Battles of Lexington and Concord — Report from Salem, Massachusetts

April 25, 1775

In the aftermath of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, news spread from Massachusetts to the rest of the colonies. The Massachusetts Provincial Congress and political leaders in the towns and counties, including Salem, created reports of the events, to ensure the British were depicted as having started hostilities.

Lexington and Concord, 1775, Doolittle, Plate 4 Detail, NYPL

This engraving by Amos Doolittle depicts British forces burning buildings in Lexington, Massachusetts, on April 19, 1775. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Account of the March of the British Troops

Please note that section headings, spacing, and notes have been added to make the text easier to scan and comprehend. The official title of this report is, “Account of the march of the British Troops and List of the Provincials who were Killed and Wounded by the British Troops.”

Outbreak of Hostilities

Last Wednesday the 19th of April, the Troops of His Britannick Majesty commenced hostilities upon the people of this Province, attended with circumstances of cruelty, not less brutal than what our venerable ancestors received from the vilest Savages of the wilderness. The particulars relative to this interesting event, by which we are involved in all the horrours of a civil war, we have endeavoured to collect as well as the present confused state of affairs will admit.

British Expedition to Concord

On Tuesday evening a detachment from the Army, consisting, it is said, of eight or nine hundred men, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Smith, embarked at the bottom of the Common in Boston, on board a number of boats, and landed at Phipps’s farm, a little way up Charles River, from whence they proceeded with silence and expedition on their way to Concord, about eighteen miles from Boston. 

The Lexington Alarm Spreads

The people were soon alarmed, and began to assemble in several Towns, before daylight, in order to watch the motion of the Troops. 

Battle of Lexington

At Lexington, six miles below Concord, a company of Militia, of about one hundred men, mustered near the Meeting-House; the Troops came in sight of them just before sunrise; and running within a few rods of them, the Commanding Officer accosted the Militia in words to this effect: 

“Disperse, you rebels — damn you, throw down your arms and disperse;” upon which the Troops huzzaed, and immediately one or two officers discharged their pistols, which were instantaneously followed by the firing of four or five of the soldiers, and then there seemed to be a general discharge from the whole body: eight of our men were killed, and nine wounded.

British Continue to Concord

In a few minutes after this action the enemy renewed their march for Concord; at which place they destroyed several Carriages, Carnage Wheels, and about twenty barrels of Flour, all belonging to the Province. 

The Concord Fight and British Reinforcements

Here about one hundred and fifty men going towards a bridge, of which the enemy were in possession, the latter fired and killed two of our men, who then returned the fire, and obliged the enemy to retreat back to Lexington, where they met Lord Percy, with a large reinforcement, with two pieces of cannon. The enemy now having a body of about eighteen hundred men, made a halt, picked up many of their dead, and took care of their wounded. 

Old Men of Menotomy

At Menotomy, a few of our men attacked a party of twelve of the enemy, (carrying stores and provisions to the Troops,) killed one of them, wounded several, made the rest prisoners, and took possession of all their arms, stores, provisions, &c, without any loss on our side. 

AHC Note — These men are referred to as the “Old Men of Menotomy.”

Lexington and Concord, Old Men of Menotomy, HMDB
This marker indicates where the Old Men of Menotomy attacked the British. Image Source: Historical Marker Database.

British Retreat to Charlestown

The enemy having halted one or two hours at Lexington, found it necessary to make a second retreat, carrying with them many of their dead and wounded, who they put into chaises and on horses that they found standing in the road. They continued their retreat from Lexington to Charlestown with great precipitation; and notwithstanding their field-pieces, our people continued the pursuit, firing at them till they got to Charlestown Neck, (which they reached a little after sunset.) over which the enemy passed, proceeded up Bunker’s Hill, and soon afterwards went into the Town, under the protection of the Somerset Man-of-War of sixty-four guns.

British Atrocities During the Retreat

In Lexington the enemy set fire to Deacon Joseph Loring’s house and barn, Mrs. Mullikin’s house and shop, and Mr. Joshua Bond’s house and shop, which were all consumed. They also set fire to several other houses, but our people extinguished the flames. 

They pillaged almost every house they passed by, breaking and destroying doors, windows, glasses, &c, and carrying off clothing and other valuable effects. 

It appeared to be their design to burn and destroy all before them; and nothing but our vigorous pursuit prevented their infernal purposes from being put in execution. But the savage barbarity exercised upon the bodies of our unfortunate brethren who fell, is almost incredible: not contented with shooting down the unarmed, aged, and infirm, they disregarded the cries of the wounded, killing them without mercy, and mangling their bodies in the most shocking manner.

AHC Note — The majority of these attacks on the civilian population took place on the Battle Road from Lexington to Cambridge, especially during the Battle of Menotomy, after General Hugh Percy decided to return to Boston through Charlestown instead of Roxbury.

We have the pleasure to say, that, notwithstanding the highest provocations given by the enemy, not one instance of cruelty, that we have heard of, was committed by our victorious Militia; but, listening to the merciful dictates of the Christian religion, they “breathed higher sentiments of humanity.”

The consternation of the people of Charlestown, when our enemies were entering the Town, is inexpressible; the Troops however behaved tolerably civil, and the people have since nearly all left the Town.

List of the Provincials who were Killed and Wounded by the British Troops

The following is a List of the Provincials who were killed and wounded:

AHC Note — The list provided by Salem was as accurate as it could be, based on the information that was available at the time. Today, the list is incomplete and includes errors. We have preserved the original list, as provided by Salem.

