This day in history, April 19, 1775, the American Revolutionary War began.
At about 5 a.m., 700 British troops, on a mission to capture Patriot leaders such as Samuel Adams and John Hancock and seize a Patriot arsenal, marched into Lexington to find 77 armed minutemen under Captain John Parker waiting for them on the town’s common green because Paul Revere and other riders alerted them. When the British troops arrived at Lexington, Adams, Hancock, and Revere had already fled to Philadelphia.
British Major John Pitcairn ordered the outnumbered Patriots to disperse, and after a moment’s hesitation, the Americans began to drift off the green. Suddenly, the “shot heard around the world” was fired from an undetermined gun. When the brief Battle of Lexington ended, eight Americans lay dead or dying and 10 others were wounded. Only one British soldier was injured.
The British moved on to Concord, where a detachment of three companies was engaged and routed at the North Bridge by a force of 500 minutemen. As the British retreated to Boston, thousands of militiamen attacked them along the roads, inflicting many casualties before British reinforcements came. By the time the British finally reached Boston, nearly 300 British soldiers had been killed, wounded, or were missing in action. The Patriots suffered fewer than 100 casualties.
The battles of Lexington and Concord were the first battles of the American Revolution that would eventually lead to an independent United States of America several years later.