"Concord Hymn" - Ralph Waldo Emerson
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.
Although in recent history, the term "Shot Heard Round the World" is attached to the
game-winning home run by New York Giants outfielder Bobby Thomson to win the
National League Pennant in 1951, and synonymous with the shot that killed Archduke
Franz Ferdinand at the beginning of World War I, Emerson did not write this famous ode
to baseball, nor did he live to see the wars of the Twentieth Century. Instead, he penned
these few lines about the famous Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first official
engagement between Britain and the Colonies in the American Revolutionary War.
Specifically, Emerson's poem describes the first shots fired by Patriots at the North
Bridge in what is now Charlestown, in northwestern Boston, Massachusetts.
The Revolution Begins
The clash began on April 19, 1775 when more about 700 British soldiers were given
what they thought were secret orders to destroy colonial military supplies in Concord,
Massachusetts. Fortunately, thanks to a rather elaborate colonial intelligence network,
led by the Sons of Liberty, the Patriots were aware that their supplies were at risk, and
were able to move them to different locations long before the British began to move.
Also, thanks to the daring rides of a few brave men, the colonial militia knew that an
engagement with the British Army was imminent.
Hand drawn depiction of the Battles of Lexington and Concord and the Siege of Boston, by J. DeCosta July 29, 1775.
The first shots were fired just after dawn in Lexington, Massachusetts the morning of the
19th, the "Shot Heard Round the World." The colonial militia, a band of 500 men, were
outnumbered and initially forced to retreat. The British army was able to press forward
to Concord, where they searched for the supplies, only to come up empty handed.
While the British were searching, the American militia was able to reform, and they met
the enemy at the North Bridge in Concord, and they were successful this time in driving
the British back. As more American reinforcements arrived, they forced the British army
south to Boston, and the militias blockaded the narrow land accesses to Charlestown
and Boston, starting the Siege of Boston.
The American War for Independence was now in full swing.
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