The North Bridge, often colloquially called the Old North Bridge, across the Concord River in Concord, Massachusetts, is a historical site in the Battle of Concord, the first day of battle in the Revolutionary War.
The bridge is located off Monument Street in Concord. It spans the Concord River 0.5 miles northeast from the start of the Concord River at the confluence of the Assabet River and the Sudbury River at Egg Rock.
In 1775, five companies of Minutemen and five of non-Minuteman militia occupied this hill with groups of other men streaming in, totaling about 400 against the British light infantry companies from the 4th, 10th, and 43rd Regiments of Foot under Captain Walter Laurie, a force totaling about 90-95 men. This was the first battle of the American War of Independence.
The original North Bridge was dismantled in 1793 by the town of Concord because its use as a bridge had become impractical; a new bridge was erected a few hundred yards away. The bridge was rebuilt multiple times in 1875, 1889, and 1909. The current replica was built in 1956 and was based on drawings of the bridge built in the 1760s. The bridge was restored in 2005.
In 1836, when there was no bridge at the site, the residents of Concord erected a memorial obelisk on the east side of the river, the side closest to the town center. On Independence Day, July 4, 1837, the memorial was dedicated, an event for which Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote his "Concord Hymn". The first, and best known, of the four stanzas of this poem is:
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.
This stanza is inscribed at the base of the statue Minute Man by Daniel Chester French. The statue, which stands on a 7-foot-tall granite pedestal, was cast in the Ames Foundry in Chicopee, Massachusetts and was made from seven American Civil War cannons donated for the project by Congress. The statue, and the 1875 replica of the bridge, were dedicated at a centennial recognition of the original battle on April 19, 1875.
American poet James Russell Lowell wrote in his poem "Lines" (1849) of the graves of two of the three British soldiers who died at the bridge:
Two graves are here: to mark the place,
At head and foot, an unhewn stone,
O'er which the herald lichens trace
The blazon of Oblivion.
But in 1910 residents of Concord placed a plaque to mark the graves using other lines from Lowell's poem:
Grave of British Soldiers
They came three thousand miles and died,
to keep the past upon its throne:
Unheard, beyond the ocean tide,
their English Mother made her moan.
April 19, 1775
The grave is at a rock wall near the bridge at its the eastern end.
The site is now part of the Minute Man National Historic Park of the National Park Service, an extremely popular tourist destination.
To the northwest of the bridge is Punkatasset Hill, where the colonial militias watched the British forces at the bridge. A mansion was built over looking the Bridge in 1911 by Stedman Buttrick, a great great grandson of Major John Buttrick who led the colonial forces to the bridge when they were fired upon by the British. The mansion and what remains of its once extensive flower garden is now owned by the National Park Service, which uses the building for a visitor center and administrative offices.
The Old Manse, Emerson's ancestral home and later residence of writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, is immediately adjacent to the North Bridge. Just 0.7 miles downstream from the bridge is a portion of the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, an outstanding New England birdwatching location with a trail.