Lexington Battle Green: The Birthplace of American Liberty
From Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to the towns of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts, the past few days have taken me to some of the most important places in American history. In my eyes, the greatest journeys involve paying homage to the grounds where great sacrifices were made for our freedom.
This article will focus on the Lexington Battle Green in the historic town of Lexington, Massachusetts. This area is now a public park, but 242 years ago, it was the site of where “the first blood was spilt in the dispute with Great Britain,” as George Washington wrote in his diary on the eve of the American Revolutionary War.
The flag on the Battle Green is authorized to be flown 24 hours a day year-round. Inscribed on a circular ring on the flagpole are the words, "Birth place of American liberty."
On April 18, 1775, hundreds of British troops marched from Boston with orders to seize an arms cache in nearby Concord. Paul Revere and other riders rode throughout the night to warn colonists of the impending advance. With the alarm sounded, colonial militiamen mobilized for what was coming.
At dawn on April 19, around 700 British troops arrived in Lexington while making their way to Concord. Upon their advance, some 77 militiamen under the command of Captain John Parker had assembled on the town green. One of the participants of the confrontation later recalled Captain Parker saying, “Stand your ground. Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war let it begin here.”
A monument on the Lexington Battle Green with Captain Parker's famous words.
The militia was ordered to disperse. A British major yelled, “Throw down your arms! Ye villains, ye rebels!” To this day, no one knows who fired first, but after a shot rang out, the tension exploded. Following the unknown shot, the British fired several volleys. When the smoke cleared eight militiamen were dead and nine wounded. Only one Redcoat was injured in the exchange.
A memorial to the Lexington men of April 19, 1775. Inscribed are the words, "These men gave everything dear in life and life itself in support of the common cause."
The volleys of British fire forced the outmatched militiamen to retreat into the nearby woods. With this initial force dealt with, Redcoat troops moved to their main objective of Concord, where the “shot heard ‘round the world” occurred and ignited the fires of revolution to an inextinguishable degree.
As I stood on the green where 77 militiamen held their ground against hundreds of professional soldiers, I kept saying to myself, “This is where it all started.” These men from Lexington gave birth to a special spirit that has come to define the stories of millions of Americans who have followed in their footsteps. The origins of our sense of courage and conviction as a nation will always be found on the Lexington Battle Green.
Henry H. Kitson's famous Minuteman statue. It was erected in 1900 to memorialize the men of Lexington, but has come to represent Captain John Parker over the years.
The Lexington Battle Green also includes the oldest war memorial in the country, the Revolutionary Monument.
Completed on July 4, 1799, the Revolutionary Monument sits on what was originally Lexington’s first schoolhouse.
In 1835, the remains of those killed during the Battle of Lexington were moved from their common grave in the Old Burying Ground and placed under the Revolutionary Monument.
These words are inscribed at the base of the Revolutionary Monument, "The remains of those who fell in the Battle of Lexington. Were brought here from the Old Cemetery April 20, 1835. And buried within the railing in the front of this monument.
242 years after the unforgettable confrontation on Lexington Battle Green, we must never forget the brave Americans who stood up for their rights to liberty on these grounds. This is a place of tremendous significance and I hope that every patriot gets the opportunity to visit at some point in their lives.
history.com: Battle of Lexington and Concord - American Revolution.
lexingtonma.gov: Battle Green.
tourlexington.us: Battle Green.
u-s-history.com: Battle of Lexington and Concord.