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A Circumstantial Account of the Attack that Happened on the 19th of April, 1775


A circumstantial Account of an Attack that happened on the 19th of April, 1775, on His Majesty' s Troops, by a number of the People of the Province of the MASSACHUSETTS-BAY.

On Tuesday the 18th of April, about half-past ten at night, Lieutenant Colonel Smith, of the Tenth Regiment, embarked from the Common, at Boston, with the Grenadiers and Light-Infantry of the Troops there, and landed on the opposite side; from whence he began his march towards Concord, where he was ordered to destroy a magazine military stores, deposited there for the use of an Army to be assembled in order to act against His Majesty and his Government. The Colonel called his officers together, and gave orders that the Troops should not fire unless fired upon; and after marching a few miles, detached six Companies of Light-Infantry, under the command of Major Pitcairn, to take possession of two bridges on the other side of Concord. Soon after, they heard many signal guns, and the ringing of alarm-bells repeatedly, which convinced them that the country was rising to oppose them, and that it was a preconcerted scheme to oppose the King' s Troops, whenever there should be a favourable opportunity for it. About three o' clock the next morning, the Troops being advanced within two miles of Lexington, intelligence was received that about five hundred men in arms were assembled, and determined to oppose the King' s Troops; and on Major Pitcairn' s galloping up to the head of the Advanced Companies, two officers informed him that a man (advanced from those that were assembled) had presented his musket, and attempted to, shoot them, but the piece flashed in the pan. On this the Major gave directions to the Troops to move forward, but an no account to fire, nor even to attempt it without orders. When they arrived at the end of the village, they observed about two hundred armed men drawn up on a green, and when the Troops came within one hundred yards of them, they began to file off towards some stone walls on their light flank; the Light-Infantry observing this, ran after them. The Major instantly called to the soldiers not to fire, but to surround and disarm them. Some of them who had jumped over a wall, then fired four or five shot at the Troops; wounded a man of the Tenth Regiment, and the Major' s horse in two places, and at the same time several shots were fired from meeting-house on the left. Upon this, without any order or regularity, the Light-Infantry began a scattered fire, and killed several of the country people, but were silenced as soon as the authority of their officers could make them.

After this, Colonel Smith marched up with the remainder of the detachment, and the whole body proceeded to Concord, where they arrived about nine o' clock, without any thing further happening; but vast numbers of armed people were seen assembling oh all the heights. While Colonel Smith, with the Grenadiers and part of the Light-Infantry, remained at Concord to search for cannon, &c˙, there, he detached Captain Parsons, with six light companies, to secure a bridge at some distance from Concord, and to proceed from thence to certain houses, where it was supposed there was cannon and ammunition. Captain Parsons, in pursuance of these orders, posted three companies at the bridge, and on some heights near it, under the command of Captain Laurie, of the Forty-Third Regiment, and with the remainder went and destroyed some cannon-wheels, powder, and ball. The people still continued increasing on the heights, and in about an hour after, a large body of them began to move towards the bridge. The light companies of the Fourth and Tenth then descended and joined Captain Laurie. The people continued to advance in great numbers, and fired upon the King' s Troops; killed three men, wounded four officers, one sergeant, and four privates; upon which (after returning the fire) Captain Laurie and his officers thought it prudent to retreat towards the main body at Concord, and were soon joined by two companies of Grenadiers. When Captain Parsons returned with the three Companies over the bridge, they observed


three soldiers on the ground, one of them scalped, his head much mangled, and his ears cut off, though not quite dead —a sight which struck the soldiers with horrour. Captain Parsons marched on and joined the main body, who were only waiting for his coming up to march back to Boston. Colonel Smith had executed his orders, without opposition, by destroying all the military stores he could find. Both the Colonel and Major Pitcairn having taken all possible pains to convince the inhabitants that no injury was intended them, and that if they opened their doors when required, to search for said stores, not the slightest mischief should be done. Neither had any of the people the least occasion to complain; but they were sulky, and one of them even struck Major Pitcairn.

Except upon Captain Laurie at the bridge, no hostilities happened from the affair at Lexington, until the Troops began their march hack. As soon as the Troops had got out of the Town of Concord, they received, a heavy fire on them from all sides — from walls, fences, houses, trees, barns, &c˙, which continued, without intermission, till they met the First Brigade, with two field-pieces, near Lexington, ordered out under the command of Lord Percy to support them. Upon the firing of the field-pieces, the people' s fire was for a while silenced; but as they still continued to increase greatly in numbers, they fired again, as before, from all places where they could find cover, upon the whole body, and continued so doing for the space of fifteen miles.

Notwithstanding their numbers, they did not attack openly during the whole day, but kept under cover on all occasions. The Troops were very much fatigued; the greater part of them having been under arms all night, and made a march of upwards of forty miles before they arrived at Charles-town, from whence they were ferried over to Boston.

The Troops had above fifty killed, and many more wounded; reports are various about the loss sustained by the country people; some make it very considerable, others not so much.