Battles of Lexington and Concord — Narrative of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress

May 22, 1775

Following the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress interviewed men and women who were witnesses and participants. On May 22, 1775, the Provincial Congress issued a report based on the testimony.

Captain John Parker, Statue, The Lexington Minuteman

The Minuteman Statue in Lexington, Massachusetts has been widely accepted to represent Captain John Parker.

Narrative of the Battles of April 19, 1775

Please note that section headings and text corrections have been added to the original text to improve readability.

Congress Orders the Narrative Sent to the Press for Publication

In Provincial Congress, Watertown,

May 22, 1775.

Resolved, That the following Narrative of the excursion and ravages of the King’s Troops, under the command of General Gage, on the nineteenth of April last, together with the Depositions taken by order of the Congress to support the truth of it, be sent to the press for publication.

Samuel Freeman, Secretary.

Published on the Authority of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress

A Narrative of the Excursion and Ravages of the King’s Troops, under the command of General GAGE, on the nineteenth of APRIL 1775; together with the Depositions taken by order of Congress to support the truth of it. Published by authority.

British Troops Shed the Blood of Americans

On the nineteenth day of April, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five, a day to be remembered by all Americans of the present generation, and which ought, and doubtless will be handed down to ages yet unborn, the Troops of Britain, unprovoked, shed the blood of sundry of the loyal American subjects of the British King in the field of Lexington. 

Gage Sends Troops to Concord and the Militia Assemble

Early in the morning of said day, a detachment of the forces under the command of General Gage, stationed at Boston, attacked a small party of the inhabitants of Lexington and some other Towns adjacent, the detachment consisting of about nine hundred men, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Smith: the inhabitants of Lexington, and the other Towns were about one hundred, some with and some without fire-arms, who had collected upon information that the detachment had secretly marched from Boston on the preceding night, and landed on Phipps’s farm in Cambridge, and were proceeding on their way with a brisk pace towards Concord, as the inhabitants supposed, to take or destroy a quantity of stores deposited there for the use of the Colony; sundry peaceable inhabitants having the same night been taken, held by force, and otherwise abused on the road, by some officers of General Gage’s Army, which caused a just alarm, and a suspicion that some fatal design was immediately to be put in execution against them. 

Narrative of the Battle of Lexington

This small party of the inhabitants was so far from being disposed to commit hostilities against the Troops of their Sovereign, that, unless attacked, they were determined to be peaceable spectators of this extraordinary movement; immediately on the approach of Colonel Smith with the detachment under his command, they dispersed; but the detachment, seeming to thirst for blood, wantonly rushed on, and first began the hostile scene by firing on this small party, by which they killed eight men on the spot, and wounded several others before any guns were fired upon the Troops by our men. Not contented with this effusion of blood, as if malice had occupied their whole souls, they continued the fire, until all of this small party who escaped the dismal carnage were out of the reach of their fire.

Doolittle Engraving, April 19, Battle of Lexington, Plate 1
This engraving by Amos Doolittle was made in 1775 and depicts the British Redcoats firing on the Massachusetts militia on Lexington Common. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Narrative of the Battle of Concord

Colonel Smith, with the detachment, then proceeded to Concord, where a part of this detachment again made the first fire upon some of the inhabitants of Concord and the adjacent Towns, who were collected at a bridge upon this just alarm, and killed two of them, and wounded several others, before any of the Provincials there had done one hostile act. 

Then the Provincials, roused with zeal for the liberties of their Country, finding life and everything dear and valuable at stake, assumed their native valour, and returned the fire, and the engagement on both sides began. 

Doolittle Engraving, April 19, Engagement at the North Bridge, Plate 3
This engraving by Amos Doolittle from 1775 depicts the engagement at the North Bridge in Concord. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.

British Troops Return to Boston

Soon after, the British Troops retreated towards Charlestown, having first committed violence and waste on publick and private property, and on their retreat were joined by another detachment of General Gage’s Troops, consisting of about a thousand men, under the command of Earl Percy, who continued the retreat. The engagement lasted through the day; and many were killed and wounded on each side, though the loss on the part of the British Troops far exceeded that of the Provincials.

Atrocities Committed by British Troops

The devastation committed by the British Troops on their retreat, the whole of the way from Concord to Charlestown, is almost beyond description; such as plundering and burning of dwelling-houses and other buildings, driving into the street women in child-bed; killing old men in their houses unarmed. Such scenes of desolation would be a reproach to the perpetrators, even if committed by the most barbarous Nations; how much more when done by Britons famed for humanity and tenderness! and all this because these Colonies will not submit to the iron yoke of arbitrary power.

Battle of Concord, British Retreat, Illustration
This illustration depicts the British retreat from Concord. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Citation Information

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  • Article Title Battles of Lexington and Concord — Narrative of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress
  • Date May 22, 1775
  • Author
  • Keywords Lexington and Concord Battles, Massachusetts Provincial Congress, American Revolutionary War
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date May 30, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 7, 2024