The Battle of Lexington and Concord, the first battle of the American Revolutionary War, took place on April 19, 1775. It began at dawn in Lexington, moved to Concord and continued until afternoon on the road back to Lexington during the retreat of the British troops.
General Gage of Great Britain planned to send troops first to Lexington to capture revolutionary leaders John Hancock and Samuel Adams and then continue to Concord to seize supplies of munitions and gunpowder. However, colonial spies learned of the plot and sent out Paul Revere and other riders to warn the colonists. When about 700 British soldiers arrived in Lexington, they encountered 77 colonial militiamen in the town square and ordered them to lay down their arms and disperse. Instead, a shot was fired, followed by several British volleys, which killed eight colonists and wounded nine more. By the time the British reached Concord, colonial militia, known as minutemen because of their ability to deploy rapidly, had begun to arrive. While returning to Lexington after the unsuccessful search in Concord, the British column was attacked by the minutemen, who hid behind houses, trees and other obstacles and fired from ambush.
In Lexington, British reinforcements met the harassed column, but the colonists continued to attack until their commander ordered them to allow the remaining British to escape. The battle ignited the Revolutionary War, and the first shot fired in Lexington became known as "the shot heard round the world."