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Before 5 A.M. on April 19, 1775, the British toward Concord, capturing seven British troops had reached Lexington stragglers—the first prisoners taken in the Green, where thirty-eight men, under war. Then followed the fight at Concord, Captain Parker, stood up before 600 or 800 where 450 Americans, instead of 38, were to be shot at, their captain saying, “Don't rallied to meet the British. The fighting fire unless you are fired on; but if they took place between two detachments at want a war, let it begin here." It began the North Bridge, where there; they were fired upon; they fired
"once the embattled farmers stood, rather ineffectually in return, while seven
And fired the shot heard roun he world." were killed and nine wounded. The rest, after retreating, re-formed and pursued the There the American captain, Isaac Davis, was killed at the first shot-he who had | troops met the returning fugitives, and said, when his company was placed at the formed a hollow square, into which they head of the little column, “I haven't a ran and threw themselves on the ground man that is afraid to go. He fell, and exhausted. Then Percy in turn fell back. Major Buttrick gave the order, “ Fire! for Militia still came pouring in from DorchesGod's sake, fire!" in return. The British ter, Milton, Dedham, as well as the nearer
detachment retreated in disorder, but their towns. A company from Danvers marchmain body was too strong to be attacked, ed sixteen miles in four hours. The Amerso they disabled a few cannon, destroyed icans lost 93 in killed, wounded, and misssome barrels of flour, cut down the liberty-ing that day; the British, 273. But the pole, set fire to the court-house, and then important result was that every Ameribegan their return march.
It ended in a can colony now recognized that war had flight; they were exposed to a constant begun. guerrilla fire; minute-men flocked behind How men's minds were affected may every tree and house; and only the fore- best be seen by a glimpse at a day in the sight of Colonel Smith in sending for re- life of one leading patriot. Early on the enforcements had averted a surrender. At morning of the 19th of April, 1775, a mes2 P.M., near Lexington, Percy with his senger came hastily to the door of Dr. night."
Joseph Warren, physician, in Boston, and in their power to ravage this devoted country chairman of the Boston Committee of with fire and sword. We conjure you, thereSafety, with the news that there had been fore, by all that is dear, by all that is sacred, fighting at Lexington and Concord.
that you give all assistance possible in formDr.
ing an army. Our all is at stake. Death and Warren, doing first the duty that came
devastation are the instant consequences of nearest, summoned his pupil, Mr. Eustis, delay. Every moment is infinitely precious. and directed him to take care of his An hour lost may deluge your country in patients for that day; then mounted his blood, and entail perpetual slavery upon the horse and rode to the Charlestown Ferry few of your posterity who may survive the As he entered the boat he remarked to an carnage. We beg and entreat, as you will anacquaintance: “Keep up a brave heart. swer to your country, to your own consciences, They have begun it—that, either party can
and above all, as you will answer to God himdo; and we'll end it—that, only we can do." self, that you will hasten and encourage by all
possible means the enlistment of men to form After landing in Charlestown he met a
the army, and send them forward to headcertain Dr. Welch, who says, in a manu- quarters at Cambridge with that expedition script statement: “Eight o'clock in the which the vast importance and instant urmorning saw Dr. Joseph Warren just gency of the affair demand.” come out of Boston, horseback.
I said, "Well, they are gone out.' 'Yes,' he said, It is always hard to interpret the pre‘and we will be up with them before cise condition of public feeling just before
Apparently the two physicians a war. It is plain that the Massachusetts jogged on together, tried to pass Lord committee expected something more than Percy's column of re-enforcements, but a contest of words when they made so were stopped by bayonets. Then Dr. many preparations. On the other hand, Welch went home, and Dr. Warren prob- it is evident that hardly any one looked ably attended a meeting of the Committee forward to any serious and prolonged of Safety, held “at the Black Horse in Me- strife. Dr. Warren wrote, soon after the notomy, or West Cambridge. This com- 19th of April: “The people never seemed mittee had authority from the Provin- in earnest about the matter until after the cial Congress to order out the militia, and engagement of the 19th ult., and I verily General Heath, who was a member of the believe that the night preceding the barcommittee, rode to take command of the barous outrages committed by the soldiery provincials, with Warren by his side, who at Lexington, Concord, etc., there were was sufficiently exposed that day to have not fifty people in the whole colony that a musket ball strike the pin out of the hair ever expected any blood would be shed of his ear-lock.” The two continued to in the contest between us and Great gether till the British army had crossed Britain." Two days after the fight at Charlestown Neck on its retreat, and made Lexington, in contrast to this previous a stand on Bunker Hill. There they were unconsciousness of what was coming, the covered by the ships. The militia were Massachusetts Committee of Safety reordered to pursue no further, and General solved to enlist 8000 men. Two days after Heath held the first council of war of the that the news reached New York at noon. Revolution, at the foot of Prospect Hill. There was a popular outbreak; the royal
With the fervor of that day's experience troops were disarmed, the fort and magaupon him, Warren wrote, on the day fol. zines seized, and two transports for Boston lowing, this circular to the town in behalf unloaded. At five on Monday afternoon of the Committee of Safety. The original the tidings reached Philadelphia, when still exists in the Massachusetts archives, the bell in Independence Hall was rung, marked with much interlineation.
