Capt. John Parker wrote a couple of days later:
“I, John Parker, of lawful age, and commander of the Militia in Lexington, do testify and declare, that on the nineteenth instant, in the morning, about one of the clock, being informed that there were a number of Regular Officers riding up and down the road, stopping and insulting people as they passed the road, and also was informed that a number of regular troops were on their march from Boston, in order to take the Province stores at Concord, ordered our militia to meet on the Common in said Lexington, to consult what to do, and concluded not to be discovered, not meddle or make with said Regular Troops (if they should approach) unless they should insult us, and upon their sudden approach, I immediately ordered our Militia to disperse and not to fire. Immediately Said Troops made their appearance and rushed furiously, fired upon and killed eight of our party without receiving any provocation therefore from us. …………………John Parker”
It was Parker who told the assembled militia on Lexington Green:
“Stand your ground. Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”
British Maj. John Pitcairn filed this report:
“When I arrived at the end of the Village, I observed drawn up upon the green near two hundred of the rebels. When I came within about one hundred yards of them, they began to file off towards some stone walls on our right flank – – The Light Infantry observing this, ran after them – – I instantly called to the soldiers not to fire, but surround and disarm them and after several repetitions of these positive orders to the men, not to fire, etc. – – some of the rebels who had jumped over the wall, fired four or five shots at the soldiers, which wounded a man of the Tenth, and my horse was wounded in two places, from some quarter or other and at the same time several shots were fired from a Meeting House on our left — upon this without any order or regularity, the Light Infantry began a scattered fire, and continued in that situation for some little time, contrary to the repeated orders both of me and other officers that were present.”
From the Salem Gazette on April 25, 1775:
“At Lexington, six miles below Concord, a company of Militia, of about one hundred men, mustered near the Meeting-house; the Troops came in sight of them just before sunrise; and running within a few rods of them, the Commanding Officer accosted the Militia in words to this effect: ” Disperse, you rebels — damn you, throw down your arms and disperse;” upon which the Troops huzzaed, and immediately one or two officers discharged their pistols, which were instantaneously followed by the firing of four or five of the soldiers, and then there seemed to be a general discharge from the whole body: eight of our men were killed, and nine wounded.”
From the Linzee family archives:
“On their way, some of the Officers captivated and otherwise infamously abused several of the inhabitants, and when the body arrived at Lexington meeting-house, which was veiy early in the morning of the ever memorable nineteenth of April, they in a most barbarous and infamous manner fired upon a small number of the inhabitants and cruelly murdered eight men.
“The fire was returned by some of the survivors, but their number was too inconsiderable to annoy the regular troops, who proceeded on their errand and upon coming up to Concord began to destroy by fire and water the stores & magazines, until a party of them again fired upon and killed two more of the inhabitants. The native bravery of our countrymen could now no longer be restrained; a small party, consisting of about two or three hundred men, attacked them with such spirit and resolution as compelled them to retreat.”
A British statement form Whitehall on June 10, 1775:
“Lieutenant-Colonel Smith finding, after he had advanced some miles on his march, that the country had been alarmed by the firing of guns and ringing of bells, despatched six Companies of Light-Infantry, in order to secure two bridges on different roads beyond Concord, who, upon their arrival at Lexington, found a body of the country people under arms, on a green close to the road; and upon the King’s Troops marching up to them, in order to inquire the reason of their being so assembled, they went off in great confusion, and several guns were fired upon the King’s Troops from behind a stone wall, and also from the meeting-house and other houses, by which one man was wounded, and Major Pitcairn’s horse shot in two places. In consequence of this attack by the rebels, the troops returned the fire and killed several of them.”
The British set out to confiscate colonial armament. The armed colonials turned out to stand in their way.
When armed camps face each other, all it takes is one shot fired in anger or by accident. It was a shot heard round the world, and it may not matter who fired it or why. It ignited a conflagration.