TwHP Lessons

Embattled Farmers and the Shot Heard Round the World: The Battles of Lexington and Concord


Minute Man Statue in Concord, MA; photo from the Detroit Publishing Company Collection in the Library of Congress

(Detroit Publishing Company Collection of the Library of Congress)

 

"By the rude bridge that arched the flood
Their flags to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.”1


R


alph Waldo Emerson, one of the most noted residents of Concord, Massachusetts, penned these words for the town’s bicentennial in 1835. In April 1875, for the Centennial Celebration of the Battle of Concord, another Concord native, sculptor Daniel Chester French, created his first great public work. Emerson’s words were incised on the stone pedestal.

A century before, a group of express riders, including Paul Revere, rode across the Middlesex County countryside. They did not shout “The British are coming! The British are coming!” as myth would have us believe. Rather, the riders warned that the King’s troops were on the march, arousing the embattled farmers praised by Emerson. At that time the riders and farmer alike were still loyal subjects to England’s King George the III. Independence was the furthest thing from their minds. Instead, these minute men and members of local Massachusetts militia assembled to defend their rights, as they perceived them under English law.

British General Thomas Gage had ordered 700 soldiers to march in what he thought was a clandestine operation. His objective was to destroy the cache of colonial weapons located in the town of Concord. Within twenty-four hours, more than 70 of the King’s finest troops lay dead and many more wounded. Forty-nine provincials died, as well. One of history’s greatest unintended consequences proved to be the nascent seed that launched a revolution, forever changing the world.

Visitors can stroll across Concord’s Old North Bridge. They can pass the graves of two English soldiers killed in the exchange of gunfire across the Concord River, examine French’s sculpture, and walk along the shade lined “battle road.” Today, in this tranquil setting, how can one help but ponder how a nation could rise from the ashes of an event that was never supposed to happen?

1 Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Early Poems of Ralph Waldo Emerson. New York, Boston, Thomas Y. Crowell & Company: 1899.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
  1. Map 1: The Country Adjacent with the Road from Boston to Concord
  2. Map 2: Minute Man National Historical Park

Determining the Facts: Readings

  1. Reading 1: A Wednesday That Changed the World Forever
  2. Reading 2: More than one side to every story
  3. Reading 3: Fact or Fiction
  4. Reading 4: The Minute Man Statue

Visual Evidence: Images
  1. Photo 1: The North Bridge Today
  2. Print 1: Fight At the North Bridge, by Amos Doolittle
  3. Painting 1: Fight at the Concord Bridge, 19th of April, 1775, by Don Troiani
  4. Photo 2: The Battle Road
  5. Print 2: The Battle Road, by Amos Doolittle
  6. Painting 2: Parkers Revenge, 19th of April 1775, by Don Troiani
  7. Photo 3: Minute Man Statue

Putting It All Together: Activities
  1. Rebellion--Then and Now
  2. Recitation: “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”
  3. Local Commemoration

Supplementary Resources

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Minute Man National Historical Park


This lesson is based on the Minute Man National Historical Park in Concord, Massachusetts. It is among the thousands of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

 

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