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18 miles NW of Boston, 15 miles NW of Cambridge, 6 miles W of Lexington

Concord (say "conquered") revels in its legacy as a center of groundbreaking thought and its role in the country's political and intellectual history. The first official battle of the Revolutionary War took place in 1775 at the North Bridge (now part of Minute Man National Historical Park). In the 19th century, Concord was an important center of literature and philosophy. A visit can easily fill a day; if your interests are specialized or time is short, a half-day excursion is reasonable. For an excellent overview, start at the Concord Museum.

After just a little time in this lovely town, you might find yourself adopting the local attitude toward two famous residents: Ralph Waldo Emerson, who comes across as a respected uncle figure, and Henry David Thoreau, everyone's favorite eccentric cousin. The contemplative writers wandered the countryside and did much of their work in Concord, forming the nucleus of a group of influential writers who called the town home. By the mid-19th century, Concord was the center of the Transcendentalist movement. Sightseers can tour the former homes of Emerson, Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Louisa May Alcott, and visit their graves at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

 Battle in Concord: A Shot Heard ‘Round the World 

After the skirmish at Lexington on April 19, 1775, the British continued to Concord in search of stockpiled arms. Warned of the advance, the colonists crossed Concord’s North Bridge, evading the “regulars” standing guard. They awaited reinforcements. Soon some 2,000 colonists, known as “Minute Men” for their ability to gather quickly, had arrived at North Bridge, with nearly the same number of militia members pouring in throughout the next hours. The British searched nearby homes and burned any guns they found; the colonists, seeing the smoke, mistakenly thought the soldiers were burning the town. Shots rang out, and soon the British were on the run, leaving behind weapons and equipment as they retreated back toward Boston and their naval ships docked in Charlestown. About 250 British troops and 90 colonists died that day along the 18-mile route from Concord to Charlestown. The news traveled speedily back to England, making this first gunfire of the Revolutionary War “the shot heard ‘round the world.”