The North Bridge: Apri 19, 1775
The colonial militia had now closed to within three hundred yards of the North Bridge and the three companies of British light infantry regulars. A messenger was sent into town to inform Lt. Colonel Francis Smith of the situation. He returned with word that Smith was sending reinforcements. With the militia continuing to close in, the British Regulars retreated back across the bridge to the east side. They did not have time to properly form lines of defense.
The militia that was bearing down on them was under the command of Colonel James Barrett. It was made up of six companies: two from Concord, and one each from Bedford, Lincoln, Acton and Carlisle. Individual minutemen also came from Westford, Chelmsford and Littleton. As they closed in, the British could not completely form up and then the firing started, most likely from the British. The militia returned fire. The British Regulars returned with scattered fire and began an undisciplined retreat back to Concord.
Halfway back to Concord, they met Lt. Colonel Smith leading a company of grenadiers. He was too late, so they wheeled around and marched back into Concord. The colonial militia remained by the bridge, lining a stone wall along the road. When Captain Parsons and the four companies of light infantry returned from Colonel Barrett's farm, they were unmolested by the militia and were startled by the sight of the dead and wounded still left at the bridge.
Lt. Colonel Smith remained in Concord for another two hours. Unaware of the events back in Concord, Captain Parason had taken his time returning from Colonel Barrett's farm. Ha had stopped at a tavern for drinks. The provincials did nothing except find a meal. Colonel Barrett did not even call his officers together for consultation. Lt. Colonel Smith probably delayed in Concord in hopes of having the reinforcements that he had requested hours before reach him before he had to begin the march back.
Retreat: Concord to Lexington
Around noon, Lt. Colonel Smith and the British Regulars made final preparations for a return march. The wounded were taken to local physicians since no army surgeon had accompanied the expedition. The walking wounded lined up in the middle of the columns and some four hours after they entered the town, they set out from Concord. The four hundred militia that had been at the North Bridge as well as another hundred that had turned out from nearby towns had congretated at Meriam's Corner where the Lexington and Bedford roads forked. They fired upon the British column as it crossed a narrow bridge near here. This began incessant fire that continued along the route.
As they neared Lexington, the British Regulars were running out of ammunition and just plain running in some instatnces. Morale and discipline were all but gone.-Then a cannonball crashed into the Lexington meetinghouse. Lord Percy was on the Boston side of the Common with the reinforcements. Through a set of staff errors, the reinforcements had not left Boston until after 9 A.M. even though Lt. General Thomas Gage had issued the orders at 4 A.M.
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