The Battle of Concord, 1775

April 19, 1775

The Battle of Concord was fought between the Massachusetts Militia and Great Britain on April 19, 1775, the first day of the American Revolutionary War. Following the Battle of Lexington, a British expedition marched to Concord and destroyed military supplies. After a fire started in the town, the Massachusetts Militia engaged the British at the North Bridge and fired the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World.” The British were forced to withdraw and marched back to Boston with American forces in pursuit.

Concord Fight, 1775, Doolittle, Plate 3 Detail, North Bridge, NYPL

This engraving by Amos Doolittle from 1775 depicts the Concord Fight at the North Bridge. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Battle of Concord Facts

  • Date — The Battle of Concord was fought on Wednesday, April 19, 1775.
  • Location — Concord, Massachusetts, a small village west of Boston, in Middlesex County.
  • Opponents — Massachusetts Militia and Great Britain.
  • American Commanders — James Barrett, John Buttrick, Joseph Hosmer, John Robinson, Isaac Davis.
  • British CommandersFrancis Smith, John Pitcairn, Walter Laurie, Lawrence Parsons.
  • Winner — The Massachusetts Militia won the Battle of Concord.
  • Campaign — Boston Campaign.
  • Also Known As — The Concord Fight.

Battle of Concord Significance

The Battle of Concord is important to American History because it was part of the series of battles that opened the American Revolutionary War. These battles changed the American Revolution from a philosophical movement to an organized, armed resistance. Although the British accomplished their mission in Concord, they moved slowly, providing time for American forces to gather along the road back to Lexington. After leaving Concord, the battle resumed and lasted until the British returned to Boston. By the end of the day, the British were trapped in the city by thousands of Massachusetts militiamen and the Siege of Boston was underway.

Battle of Concord History

The Battle of Concord was fought on April 19, 1775, in Concord, Massachusetts. It was the second battle of the American Revolutionary War, and famously memorialized by Ralph Waldo Emerson in his poem, “Concord Hymn,” which introduced the famous quote, “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World.”

The British Expedition to Concord

On the night of April 18th, Thomas Gage, the Commander-in-Chief of British forces in North America, ordered roughly 800 British troops to march from Boston to Concord, where they were to destroy weapons and ammunition hidden there by the Massachusetts Militia.

The British expedition was under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith, and the advance guard was under the command of Major John Pitcairn.

Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith, British Officer, Portrait
British Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith. Image Source: National Army Museum (UK).

Joseph Warren Sends the Midnight Riders

The Patriot spy network in Boston learned about the march and notified Dr. Joseph Warren, the head of the Massachusetts Committee of Safety. Warren ordered Paul Revere and William Dawes to ride out into the countryside west of Boston to warn people that the British were marching to Concord.

Warren told them to stop in Lexington and warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock, two prominent members of the Sons of Liberty and leaders of the Patriot Cause. Adams and Hancock were staying with the Reverend Jonas Clarke at his home, and Warren believed the British might be going to arrest them.

Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, 1775, Painting, Kendrick
This 1900 painting by Charles Kendrick depicts Paul Revere warning people during his Midnight Ride. Image Source: American Antiquarian Society.

Revere and Dawes took separate routes to Lexington and raised the alarm in the towns and villages along the way. Revere arrived in Lexington first and warned Adams and Hancock. After Dawes arrived, they set out for Concord and were joined by a third rider, Dr. Samuel Prescott.

Soon after, they were surprised by a British patrol. Revere was captured, ending his famous Midnight Ride. Dawes and Prescott escaped and Prescott rode to Concord. He arrived in Concord early in the morning and notified the militia leaders the British were headed their way. Sometime between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m. the church bells rang, woke the town, and called the Minutemen to assemble.

The Battle of Lexington

Meanwhile, as the British approached Lexington, Captain John Parker assembled nearly 80 men from the Lexington Militia on Lexington Common. The British advance force, led by Major John Pitcairn, marched into town and found Parker and his men blocking the road.

Pitcairn ordered the militia to disperse and leave their weapons on the Common. Parker responded by ordering his men to leave, but most of them carried their weapons with them, creating confusion in the British ranks.

Battle of Lexington, 1775, Doolittle, Plate 1 Detail, NYPL
This engraving by Amos Doolittle was made in 1775 and depicts the Battle of Lexington. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Within moments, a shot rang out. Almost immediately, the British fired on the Americans, even though Pitcairn had not given them the order to do so. Some of the Americans fired back, and the British charged with bayonets and routed them.

Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith heard the shots, rode into Lexington, and restored order. The Battle of Lexington lasted approximately 10 minutes and Smith organized his men and resumed the march to Concord.

