Notable Battles and Expeditions of the 47th Regiment of Foot
The Boston Campaign – 1775
Lexington and Concord
The American Rebellion, or American War for Independence, explodes into war in a single day in the small town of Lexington, Massachusetts. A force of 700 Redcoats, the Light and Grenadier Companies from the 47th and every other Regiment in the Boston Garrison, were dispatched to seize Rebel stores of weapons at Concord. In the early morning of April 19th the column reached Lexington, a small town between Concord and Boston. News of their departure from Boston had been spread through the countryside by a series of “alarm riders”, and the Lexington Minutemen had formed on the village green in a show of defiance to the British Crown.
The first Companies reaching Lexington Green were from the 4th and 10th Regiments of Foot, led by Major Pitcairn of the Marines. Both Companies deployed into line facing the Lexington Militiamen as Major Pitcairn called for them to lay down their arms and disperse. Captain John Parker of the Lexington Minutemen ordered his men to disperse, seeing their tactical disadvantage, but to keep their arms. As the Minutemen did so, a shot rang out. To this day it is not known who fired this shot, or where they were located. Regardless of who they were, they started a war. The British troops, who had spent months penned up in Boston under the ridicule of the ‘Sons of Liberty’, became uncontrollable at the sound of the shot. The Regulars, without orders, sent a ragged volley of musket fire into the Minutemen, leaving 8 dead and 10 wounded. The American Rebellion, or American War of Independence, had begun.
After the brief engagement, British Officers restored order to their men and continued their march to Concord, Massachussets to complete their mission. News of the so-called ‘Battle of Lexington’ had spread across the surrounding area and local patriots headed toward Concord in droves. Upon reaching Concord, the Grenadiers and Marines began to search the town for their objective. The Commanding Officer of the Force, Lt. Col. Francis Smith (10th), dispatched the Light Companies of the 47th and 59th, along with the Grenadier Company of the 10th, under the command of Capt. Pole (10th) to the area of the South Bridge. The 47th’s Light Company occupied the nearby ‘Lee’s Hill’. Captain Parsons (10th) was dispatched to cover the North Bridge with the Light Infantry of the 4th, 5th, 10th, 23rd, 38th and 43rd. Some of this Force sent to the North Bridge searched a nearby farm. Eventually the gathering Rebels moved against the North Bridge, forcing the British forces there to retreat to Concord and the rest of the column. Hearing the firing, the Force at the South Bridge removed its planks and withdrew to rejoin the main body.