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The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Concord (Massachusetts)

CONCORD, a town of Middlesex co., Massachusetts, 18 m. N. W. of Boston by the old county road, and 20 m. by the Fitchburg railroad; pop. in 1870, 2,412. The Indian name of the place was Musketaquid, signifying grass ground. It was settled in 1635, and the name Concord is said to have been given it “from the Christian union and concord among the first company.” The first inland settlement made in the Massachusetts colony, it was one of the scenes of the labors of the apostle Eliot. In the Indian wars it bore a prominent part, and in 1669 established a military company, which existed down to a recent period. It had considerable part in King Philip's war, 1675-'6. When the people of Boston overthrew Sir Edmund Andros, a company marched to their aid from Concord. To the French and Indian wars that followed the English revolution Concord contributed many men. As early as 1767 the people of Concord made themselves conspicuous for their opposition to the measures of the British government. The first county convention, that of Middlesex, was held at Concord, Aug. 30 and 31, 1774, and consisted of 150 delegates, every town being represented. This convention adopted resolutions that amounted to a declaration of separation, the last recommending the assembling of a provincial congress; they were signed by 146 members. In September some of the people took part in the expedition to Cambridge, whither a British force had been sent. The judges were not allowed to hold court in the town under the new government. Tories were arrested and “humbled.” Military companies were formed, and arms and ammunition purchased. The provincial congress of Massachusetts met at Concord Oct. 11, John Hancock presiding. In February, 1775, the colonial government provided for the accumulation of valuable stores for military uses at Concord, under charge of Col. James Barrett of the town. The village had become a place of arms, and this determined the course of events. British spies visited the place, and an expedition from Boston to seize or destroy the stores was resolved upon by Gen. Gage. The provincial congress met at Concord the second time March 22, 1775, and sat till April 15. On the night of April 18 a detachment of 800 men marched from Boston upon Concord (see Lexington), which place they reached at 7½ o'clock on the morning of the 19th. The country had been thoroughly alarmed; the people were employed in removing and secreting the stores, and the military assembled to the number of 180. When the enemy came in sight, some were for resisting them; but as it was thought proper to throw the entire responsibility upon the invaders, this advice was not followed, and the militia fell slowly back, and took post upon the side of a hill to the right. They were at first under the command of Major John Buttrick; but Col. Barrett, his superior, soon arrived on the ground, and ordered the men to cross the North bridge, which was done. The British now had possession of a large part of the town, and while some of them were engaged in destroying arms and provisions, detachments were sent to secure the South and North bridges. A part of those sent to the North bridge went on to Col. Barrett's residence, where they were engaged in the work of search and destruction, when they were interrupted by the attack that was made on their comrades at the bridge. The Americans who had retreated over the North bridge were drawn up not far from it, and were joined by others from several neighboring towns. As it was believed the enemy were burning the village, the resolution was taken to attack them, and by Col. Barrett's command the militia and “minutemen” marched toward the bridge; some of the Acton minutemen took the head of the column, but stood abreast with the Concord minutemen when they halted at the W. end of the bridge. The British drew up on the E. bank, and began to pull up the planks of the bridge. Major Buttrick called to them to desist, and ordered his men to increase their pace. The British desisted, but fired several muskets, as signals, it was supposed; but when the Americans were 10 or 15 rods from the river, a single gun was discharged at them, the ball from which wounded Luther Blanchard, an Acton fifer, and Jonas Brown, a Concord soldier. Immediately a volley was fired, by which Capt. Davis and Abner Hosmer of Acton were slain. Major Buttrick then gave the order to fire, discharging his own gun instantly. The order was promptly obeyed, and a general fusillade ensued from both sides. The British lost several men, two being killed, when they retreated, meeting reinforcements as they marched to the centre of the town. The Americans followed, and took post on the side of the road by which they would have to return to Boston. The companies at Col. Barrett's were interrupted in their operations by the firing at the bridge, and returned to the village without molestation. Those at the South bridge did the same. Meantime, the British had been engaged in acts of violence in the village, directed principally against military articles, such as throwing balls into wells, &c. The only building fired was the court house, which was not much damaged. Some indignities were offered to individuals, and there was a little pillaging. About noon the retreat commenced, and the enemy were followed along the road to Lexington by the provincials, who inflicted much injury upon them. Concord had five men wounded in the action. So far as the deliberate purpose of the Americans was concerned, the revolution was begun by the determination of the militia officers to march upon the North bridge; and the first order to fire upon the royal troops came from Major Buttrick. In 1835 a granite obelisk, 28 ft. high, including the base, which is 5 ft. broad, was erected on the spot where the first British soldiers fell, with a suitable inscription. The grave in which two British soldiers were buried, supposed to have been the first who fell in the war, is near the monument. The spot is one of great rural beauty. The road along which the troops marched has been many years closed, and the bridge over which the first volleys of the revolution were exchanged has long since disappeared. During the war Concord contributed largely of men and money to the common cause, and sent great quantities of fuel, hay, provisions, and clothing to the army. Though the population was but 1,300, it had 174 men in the army of 1775; and at later periods of the war its conduct was equally spirited. The money to pay the soldiers was raised by the town. Harvard college was removed to Concord in 1775, when the college buildings at Cambridge were occupied by a portion of the American army then besieging Boston. It returned to Cambridge in June, 1776.—Concord is distinguished by its quiet beauty. The sluggish character of Concord river, which falls into the Merrimack at Lowell, 15 m. distant, after a total course of about 40 m., has prevented it from being turned to manufacturing purposes, and its natural beauties have been preserved. There are, however, a cotton mill and a pail and tub factory. There are good schools, two or three churches, a bank, and an insurance company. The Assabet, which falls into the Concord, not far from the scene of the battle, is a stream of singular beauty, and both have been made familiar to the world by the writings of Thoreau and Hawthorne. The quiet and repose of the place have made it a favorite with men of letters. Ralph Waldo Emerson, grandson of the Rev. William Emerson, who was pastor there in the revolution, and an eminent patriot, resides there; and Hawthorne and Thoreau were also residents of the village. The “Mosses from an Old Manse,” one of Hawthorne's finest works, takes its name from the fact that it was partially written, and entirely arranged, in the parsonage house of the Rev. Dr. Ezra Ripley, who was pastor at Concord from 1778 to 1842. A public library building, presented to the town by Mr. W. C. Munroe, was opened Oct. 1, 1873, the library containing 10,267 volumes.