Roy and I rode our tandem on a good portion of this trail over the course of two days. It runs from the shores of the Charles River to North Bridge, just outside of Concord.
Note: I’m going to use regulars, soldiers, Army, and Red coats interchangeably. And use colonials, Patriots, rebels, and militia interchangeably.
When the 700 British regulars landed in the swamps of Cambridge just after midnight on April 19, 1775 they had no inkling that they would be successful in burning or confiscating munitions at Concord.
They also didn’t know they would face a gauntlet of angry colonials/ militia with muskets, hatchets, and a thirst for revenge for 16 miles to get back to the safety of Charlestown 20 hours later.
-The Patriots were under martial law administered by General Gage and enforced by 4,500 Redcoats quartered in Boston.
-The colonials were taxed for almost all imports, and had no representatives in Parliament.
-Land was scarce and King George forbade anyone traveling west of the Appalachian Mountains.
-There was no more land to give to one’s children; it had been subdivided as much as practicable.
– And then they heard of the eight dead in Lexington and the two at North Bridge.
The Red coats also didn’t know that 73 of their comrades would die that day. (Most of the 174 soldiers injured were left behind to be cared for by the colonials. And of those left behind, many died from their injuries. So the 73 number was actually much higher.)
The soldiers were 3,000 miles from home, 20-something years old, sleepless, wet, nervous, and untested going into the unknown Massachusetts countryside.
On Aug. 14 Roy and I rode the eastern half of Bay Road. That portion is very built up now and we didn’t take any pictures.
On Aug. 16 we rode from Hanscom Famcamp to Lexington and started the western half of the “Battle Road Trail” at the Lexington Green.
I’ll insert pictures where appropriate. And I’ve organized the info by means of a timeline.
At 5 a.m. After marching eight miles from their starting point at Cambridge the British Army found 77 militia waiting for them on the Lexington Green.
At first the Army was going to march right through the militia, but from somewhere a shot rang out. The Army fired a volley without orders and eight colonials died.
Captain Parker was the militia’s leader, and he avenged their deaths at 2 p.m. that same day.
The Buckman Tavern was right across from the Lexington Green, and the militia gathered there as the call to arms went throughout the countryside.
Some contemporaneous journal entries talk of sleeping in those upright chairs by the fire awaiting action.
Here’s the table in the Buckman Tavern’s meeting room where Hancock and Adams held councils and planning sessions.
Here’s the path Roy and I rode along. It stretches from the Minuteman National park visitor center to Concord.
At 7 a. m. The British Army made it to Concord. The citizens had moved huge amounts of weapons and supplies into neighboring barns, cellars, and homes thanks to the warning of Dr. Prescott. The British Army found some and…
At 9 a.m. the regulars started setting weapons and military supplies on fire. (Anything they couldn’t make use of themselves.) The Concord militia were watching from nearby hills and thought their homes were on fire. So the colonials/ militia advanced on North Bridge, outside of Concord.
At 9:30 a.m. 400 colonials confronted the 700 British soldiers at North Bridge; the Red coats fired without orders and killed two. One was a militia officer named Isaac Davis, and who is immortalized in the Minuteman statue at North Bridge. Roy is trying to find out whether Isaac is in his Davis family tree.
Major John Buttrick ordered his rebels to return fire… Which was an act of treason against the crown and empire. This was “the shot heard round the world”.
At 11:00 a.m. The British Army continued to search for munitions and ate lunch in Concord. This was a significant error because it gave time for more militia and Minutemen to pour into the area all along the Bay Road.
Noon British Regulars departed Concord, heading east on the Bay Road. They thought “mission accomplished”.
At 12:30 p.m. At Meriam’s Corner the militia (growing by the hour as word got to outlying communities as far away as New Hampshire and Connecticut) ambushed the regulars as they slowed to cross a stream. The running battle back to Boston began.
(I can’t remember the name of the owner of this home, but it bore witness to the Battle on April 19.)
At 1:30 p.m. Location: Bloody Angle. Militia attacked where the road veered to avoid marshes and streams. Spring flooding discouraged the regulars from deviating off the Bay Road.
As soon as the militia could disengage, they ran to an advantageous spot and waited for the Red coats to arrive.
At 2:00 Parker’s Revenge took place a little west of Lexington. The Bay Road bent to pass below a small hill. It was an ideal place for an ambush.
Unfortunately, sometimes militia shot militia. They had the Red coats running between them on the road. If their bullets missed an enemy, it shot a friendly on the other side of the road.
This home was owned by one of the Hartwells. It’s situated near the Tavern I posted in the last blog entry. Notice the large Central chimney. It allowed the heat to go throughout the home. The Park service built the roof over it to protect it from the elements.
At 3:00 Exhausted and thirsty soldiers staggered into Lexington where 1,000 British reinforcements fired cannons at the colonials. Short rest.
At 4:30 4,000 militia from 27 Massachusetts towns joined the fighting at Menotomy/ Arlington. The Patriots took shelter in homes and attacked via sniper fire. Redcoats stormed the houses and routed the rebels. (Arlington is very built up now. No pics.)
Dark The 1,450 Regulars crossed the Charles River from Charlestown back to Boston. By week’s end in April 1775, 20,000 militia trapped/ sieged the British Army in Boston.
General Howe surrendered peacefully 11 months later and took his men and equipment to Halifax.
49 colonials died that day and the British empire was proved to be vulnerable.
It was sobering to ride along the beautiful tree-lined path and think of all the blood shed that day. How many families were torn asunder? …On both sides?