By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
Spirit, that made those heroes dare,
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
On this day in 1775 about 700 British regular troops stationed in Boston were given orders to proceed to Lexington, Concord, Lincoln, Menotomy (now called Arlington), and Cambridge and disarm the Massachusetts militia and take their arms and powder into crown custody.
Forewarned by patriots in Boston, the Lexington militia engaged in a minor skirmish around dawn. Numbering only about 80 they fell back and allowed the now overconfident British regulars to proceed to Concord where a different fate awaited them.
At the north bridge in Concord 500 minutemen barred the road. After an exchange of gunfire, the regulars began a long and bloody retreat to Boston. While reinforcements were arriving from Boston to swell the numbers of the regulars to around 1500, reinforcements from other militia companies also flowed into the area totaling around 3800. By the next day this number would increase to around 15,000.
The days of the crown using their military forces without contest had just ended.
April 19th, 1775 marked the beginning of the end of the British Empire in North America. It marked the beginning of the American Republic as well.
Today should be a national holiday.