Skip to main content

… Then Was The First Blood Drawn In This American Rebellion”

February 2024
3min read

Jeremy Lister, ensign of the 10th Regiment of Foot:

Things begun now to draw near a Crisis and we expected daily coming to blows, which was soon the case for on the 18 th of April in the Evening there was a detachment ordered under Armes to go on a secret expedition, under the command of L t . Col l Smith of our Regt. … we got all over the bay and landed on the oposite shore betwixt twelve and one OClock and was on our March by one, which was at first through some swamps and slips of the Sea till we got into the Road leading to Lexington soon after which the Country people begun to fire their alarm guns [and] light their Beacons, to raise the Country however to the best of my recollection about 4 oClock in the Morning being the 19 th of April the 5 front Comp ys was ordered to Load which we did, about half an hour after we found that precaution had been necessary, for we had then to unload again and then was the first Blood drawn in this American Rebellion. it was at Lexington when we saw one of their Comp ys drawn up in regular order Major Pitcairn of the Marines second in Command call’d to them to disperce, but their not seeming willing he desired us to mind our space which we did when they gave us a fire then run of[f] to get behind a wall. … we return’d their Salute, and before we proceeded on our March from Lexington I believe we KiIPd and Wounded 7 or 8 Men. we Marchd forward without further interuption till we arriv’d at Concord, tho large bodies of Men was collected together and with Armes yet as we approach’d they retired, L t Col l Smith remaind at Concord to destroy Military Stores collected there but detached Cap t Parsons forwards with 5 Comp ys of Light Infantry in order to do the same business at another place. … we had not been long in this situation when we saw a large Body of Men drawn up with the greatest regularity and approach’d us seemingly with an intent to attack. … L t Col l Smith [sent word saying he] thought 3 Compys must be equal to the defence of the [North] Bridge but … this message had no sooner arrivd than the Rebels begun their March from the Hill we before had retired from with a[s] much order as the best disciplind Troops, I proposd destroying the Bridge, but before we got one plank of[f] they got so near as to begin their Fire which was a very heavy one, tho. our Comp ys was drawn up in order to fire Street fireing, yet the weight of their fire was such that we was oblidg’d to give way then run with the greatest precipitance. … after we had got to Concord again my situation with the remains of the Comp y was a most fatigueing one, being detatched to watch the Motions of the Rebels, we was kept continually running from hill to hill as they chang’d their position, but however after some hours Capt n Parsons returned. … On Capt n Parsons joining us begun our March toward Boston again from Concord, the Light Infantry March’d over a Hill above the Town the Granadiers through the Town, immediately as we desended the hill into the Road the Rebels begun a brisk fire but at so great a distance it was without effect, but as they kept marching nearer when the Granadiers found them within shot they returnd their fire just about that time I recfeived] a shot through my Right Elbow joint which efectually disabled that Arme, it then became a general Firing upon us from all Quarters, from behind hedges and Walls we return’d the fire every oportunity which continued till we arriv’d at Lexington … we was then met by a Reinforcement of 4 Batalians under Lord percie to our great joy our ammunition being then nearly expended … our March … was then 13 Miles to Bunkers Hill, under a continual fire from all Quarters as before … I got Mr Simes Surgeons Mate to 43 d Reg l to examine my Arme when he extracted the Ball it having gone through the Bone and lodg’d within the Skin, from our long f’ateagueing March and loss of Blood for 9 Miles want of provisions having not had a Morcel since the day before, I begun to grow rather faint … when we got to Charlestown neck the Rebels fire ceas’d they not having it in their power to pursue us any further in their skulking way behind hedges and Walls, We then March’d upon Buncars Hill and was ordered to draw up, on halting I begun to grow very faint again, when a Serj t of the Comp5 came to me and inform’d me he had but r a Men and could not find any other Officer of the Comp y … I told him [to] … do the best he could with what Men he had, for in my situation it was not in my power to be of the smallest use … I then proceeded through the Town to my Lodgings where 1 arriv’d about 9 oClock after a March in the whole of about 60 Miles in course of 24 Hours … on my arrival at my Lodgings Mr s Miller the [mistress] of the House I desired to get me a dish of Tea, which she immediately set about but M r & M rs Funnel who was drove in from the Country by the Rebels and Lodging in the same House … came to ask me how I did, pronounc’d me light Headed in asking for Tea, I ought instantly to go to Bed, but persisting in having some Tea before I left the place, it was brought, the Imagination may conceive, tho. it is beyond the power of Words to express the satisfaction I felt from that Tea, notwithstanding I was interupted with a Thousand Questions, till I was ask’d whether I had seen L t Sunderland of 38 th Reg t when I reply’d I had and supposed by that time he was dead, his Wife being just behind my Chare immediately drop’d down in swoon, which then diverted the compys attention a little from me, which I was not at all sorry for as I then got my Tea with a little more quietness. …

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.

Donate