and the people gathered. When it got so
far as Charleston, South Carolina, the “GENTLEMEN, – The barbarous murders people seized the arsenal, and the Provincommitted our innocent brethren on cial Congress proclaimed them “ ready to Wednesday, the 19th instant, have made it ab- sacrifice their lives and fortunes." In Sasolutely necessary that we immediately raise an vannah, Georgia, a mob took possession army to defend our wives and our children from of the powder magazine, and raised a libthe butchering hands of an inhuman soldiery, who, incensed at the obstacles they met with erty-pole. In Kentucky a party of huntin their bloody progress, and enraged at being ers, hearing of the battle, gave their enrepulsed from the field of slaughter, will with campment the name of Lexington, which out the least doubt take the first opportunity | it still bears.
Meanwhile on May 10 the Continental | the British, without attack. At another Congress convened, and on the same day time, “all of Weymouth, Braintree, and Ethan Allen took possession of the strong Hingham,” according to Mrs. Adams, fortress of Ticonderoga. It was the first turned out to drive away a British deact of positive aggression by the patriotic tachment from Grape Island, where the party, for at both Lexington and Concord Americans then landed, burned a quantity they were acting on the defensive. The of hay, and brought away cattle. A larger expedition was planned in Connecticut skirmish took place at Noddle's Island, and re-enforced in Western Massachu- near East Boston, where the Americans setts, but the main reliance was to be destroyed a schooner, dismantled a sloop, placed on Ethan Allen and his “Green and captured twelve swivels and four Mountain Boys," whose daring and en- 4-pound cannon. Putnam commanded ergy were already well known. Bene- in this engagement, and the enthusiasm dict Arnold, who had been commissioned which it called out secured his unanimous in Massachusetts for the same purpose, ar- election as major-general. rived only in time to join the expedition Meantime the Provincial troops were as a volunteer. On May 10, 1775, eighty- gathering for what the Essex Gazette, of three men crossed the lake with Allen. June 8, called, with rather premature adWhen they had landed, he warned them miration, the grand American army", that it was a dangerous enterprise, and an army whose returns for June 9 showed called for volunteers. Every man volun- 7644 men. “Nothing could be in a more teered. The rest took but a few moments. confused state," wrote Dr. Eliot, than They entered with a war-whoop the open the army which first assembled at Camwicket-gate, pressing by the sentinel, and bridge. This undisciplined body of men when the half-clad commander appeared were kept together by a few who deserved and asked their authority, Allen answer- well of their country.” President John ed with the words that have become his- Adams, writing long after (June 19, 1818), toric, “In the name of the great Jehovah thus summed up the condition of these and the Continental Congress.” The forces: Congress was only to meet that day, but it was already exercising a sort of ante
“ The army at Cambridge was not a national natal authority. A fortress which had army, for there was no nation. It was not a
United States army, for there were no United cost eight million pounds sterling and States. It was not an army of united colonies, many lives was placed in its hands by a for it could not be said in any sense that the mere stroke of boldness. Crown Point colonies were united. The centre of their gave itself up with equal ease to Seth union, the Congress of Philadelphia, had not Warner, and another dramatic surprise adopted nor acknowledged the army at Camwas given to the new-born nation.
bridge. It was not a New England army, for In the neighborhood of Boston the New England had not associated. New Engmonth of May was devoted to additional executive authority, even upon the principles
land bad no legal legislature, nor any common preparations, and to what are called, in of original authority, or even of original power the old stage directions of Shakspeare's in the people. Massachusetts had her army, plays, “alarums and excursions.” At one Connecticut her army, New Hampshire her time, when a sally from Boston was ex- army, and Rhode Island her army. These four pected, the Committee of Safety ordered armies met at Cambridge, and imprisoned the the officers of the ten nearest towns to British army in Boston. But who was the assemble one-half the militia and all the sovereign of this united, or rather congregated, minute - men, and march to Roxbury. army, and who its commander-in-chief? It had
Putnam, Poor, and Greene were as inWhile this was being done, General Thom- dependent of Ward as Ward was of them.” as, with an ingenuity quite in the style of the above stage motto, marched his seven This was the state of the forces outside, hundred men round and round a high while the army inside was impatiently hill, visible from Boston, to mislead the waiting for re-enforcements, and chafing British.
