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Minute Man National Historic Par, Massachusetts, United States

Minute Man National Historic Park

Take this tour along Battle Road to learn about the start of the Revolutionary War and the birth of our country.

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Difficulty: Easy
Length: 8.2 miles / 13.2 km
Duration: Full day
Family Friendly • Dog Friendly
 
Overview: Use this guide to follow the path the British took as they retreated from the North Bridge area of the Minute Man National Historic Park during the first hours of the Revolutionary War. Along the Battle Road you will follow you will pass by monuments such as where Paul Revere was Captured as well as numerous "Witness Houses" which were local homesteads on April 19th, 1775, the day the Colonial Army and Minute Men first fired shots and killed British Soldiers sparking the historic war. Several of the family homes you will pass cared for wounded soldiers despite being loyal to the Colonialists. You will also pass by homesteads that held some of our countries most famous philosphers and writers such as Thoreau and Emerson. Bring a camera and take a trip back through time to the beginning of our independance.

Tips: Take exit 30B off of I-95 and follow Route 2A west for about a 0.2 miles then take a right onto Massachussettes Ave. Follow this a short distance then take a left on Wood Street and then a quick left on Old Mass Ave to find the parking lot there for the Ebenezer Fisk house site.

Note: I made this guide the opposite direction of the way the British retreated from the North Bridge as it is nice to stop in downtown Concord for a bite to eat after walking the long Battle Road. Feel free to travel the opposite direction to get a feel of how the British felt :)

Biking Option:
A great way to get out of the city for an afternoon would be to rent a bike and head out from the Arlington T-Station along the Minuteman Bikeway to Bedford Station. From there follow the Reformatory Branch Trail to the North Bridge Area of this guide. You can then head south along the Minute Man route the same way the British retreated. Please see the links in the last POI of this guide to check out my other free guides that would link this route up for you on a bike.

Points of Interest

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Parking

Park here to start your historic tour. This is a convenient place to park as it is directly off I-95, a major Interstate that skirts around the Boston area. If you are taking public transportation take the Red line out of downtown boston and jump on the 76 Bus from the last station (Alewife). This will take you conveniently right to this parking lot which is at the Old Mass Ave/Wood Street Stop. Just ask the driver and they will tell you when to get off. I've included more information on this bus route in the links below. On busy summer days this parking lot may become full.
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Ebenezer Fiske House Site

A spot where retreating British soldiers were attended to by Dr. Joseph Fisk, Ebenezer's cousin. There is an interpretive sign here as well as the foundation left over from the house. Several of the British soldiers that were cared for did not survive and were buried in this area. This is the first of the "witness" homesteads you will come across on your walk. Again, if you are starting this guide from this point this is the last place in the Historic Park that the soldiers passed on their retreat from North Bridge where the "Shot heard round the world" was fired according to Ralph Waldo Emerson.
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Thomas and Josiah Nelson House Sites

This is another witness house, like the Fiske House that British Soldiers passed by on their way away from North Bridge on their march towards Boston. Josiah and Elizabeth Nelson lived here. You will see several historical markers in this area and interpretive signs. Josiah unfortunately ran into British soldiers outside his home who had just captured Paul Revere and they wounded him in the head. His wife was able to patch him up and he then carried the news of the British north towards Bedford. Look to the guide links for more images and info about this site.
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Paul Revere Capture Site

At this location Paul Revere and his two fellow riders, William Dawes and Samuel Prescott were stopped by British Soldiers at a roadblock on their way to Concord. Prescott was able to jump a wall on his horse and escape to be the only one to make it to Concord. Dawes fell off his horse in the escape and was detained but Paul Revere got the worst of it having his horse confiscated and was detained much longer thereby ending his famous midnight ride through the towns alerting residents that the British were on the march in their direction. He was taken back to Lexington and released the next day to join up with Hancock and Adams.
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Captain William Smith House

Captain Smith was the commanding officer of the Lincoln, MA Minute Men and was also the borther of Abigail Adams. This house was built in 1692 and after serveral additions was restored recently by the National Park Service to its original Revolutionary War appearance. Here too a wounded British soldier was cared for by Williams wife Catherine Smith as they retreated past this "witness house".
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Samuel Hartwell House Site

