Old North Bridge

April 19, 1775

The North Bridge is the site of “the shot heard round the world.” Here, for the first time, Colonists were ordered to fire upon British troops.

On the evening of April 18, 1775, 700 British Regulars left Boston, crossed the Charles River on boats, and began an 18-mile march to Concord to seize caches of arms and ammunition. Paul Revere and others rode ahead of the British column to alarm town militia companies. As the British troops passed through Lexington at dawn on April 19, a brief clash left eight colonists dead.

At about 9:30 a.m., three companies of British soldiers (96 men) were guarding the North Bridge. 400 Colonials stood on a hill overlooking the Bridge, resolved to defend their town and their rights. Suddenly, they saw smoke rising from the town center. Fearing that the British were burning their town, they advanced to the Bridge. The British fired warning shots, and then fired directly at the Colonists, killing Isaac Davis and Abner Hosmer. Major John Buttrick, leading the Colonists, gave the order “Fire, fellow soldiers, for God’s sake, fire!” The Colonists discharged their muskets, killing two British, mortally wounding a third, and wounding several more. For the first time, the King’s soldiers died from Colonial fire. This was treason – British subjects firing at their King’s army. Imagine if the U.S. Army came to your town and you shot and killed some of them! This was a very dramatic event for those involved.

At the 1837 dedication of the battle monument (the obelisk) seen in this photo, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Concord Hymn was sung to the tune of Old Hundreth:

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

For visitor information, see Minute Man National Historical Park’s web site: ww