CAMBRIDGE — Killed: William Marcy, Moses Richardson, John Hicks, Jason Russell, Jabish Wyman, Jason Winship. Wounded: Captain Samuel Whittemore. Missing: Samuel Frost, Seth Russell.

CHARLESTOWN — Killed: James Miller, and a son of Captain William Barber.

WATERTOWN — Killed: Joseph Cooledge.

SUDBURY — Killed: Deacon Josiah Haynes, Asahel Reed. Wounded: Joshua Haynes, Jun.

ACTON — Killed: Captain Isaac Davis, Abner Hosmer, James Hayward.

BEDFORD — Killed: Captain Jonathan Wilson. Wounded: Job Lane.

NEEDHAM — Killed: Lieutenant John Bacon, Serjeant Elisha Mills, Amos Mills, Nathaniel Chamberlain, Jonathan Parker. Wounded: Captain Eleazer Kingsbury, and a son of Doctor Tolman.

MEDFORD — Killed: Henry Putnam, William Polly.

NEWTOWN — Wounded: Noah Wiswall.

WOBURN — Killed: Asa Parker, Daniel Thomson. Wounded: George Read, Jacob Bacon.

LEXINGTON — Killed: Jonas Parker, Robert Munroe, Jedidiah Munroe, John Raymond, Samuel Hadley, Jonathan Harrington, Jun˙, Isaac Muzzy, Caleb Harrington, Nathaniel Wyman, John Brown. Wounded: Francis Brown, John Robbins, Solomon Peirce, John Tidd, Joseph Comie, Ebenezer Munroe, Jun, Thomas Winship, Nathaniel Farmer, Prince, a negro.

BILLERICA — Wounded: John Nichols, Timothy Blanchard.

CHELMSFORD — Wounded: Deacon Aaron Chamberlain, Captain Oliver Barron.

CONCORD — Wounded: Abel Prescott, Jun, Captain Charles Miles, Captain Nathan Barrett.

FRAMINGHAM — Wounded: Daniel Hemenway.

STOW — Wounded: Daniel Conant.

DEDHAM — Killed: Elias Haven. Wounded: Israel Everett.

ROXBURY — Missing: Elijah Seaver.

BROOKLINE — Killed: Isaac Gardner, Esq.

SALEM — Killed: Benjamin Peirce.

DANVERS — Killed: Henry Jacobs, Samuel Cook, Ebenezer Goldthwait, George Southwick, Benjamin Deland, Jun˙, Jotham Webb, Perly Putnam. Wounded: Nathan Putnam, Dennis Wallis. Missing: Joseph Bell.

BEVERLY — Killed: Mr˙ Kinnym. Wounded: Nathaniel Cleaves, Samuel Woodbury, William Dodge.

LYNN — Killed: Abednego Ramsdell, Daniel Townsend, William Flynt, Thomas Hadley. Wounded: Joshua Felt, Timothy Munroe. Missing: Josiah Breed.

British Casualties

We have seen an account of the loss of the enemy, said to have come from an Officer of one of the Men-of-War; by which it appears that sixty-three of the Regulars, and forty-nine Marines were killed, and one hundred and three of both wounded: in all, two hundred and fifteen. Lieutenant Gould of the Fourth Regiment, who is wounded, and Lieutenant Potter of the Marines, and about twelve soldiers, are prisoners.

James Howard

Mr. James Howard and one of the Regulars discharged their pieces at the same instant, and each killed the other.

AHC Note — This refers to James Hayward, a schoolteacher from Acton who volunteered on the morning of April 19. Hayward’s story is included in the history of the Acton Minutemen.

Danvers Funerals

Our brethren of Danvers who fell fighting for their Country, were interred, with great solemnity and respect, on Friday last.

Sympathy from Salem

The publick most sincerely sympathize with the friends and relations of our deceased brethren, who gloriously sacrificed their lives in fighting for the liberties of their Country. By their noble and intrepid conduct, in helping to defeat the forces of an ungrateful tyrant, they have endeared their memories to the present generation, who will transmit their names to posterity with the highest honour.

Interesting Facts About Salem’s Report of the Battles of Lexington and Concord

  • Salem’s report focuses on the violence committed against the people of Massachusetts during the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
  • On the night of April 18, 1775, General Thomas Gage issued orders to Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith to lead a military expedition to Concord to destroy military supplies that were stored there by the Massachusetts Provincial Congress for use by the New England Army, which it was working to organize.
  • Major John Pitcairn, Smith’s second-in-command, led the British advance force into Lexington, where Captain John Parker and the Lexington Militia were assembled.
  • Pitcairn ordered Parker and his men to disperse, and some of the British officers “discharged their pistols,” which was followed by British troops firing on the militia, initiating the Battle of Lexington.
  • The British marched to Concord, where they destroyed military supplies and American militia forces engaged them at the North Bridge (see Battle of Concord).
  • In Menotomy, a group of men seized a British wagon train carrying supplies. These men are known as the “Old Men of Menotomy.”
  • After leaving Concord, the British expedition stopped in Lexington for two hours, where they were joined by reinforcements led by General Hugh Percy.
  • While in Lexington, they set fire to several homes and buildings.
  • During the march back to Boston, the British vandalized and ransacked homes.
  • The Salem report accused the British of “shooting down the unarmed, aged, and infirm, they disregarded the cries of the wounded, killing them without mercy, and mangling their bodies in the most shocking manner.”

Citation Information

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

  • Article Title Battles of Lexington and Concord — Report from Salem, Massachusetts
  • Date April 25, 1775
  • Author
  • Keywords Salem, Massachusetts, Battles of Lexington and Concord
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date May 30, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update May 14, 2024

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