The Hartwell family has a long interesting history. Please click the guide links to read more about this large family (link provided here as well). This was the home of Samuel Hartwell, the oldest son of Ephraim and Elizabeth Hartwell who ran the nearby Hartwell Tavern. On April 19th, 1775 Samuel lived in this homestead with his father and grandfather and his wife Mary and their three daughters. Samuel and his brother, both sergeants served under their neighbor Captain William Smith. At 1:30am Prescott, who had escaped capture knocked on her door to warn them of the British and as Sam and brother John rushed off to battle the British at North Bridge, Mary ran to Captain Smith's house to warn him of the alarm thus making the whole family very important contributors to the start of the Revolutionary War. This homestead burned down in 1968 but the park service rebuilt it in the 1980's.
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Hartwell Tavern

Ephraim and Elizabeth Hartwell had a very rough life. Married in 1732 they had five children in just six years but lost all of them by 1740 to "throat distemper" (Diptheria). But, during this time having children ensured your survival so the two went about having 8 more children from 1741 to 1754 with the names of the first children passed on to the new family. Because of the large family Ephraim made additions to the house and also obtained a license in 1756 to operate the Inn and Tavern which you now see. This tavern is a renovation of the original.
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Bloody Angle

This is the site of some of the bloodiest fighting on April 19th, 1775 as the British moved through the area on their way to Boston and the local colonists ambushed them in this wooded area on their way back from Meriam's Corner. The British troops were caught in a cross fire from both sides of the road resulting in the death of over 8 soldiers with many more wounded making it the deadliest encounter for the British during their retreat from North Bridge.
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Job & Joshua Brooks Houses

Joshua was a Minute Man and his family owned a slaughterhouse and tannery across the street. His house is on the same side of the road as Battle Road. Across the street is the Job Brooks House which is older and now stores artifacts from the Revolutionary War from the region. It is open to the public to view the artifacts on Saturdays. For a photo of this site please click the link I've attached.
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Noah Brooks Tavern

This site was settled in 1652 by the Brooks Family and remained with the family until it was sold in 1862. Nearby Brooks Hill was where the British first encountered the ambush at Bloody Angle. Although this tavern wasn't built until 1798, 23 years after the retreat of the British from the North Bridge area it is still a very historical landmark. The first floor of this tavern housed a private parlor, a bar, dining room and a kitchen while the second floor had a ballroom. After the Revolution with increased farming, transportation and commercial traffic the tavern and family profitted tremendously. In 1809 Noah Brooks died and his wife Dorothy, who re-married in 1816, operated the business until it was bought by Isaac Brooks in 1829 who later sold it all in 1836.
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Samuel Brooks House

This house was built in 1733 on the Brooks Family estate. Samuel Brooks was a member of the Continental Army. The house is now available for functions such as weddings and corporate retreats.
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Olive Stowe House

There is a good story about how recently this house was disproved as a "witness" house from the battle of April 19th 1775. The original witness house was actually Olive's father's house which this house was built upon. This area has been farmed since the early 1600's. Make sure to click the link in this guide to read more about this lengthy story.
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Historic Farming Fields

In these fields the Minute Men pushed the British back on April 19th, 1775. Just past these fields the Minute Men ambushed the British Troops from the woods at Bloody Angle. These fields have been farmed since the 1600's. You will see several interpretive signs in this area to read. This is the place along Battle Road where many re-enactments are conducted of the famous day the Revolutionary War began.
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Meriam House

Constructed in 1705 at Meriam's Corner on the west end of Battle Road this became a "witness house" to the retreating British Troops. The front of the house is the original while the dairy was added later in the 1800's. This structure was used as a shelter, protecting Colonial Troops as they waited for the retreating British.
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The Wayside

Former home of Louisa May Alcott, Margaret Sidney, and Nathaniel Hawthorne and the birthplace of some great American Literature. This was the only home that Hawthorne, author of the Scarlet Letter, ever owned and was where he wrote his last works. The Alcott family called this home the "hillside" and plays staged by Louisa May Alcott and her sisters in the Wayside Barn recounted many events in the home such as sheltering a fugitive slave in the home in 1847. This building has been painstakingly maintained and preserved through the work of the Lothrop family.
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Orchard House

