History Investigates: Meriam's Corner


Meriam's Corner is the site where the Battle Road begins. It is where April 19 transformed from a day with two small, violent skirmishes to a running 16 mile battle which became the opening salvo in a war which would last eight years. Meriam's corner is the site where the people of Massachusetts openly committed treason and turned a fight for rights and self government into a fight to defend their homes and families from those who meant to do them harm. It is here at Meriam's Corner that people remember the bravery of the minutemen and militia who took up arms against their government in order to protect their property and loved ones.

Much of what we know about Meriam's Corner is still up for debate. There are multiple accounts which claim different actions at different places.

Students will be investigating what occurred at Meriam's Corner in order to answer the following:

1) Where on the Meriam's property were the Regulars and Provincials located?

2) Who initiated the fighting at Meriam's Corner (WHO SHOT FIRST)?

To do this, students will be examining a number of primary source documents which recount the details of what happened at Meriam’s Corner on April 19, 1775 from the perspectives of several participants. As students read the primary sources they should complete the Primary Source Analysis: Eyewitness Account graphic organizer below in order to determine the perspective of the speaker / author of each source.

In addition, each source will have a number associated with it. Beneath the Primary Source Analysis: Eyewitness Account chart you will find a map of the Meriam property as it existed on April 19, 1775. Students should place the number on the map where they believe the person sharing the account was during the fighting at Meriam's Corner in order to plot the locations of the different participants on that day.

A jigsaw would be an appropriate and recommended strategy for students to use as students do not need to read every document to complete the final activity. In addition, teachers can choose to have students complete a class map of where the different historical figures were located.

Once the students have completed analyzing the documents and plotting each participants location on the map, teacher holds a discussion about who the class believes fired first at Meriam’s Corner based on their reading of the primary sources. Additional discussion questions:
Why does it matter who fired first? What does the location of each participant tell you about their intentions at Meriam’s Corner (hidden/taking shelter or marching in the middle of a road)

Students then write a DBQ style essay in response to this question in which they cite specific sources to justify their reasoning:
Was the violence at Meriam’s Corner necessary and justified?

APPARTS Meriams Corner.JPG

Meriams Corner with labels geographical features and structures from 1775.jpg

Alternative Summary Activity

"In Their Shoes"

In the eighteenth century men often chose to recount what they remember from moments in history, yet they often chose to keep their feelings and emotions of that time to themselves. The students' task is to give life to those emotions.

Using what was learned in the above learning activities, choose one perspective and students will write about what they think one of the participants at the Battle of Meriam's Corner would have been experiencing as the events unfolded before their eyes. Students write in their own words, and use the sources as references, to explain the details of what that person might have seen and/or experienced. This is an exercise in point of view, so students should really try to delve into what sorts of emotions this particular person might have been feeling. Students should feel as if they are that person and think about what emotions and feelings they would have experienced were they that person.

Some starting points to help students get their ideas on paper about how these historical figures may have felt while fighting at Meriam's Corner.
  • How would you feel if you were in this person's place at Meriam's Corner? Why would you have felt this way?
  • What would have been your primary concern had you been in this person's place at Meriam's Corner? Why?
  • What sorts of feelings would you have felt towards the men shooting at you? How might these feelings influence your actions?
  • Why is your perspective on the events of Meriam's Corner important?

This writing activity should take the form of either a letter or a journal/diary entry. It should utilize the content of the original account and elaborate on that content to include emotions, feelings and thoughts that might have been experienced by this particular historical figure.

Participating in the Historical Discussion

Share what you've learned!

Students should be encouraged to share their letters or journal entries using the Discussion tab at the top of this page where they can also read the work of other students who have completed this lesson before. Students should also be encouraged to share their maps and offer critiques and feedback to other students based upon their reading of the sources. This is their opportunity to lend their voice to this important historical discussion. In addition, Minuteman National Park will monitor student submissions and those that exhibit exceptional analytic and critical thinking skills will be considered for sharing with the general public.