Dispatched the previous night by General Gage to destroy munitions at Concord, the British regulars were preceded by Paul Revere and a host of other messengers calling the countryside to arms. With news of the horrifying bloodshed at Lexington earlier that morning, a band of minutemen marched to the edge of town to meet their adversaries, but shortly retreated, and the British occupied Concord without incident.
Three companies under Captain Walter Laurie guarded North Bridge while others searched the town for the stores of munitions. Meanwhile, approximately 450 minutemen and militia from Concord and neighboring towns had gathered on a small hill beyond town to monitor the troops. From their vantage point they could see smoke rising from the village.