The early skirmishes of the War of Independence and visiting the house of a cultural icon
Traveling through Massachusetts on our way to New Hampshire we spotted we were passing Concord and Lexington. This didn’t mean a lot to myself or Karen, who grew up in the UK, but our son Jack informed us this was where the opening shots of the War of Independence were fired.
Our itinerary for the day:
- Visiting the MINUTEMAN NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK and NORTH BRIDGE BATTLE SITE in Concord, MA
- Take a tour of LOUISA MAY ALCOTT’S (AUTHOR OF LITTLE WOMEN) ORCHARD HOUSE
- Stop in LEXINGTON, MA to see the location of the first shots of the American War of Independence
MINUTEMAN NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK
As we left Interstate 95 (exit 30B route 2A West) we noticed the signs for Minuteman National Historical Park – which we thought would be a celebration of cold war nuclear weapons. Were we wrong. The Minuteman was a colonial militia man who got his name from a state of continual preparedness. The essence of this story is that 700 British soldiers, based in Boston, were dispatched on April 19th 1775 on a secret mission to find and destroy an arsenal of the Massachusetts Militia, believed to be at Concord. Anyway a guy called Paul Revere (no stranger to most readers) set off from Boston to warn the Militia of the British mission. Consequently when the British arrived at Lexington Green at 5:30am some of the local militia were waiting – there was a skirmish and 8 militia died. The British rampaged towards Concord and there was another set-to at North Bridge where for the first time the Militia fired on the British soldiers (which would have been an act of treason), and a couple of British soldiers were killed. The British then retreated to Boston – these were the opening engagements of the war that would culminate in the emergence of the United States of America.
Never ones to be a sore loser we were quite happy to visit these historic sites – Jack had studied the War of Independence in 4th grade so he was very excited to see the actual sites he had read about. Also it was a glorious day as we tramped over North Bridge trying to picture what had occurred back in 1775. The kids, as one might expect, were more interested in the macabre aspects of battle and were excited when they stood on the spot where the 3 British soldiers were buried. We met a gentleman who was dressed as 18th century French admiral (he was actually just back from attending a presentation he had given – he had been playing the role of the Marquis de Lafayette – a key player in the War of Independence). This person turned out to be a Harvard graduate, and entrepreneur who liked to dress up in period costumes, re-enact battles and study colonial history. He also turned out to be a descendant of William Bradford a famous member of the Pilgrims fathers.
LOUISA MAY ALCOTT’S ORCHARD HOUSE
On the way through to Concord we had passed Orchard House (on the 2A West) – which is where the Louisa May Alcott, the author of “Little Women” and her family lived. Emily loved the story of Little Women and the book is largely based on Alcott’s family – so a visit was a must. The house is open to the public offering daily tours all year around.
The Alcott’s, particularly the parents of Louisa May, were interesting characters. The father, Amos Bronson Alcott, was a transcendental philosopher and teacher; and the mother, Abigail May Alcott, an independent-minded 19th century woman who was one of the first paid social workers in Massachusetts.
LEXINGTON GREEN – THE SITE OF THE FIRST SHOTS OF THE AMERICAN WAR OF INDEPENDENCE
One of the good things about travelling is that we don’t have to do things in a particular order so we rounded the day off by visiting Lexington Green. This was largely on the pretense of visiting the historical site of the first engagement of April 19th 1775, but the real mission was to find an ice cream store. Luckily both parts of the mission were completed and we found a great store – Rancatore’s Ice Cream (1752 Massachusetts Ave, Lexington, MA.) The ice cream was home made and the flavours on offer were varied and delicious. The store itself was clean with modern furnishings. If you happen to be in Lexington, MA well worth the visit.