Yesterday we left the Middlesex County militia in uncontested control of the North Bridge over the Concord River. There were three dead or dying British privates on the ground, and three companies of British light infantrymen hightailing it back to the comrades in the center of Concord.
In making that advance, the militiamen had also cut off four companies of British soldiers searching for weapons at militia colonel James Barrett’s farm from the rest of their expedition. The provincials had watched those regulars cross the bridge and go over the hills toward their commander’s homestead.
So what did the militia commanders do? Barrett pulled his older companies back to the west side of the bridge and up the hill to the field where they usually trained. The minute companies took a secure position behind a stone wall closer to the town center, and waited for the British response.
At the first word of trouble, Lt. Col. Francis Smith marched two companies of British grenadiers toward the bridge, meeting his fleeing light infrantrymen along the way. He saw where the provincials were stationed. And after ten minutes he turned the grenadiers around and headed back to his main force.
Which still left the four companies up at Barrett’s farm. When those regulars had finished their search, Capt. Lawrence Parsons led them back toward the river, not knowing what had happened at the bridge.
And then they crossed the river and proceeded into town. They were stopped only by the sight of a comrade whose skull had been tomahawked. Obviously, there had been a fight at the bridge, and Parsons no doubt wondered where his rearguard companies had gone to. But he encountered no resistance from the Middlesex men on both sides of the river.
As Ens. Jeremy Lister wrote:
tho. there was a large Body of Rebels drawn up upon the hill we had left when we retired to Concord Bridge yet they let him pass without firing a single shot, tho they might undoubtedly have cut his 2 [sic] Compys. off to a Man.TOMORROW: Why did the Concord militia hold back?