Concord Prepares for the Arrival of British Forces

Thanks to Prescott’s warning, the people of Concord started moving and hiding the weapons and ammunition. Meanwhile, Concord’s three companies of Minutemen mobilized and gathered at Wright’s Tavern. Major John Buttrick was one of the first men to arrive.

Reuben Brown was sent on horseback toward Lexington to see if the British were coming. Brown arrived in Lexington in time to see the first shots fired by the British.

Concord Fight, 1775, Warren Tavern, NYPL
This postcard from the early 1900s shows Wright Tavern, where the militia gathered in Concord after the alarm was sounded. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.

While Brown was on his way back to Concord, a group of Minutemen from Lincoln arrived and said shots had been fired in Lexington. When Brown returned, he told Colonel James Barrett he had seen it for himself.

Colonel Barrett prepared to defend the town. He ordered some militia to occupy a hill that overlooked Meriam’s Corner, east of Concord. He ordered others to march toward Lexington, hoping a show of force might convince the British to turn back.

The British Advance on Concord

The British expedition was seen marching on the road toward Concord sometime around 7-7:30 a.m. The expedition included 21 companies marching 3 men across and is estimated to have stretched for 1,000 yards along the road.

The militia marching toward the main British column turned around when they saw the size of the British force marching toward them. The Americans marched back through Concord, crossed over the North Bridge, and then to the hill to join Colonel Barrett and the others.

Concord Fight, 1775, Doolittle, Plate 2 Detail, Smith and Pitcairn, NYPL
This engraving by Amos Doolittle was made in 1775. It depicts the British marching into Concord while Colonel Francis Smith and Major John Pitcairn survey the Massachusetts Militia gathering on the hills around the town. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.

As the expedition approached the town, the British Light Infantry broke off from the main column, formed a line, and prepared to deal with the militia on the hill. The rest of the British force continued on the road to Concord.

The Light Infantry moved up the hill toward the militia and Colonel Barrett ordered his men to fall back to Punkatasset Hill, closer to Concord, but they still maintained control of the high ground. The hill was a mile east of town and overlooked Meriam’s Corner.

Meanwhile, militia forces from the surrounding towns and villages arrived and gathered on the hills and ridges around Concord.

British Search Concord and Barrett’s Farm

Around 8:00 a.m., Lieutenant Colonel Smith ordered his men to start searching the town. Per his orders from General Gage, he sent troops to guard the North Bridge and the South Bridge.

Some troops started searching houses and other buildings in the town, while others marched to the Barrett Farm, two miles outside of town, to search for hidden supplies. The British searching in Concord found cannon mounts, food stores, and musket balls. The British threw some of the flour and musket balls into a pond and set the rest on fire.

A strong wind blew sparks onto other buildings, which also caught fire. The British helped the residents of Concord put the fires out. However, all the militia could see was smoke from the town, and they moved closer to Concord to get a better look, closer to the North Bridge.

Americans Form Ranks in the Muster Field

It was around 9:00 a.m. when the militia moved down from the hill and closer to the bridge, into a pasture on the property of Captain David Brown, a member of the Concord Militia and the town’s Committee of Safety.

When the companies of militia and Minutemen arrived, Lieutenant Joseph Hosmer formed the ranks in a pasture which is known as the “Muster Field.” He had them organized so they were facing the town. The Minutemen were on the right and the militia companies were on the left.

While the officers discussed what to do next, the Acton Minutemen arrived. One of the Acton men, Captain Isaac Davis, joined the discussion with the officers. After a column of smoke rose above the town, Lieutenant Hosmer, Barrett’s second-in-command, went to the officers and asked, “Will you let them burn the town down?”

Acton Minutemen, March to Concord, 1775, Painting
This painting by Arthur Fuller Davis depicts Captain Isaac Davis leading the Acton Minutemen on the march to Concord. Image Source: Acton Memorial Library.

March to the North Bridge

There, in the Muster Field, the leaders of the various Massachusetts Minutemen and militia companies decided to advance on the British at the North Bridge.

The Acton Minutemen were chosen to lead the column. Captain Davis went to his men, raised his sword, and said, “I haven’t a man that is afraid to go.” and ordered them to march and take their place at the head of the column.

The men were ordered to load their muskets, and many changed the flints needed to fire the gunpowder. A fresh flint made it more likely the musket would properly fire.

The command of the column was given to Major John Buttrick, and Colonel James Barrett went to the rear, where he followed on his horse, repeating his order not to fire unless the British fired first.

Major Buttrick gave the order to march to Concord and led the column, along with Lieutenant Colonel John Robinson of Westford. They were followed closely by Captain Davis and the Acton Militia. Militia companies from Concord, Lincoln, and Bedford made up the rest of the column. It also included men from other small towns.

