Elm Brook Hill

Dirt road bordered by stone walls running through a wooded landscape in autumn colors
The fight at Elm Brook Hill, formerly known as Bloody Angle

Richard Cheek

Quick Facts
Latitude: 42.45528906097832 Longitude: -71.29802568901256
Elm Brook Hill is where militiamen from Woburn, Reading and other towns set up a violent attack against the embattled British column, and where the British column suffered the heaviest concentration of casualties between Concord and Arlington.

Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits


Following the fighting at Meriam’s Corner, the now embattled British column continued their march east towards Boston and safety – more than 16 miles away! As they did so, militia and minute man companies continued to pour into the area to engage the British. At Meriam’s Corner companies from Reading, Chelmsford and Billerica arrived in time to attack the rear of the column. Those men then cut across the fields to engage the British further east while other companies from Framingham and Sudbury arrived from the south. Companies from Concord, Lincoln, Bedford and Acton, who had fought at North Bridge earlier that morning ,were also in pursuit. Meanwhile, 3 companies from the town of Woburn had just arrived and was soon to make their presence felt. 

The Road and Landscape 

The road, as it continued east, descended Brooks Hill about a mile from Meriam’s Corner. At the bottom of the hill the road crossed “Tanner Brook” at “Lincoln Bridge.” Now crossing the border into Lincoln the road climbed into a wooded upland. It then turned sharply to the northeast (left) cutting through the hillside. It then continued northeast for about a quarter of a mile until it made another sharp turn continuing east. 
The land on the east side of the first (southern) turn in the road featured a stone wall and an orchard. Moving northeast it became pasture and then a woodlot just south of the second (northern) turn. The land on the west of the road was a meadow which rose up to what was later described as a “wood pasture” or simply pastureland with large trees for shade. There was also a series of stone walls crisscrossing the area. As British officer, Lt. John Barker, would write “The country was an amazing strong one, full of hills, woods, stone walls etc. which the rebels did not fail to take advantage of…” 

Woburn Attacks 

As the British column descended the east side of Brooks Hill, they came to “Lincoln Bridge.” The Woburn companies of Captains Belknap, Fox and Walker, led by Major Loammi Baldwin (Col. Green’s Regiment, 2nd Middlesex), took a position on the high ground east of Lincoln Bridge. They had somewhere between 180 – 200 men and may have also been joined by companies from Framingham as well. According to the account of Major Baldwin… 
“We proceeded to Concord by way of Lincoln meeting house… ascended the hill and pitched and refreshed ourselves a little…. The people under my command and also some others came running off the east end of the hill while I was at a house… and we proceeded down the road and could see behind us the Regulars following. We came to Tanner Brook, at Lincoln Bridge, and concluded to scatter and make use of the trees and walls for to defend us and attack them. We pursued on flanking them… I had several good shots. The enemy left many dead and wounded and a few tired…”   View image of the southern turn of the road looking west toward the location of Lincoln Bridge.

Between Two Fires 

The Woburn companies opened a brisk fire then fell back toward the second turn in the road, firing from new positions as opportunity allowed. As the British column plunged ahead past the southern turn they were soon met by a heavy fire from their left (west side of the road). Militia volunteer Edmond Foster, who came into the fight at Meriam’s Corner, describes this best… 

 “We saw a wood at a distance, which appeared to be in or near the road the enemy must pass. Many leaped over the wall and made for that wood. We arrived in time to meet the enemy. There was then, on the opposite side of the road, a young growth of wood well filled with Americans. The enemy was completely between two fires, renewed and briskly kept up. They ordered out a flank guard on the left to dislodge the Americans from their posts behind large trees but they only became a better mark to be shot at. A short but sharp contest ensued, at which the enemy received more deadly injury, than at any one place from Concord to Charlestown. Eight or more of their number were killed on the spot, and no doubt, many wounded.”  View image of the Battle Road looking northeast. The wood pasture is on the left-hand side of the image

A British Officer’s View 

The accounts of Baldwin and Foster paint a vivid picture of how the militia and minute men were able to use the landscape to their advantage when attacking the British column. Baldwin states that when the British approached, his men scattered and opened fire. Foster’s account mentions that the British column was being shot at from both sides of the road, “between two fires…” The account of British officer, Lieutenant William Sutherland ties them together by indicating the rebels dispersed prior to opening fire, then the column began taking fire from the left as well as the right. 
“Upon a height to my right hand a vast number of armed men drawn out in battalia order, I dare say near 1000 who on our coming nearer dispersed into the wood, & came as close to the road on our flanking parties as they possibly could, upon our ascending the height to the road gave us a very heavy fire, but some shot from the left hand drew my attention that way when I saw a much larger body drawn up to the left…”  View image of the Battle Road looking northeast just after the southern turn in the road where it cuts through the hillside.


This area of Minute Man NHP known currently as “Bloody Angle,” while still the subject of inquiry and investigation, is one of the few places on the April 19, 1775 where first-hand accounts corroborate each other and are supported by the landscape. Here we see militia officers thinking carefully about where and how to deploy their soldiers to the best advantage, as opposed to a chaotic running fight. It is also interesting to note that, like the fight at Meriam’s Corner, a bridge appears in the tactical landscape and likely played a role in slowing and constricting the progress of the British column. 
Here we also see the courage of the British soldiers, who according to Foster, deployed into the wood pasture where they “only became a better mark to be shot at…” They suffered heavily. Foster estimates “8 or more” were killed. There were likely two to three times more wounded. The militia did not, for their part, escape without loss. Further east near the Hartwell Tavern, Woburn lost Daniel Thompson. Billerica lost Nathaniel Wyman, and the town of Bedford lost its Captain, Jonathan Wilson. 


Sabin, Douglas “April 19, 1775: A Historiographical Study, Part V, Meriam’s Corner through Lincoln” pg 8-11, Minute Man National Historical Park, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Concord MA, 1985 

Dietrich-Smith, Deborah, “Cultural Landscape Report for Battle Road Unit, Minute Man National Historical Park” National Park Service, Olmstead Center for Landscape Preservation, Brookline MA 2005 

Ripley, Ezra, “A History of the Fight at Concord, on the 19th of April, 1775” pg 30, Allen & Atwill, Concord MA 1827 

Kehoe, Vincent, “We Were There! April 19th 1775, The British Soldiers” Chelmsford MA 1975 

Minute Man National Historical Park

Last updated: January 18, 2023