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Battle of Lexington and Concord

African Americans fought for the country before it was a country.

General Colin L. Powell

Spring. 1775. Near Concord, Massachusetts. Gunsmith Isaac Davis is putting his new militia through their paces. This volunteer home guard, made up of farmers, blacksmiths and shopkeepers will be America's first line of defence. In nearly every town in the colonies, similar militias are preparing. In Massachusetts, a third of all men are ready to bear arms.


It's midnight, April 1775. Redcoats march from their barracks for Lexington Concord, with orders to arrest the rebel leaders and seize their weapons. Paul Revere, the man who made the Boston Massacre infamous, sets off ahead of them, and alerts the militia. The warning spreads from town to town.

It's now 5am. Backed by 60 militia, farmer John Parker faces off against hundreds of well disciplined red-coats. The militia have virtually no training. The British red-coats have fought to victory on five continents. Amongst the militia are free blacks. Prince Estabrook isn't. He's a slave. (Many black slaves will fight for an American freedom they will be denied) No one knows who fires first. But Estabrook is shot and wounded in the first volley.

The militia are outnumbered and outclassed. Eight are killed and ten wounded. But when the red-coats search the suspected arms stashes, they find they're too late. By late morning, another militia gathers outside the town of Concord. This time, they number a 1,000.

As the red-coats march the 30km back to Boston, the rebel militia harass them all the way. (By avoiding direct confrontation, they're foreshadowing the guerrilla tactics that will help them win the war.) Gunsmith Isaac Davis takes a bullet through the heart but it's the rebels, not the red-coats who have the upper hand. A third of the red-coats are killed or wounded.

Did you know?

Farmer John Parker, Captain of the militia, fought for the British, before the famous first encounter at Concord. And a quarter of the men that stood and fought with him that day, were actually related to him. , The South Carolina militia weren't able to fight as much as their main priority was quelling potential slave rebellions., Some estimate that nearly a sixth of Washington's army was black.