Before visiting Minuteman National Park, my impression was the battles of Lexington and Concord were separate and distinct engagements. I didn’t realize they were part of a longer, running fight between British soldiers and militiamen spanning several miles. Though periodic rain dampened my trip, it didn’t dampen my enthusiasm to explore this exciting piece of our country’s founding history.
The fight at Concord’s North Bridge actually took place in the middle of the whole affair. On April 19, 1775, after the confrontation at Lexington Green, the British continued on to Concord, where they set fire to some supplies. American colonial militia gathered and tried to push across the bridge. A fight erupted, touching off the Revolutionary War. It was “the shot heard ’round the world.”
At North Bridge, 400 militiamen confronted 100 British regulars, resulting in approximately two militia killed and four wounded, and three British regulars killed and eight wounded. The engagement shocked both sides. On one side of the bridge stands Daniel Chester French’s 1875 Minute Man statue, on the other, an obelisk memorializing the militia casualties. There was a group of British tourists there when I visited, and I couldn’t help wondering how they felt standing on this ground.
The “Battle Road” between Lexington and Concord is roughly five miles, with several stops and historic sites along the way, including the foundation of the Josiah Nelson house. Josiah became the first casualty of the Revolutionary War when he mistakenly asked a group of British officers (thinking they were colonists in the dark) if they had word of the British approach. One officer struck him on the head with his sword. There is also a monument near where Paul Revere was captured by the British.
Minuteman National Park North Bridge Visitor Center is located at 174 Liberty Street in Concord, Massachusetts. It is open daily, April 1 through November 4, 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Minute Man Visitor Center, 3113 Marrett Road, Lexington, Massachusetts, is open daily, April 1 through October 29, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There is no admission fee to see the visitor centers or park grounds.