Battle Road at Minuteman National Park

Photo by Michael Kleen

Walk in the footsteps of British soldiers fleeing relentless attacks by colonial militia in this carefully-preserved National Park dedicated to the opening salvo of the Revolutionary War.

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The road from Concord to Boston, Massachusetts was the scene of heavy skirmishing on April 19, 1775 between British soldiers and American Colonial militia in the opening salvos of the Revolutionary War. The day had monumental significance in American history, as the Battles of Lexington and Concord represented the spark that led to the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States of America.

Early that fateful morning, Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith and 700 British regulars departed Boston to capture and destroy Colonial militia supplies in Concord. The night before the raid, Paul Revere and Samuel Prescott departed from Boston to warn the militia of British plans. Paul Revere was captured along the Battle Road but later released. 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.

The British continued to Concord, where they set fire to the supplies. At 9:30 am 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. His mission completed, Lt. Col. Smith and his men headed back to Boston. By then, the call had reverberated around Massachusetts and militiamen poured in from the countryside.

Four thousand colonists unleashed “an incessant fire” into British ranks as their march took on the character of a retreat. A bend in the road flanked by woods and stone walls became known as “Bloody Angle” at 1:00 pm when approximately 1,500 colonial militia ambushed the column of British soldiers, killing at least eight and wounded many more. The British arrived back in Boston at 7:00 pm and the colonial militia laid siege to the town.

Fought between Great Britain and her Thirteen American Colonies from 1775 to 1883, the Revolutionary War led to a Declaration of Independence and the formation of the United States of America in 1776. The Thirteen Colonies won their independence, at the cost of an estimated 158,000 British, American, French, German, Spanish, and American Indian lives. It was a dynamic and surprisingly international conflict.

Minute Man National Historical Park was established in 1959. The Battle Road between Lexington and Concord is roughly five miles, from Fiske Hill to Meriam’s Corner with several stops and historic sites along the way, including the Josiah Nelson House Site. Josiah became the first casualty of the Revolutionary War when, in the dark, he mistakenly asked a group of British officers if they had word of the British approach and one struck him on the head.

Interpretive signs tell the story of the British advance to and retreat from Concord at significant points, and several buildings, like Hartwell Tavern, an eighteenth century inn and house, have been reconstructed. Parking lots are few and far between, so the trail must be walked or biked to be fully appreciated.

Minute Man Visitor Center, at 3113 Marrett Road in Lexington, Massachusetts, is open daily, April 1 through October 29, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. There is no admission fee to see the visitor’s center or park grounds. Ample free parking is available near the Visitor’s Center (although it’s about a half mile walk), but parking at other stops along the Battle Road are limited to smaller parking lots or roadside pull offs.

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Author: Michael Kleen

Michael Kleen is an author, raconteur, and occasional traveler. He has a M.A. in History and M.S. in Education. He enjoys studying military history, folklore, and philosophy.

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