Elm and Beech Streets

The Battle of Lexington and Concord is one of the most well known battles in American history and Cambridge played a significant role in that battle.    

On the eve of the Battle, Boston Patriots, including Paul Revere and Dr. Joseph Warren, noticed the movement of British troops and ships. The British were preparing to march to Concord to seize gunpowder and arrest active Patriots Samuel Adams and John Hancock. Dr. Warren asked Paul Revere and William Dawes to warn the surrounding towns that the British were coming. Dawes rode through Cambridge warning its citizens and informing them to break apart The Great Bridge, the only bridge connecting Boston to Cambridge and the surrounding towns. Following years of growing tension between the colonies and the British and a large protest on September 2, 1774, the British had been losing control over the more western towns in Massachusetts and concentrating their forces in well-fortified city of Boston. This made the connection from Boston, over the Great Bridge and through Cambridge strategically important to both the British and the Patriots.

The Cambridge citizens broke apart the bridge and by midnight the British troops landed at Lechmere Point and crossed through Cambridge on their way to Lexington and Concord. British reinforcements, led by Lord Percy, arrived at the destroyed Great Bridge the next morning. They were able to repair the bridge because the Cambridge citizen had left the planks right by its side. Once the British reinforcements rode through Cambridge, some of militia went to fortify The Great Bridge while other followed the reinforcements and prepared to attack them on their retreat.

Several Cambridge Patriots prepared to ambush the retreating British at the intersection of Elm and Beech Streets. These men were able to kill several retreating British troops before Lord Percy’s men fired their cannons on them forcing them to retreat.


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