On the spring day of April 19, 1775, a patch of grass at the town center of Lexington, Lexington Common, became one of the great icons of the Americans struggle for independence following their rebellion against the Stamp Act. My comments to follow are based on John Ferling's wonderfully written book A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003).
In an effort to quell the upstart American rebellion, British General Thomas Gage targeted Concord, where a cache of arms was located. The Americans got wind of this action, so a force of 900 men set out from Boston for Concord. Slow to get across the Charles River, Paul Revere and other riders set out to warn Lexington and Concord.
When six companies of 238 red-clad regulars reached Lexington, "They discovered a single company of sixty local militia . . . drawn up on the Common . . . who appeared to the regulars to be a ragtag collection of troublemakers." (p. 132) After British Captain John Parker commanded "Lay down your arms, you damned rebels!", most of the militia stepped aside, not obeying the order to lay down their arms. Then someone fired a shot. After an estimated thirty or forty seconds, ". . . eight colonists lay dead and nine others wounded, almost one-third of those who had fallen out that bright morning . . ." Gage then set forth for Concord, the events of Lexington firmly etched in the history of the American Revolution.
The American flag flies twenty four hours a day on Lexington Green, one of two places legally allowed to do so, the other being Arlington National Cemetery
A Colonial house on the edge of Lexington Green where a wounded militia man crawled to the doorstep and died in his wife's arms, so our guide told us.