The First Shots for Freedom

The first shots of the American Revolution were fired in Lexington and Concord on April 19,  1775. Today we call this day Patriots Day. But did the American soldiers have a flag with them that day? Great question!

British soldiers had marched from Boston to arrest Colonial leaders Sam Adams and John Hancock. But men like Paul Revere and Samuel Dawes were alerted and rode out to give warning.  About 70 Minutemen gathered to confront 240 British Redcoats. The face-off began on the 19th, both sides wary, with no one sure what would happen.  Suddenly a shot was fired, It was “The shot heard ‘round the world.”  You may remember the line from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous poem:

By the rude bridge that arched the flood
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.

But no one gave a description of that  “flag to April’s breeze unfurled.”

But we do honor the Bedford flag as the one carried by Nathaniel Page at “the rude bridge.”  Page was a Bedford Minuteman, one of those brave militia that marched out to face the British Redcoats.

The Bedford flag is the oldest-known complete flag existing in the United States. We don’t know who made it, but it predates the American Revolution itself, going back to the early 1700’s. On the flag are Latin words which mean, Conquer or Die, and its unusual proportions are still preserved in dyed reproductions.

The original restored Bedford Flag on display in Bedford Free Public Library in Massachusetts


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