Sunday, April 18, 2010

When Did The American Revolution Start?


The opening shots of the American Revolution were fired in the center of Lexington, Massachusetts on the morning of April 19, 1775. One British soldier was wounded, while eight men of Lexington fell dead. This tragic exchange of gunfire would trigger the American Revolution, a war that would last for eight long years and would result in the birth of the United States of America.

The colonists who gathered on Lexington Green that day weren't planning to start a war. On the contrary, the British were on their way to Concord -- not Lexington! But the militia of Lexington turned out on the Green, so that the British army would see them as they marched by. It was intended as a show of force, a demonstration of colonial resolve.

The British were headed to Concord to secure arms and munitions reportedly being stockpiled. Lexington was on the way. Captain John Parker turned out his Lexington Company of the Middlesex County Brigade of the Massachusetts Militia to stand in the center of Lexington as the British would (he thought) pass by. Parker's men ranged in age from 18 to 63 and his unit numbered just under 80 men, most of whom were farmers.

The British were not in the mood for such a display. Seeing the colonials turned out, their 700-man force turned off the road to Concord and marched into Lexington.

Seeing the British approach, Parker proclaimed to his men: "Stand your ground! Don't fire unless fired upon. But, if they want to have a war, let it begin here."

The commander of the British advance guard ordered the militiamen to lay down their arms. Seeing that he was overwhelmingly outnumbered, Parker gave the order to disperse. As the colonial militia began to back away, a shot rang out. It remains a mystery to this day as to who fired that shot!

Eight Americans were killed. Nine were wounded. The British suffered one minor casualty and resumed their march to Concord. The grieving citizens of Lexington would never be the same, and neither would New England - or, for that matter, all of North America.

Whoever fired the shot, though, triggered more than a local skirmish. He started what became a global war!

Picture by Don Troiani at HistoricalArtPrints.com.

Recommended Reading

"Causes of the American Revolution" (an article by yours truly over at Suite101.com)

Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fisher

18 comments:

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Michael DeLessio said...

Thanks for a clear answer to a question my son had on his homework. I just wanted to point out one issue with the text. In the last paragraph, you say "The British suffered one minor casualty ".
So, apparently, one British solder was only a little dead...

Anonymous said...

Who started

Hanan Hwang said...

Who started the Revolutionary War? That`s ne of the most important questions you know.Next time, please do tell us who started the war or whatever your topic is.I`m sure everyone would be pleased by it.It would also give more information, so once again i will tell you,"Next time,tell us the important facts first." Bye.
P.S: If you take this as an insult, I will tell you that I am just trying to give you some advice.

LaurenRebecca GilmoreMiller said...

Thanks for posting this - as it is very helpful. I hate that nobody knows who fired the shot! haha. Thanks, anyhow.

Anonymous said...

this isnt all that accurate

Anonymous said...

Minor casualties means stuff like flesh wounds.

Casualty does not always mean fatality.

Anonymous said...

okay so I have two things to talk about
1. @Michael DeLessio yeah okay so the writer here was referring the first paragraph when they said "One British soldier was wounded" so in that case he was not dead at all, just wounded and indeed the British had suffered one minor casualty.
2. @Hanan Hwang kay so not gunna lie your wording was a little rude. uhm but my main point is that still to this day, no one know who started the Revolutionary War. We know many reasons why it started, but the one shot that rang out creating much confusion and leading to the start of the war was never decided if it was from a Red Coat or a rebel gun. Now it says in this article, "...a shot rang out. It remains a mystery to this day as to who fired that shot!" So please read things a little more carefully before you accuse people.

So yes nice article. Thank you for posting this.

Anonymous said...

British

Anonymous said...

I'm wrighting an esay for a contest, and this realy healped me!

Anonymous said...

umm what year did it start (american revolution)

Anonymous said...

you know you will be disqualified right

Harold Titus said...

Just came upon this site. My historical novel, "Crossing the River," narrates the events of April 19, 1775, in considerable detail. For more information, go to http://authorharoldtitus.blogspot.com.

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