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[p. 47] news, and here in Arlington, Smith, realizing the significance of the signal guns and alarm bells, sent back to General Gage for reinforcements.

At five o'clock the troops had covered the eleven miles to Lexington. There on the common, just before sunrise, the light infantry, under Major Pitcairn, exchanged the first volleys with Captain Parker's Minute Men who stood in the path of the invading army.

Here, as the Minute Men fell at sunrise, war began. To the British that encounter was little more than a skirmish. In half an hour, with fife and drum and flying colors, the column moved up the road. By eight o'clock Smith's main body had reached its objective six miles further on in Concord. There they searched out the stores, and there, between the hours of nine and ten, their advance turned into a retreat in the battle of the North bridge.

During the entire advance of the British toward Concord it is not easy to determine the whereabouts of the Minute Men from Medford. The hour of their starting is not recorded. One historian writes that they were early on the march. Nor is the precise extent of their march known. During the British advance to Lexington the troops were unmolested by armed Provincials. At Lexington, Captain Parker's men alone barred the way.

At Concord it is known that both Minute Men and militia from Acton, Bedford, Lincoln and Carlisle, together with the Concord men, bore the brunt of the attack at the bridge. Captain Hall's men were then doubtless further down the road.

It was noon when Colonel Smith gave the order to march back to Boston, a long seventeen miles, long for the able-bodied who had been without sleep since ten o'clock on the evening before, and longer for the wounded, who were now numerous. As the column moved, the hills along the road were swarming with Provincials— five thousand of them, wrote Ensign De Bernice of the

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