Historic America

Lexington Battle Green

The fight at Lexington Green between American colonial militia and British regulars is more significant for what it represents than what actually happened there. The fight itself was brief, spontaneous, and indecisive. But it represented the opening salvo of what became the American Revolutionary War and the birth of our new nation.

On the morning of April 19, 1775, British soldiers set out from Boston to capture colonial leaders Sam Adams and John Hancock. Paul Revere famously rode out to alert local colonists of the British plan. Later that morning, several hundred British soldiers arrived in Lexington and were met by approximately 70-77 militiamen. It’s unclear who fired the first shot, but when the smoke cleared, seven colonists lay dead and eight wounded.

It was chilly when I visited Lexington Battle Green in the Spring of 2017. A recent rain wet the streets and monuments. I found a volunteer tour guide, dressed in period clothes, sitting in the park waiting to give a short tour to whoever was interested. What a cool idea! I felt sorry for her having to stand out in the cold all morning, but it was nice to have an impromptu guide to tell the site’s story.

Lexington Common is a triangular park approximately 2.5 acres, defined by Massachusetts Avenue, Bedford Street, and Harrington Road. The Revolutionary War Monument, a small granite obelisk, was erected in 1799. The remains of seven minutemen killed in the engagement are buried there. A statue of a militiaman, representing Captain John Parker, was designed by Henry Hudson Kitson and erected at the park’s east end in 1900.

Buckman Tavern was a popular colonial watering hole and meeting place of the local militia, and it is where they formed up before marching to the common to confront the British. The Lexington Historical Society owns and operates it as a museum. Inside, you can see the original front door with a bullet hole possibly made by a British musket ball.

Lexington Battle Green Visitor Center is located at 1875 Massachusetts Avenue in Lexington, Massachusetts. It is open daily, April through November, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and December through March, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It is closed New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas and admission is free. Guided tours are available.

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