Parker ordered every man to take care of himself.  The company immediately dispersed; and while the company was dispersing and leaping over the wall, the second platoon of the British fired, and killed some of our men.  There was not a gun fired by any of Captain Parker's company within my knowledge."


British Lieutenant John Barker, also present, disagreed: "At 5 o’clock we arrived there and saw a number of people, I believe 2 and 3 hundred, formed on a common in the middle of the town; we still continued advancing, keeping prepared against an attack tho’ without intending to attack them, but on our coming near them they fired on or two shots, upon which our men without any orders rushed in upon them, fired and put ‘em to flight; several of them were killed, we could not tell how many because they were got behind walls and into the woods; We had a man of the 10th Light Infantry wounded, nobody else hurt. We then formed upon the common but with some difficulty, the men were so wild they could hear no orders; we waited a considerable time there and at length proceeded on our way to Concord, which we then learnt was our destination, in order to destroy a magazine of stores collected there."

     Voices from the past speak to us from the Green on this anniversary.

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