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The Battle of Lexington and Concord Research Paper

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Introduction

There is a tradition to mark historical events of special importance with monuments and to immortalize them in stone and in word, in literary works. This can be applied to the historical event, the importance of which is impossible to overestimate as it is one of the decisive events that have determined the subsequent flow of American history and world history as well. In this relation, it will be necessary to mention the creation of the Concord monument that signifies the importance of the Battle of Lexington and Concord for the flow of American Revolutionary War and American history on the whole. The Concord monument has the purpose of vital importance: to immortalize memory of Americans who sacrificed their lives at the very beginning of the American Revolution and never got a chance to see its outcome but did a really heroic thing and deserve posthumous respect and recognition. This paper is devoted to the Battle of Lexington and Concord and to the crucial role of the minutemen in it.

Main body

First, it is necessary to mention the events that preceded the Battle of Lexington and Concord as the presentation of details of the battle would be groundless and isolated without mentioning the background of the American Revolution. It is generally recognized that acts and measures of arbitrary and oppressive nature on the part of Great Britain were the main causes that provoked the outburst of the Revolutionary War and led to “a final separation between the United States and the mother country” (Ripley, 1827, p.7). In fact, the real situation before the War was the following: Great Britain that was an ocean away ruled the life of its colonies and, what is more, had an intention to make the colonies pay the war debt Britain had from the French and Indian War. They were going to exercise this with the help of the introduction of new taxes, such as the Sugar Act (Volo & Volo, 2003, p.27) and the Stamp Act (Volo & Volo, 2003, p.40). Besides, Americans were dissatisfied by lack of their voice in Parliament that gave birth to such notion as “taxation without representation” (Greene & Pole, 2003, p.519). The colonies’ dissatisfaction with British policy led to military preparation, stockpiling of ammunition. This was the factor that provoked the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the symbolic beginning of the American Revolution.

If the focus of the present paper is on the role of militiamen in the analyzed battle, it is necessary to tackle that personality of Paul Revere who also became as symbolic for American people as the Battle of Lexington and Concord itself. His name is usually associated with his famous “night ride”, the purpose of which was to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams about British advancement. However, Ayres (2004) mentions the name of Israel Bissel, who “in 118 hours … traveled more than 400 miles, stopping in hamlets as well as cities to alert the militias” (p.66). The same author stated that Bissel became a hero, but later his heroic deeds faded from people’s memory (Ayres, 2004, p.66). Anyway, it is know that the militias were warned about the British invasion.

It is necessary to give credit to the minutemen for their leading role in the Battle of Lexington and Concord. It is necessary to disclose the meaning of their nickname, “the minutemen”. The minutemen were special units of local militias. The etymology of their name is in the fact that they were elite units of local militia and they were trained to “respond to an alarm at a minute’s notice” (Volo & Volo, 2003, p.72). The minutemen had the following instructions: “Equip and hold themselves in readiness, on the shortest notice from the said committee of safety, to march to the place of rendezvous” (Randolph, 2002, p. 54). Ezra Ripley (1827) stated that, rumors had it, that there were “two hundred men in arms that day, belonging to Concord” (p.13). He himself mentioned that there were “one hundred volunteer minute men who were enrolled that day besides the militia” (Ripley, 1827, p.13).

That morning, on April 19, 1775, the American Revolution began. The militia and the minutemen were led by a historic personality, Captain John Parker (Volo & Volo, 2003, p.78). It was evident that Americans were outnumbered and the odds were in the favor of the British troops. As Parker had no intention of risking his men’s lives, he ordered them to disperse. They reacted unwillingly to the order of Pitcairn, who “demanded that they leave behind their arms” (Volo & Volo, 2003, p.79). Then fatal shot came. It is the shot that is immortalized by Ralph Valdo Emerson (2000) in his “Hymn”: “And fired the shot heard round the world” (p.170). Certainly, the author makes use of a metaphor here; this metaphor has become the symbol of the beginning of the American Revolution. The poet wanted to emphasize the meaning of the military campaign at Lexington and its importance for subsequent flow of history that influenced the destiny of the whole world. So, the author of the fatal shot remains unknown, there are many hypotheses and suggestions concerning him but none is proven by the fact. The fact remains that after the first shot, British troops got the order to shoot and eight militiamen, Parker included, were killed. Ten more men were wounded. As for the enemy, only one British soldier was wounded.

It was an evident fact that the goal of British troops was to conquer Concord and to find the storage of weapons. British troops were let into Concord as they outnumbered militia of Concord. However, at the Concord Bridge or the North Bridge, the British met with failure, they encountered hundreds of the patriots that evidently outnumbered British redcoats. The detachment used the tactics of “street fighting” (Volo & Volo, 2003, p.79). Then followed the retreat of the British towards Boston. By the time Pitcairn and Smith reached Boston, there were enormous casualties they had to suffer (Volo & Volo, 2003, p.80). On the whole, the British lost more than two hundred people during a single day.

Conclusion

Drawing a conclusion, it is necessary to state that the importance of the Battle of Lexington and Concord is impossible to overestimate. It was the real and symbolic beginning of the American Revolution. The Battle was the starting point of the new era of America; it changed the life of the country forever. The importance of the battle got its symbolic significance in the words of Emerson quoted in this paper. Really, it was the shot that was heard all over the world as it changed the world. It is necessary to remember that and to keep respect for those who gave their lives for us to be free now. The militia and the minutemen were the driving force of the battle. They formed American army that defended the American Revolution with their bravery, self-sacrifice, and patriotism.

Reference List

Ayres, T. (2004). That’s Not in My American History Book: A Compilation of Little Known Events and Forgotten Heroes. Lanham: Taylor Trade Publications.

Emerson, R. W. (2000). Poems of Ralph Waldo Emerson. London: Adamant Media Corporation.

Greene, J.P., & Pole J.R. (2003). A Companion to the American Revolution. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Randolph, R.P. (2002). Paul Revere and the Minutemen of the American Revolution. NY: The Rosen Publishing Group.

Ripley, E. (1827). A History of the Fight at Concord. USA: Allen & Atwill.

Volo, D.D., & Volo J.M. (2003). Daily Life during the American Revolution. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.

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