Exploring Massachusetts: The Shot Heard Round the World

Old North Bridge, Concord Massachusetts

It was May 1977 and Mark and I were canoeing on the Concord River under the Old North Bridge. It was a beautiful, sunny day with temps close to 80 degrees. We had no idea that a freak snow storm would hit the next day. We were finishing up two weeks of army training at Fort Devens which included a rather unpleasant exercise where we had to try and escape the “enemy” while navigating a large wooded area at night. We were eventually captured and wound up in a mock prisoner of war camp. The canoe trip was the perfect break and a chance to connect with history.

Revolutionary War British Major near the Bridge

Forty-one years later we were back at the North Bridge although this time not in canoes but on foot. In late August 2018 we visited the historical sites of Concord and Lexington where the Revolutionary War first began. It was at the North Bridge on April 19, 1775 when Colonial Minutemen first fired at advancing British soldiers with the skirmish leaving two colonists and three redcoats dead. On one side of the bridge is the Minute Man statue dedicated on July 4, 1885 at the 100th anniversary of the battle. Inscribed is the opening stanza of a poem from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “By the rude bridge that arched the flood, their flag to April’s breeze unfurled, here once the embattled farmers stood, and fired the shot heard round the world.”

Minute Man Statue at North Bridge

The National Park Service operates a visitor center in a former homestead near the Bridge. There are other sites of interest as well including the Battle Road Trail which is popular with walkers and bikers. The five mile trail begins in Concord and ends in Lexington, covering much of the original route where Colonial militia and the British skirmished during the beginning of the Revolutionary War. Along the way are spots of historical interest such as a monument to Paul Revere who was captured on this route during his midnight ride to warn the colonists.

Battle Road from Concord to Lexington

The Hartwell Tavern completed in 1733 is located along the trail and has been restored with much of the original building intact. This family home and tavern was a witness to the Revolutionary War events along the Battle Road.

Hartwell Tavern

National Park staff regularly give walking tours along the road explaining significant events. In the photo below, our guide points out a place on the road called “Bloody Angle” where the heaviest fighting took place on April 19, 1775. The British suffered heavy losses after an ambush was set up by the Colonialists at this bend in the road.

Battle Road Bloody Angle Site

We wandered the Green or historic town common at Lexington where opening shots fired by the British signaled the beginning of the War. The event started after British troops left Boston to search for weapons and ammunition supposedly stored at a Concord farm.

Marker on the Lexington Green

After being warned by Paul Revere that the British were advancing, Colonial Militia met at Buckman Tavern before facing British soldiers on Lexington Green. It was on the Green where they suffered their first losses before the British marched on to the North Bridge at Concord.

Buckman Tavern

I love seeing old churches and the Lexington First Parish Church located across from the Green is a beautiful historic building.

First Parish Church of Lexington

I took an interesting tour of an author’s home in Concord. If any of you have read “Little Women” or seen the movie you will know about Louisa May Alcott who based the book on her life. I loved reading this book in my youth. She lived in Orchard House with her parents and two sisters from 1858-1877. The tour included most rooms of the house including Louisa’s bedroom with the desk near the window where she wrote her famous novel. The house seems quite authentic since 80% of the furnishings originally belonged to the Alcotts. Even artwork sketched on the walls by Louisa’s artistic sister May can still be seen.

Louisa May Alcott Home

Thanks for checking in! Our next blog moves us across the country to the Arizona desert.

4 thoughts on “Exploring Massachusetts: The Shot Heard Round the World”

    1. Thanks Jonathan for the nice comment! It was a great historical destination and nice to go back after being there so many decades ago!

  1. Going to put this in my favorite top 5 posts. Amazing to see the road Paul Revere road down. Was really able to imagine the history playing out. Fun to see it after having been there so long ago. That quote on the stone really highlights the courage these men had in standing up to the English. Amazing times

  2. This is one of my top 5 favorite posts. Really amazing to see those sites, learn more about the location, envision what happened, try to comprehend the bravery. Paul Revere’s ride is almost like folk lore rather than history and to see the location brings it home. Very cool!

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