We then was all orded to fire
About 450 Provincial troops from Concord, Lincoln, Acton, and Bedford had retreated from Concord center across the North Bridge to observe the Regulars. They were concerned to see the smoke rising from Concord center. The men were ordered to load their muskets. They then proceeded two by two in military order down to the bridge.
When the first of the Provincials had gotten within 250 feet of the bridge, the Regulars fired three warning shots into the river, then fired on the Provincial troops. Captain Isaac Davis of Acton and a private in his company, Abner Hosmer, were both killed instantly. Major John Buttrick ordered the Provincials to return the fire. Three of the Regulars were killed and several more were wounded. The firing lasted no more than two or three minutes. This was the first time that day — and the first time in history — that Provincial troops were specifically ordered to fire on Regular troops.
Listen to a first person account of Amos Barrett of Concord, a member of David Brown’s minute company. Fifty years after the event at the North Bridge, he wrote of what transpired, including such vivid details as the sight of the warning shots splashing in the river and the sound of the musket balls fired in the first salvo as they whistled past his head.
Learn more about the powder horn of Abner Hosmer of Acton who was killed at the North Bridge, a casualty of the first shots the Regulars fired in Concord. His father, Jonathan, in a letter written just ten days earlier, had predicted that if the Regulars turned out, “there will be Bloody work.”
View a slide show of photographs taken by Robert Cheney at the North Bridge during the Patriots’ Day Parade, Concord, Massachusetts, April 15, 2013.