The American column moved out of the Muster Field, onto the Groton Road, and marched toward the North Bridge. This column was the first American Army to take the field in history.

The Concord Fight at the North Bridge

The British saw the Americans coming and their commanding officer, Captain Walter Laurie, ordered his men to cross back over the bridge. As the British crossed, they started removing wooden planks from the bridge, so the Americans could not cross.

Major John Buttrick shouted at them and told them to stop, which they did. Then the British formed a line and prepared to fire on the American column. As the Americans prepared to cross the bridge, the British fired some warning shots. The Americans ignored them and continued to press forward.

The British fired another volley, but this time directly into the oncoming Americans. Luther Blanchard, the fifer for the Acton company, was wounded. The Americans were shocked, and Major Buttrick yelled, “Fire fellow soldiers, for God’s sake, fire!” and then he fired his musket at the British. This was Emerson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World.”

Concord Fight, 1775, North Bridge, NYPL
This illustration depicts the fight at the North Bridge. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Both sides fired on each other at close range. Isaac Davis and Abner Hosmer from Acton were killed instantly. Four more Americans were wounded.

Of the eight British officers at the North Bridge, four were wounded, and at least three British privates were killed.

The Americans pushed forward and the British broke ranks and ran back to Concord. The short battle lasted approximately three minutes.

American and British Forces Organize

The Americans took defensive positions behind a stone wall that allowed them to control the North Bridge and some were sent to Meriam’s Corner, east of Concord. More militia forces arrived and took positions behind walls and trees along the Bay Road, which the British would have to take to return to Boston.

Despite the skirmish at the North Bridge, Lieutenant Colonel Smith and his men had completed their mission as best they could. Smith organized his men and gathered carts to transport the wounded. 

It was around noon when the British column marched east toward Boston. The column extended for roughly one-third of a mile, making it difficult to defend, so Smith placed flanking parties on both sides of the column, to protect it.

However, the American forces gathered around Concord increased in size as reinforcements arrived, and, as Private Thaddeus Blood, from Captain Nathaniel Barrett’s company, said, “……it was thot best to go to the east part of the Town & take them as they came back…”

Battle of Concord Outcome

The outcome of the Battle of Concord was a victory for the Massachusetts Militia. Although the British forces accomplished their mission, they were forced to retreat from the North Bridge. This set the stage for the running fight that lasted the rest of the day and proved to the British the Americans were a formidable opponent.

Battle of Concord Aftermath

Soon after leaving Concord, the British were attacked at Meriam’s Corner, and the Battles of Lexington and Concord resumed.

Meriam’s Corner

The fleeing British were met by reinforcements on the road back to Concord. Colonel Smith reformed the men.

The Americans were now in the middle of Smith and his men on one side, and the infantry returning from searching Barrett’s farm on the other.

The infantry saw the Americans in their positions and quickly marched over the bridge to join Smith and his men on the other side.

The infantry did not stop to retrieve the wounded British soldiers from the earlier fight, which included one soldier who had been struck in the head with what appeared to be a tomahawk. As the infantry went by they saw his brutal wounds and were outraged.

Earlier in the day, Smith had sent word to Gage in Boston, asking for reinforcements, who still had not arrived. By this time, early in the afternoon, the British were outnumbered.

After a long delay, and running low on supplies and ammunition, Smith ordered his men to prepare to march back to Boston.

Although the delay allowed Smith’s men some time to rest, it also gave more Massachusetts militia and Minutemen more time to make their way to Concord and all along the road from there to Boston.

The British formed a column and started the march back to Boston. Some of the infantry were sent out on the flanks to help protect the main column.

About a mile outside of Concord, near Meriam’s Corner, the British had to go over a bridge in order to cross a stream. The infantry had to move in closer to the main column.

An estimated 1,100 militia had gathered, waiting for them to march by, near Meriam’s House (seen below).

When the British infantry moved closer to the main column, the militia moved closer.

As they did, both sides started firing.

Lexington and Concord, 1775, Meriam's Corner, NYPL
This postcard from the early 1900s shows Meriam’s Corner, where the Massachusetts militia attacked the British. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Brooks Hill

A mile after Meriam’s Corner, the British marched past Brooks Hill, which was later called Hardy’s Hill.

On top of the hill, a large group of the militia had gathered.

As the British marched by, the militia opened fire on them.

The infantry tried to move up the hill and drive the militia off, but they were pushed back to the road.

Smith tried to move his men along as fast as he could.

The Bloody Angle

Just down the road from Brooks Hill, around 1,500 militia had gathered on both sides of the road and waited for the British column.

At the bottom of the hill was a small stream called Mill Brook. It was on the west side of the village of Lincoln.

The terrain provided significant cover for the militia, who ambushed the British when they came into sight, firing on them from both sides.

