The bridge is the site where Concord’s Minute Men and militias from nearby towns fought and routed a detachment of English infantry at about 9:30 a.m. on April 19, 1775. This was the first time Colonial militias were ordered to fire on King George’s troops, an act that signaled the beginning of the war for American independence. Besides the bridge itself (a 20th-Century reconstruction), other important landmarks at the site are: • The obelisk erected in 1837 to memorialize the men who fought at the bridge • The Minuteman statue by Daniel Chester French, dedicated at the centennial of the battle in 1875 • The grave of two British soldiers who were killed in the fight in 1775.
Backstory and Context
Arriving in Concord later that morning, the Regulars spread out across the town to search for military supplies. About 200 went to the North Bridge, and 100 of those crossed the bridge to search Barrett’s farm. They returned empty-handed, rejoining their comrades at the bridge just as Concord’s Minutemen—now reinforced by neighboring militias to form a force of more than 400–were advancing toward the bridge.
The Minute Men at the North Bridge were ordered to return fire, inspiring Ralph Waldo Emerson, writing in 1837, to call the engagement “the shot heard ‘round the world.”