With the first shots of the war already fired, the match of rebellion had been irrevocably laid to the powder keg that was the unrest in the colonies. Men on both sides had been killed in open conflict, now, like it or not, the colonies were in open war against the greatest military power of the time. Britain's Vietnam had begun and Concord would prove a fatal error in judgement and logistics and tactics on the part of Gage, the British commanding officer.
It was 8am when the British entered from the east of Concord, looking for militia weapon stores stored up by the rebels. The men had been marching since 8pm the night before and were in full pack and gear, weighing close to 75lbs. The men were tired and hungry as they marched into the town. They searched house to house for weapons, some men finding weapons, business end first as the residents of Concord had been warned of the British attack by Paul Revere.
In another hour, once the British realized the weapons stores had been moved, Colonial militia had formed across the river and had begun firing into the British. Colonials had been trained to aim for officers, and soon the formations of Redcoats were falling back without commanders. The British mounted an offensive and were able to control most of the important points of the town, both the bridges and the main road were under control, but soon the men ran low on ammunition. Each man had been given 36 rounds before marching, but many had fired shots at Lexington, and with their training, most would fire 3 aimed shots in a minute. This meant that in a direct fire fight, most men ran out of ammunition within 12 minutes. The fighting lasted until 11am with the British taking heavy casualties.
Exhaustion had set in and ammunition was all but expended,but the rebels still came on. The ranks began to break and the men began their 20 mile retreat back to the safety of Boston. Militia and Minutemen harassed the Redcoats all along the way, small groups popping up out of fields to fire a few rounds and disappear. Ten or twelve would pop up from behind a wall or fence, fire a volley and leave. It was a masacre, the dead littering the 5 mile path from Concord back to Lexington, some from musket ball, others from exhaustion.
When the sun set on Boston, over 300 redcoats were dead, wounded or missing in action. The colonists had lost less than a third of that number. The realization set in on the British High Command that the Colonists were not just a rag-tag group of untrained rabble that would be easily dissuaded from their rebellion with a few pounds of powder and a few musket rounds. Their resolve could not be broken even at bayonet point. One thing was clear, this only the beginning of a long and dangerous conflict.