By Joseph E. Stevens
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Additional resources for America's National Battlefield Parks: A Guide
Certain now that a battle was in the offing, Pitcairn commanded the leading companies to fix bayonets and move into town on the run. The road into Lexington forked in front of a two-and-a-half story high meeting-house; one branch angled right toward Bedford, the other left toward Concord. In the crux of the V formed by the diverging roads lay the triangular village green, flanked by houses, yards, and Buckman Tavern. When he learned that the British were approaching, Captain John Parker, forty- The Minutemen Since the time of the Pilgrims and Plymouth Plantation, every Massachusetts man between the ages of sixteen and sixty had been required to belong to his town's militia company.
They scored just 24-7 hitsonly one ball in 300 found its target. Why was the patriots' marksmanship so bad? The smoothbore muskets they used had an effective range of 100 yards or less. Many of the minutemen never came this close to the British column because they were afraid of being bayoneted by the light infantrymen guarding its flanks. Those who did close the distance fared only slightly better: nerves and lack of shooting practice caused all but a few of their shots to fly high and wide. Page 22 British light infantrymen tried to drive the minutemen back with musket volleys, but the Americans continued to press the attack.
Only the lack of a coherent strategy and command structure prevented them from cutting off and annihilating the entire British force. Page 17 The Minuteman statue stands near Old North Bridge in Concord. Eastern National Parks and Monuments Association, photograph by Chris Stein. five-year-old veteran of the French and Indian War, hastily lined up seventy-seven men of the Lexington militia company in two long ranks on the northern side of the green, about one hundred yards behind the meetinghouse.