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On April 18 1775 British General Thomas Gage in Boston was ordered to seize a cache of arms in Concord a small town 15 miles away and if possible to capture John Hancock and Samuel Adams two of the more outspoken rebel leaders To accomplish this Gage assembled approximately 700 troops commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith Maintaining strict secrecy the troops departed Boston at Midnight on the 19th However the garrison was watched closely by the residents of Boston and the Massachusetts Committee of Safety had learned of Gages plans By the time the troops had begun their march Paul Revere and William Dawes were on the way to warn Hancock and Adams who were at Lexington and to alert the countryside to the coming of the British troops Revere reached Lexington near midnight and Dawes shortly after Here they were joined by Dr Samuel Prescott and all three left for Concord Revere and Dawes were captured but Dr Prescott escaped by leaving the road and making his way to Concord cross-country The British continued marching toward Concord but the entire countryside was on the alert by this time and the militia was waiting to meet them The advance British troops commanded by Marine Major John Pitcairn arrived at Lexington at Dawn Lexington Militia Captain John Park knowing of Gages unsuccessful attempt to seize arms and ammunition at Salem several months earlier had gathered about seventy of his men at the town common to face the British troops Pitcairn ordered his troops to surround and disarm the militiamen Parker responded by ordering his men to disperse Then a shot rang out Its unclear who fired first but the British answered with a volley of shots With eight killed and as many as ten wounded the militia scattered into the woods After the engagement the British discovered that Hancock and Adams had escaped so they pushed on toward
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