This Morng betw I & 2 o'Clock we wr. [were] alarm'd by ye ring of ye Bell& upon Exam[ination] fou[nd] yt. ye Troops, to ye No. of 800, had stole yr. March from Boston in Boats & Barg' [barges] from ye Bottom of ye Common over to a Point in Cambridge, near to Inman's Farm, & were at Lexington Meetingg House, half an Hour before Sunrise, where they had fired upon a Body of our Men, & (as we aftervd. heard) had killed several. This Intelligence was bro't us at fst. [first] by Dr. Samll. Prescott, who narrowly escap'd ye Guard yt were sent before on Horses, purposely to prevent all Posts & Messengers from giving us timely Information. He, by ye Help of a very fleet Horse crossing several Walls and Fences, arriv'd at Concord at ye Time abovemend [abovementioned].
When several Posts wr. immed[iately] dispatch'd, that returng confirm'd ye Account of ye Regulars Arrival at Lexington, & that they were on their Way to Concord. Upon this a No. of our Minitute [Minute] Men belongg to ys [this] Town, & Acton & Lyncoln, with several others yt. were in Readiness, march'd [o]ut to meet them: While ye alarm Company wr. preparing to receive them in ye Town.Capt. Minot who command[ed] ym. tho't it proper to take Possess[ion] of ye Hill above ye Meeting house as ye most advan[tageous] Situa[tion]. No sooner had ye gain'd [it] than we were met by ye Companies yt. were sent out to meet ye Troops, who inform'd us, yt [they] were just upon us, & that we must retreat, as their No. was more than threbble to ours.We then retreat'd fr[om] ye Hill near [the] Liberty Pole & took a new Post back of ye Town, upon a rising Eminince, w[h]ere we form'd into two Battalions, & waited ye Arrival of ye Enemy.
Scarcely had we form'd, before we saw ye brittish Troops, at ye Dista[nce] of a ¼ of a Mile, glittering in Arms, advancing towards [us] with ye greatest Celerity. Some were for making a Stand, not w[ithstanding] ye Super[iority] of yr. No., but others more prudent tho't best to retreat till our Stren[g]th shd be equal ye Enemy's by Recruits from neighg [neighboring] Town's yt were contin[ually] comg in to our Assistance Accordingly we retreatd over ye Bridge, when ye Troops came into ye Town,set fire to several Carriages for ye Artillery, destroy'd 60 Barrels of Flour, rifled sev[eral] Housestook Possession of ye Townhouse, destroy'd 500 lb of Ball[s] set a Guard of 100 Men at ye N Bridge, & S sent up a Party to ye Hou[se] of Colo. Barrett, w[h]ere they were in Expecta[tion] of finding a Quan[tity] of warlike Stores; but these were happily secur'd just before their Arrival, by Transpor[tation] into ye Wood' & other by-Places.
In ye mean Time, the Guard set by [y]e Enemy to secure ye Pass at ye N. Bridge, were alarm[ed] by ye Approa[ch] of our People, who had retreated as men' [mentioned] before, & wr. now advancing, with spec[ial] Ord' [orders] not to not to fire upon ye Troops, unless fir'd upon.These Orders were so punctually observ'd yt we rec'd ye Fire of ye Enemy in 3 several & seperate Discharges of their Peices, before it was return'd, by our command[ing] Officer; the firing then soon beca [became] general for sev[eral] min' [minutes], in wch Skirmish two wr. killd on each Side, & sev[eral] of ye Enemy wounded:It may here be obsd [observed] by ye Way, yt we were ye more cau[tious] to prevent begin [beginning] a Rupture wth ye. K' [King's], Troops, as we wr. then uncert[ain] what had happ[ened] at Lexington, & knew [not?] yt they had begun ye Quarell there by fst. firing upon our pp [people] & killing 8 Men upon ye Spot.
The 3 Compa' [companies of] Troops soon quitted their Post at ye Bridge, & retreatd in g'est [greatest] Disordr & Confu[sion] to ye main Body, who were soon upon ye March to meet them. For half an hour ye Enemy by yt. Marches & counter Marches discovd gt Feekelness [great fickleness] & Inconstancy of Mind, sometimes advancing sometimes returning to yr. former Posts, till at Len[g]th they quitted ye Town, & retreated by ye Wa[y] yy [they] came. In ye Mean Time, a Party of our Men, (150) took ye back Wa[y] thro' ye gt Fields into ye E. qr. [east quarter] & had plac'd 'ems' [themselves] to advantage, laying in Ambush, behind Walls Fences & Buildings, r[eady] to fire upon ye Enemy, on their Retreat.
1Mr. Emerson, a clergyman of Concord, was the grandfather of Ralph Waldo Emerson. He became a chaplain in the Continental Army and lost his life in the Ticonderoga expedition. His account is printed in J. L. Whitney's "Literature of the Nineteenth of April."Return to text.