The Battles of Lexington & Concord – the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War – took place on April 19, 1775. “Concord Hymn” is an 1837 poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson, written for the dedication of a memorial to the Battle of Concord. Emerson’s grandfather, Reverend William Emerson, Sr., had personally witnessed the battle at Concord’s North Bridge from his house which stood less than a hundred paces away. In his poem, Ralph Waldo Emerson immortalized the first shot fired at the North Bridge as the “shot heard ’round the world.” But it was actually the second battle of the day, following a brief fight at dawn on Lexington Common, after which the British regulars proceeded on to Concord.
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 spirits dare,
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.
Minute Man National Historical Park was created by an act of Congress in 1959 to preserve and interpret the historic sites, structures, properties and landscapes associated with the opening of the American Revolution at Concord’s North Bridge and along the “Battle Road Trail” between Lexington and Concord. The Park, with its restored colonial sites and structures, and its knowledgeable staff, is a valuable resource for teachers and students of American history. Ranger-guided and self-guided field trips to the park bring the story of April 19, 1775 to life for students and connect classroom lessons to memorable field experiences. The park’s website also contains some historical information and answers to FAQs.