What is the significance of the battles at Lexington and Concord?

Expert Answers
Stephen Holliday eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although the battles at Lexington and Concord in April, 1775, do not have great significance in a strict military sense, the battles are responsible for the "shot heard 'round the world," the beginning of the military violence between the American colonies and Great Britain.  Once the actual military conflict began, there were far fewer opportunities to settle the dispute with Great Britain through negotiations.

The battle at Lexington, which began between 5:30 and 8:00 a. m. on April 19, 1775, involved approximately 700 British troops and about 75 American colonists (militiamen).  There has never been definitive proof of which side fired the first shot, but the battle resulted in about eight Americans killed and one British soldier wounded.  The battle continued as the British troops moved on to Concord where they believed they would find a cache of ammunition to destroy.

At Concord, there was very little ammunition to destroy, but there were many more American colonials who were taking shots at the British.  A contingent of British soldiers holding Concord's North Bridge was surrounded by Americans, and they fired on the Americans to move them away from the bridge.  This is actually the "shot" that began the Revolution.  

As the British returned to Concord, they were reinforced by British troops from Boston, but they were also met by about 2,000 Americans.  The British returned to Boston but found themselves attacked by Americans the entire way back.  About 250 British casualties resulted from this running battle, and the Americans lost about 100 militiamen.

Even though the military significance of these battles is marginal, their real significance is that British and American troops finally began killing each other, bringing about a psychological and political shift in how the respective parties perceived each other.  The spilling of blood broke many of the ties that bound the two groups and created much more political resolve among the Americans to fight Great Britain rather than to negotiate.

mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The battles of Lexington and Concord were very significant. As a result of the Boston Tea Party relations between the colonists and Britain had significantly deteriorated. When the Intolerable Acts were passed to punish the colonists, the colonists refused to obey these laws. This further strained an already strained relationship. The colonists also began to form their own militias as they expected an attack from the British army.

In April 1775, the battles of Lexington and Concord were fought. The British were looking for John Hancock and Samuel Adam whom the British believed were the leaders of the colonial opposition. The British also wanted to capture the courthouse in Concord where they believed the colonists had stored ammunition. As a result of these battles, both sides suffered death and casualties. For many colonists, there now was no turning back. They knew it was only a matter of time before the colonies would declare independence. These battles marked a point of no return for many colonists in terms of hoping to repair this broken relationship. Many colonists now believed this relationship couldn’t be saved.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The significance of these battles is that they were the first battles of the Revolutionary War.

These battles happened in April of 1775.  They happened because the British commander in Boston had heard of supplies of powder and weapons being kept by Patriots in the towns of Lexington and Concord.  He ordered troops out to find and capture or destroy these stores since they could be used to rebel against the government.

The battles represented the first military actions between the colonists and the British Army.  This was a huge step up from the ways in which the colonists had previously been resisting the government.  Therefore, these battles are seen as the start of the American Revolution.