As before, the British had no choice but to keep marching toward Lexington.

Smith and Hartwell Properties

Roughly 3/4 of a mile past the angle, along the road, were the homes of Sergeant John Hartwell and Sergeant Samuel Hartwell. Just down the road from their homes was the house of Captain William Smith.

Smith and the Hartwells were members of the Lincoln Militia.

Militia gathered around the houses and when the British appeared they opened fire on them.

However, the terrain did not provide as much cover for the militia, and the infantry moved out into the fields and drove them off.

The British continued their march to Boston and reached the outskirts of Lexington, where Captain John Parker and the Lexington Militia were waiting for them. When the British came into sight, Parker and his men opened fire in the fight known as Parker’s Revenge.

Lexington and Concord, 1775, British Retreat
This illustration by Charles Stanley Reinhart depicts the Massachusetts militia ambushing the British on the march back to Boston. Image Source: Scribner’s Popular History of the United States, 1896.

Interesting Facts About the Battle of Concord

British Spies Visited Concord in Early 1775

  • Gage had sent spies into the countryside to gather intelligence about where the militia was hiding military supplies. The two spies who gathered intelligence on Concord were Captain William Brown and Ensign Henry De Berniere.
  • The spies provided Gage with a map of the roads and told him there were 14 cannons, along with other artillery and provisions, stored in the town. What they failed to report was that the militia drilled in the morning, and set 10 guards around the town at night.

Weapons and Supplies in Concord

  • Barrett had learned the British planned to march to Concord as early as Sunday, April 16.
  • The weapons and ammunition in Concord were moved to Acton, Stow, and Sudbury.
  • Some of the cannons were disassembled and buried on his farm.
  • By the time the British arrived, there were still musket balls, cartridges, cartridge paper, and food hidden around Concord. The British found the musket balls and threw them into a pond. However, many of them were recovered after the British left Concord.
  • The British found three cannons buried on property owned by Ephraim Jones, which they destroyed, but they did not find the cannons at Barrett’s farm.

Martha Moulton

  • When buildings caught on fire, a woman named Martha Moulton convinced the British to join in putting the fires out. Moulton was 71 years old at the time.

The Concord Hymn and the Emerson Family

  • The Reverend William Emerson, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s grandfather, fought in the Battle of Concord and wrote down his eyewitness account of the fight at the North Bridge.
  • The Battle of Concord was memorialized in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem, “The Concord Hymn.” The line “shot heard ‘round the world” comes from the first stanza of the poem.
Concord Fight, 1775, British Leave Concord, NYPL
This illustration depicts the British leaving Concord, with the Massachusetts Militia in pursuit. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Quotes About the Battle of Concord

  • Colonel James Barrett of Concord asked Captain Isaac Davis, who was in command of the Acton Militia if his men would lead the advance on the North Bridge. Davis said, “I’m not afraid to go, and I haven’t a man that’s afraid to go.”
  • At the end of the day, Samuel Adams is said to have exclaimed to John Hancock, “What a glorious morning for America!”

Battle of Concord Casualties and Statistics

  • When the British opened fire at the North Bridge, Isaac Davis and Private Abner Hosmer from Acton were killed instantly.
  • The total estimated casualties at the Battle of Concord were around 465 killed, wounded, or missing.
  • The Americans suffered around 95 casualties.
  • The British suffered around 370 casualties.
  • These numbers include casualties incurred by both sides on the return march to Boston.

Battle of Concord Timeline

This list shows the main battles and events that took place before and after the Battle of Concord, and how they fit into the chronological order of the Boston Campaign.

Battle of Concord APUSH, Review, Notes, Study Guide

Use the following links and videos to study the events of April 19, 1775, the Battle of Concord, and the American Revolutionary War for the AP US History Exam. Also, be sure to look at our Guide to the AP US History Exam.

Battle of Concord APUSH Definition

Following the Battle of Lexington, British forces proceeded to Concord, Massachusetts, on the same day, April 19, 1775. There, they encountered colonial militiamen and engaged in a series of confrontations, including a skirmish at the Old North Bridge. The British were ultimately forced to withdraw, suffering casualties during their retreat. The battle was also the second in a series of skirmishes that played out over the course of the day, ending in the Siege of Boston.

Battle of Concord Video for APUSH Notes

This video from the American Battlefield Trust provides a quick overview of the Battle of Concord.

Battle of Concord Primary Documents

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations, including APA Style, Chicago Style, and MLA Style.

  • Article Title The Battle of Concord, 1775
  • Date April 19, 1775
  • Author
  • Keywords Battle of Concord, Battles of Lexington and Concord, Boston Campaign, American Revolution, American Revolutionary War
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date June 13, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 24, 2024

Taxonomies