Friday, September 13, 2013

"Let it start here!"

Many are the personalities we remember from the American revolution. We remember the founding fathers, George Washington both as the general and the eventual first president. We remember the great traitor Benedict Arnold and maybe even a few of the the English personalities. As a whole though, many people today don't remember much about what happened during that long struggle all those many years back. They don't remember that this was a war not fought by professional armies in the fields of Europe or the Jungles of Southeast Asia. This was a war on the American continent, in the backyards of the men doing the fighting. This war was fought by men with passion for freedom in their hearts and muskets in their hands. Victories were won and lost on the backs of the American fighting man, the militia and the minuteman.

Minute Man Memorial
  With the Seven years war, Stamp and Townsend acts in the past and the open wound from the Boston massacre and subsequent closure of the port still open and festering, the pot of American discontentment had begun to boil over. Boston was the hotbed and Lexington and Concord would provide the spark needed to turn the American colonists from disgruntled subjects into fighting men and women.

British Grenadiers
"The shot heard round the world" as many now call it happened late in the evening of April 18, 1775. The British were moored in Boston Harbor and had received word that the Colonials had been stockpiling a cache of weapons, powder, ammunition and cannons at Concord. It was a target that Gage, the commanding officer could not pass up. At 8pm, Gage mobilized his troops and gave them marching orders to Concord - a destination of some 20 miles distant. The officers were informed of the target but the men were not told anything. They knew there was a high chance of contact with rebel elements, though no one expected the rabble to be stupid enough to attack the most professionally trained army on earth.

Advanced elements were made up of Light infantry (marksmen) and Grenadiers (Heavy, strong and tall troops) under the command of John Pitcairn. They marched with their heavy packs from Boston to Lexington where they arrived at around 5am, having marched all night long. 77 militiamen under the command of Veteran John Parker who told his men through his rough tuberculosis ridden voice told his men
"Stand your ground; don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here."

"Let it start here!"
Over 350 Redcoats were assembled on Lexington Green with the rag-tag militia assembled on the opposite end, less than 100 paces distant. A single shot fired. Some sources credit it coming from a rooftop, others claim it was fired from behind a wall on the common. What all sources agree upon is the fact that it was neither the British nor the Militia on the Green that fired the opening shot. What they also agree is that the next shot came from the British infantry. The first volley wounding 7 men and killing the first official recorded KIA of the conflict - Prince Estabrook, a black slave, serving in place of his master.

Estabrook Memorial
After the initial volley, the British troops broke rank and charged the Americans with their bayonets. The colonists let out a volley that felled a few troops before their lines broke and fled. It would be another hour before the British troops were recalled and reformed to continue their march on to Concord.

More next week!

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