How One Mystery Shot Started A Decade of War

It was April 18, 1775, when a myriad of British soldiers reached Lexington, where about 70 American troops were waiting. Out of nowhere, a shot was heard. To this day, no one knows which side made the first move, some even say it could have been an accident. Nevertheless, a brawl broke out immediately. At the end of the melee, eight US soldiers were dead, and another eight were injured. One redcoat was hurt. 

Continuing to Concord, more men were gunned down, killing two Americans and three Brits. This incident was written about by esteemed author Ralph Waldo Emerson in his poem “Concord Hymn" written in 1837. It was described as "the shot heard around the world," which was later also applied to the influential assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. 

The poem was written for the dedication ceremony of the site. A group of townspeople sang the poem’s 16 lines during the dedication. Emerson, spent parts of his childhood in Concord, having grown up in Boston. He moved there in 1834 permanently. Though he was primarily a writer, he was also an expert on Concord's history and considered a leader in the subject until his death in 1882. 

Today, the phrase "shot heard around the world" is often used as an idiom referring to a small event that leads to widespread change, such as an assassination or even a nail-biting finish to a neck and neck sports event. Nevertheless, the first shot heard around the world is one that changed the course of history forever. 

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Post originally appeared on History Obsessed.