by Stephen Horn based on Paul Revere’s Ride by David Hackett Fischer
The first reason the Regulars lost that we will discuss is that they did not fulfill their mission. The main reason for this is that although it was a top secret operation, the word of it got out, and most of the military stores had been moved. Sam Adams and John Hancock had already left from there, but they had not left for long when the British came to Lexington. After having routed the Lexington militia, they forced one of the residents to tell where a few brass cannons were buried, which the Americans had not been able to remove. They burned the wooden parts of these, along with a few other military stores. They had expected to be able to destroy more than this. This fire spread to some of the buildings in the town, which both the towns people and the Regulars soldiers were trying to put out. This and some other incidents were strange, and they showed that they still considered themselves the same people. This fire had the effect of making the Militia in Concord come out against them, as the Militia thought the Regulars were burning the town.
Another reason why the British lost was because they suffered more casualties. The total of the men killed wounded or missing was 300 for the Regulars, but only 93 for the Militia. The reasons for this were mainly that they only fired ragged volleys, and never altogether, and also what was mentioned previously about the militia being better shots. The Regulars had left Boston with 700 men. Only 300 of them had deployed to drive off 77 militia who had gathered at Lexington. At Concord, only 100 of them were at the bridge, when they were driven back by the 400 militia. All of the casualties were not from these engagements though, many of them were from ambushes on the march back. By the end of the day, there were 3,800 Militia, and 1,500 Regulars. The reinforcements for the Regulars might of changed the tide of the battle, if they would have come sooner, but they still saved the rest of the British force.
The British lost because they did not fulfill their mission, they were driven back, and they suffered more casualties. This battle showed that the British troops were not invincible, and they could be beaten by the American militia. This was the first battle of the war, but it had been clear that there was going to be a war before that. The battles of Lexington and Concord did not start the war. The British returned defeated, and with their mission unaccomplished. The Regulars had to be reinforced, or they would have been destroyed. The British might have retreated with fewer casualties if they would have been able to hold the militia back at the bridge until the reinforcement Brigade came up.
1 David Hackett Fischer, Paul Revere’s Ride (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994) p. 232