Home of the Alcott family were Louisa May wrote "Little Women". Louisa lived in the next door Wayside into her teens with parents and sisters from 1845 to 1848 before moving next door to the Orchard House to live from 1858 to 1877. It was here that Louisa May Alcott set and composed her famous book, Little Women which was one of the first books to feature a young female lead character. Louisa May and her mother were the primary bread-winners for the family as her mom took menial jobs and Louisa worked as a seamstress, teacher and also wrote short thrillers, poems and fairy tails which appeared in the Atlantic monthly by the 1860's. The home has been completely restored to its original appearance from when the Alcotts lived there.
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Concord Museum

Take the time to check out this museum as it holds a wealth of knowledge on the early history and birth of our nation along with information on the individuals who led the literary renaissance in America. Throughout the year there are special exhibitions set up so make sure to check the links for more information on this museum.
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Ralph Waldo Emerson Memorial House

This house was built in 1828 by the Coolidge family and was originally named the Coolidge Castle before it was bought for 3,500 dollars by Ralph Waldo Emerson in July 1835 just before he married Lydia Jackson. He then spent an additional $500 on landscaping and other enlargements to make sure it was big enough to serve as a central meeting place for philosophers and poets. The home is now open for the public to explore Mid April through Mid October for free.
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Wright Tavern

In October 1774 over 300 delegates met at this tavern as the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts. In the famous meeting they decided to cease paying taxes to the crown and to authorize provisions for armed forces to resist the British. The tavern was also the headquarters of the Minute Men on the morning of April 19th, 1775 while in the afternoon British Redcoats rested here on their retreat from the North Bridge area where the fighting began. Make sure to click the attached link for some tales of what went on at Wright Tavern on April 19th.
Other Resources
Wright Tavern Tales
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Old Manse & North Bridge

The “Old North Bridge” as it is commonly called is the location where the Revolutionary War began with the “shot heard round the world” when colonial Minutemen fired the first shots of the civil war against 90-95 British light infantry regiments on foot under the command of Captain Walter Laurie. In total there were over 400 Minutemen and other non-Minutemen who gathered on the hill to confront the British and then drive them fleeing back towards Boston through the Minute Man National Historic Park which you have just traveled through. This battle, named the Battle of Concord became the first battle of the Revolutionary War. The original North Bridge was dismantled in 1793 but in 1875 on the centennial of the battle a replica bridge was dedicated along with a seven foot tall statue of Daniel Chester French crafted from seven American Civil War cannons donated by Congress. The Old Manse directly next to the bridge was Ralph Waldo Emerson’s historic family home and was later residence to Nathaniel Hawthorne. At this site is also grave of British Soldiers who died here at a rock wall near the eastern edge of the bridge. If you are interested there is another EveryTrail.com free Guide specific to just the North Bridge Location that will take you slightly further around the grounds and to a visitor center with more information. A link for that is included below as well as a link to another guide for the Reformatory Branch Trail which you can access from here that will take you through the wonderful Great Meadows Wildlife Refuge to Bedford Station, the end of the MinuteMan public Bikeway that runs from there to Arlington, MA.
Pictures in this guide taken by: JonathanEllinger, Photo by Bill Coughlin, April 17, 2009 available at www.hmdb.org , Photo by John Phelan @ wiki commons, available under a creative Commons attribution - 3.0 Unported License., Photo by Daderot at en.wikipedia, available under a Creative Commons Attribution - ShareAlike 3.0 License., Photo by Midnightdreary @ wiki commons, available under a Creative Commons Attribution - ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, By Beverly Pfingsten, October 6, 2010 available at www.hmdb.org , Photo by Daderot @ wiki commons, available under a Creative Commons Attibution - ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, Photo by Pablo Sanchez @ Flickr, available under a Creative Commons Attribution - 2.0 Generic License, Photo by Daderot @ wiki commons, available under a Creative Commons Attibution - ShareAlike 3.0 ShareAlike License

Jonathan Ellinger

Minute Man National Historic Park Map


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JonathanEllinger
JonathanEllinger
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Although I have climbed over 250 mountains from various places around the U.S. and have hiked in Europe...

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