At another time, when men were at the ignoble delay. On May 25 three more numerous, General Putnam marched British generals (Howe, Clinton, and Burall the troops in Cambridge, twenty-two goyne) arrived with troops. The newspahundred in number, to Charlestown Fer- pers of the day say that when these officers ry, the column being spread over a mile were going into Boston harbor they met and a half, and passing under the guns of a packet coming out, when General Burgoyne asked the skipper of the packet toward it.” Dr. Warren, on the other what news there was. And being told hand, wrote (May 16) that if General Gage that the town was surrounded by ten thou-would only make a sally from Boston, he sand country people, asked how many would “gratify thousands who impatiently regulars there were in Boston ; and wait to avenge the blood of their murderbeing answered, “About five thousand,” ed countrymen." With such dispositions cried out, with astonishment: “What! on both sides, the collision could not be and ten thousand peasants keep five thou- far off. Kinglake says that the reasons sand king's troops shut up! Well, let us for a battle rarely seem conclusive except get in, and we'll soon find elbow-room.” | to a general who has some positive taste After this conversation the nickname of for fighting. Had not something of this “Elbow-room" was permanently fastened impulse existed on both sides in 1775, the on General Burgoyne. He used to relate American rebels would probably not have that after his reverses, while a prisoner of fortified Bunker Hill, and the English genwar, he was received with great courtesy eral might have besieged and starved them by the people of Boston as he stepped from out without firing a shot. the Charlestown ferry-boat, but was a lit- It is needless to add another to the intle annoyed when an old lady, perched on numerable descriptions of the battle of a shed above the crowd, cried out in a shrill Bunker Hill. Every Englishman who voice: “Make way! make way! The gen- comes to America feels renewed astonisheral's coming; give him elbow-room.” ment that a monument should have been
Two days before the battle of Bunker built on the scene of a defeat. Every Hill, Mrs. Adams wrote to her husband, American school - boy understands that John Adams: “Gage's proclamation you the monument celebrates a fact more imwill receive by this conveyance, and the portant than most victories, namely, that records of time can not produce a blacker the raw provincials faced the British army page. Satan when driven from the realms for two hours, they themselves being unof bliss exhibited not more malice. Sure- der so little organization that it is imposly the father of lies is superseded. Yet sible to tell even at this day who was their we think it the best proclamation he could commander; that they did this with only have issued." This proclamation an- the protection of an unfinished earth-work nounced martial law, but offered pardon and a rail fence, retreating only when to those who would give in their allegi- their powder was out. Tried by the ance to the government, “excepting only standards of regular warfare even at that from the benefit of such pardon Samuel | day, a breastwork twice that of Bunker Adams and John Hancock, whose offenses Hill would have been accounted but a are of too flagitious a nature to admit of moderate obstacle. When in the preany other consideration than that of con- vious century the frightened citizens of dign punishment.” He afterward remark- Dorchester, England, had asked a military ed that the rebels added “insult to out- engineer whether their breastworks could rage" as, “with a preposterous parade of resist Prince Rupert's soldiers, he answermilitary arrangement, they affected to ed, “I have seen them running up walls hold the army besieged.”
twenty feet high; these defenses of yours Two things contributed to bring about may possibly keep them out half an hour." the battle of Bunker Hill: the impatience The flimsy defenses of Bunker Hill kept of British troops under the “affectation” back General Howe's soldiers for two of a siege; on the other hand, the great hours, and until the untried provincials increase of self-confidence among the pro- had fired their last shot. It was a fact vincials after Lexington and Concord. It worth a monument. was a military necessity, no doubt, for each The best descriptions of the battle itself side, to occupy the Charlestown heights; are to be found in the letters of provincial but there was also a growing disposition to officers and soldiers preserved in the apbring matters to a crisis on the first fa- pendix to Richard Frothingham's Siege vorable opportunity. Captain (afterward of Boston. It is the descriptions of raw Lord) Harris wrote home to England (June soldiers that are always most graphic; as 12): “I wish the Americans may be brought they grow more familiar with war, their to a sense of their duty. One good drub- narratives grow tame. It is a sufficient bing, which I long to give them by way proof of the impression made in England of retaliation, might have a good effect | by the affair that the newspapers of that