By Muriel Bristol | April 19, 2019
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote the Concord Hymn for the July 4, 1837 dedication of an 1836 monument at the Concord Old North Bridge battle site.
In the early hours of Wednesday, April 19, 1775, British soldiers came across the water from Boston to Charlestown (“two if by sea”) and then on towards Concord, where they intended to seize the colonists’ guns. They first encountered opposition on Lexington Green, which they brushed aside. From there, they marched on towards neighboring Concord.
The Concord militia there opposed the British crossing at Concord’s Old North Bridge, firing the “shot heard round the world.”
Concord Hymn, by 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.
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.
The British did cross over, but did not get that for which they came. During their retreat from Concord back to Charlestown, ever-increasing swarms of militiamen attacked them.
Two British soldiers of the Fourth Regiment of Foot are buried near the bridge (another in downtown Concord). James Russell Lowell wrote their epitaph:
They came three thousand miles and died,
To keep the past upon its throne.
Unheard beyond the ocean tide,
Their English mother made her moan.
New Hampshire militiamen marched too on news of this British incursion. (The Old North Bridge is 87.5 miles (one hour and twenty minutes by car) from Milton’s Emma Ramsey Center).
Due to the distances involved, most New Hampshire militiamen would have arrived after the pursuit engagement that so damaged the retreating British column. Many of them stayed on for the Siege of Boston that ensued.
National Park Service. (2019). Minute Man National Historical Park. Retrieved from www.nps.gov/mima/index.htm
Wikipedia. (2018, October 20). Concord Hymn. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concord_Hymn