History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Frontiersmen of New York
by Jeptha R. Simms
Albany, NY 1883
Volume I, Page 471.
The Beginning of the National Drama in 1775, and Principal Events of that Year. Battle of Lexington.-The storm which had so long been gathering over this continent, was now about to descend in all its fury. On the 19th day of April, 1775, Gen. Gage sent from Boston a detachment of 800 or 900 troops, under the command of Col. Smith and Maj. Pitcairn, to destroy a collection of military stores, accumulated at Concord by the friends of liberty. At Lexington, a small village which they had to pass, a company of sixty or seventy militia were paraded near the village church. Maj. Pitcairn riding forward, exclaimed, Disperse, you rebels-throw down your arms and disperse! The militia hesitated, and the Major firing a pistol, ordered a company under Capt. Parker, to fire upon them: the command was obeyed, and eight were killed and several wounded. The militia dispersed, and the troops marched on to Concord. Some of the stores had been removed, what remained were destroyed. The minute men of that town had assembled before the arrival of the regulars, but too weak to oppose the latter, retired on their approach. As the report of the firing upon the militia at Lexington spread with great rapidity, from the ringing of bells, firing of signal guns, etc., the country was soon in arms. Finding themselves reinforced, the Concord militia advanced and a skirmish ensued, in which several were killed on both sides.
The British troops, seeing that they were to have hot work, as almost every male citizen between the ages of ten and eighty were arming for the fight, began to retreat. In their course they were fired upon from all manner of concealments. Every stone-wall, tree, stump, rock, barn or workshop, sent forth its unerring bullet into the ranks of the enemy. Had not the British been reinforced by about 900 men under Lord Percy, few of the first detachment would ever have reached Boston alive. The British loss in this battle, called battle of Lexington because it commenced and much of it was fought in that town, in killed wounded and prisoners, was 273 ; and that of the Provinicals, 87. General Gage had thought previous to the Battle of Lexington, that the regiments of British infantry could march from Maine to Georgia. Thus dosed the opening scene of a tragedy, destined to last eight long years. The news of this battle spread rapidly through the New England provinces. The plow was left in the furrow-the chisel in the mortice-the iron in the forge; and the hand that had placed it there, grasped the missile of death, and hastened to the vicinity of Boston. In a few days, a large army was assembled under the command of Generals Ward of Massachusetts, and Putnam of Connecticut, and closely invested the town.
While matters stood thus, in and around Boston, a plan for the capture of Ticonderoga, Crown Point and Skeenesborough, now Whitehall, commanding the route of intercommunication between the colonies and Canada; was conceived and boldly executed. The forts were all surprised and captured, as was a sloop of war near the outlet of Lake George, without bloodshed, by colonels Ethan Allen, and Seth Waller, with two hundred and thirty Green Mountain boys, and officers Dean, Wooster, Parsons, and Arnold, and forty other brave spirits of Connecticut. On the evening of the 10th of May, as the invaders approached Ticonderoga, a sentinel snapped his gun at Colonel Allen and retreated, followed by the latter and his brave comrades. On gaining possession of the fortress, the commander was found napping. Colonel Allen demanded of him the immediate surrender of the fort. " By what authority, sir?" The impromptu and laconic reply was: "In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress." The summons was from too high a power to be resisted.
A minute account of the battle of Lexington, with depositions to prove that the British troops shed the first blood, were transmitted without delay to England, by the provinical legislature of Massachusetts then in session; closing with the following sentence: Appealing to Heaven for the justice of our cause, we determine to die, or be free. The Colonial Congress again assembled, on the very day their authority had been so successfully anticipated, by the intrepid Allen at Ticonderoga. Preparations were now every where being made in the colonies, for the maintenance of the stand taken against oppression, by a resort to arms. A new impulse seemed given to the spirit of opposition, by the defeat of the British troops at Lexington, and the capture of the northern military posts; but a majority of Congress, had not as yet formed the resolve, to aim at a final separation from the mother country. John Hancock, having been proscribed by the British government, was chosen president of this Congress. As military preparations were making, a resort to arms had commenced, and it was pretty evident that others must fallow; Congress saw the necessity of giving to those preparations a head, and fortunately appointed THE WORLD'S MODEL MAN--GEORGE WASHINGTON, to that honorable post. He received the appointment of commander-in-chief while a member of Congress, on the 2zd of May, and began at once to prepare for his laborious duties. He arrived at the American camp on the 30th day of July, and at once assumed the chief command. Georgia having sent delegates to the Congress of 1775, all the colonies were then represented.