Who Shot First

Program Description
How do we know what we know? History is not just a parade of facts, names and dates laid out in a perfect and unchangeable order. History, or more correctly, how we perceive it, is constantly changing! Much of what we "know" about events of the past is based upon how different historians interpret these events through the study of primary resources.

Primary resources, first-hand accounts, are the tools that historians use to unlock the secrets of the past. During this one hour program, students will tour the North Bridge battlefield with a National Park Ranger who will lead a discussion of what happened there on April 19, 1775, using the landscape and other tangible resources to set the stage. The students will then read excerpts of actual first-hand accounts of the battle, identify key details, and draw conclusions based on these accounts.

The program ends with a brief musket firing demonstration to add yet another layer of reality to their experience and inspire their imaginations.

Behavioral Objectives: Students should be able to

  • Explain how a cause and effect relationship is different from a sequence or correlation of events.
  • Distinguish between long-term and short-term cause and effect relationships.
  • Distinguish intended from unintended consequences.
  • Distinguish historical fact from opinion.
  • Think critically about the sources of historical knowledge
  • Create a narrative of the North Bridge fight based on their interpretation of the first-hand accounts.
  • Draw conclusions about the North Bridge fight and back up those conclusions with first-hand accounts.


Here are the primary sources used in the "Who Shot First?" program. Shorter versions are used during the program itself. If you have any questions regarding these sources, please call Jim Hollister at (978) 318 - 7832 or e-mail us

For the Provincial side:

Colonel James Barrett

Reverend William Emerson (grandfather of Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Amos Barrett

Thaddeus Blood

For the Crown side:

Ensign Jeremy Lister

Lieutenant John Barker

Lieutenant William Sutherland

Captain Walter Laurie (in overall command at North Bridge)

Last updated: February 26, 2015

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

North Bridge Visitor Center / Park Head Quarters
174 Liberty St.

Concord, MA 01742


(978) 369-6993

Contact Us