The purpose of this Essay is to investigate and state my opinion on who fired first at the Battle of Lexington and Concord. As for every story, there are two sides to this important timepiece. There are many sources of information for this subject. Many provided for me were affidavits, or accounts, of key people in the conflict. Some are more credible than others. As for the affidavit of John Parker, it seems believable. On the other hand, it lacks detail. His account is very short and simple. Not many details are present compared to others. In this legal document, he states he ordered them to disperse and to not fire upon the enemy (British Troops). According to him, the British troops approached and rushed with fury and fired without any previous provocations. In my opinion, this may seem like a good source, but when compared to others it is not the greatest.
I believe that the affidavit of Edward Thoroton Gould is the second to the last most credible group of statements of the six pieces of evidence/ information that were given to me. He testified that on April 18th of 1775, he embarked with the light infantry and grenadiers of the line commanded by Colonel Smith, proceeding to Lexington. “On our arrival at that place, we saw a Body of provincial troops armed, to the number of about sixty or seventy Men; on our approach, they dispersed, and soon after firing began, but which party fired first, i cannot exactly say, as our troops rush’d on shouting , and huzzaing, previous to the firing, which was continued by our troops, so long as any of the provincials were to be seen.” As you can see, Edward Thoroton Gould is very clear and detailed in his description. He seems to know what he is talking about, and has no doubts that it happened that way. Simon Winship of Lexington speaks for the opposing side of Edward Thoroton Gould.
They are both clear and detailed, and have well-written descriptions. He was passing the public road in Lexington, peaceably and unarmed, when he was met by a Body of the Kings regular Troops. Also being asked to dismount, he was forced after asking why. Ordered to march in the midst of the Body, he was being examined as to whether he was or was going to warn the Minute Men. He came within about an eighth of a mile of the meeting-house, when he saw an officer commanding his troops to halt, prime and load their firearms. They marched a little further, within a few rods of Captain Parkers Company , when Winship “observed an Officer at the head of said troops, flourishing his sword, and with a loud voice, giving the word fire!” If Winship is honest, this is the most believable story.
He even has the details of the word “Fire!’” being said. He declares in the most solemn manner that there was no discharge of arms until the word fire was given by the British Officer. In the diary of British Officer Lt. John Barker, he makes the most detailed description of what happened ikn his eyes. Since this is a diary/primary source, this may be the most credible for me to believe. According to him at 2 o’clock they began marching through a very long ford up to their middles, where they took 3 or 4 people who were going to give intelligience. “About 5 miles on this side of a town called Lexington, which lay in our road, we heard there were some hundreds of people collected together intending to oppose us and stop our going on. At 5 o’clock we arrived there and saw a number of people, I believe 2 and 3 hundred, formed on a common in the middle of the town; we still continued advancing, keeping prepared against an attack tho’ without intending to attack them, but on our coming near them they fired one or two shots, upon which our men without any orders rushed in upon them, fired and put ‘em to flight.” Their missioon was to destroy a magazine of stores collected in Concord.
Of all the legal documents, the diary entry of British Officer Lt. John Barker is the most credible. Bits and pieces of all the affidavits could be true, but as a whole piece the diary entry in my belief is the best. The reason for this is because it is a actual written entry, and has the greatest of details. The colonial troops fired first, in my opinion. Only someone who experienced it firsthand and documented it could have given that credible piece of evidence. He even stated that were actually a few people trying to sneak intelligience, otherwise stated by Simon Winship. This is my opinion of who fired first at The Battle of Lexington and Concord.