Lexington and Concord — Deposition of Nathan Barret, et al

April 23, 1775

In the aftermath of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress ordered depositions to be taken from eyewitnesses. The Congress was trying to prove the British fired first at Lexington. Deposition #15 was given by Captain Nathan Barrett and others, who testified the British fired first at the Battle of Concord.

Lexington and Concord, Depositions

The Battle of Lexington by William Barnes Wollen (1910). Image Source: Wikimedia.

Deposition No. 15

Please note that section headings and spacing have been added to make the text easier to scan and comprehend.

Testimony of Nathan Barrett, et al, About the Battle of Concord

Lexington, April 23, 1775

We Nathan Barrot, Captain, Jonathan Farrar, Joseph Butler & Francis Wheeler Lieutenants. John Barret, Ensign, John Brown, Silas Walker, Ephraim Melvin, Nathan Buttrick, Stephen Hosmer Junr. Sam’l Barrett, Thomas Jones, Joseph Chandler, Peter Wheeler, Nathan Peirce and Edward Richardson all of Concord in the County of Middlesex in the province of the Massachusetts Bay of Lawful Age Testify and Declare that on Wednesday, the Nineteenth Instant, about an Hour after sunrise, we Assembled on a Hill near the meeting House in Concord afores’d, in consequence of an information, that a number of regular Troops had killed six of our Countrymen at Lexington & were on their march to s’d Concord, 

& about an Hour afterwards we saw them approaching to the number, as we Imagine, of about Twelve Hundred, on which we retreated to a Hill about Eighty rods back, & the aforesaid Troops, then took possession of a Hill, where we were first posted. 

Presently after this we saw them moving towards the North Bridge, about one mile from s’d meeting House. 

We then immediately went before them, & passed the bridge just before a party of them to the the number of about Two Hundred arrivd —

They there left about one half of these two Hundred at the bridge, & proceeded with the rest towards Col. Barret’s, about two miles from ye s’d bridge —

We then seeing several fires in the Town, thought our houses were in Danger, and immediately mach’d back towards s’d bridge, & the troops who were stationed there, 

Observing our approach march’d back over the bridge & then took up some of the planks. 

We then hastned our Steps towards the bridge, & when we had got near the bridge they fir’d on our men, first three guns one after the other, & then a Considerable number more, 

upon which, & not before, having orders from our Commanding Officer not to fire till we were fird upon we fird upon the regulars, & they retreated —

At Concord & on their retreat thro Lexington they plunder’d many houses, burnt three at Lexington together with a shop & a barn, and committed damage more or Less to almost every House from Concord to Charlestown

  • Nathan Barrett
  • Peter Wheeler 
  • Ephraim Melvin
  • Jonathan Farrar
  • Nathan Peirce 
  • Nathan Buttrick Josephe Butler
  • Stephen Hosmer Junr.
  • Francis Wheeler
  • Edward Richarson
  • Samuel Barrett 
  • John Barrett
  • Thomas Jones
  • John Brown
  • Joseph Chandler 
  • Silas Walker

Testimony of Joseph Butler and Ephraim Melvin for the Battle of Concord

Lexington, April 23, 1775

We Joseph Butler & Ephraim Melvin do testify & declare that when the regular troops fir’d upon our people at the North Bridge in Concord, as related in the foregoing depositions, they shot one, & we believe two, of our people before we fir’d a single gun at them

  • Joseph Butler
  • Ephraim Melvin

Witnesses to the Testimony

Middlesex, April 23, 1775

The within named Nathan Barrett, Jonathan Farrar Joseph Butler, Francis Wheeler, John Barrett, John Brown Silas Walker, Ephraim Melvin, Nathan Buttrick, Stephen Hosmer Jun. Sam.l Barrett, Thomas Jones, Joseph Chandler, Peter Wheeler, Nathan Peirce & Edward Richardson appear’d &made solemn Oath to the truth of the above Depositions, by them Subscribed Before us 

Johnathan Hastings
John Cumings 
Duncan Ingraham

Certification of the Testimony

Province of the Massachusetts Bay, Charlestown

I Nathaniel Gorham notary & Tabellion Publick duly admitted & sworn, do hereby certify all whom it may or doth concern that Jona. Hastings, John Cummings & Duncan Ingraham Esg.s are three of his majesty’s Justices for the County of Middlesex & that full faith & Credit is to be given to their Transactions as such in Witness whereof I have hereunto fix’d my name & seal 

this Twenty sixth of April one Thousand seven hundred seventy five

Nathaniel Gorham, Noty Publick 

Charlestown May 2, 1775

The foregoing instruments are true copies in Witness thereof I have hereunto set my name & seal

Interesting Facts About the Deposition of Nathan Barret, et al

  • Joseph Warren of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress wanted the depositions gathered as quickly as possible, so he could send them to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, and Benjamin Franklin in London.
  • Franklin was the Agent for Massachusetts and acted as its representative. Warren wanted Franklin to have eyewitness accounts that could be used to help gain sympathy for the Patriot Cause.
  • The witnesses in this deposition were members of the Concord Militia.
  • An hour after sunrise, they assembled on a hill near the Concord Meetinghouse.
  • About an hour later, the British column appeared on the road.
  • The Concord Militia fell back to another hill.
  • The British occupied the first hill, near the Meetinghouse.
  • 200 British troops were deployed to the North Bridge and 100 of them went to search Colonel James Barrett’s farm.
  • The militia saw fires in the town and marched to the North Bridge.
  • The British forces guarding the bridge started removing the planks.
  • As the militia hurried to cross the bridge, the British fired at them, initiating the Battle of Concord.
  • The Americans were given orders to return fire, which they did.
  • The British retreated and burned houses and buildings between Lexington and Charlestown.
  • The notary public, Nathaniel Gorham, went on to serve as the 8th President of the Continental Congress (June 6, 1786–February 2, 1787).

Citation Information

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  • Article Title Lexington and Concord — Deposition of Nathan Barret, et al
  • Date April 23, 1775
  • Author
  • Keywords Battles of Lexington and Concord, Deposition No. 15, Nathan Barret, Battle of Concord eyewitness
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 12, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 23, 2024