Narrative of the Battles of April 19, 1775
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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.
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.
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.