After their easy victory in Lexington , British soldiers marched on to Concord , where they found the pickings not quite so easy. There, about 500 minutemen from surrounding towns had converged by the Old North Bridge to protect the weapons cache beyond it. When a British soldier fired at them, the colonists fired volley after volley, scattering the regulars back to town.
The Old North Bridge is now one of the highlights of the Minuteman National Historical Park, which has kept alive much of the original infrastructure of the route the British took back to town. While the current bridge, built in 1969, is the fourth on the site, the location gives a good idea of what the minutemen faced. A statue by Daniel Chester French depicts Captain Isaac Davis, head of the Acton militia, who was killed in the battle.
Located by the bridge, the North Bridge Visitor Center (174 Liberty St., 978/369-6993, www.nps.gov/mima ) has an informative film and ranger talks as well as guides to the rest of the park. Although it’s possible to drive along the highway or take a shuttle to major sites, try and walk some of the trail to really understand the claustrophobia felt by the panicked retreating British. Along the way, highlights include the “bloody angle,” where 30 British soldiers were ambushed and killed by colonists, and Hartwell Tavern, an authentic colonial public house that hosts military and domestic demonstrations daily.