The #realstory of Lexington and Concord
To: General Thomas Gage
As you are anxious to know the particulars that happened near and at Lexington in the 19 th Inst agreeable to your desire, I will in as concise a manner as possible state the facts, for my time at present is so much employed, as to prevent a more particular narrative of the occurrences of that day.
Six companies of Light Infantry were detached by Lt Colo Smith to take possession of two bridges on the other side of Concord, near three in the Morning, when we were advanced within about two miles of Lexington, intelligence was received that about 500 men in arms were assembled, determined to oppose the Kings troops, and retard them in their march. On this intelligence, I mounted my horse, and galloped up to the six Light Companies. When I arrived at the head of the advance Company, two officers came and informed me, that a man of the rebels advanced from those that were assembled, had presented his musket and attempted to shoot them, but the piece flashed in the pan. On this I gave directions to the troops to move forward, but on no account to fire, or even attempt it without orders; when I arrived at the end of the Village, I observed drawn up upon a Green near 200 rebels; when I came within about 100 yards of them, they began to file off towards some stone walls on our right flank. The Light Infantry, observing this, ran after them. I instantly called to the soldiers not to fire, but surround and disarm them, and after several repetitions of those positive orders to the men, not to fire, etc. some of the rebels who had jumped over the wall fired four or five shots at the soldiers, which wounded a man of the Tenth and my horse was wounded in two places, from some quarter or other, and at the same time several shots were fired from a meeting house on our left. Upon this, without any order or regularity, the Light Infantry began a scattered fire, and continued in that situation for some little time, contrary to the repeated orders both of me and the officers that were present. It will be needless to mention what happened after, as I suppose Colo Smith hath given a particular account of it..
I am, Sir, Your Most Obedt
"[April] 19th…about 5 miles on this side of a Town called Lexington which lay in our road, we heard there were some hundreds of People collected together intending to oppose us and stop our going on: at 5 o’clock we arrived there and saw a number of People, I believe 2 and 300, formed on a Common in the middle of the Town; we still continued advancing, keeping prepared against an attack tho’ without intending to attack them, but on our coming near them they fired one or two shots, upon which our Men without any orders rushed in upon them, fired and put ‘em to flight; several of them were killed…"
Lt. John Barker, British Soldier, 4th Regiment Diary Account on the beginning of the march to Lexington
The Colonial Perspective
"I, John Robbins, being of lawful age, do testify and say, that on the nineteenth instant, the Company under the command of Captain John Parker being drawn up (sometime before sunrise) on the green or common, and I being in the front rank, there suddenly appeared a number of the King’s Troops, about a thousand, as I thought, at the distance of about sixty or seventy yards from us, huzzaing and on a quick pace toward us, with three officers in their front on horseback, and on full gallop towards us; the foremost of which cried, ‘Throw down your arms, ye villains, ye rebels;’ upon which said Company dispersing, the foremost of the three officers ordered their men, saying ‘Fire, by God, fire;’ at which moment we received a very heavy and close fire from them; at which instant, being wounded, I fell, and several of our men were shot dead by one volley. Captain Parker’s men, I believe, had not then fired a gun."
Official Statement of John Robbins, Lexington Militia, April 24, 1775, on Lexington Green