Lexington and Concord — Deposition of James Barrett

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 #17 was given by Colonel James Barrett, 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. 17

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

Testimony of Colonel James Barrett About the Battle of Concord

Lexington, April 23, 1775

I James Barrett of Concord Colonel of a Regiment of Militia in the County of Middlesex do testify and say that on Wednesday morning last about day break I was informed of the approach of a number of the Regular troops to the town of Concord where was some magazines belonging to this Province when there was assembled some of the militia of this and the neighboring Towns when I ordered them to march to the North Bridge (so called) which they had passed and were taking up. 

I ordered said militia to march to Said Bridge and pass the same but not to fire on the Kings Troops unless they were first fired upon. 

We advanced near Said Bridge when the said Troops fired upon our militia and killed two men dead on the spot and wounded several others which was the first firing of guns in the Town of Concord 

My detachment then returned the fire which killed and wounded several of the Kings Troops

James Barrett

Witnesses to the Testimony

Middlesex, April the 23, 1775

the above named James Barrett personally appeared and after due caution to testify the whole truth and nothing but the truth made solemn oath to the truth of the above deposition by him inscribed

Before us —

Wm Reed 
Jon Hastings
Duncan Ingraham

{ Justices of Peace

Certification of the Testimony

Province of Massachusetts Bay, Charlestown

I Nathaniel Gorham Notary Public & tabellian public duly admitted and sworn do certify all whom it doth or may concern that Wm Reed, Jon Hastings and Duncan Ingraham Esquire are three of his Majestys Justices for the County of Middlesex and that full faith & credit is to be given to the translations as such in witness where of I have hereunto affixed my name & seal this twenty sixth of April one thousand seven hundred & seventy five

Nathaniel Gorham Noty Pub

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

Interesting Facts About the Deposition of James Barrett

  • 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.
  • Colonel James Barrett was a resident of Concord and leader of the Concord Militia at the Battle of Concord.
  • Barrett was notified the British were marching to Concord to seize the military supplies.
  • Barrett took command of the assembled militia forces and ordered them to the North Bridge.
  • Barrett ordered his men not to fire unless the British fired first.
  • When the Americans neared the bridge, the British fired.
  • Barrett’s men returned fire.
  • 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 James Barrett
  • Date April 23, 1775
  • Author
  • Keywords Battles of Lexington and Concord, Deposition No. 17, James Barrett, Battle of Concord eyewitness
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date April 18, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 12, 2024