Teacher's Guide - John Brooks
Originally from Medford, MA had opened a medical practice in Reading and was chosen a Capt. of one of two Minute Companies
Served in Col. Bridge's Regiment of Militia
Went on to fight in the Continental Army until 1779
Later became Adjutant- General of Massachusetts during the War of 1812
Elected Governor in 1816

  • Brooks was the one who equipped and outfitted Edmund Foster on the morning of the 19th
  • Brooks had taken some initiative to learn the military manuals of the 18th century to better train his men by visiting and seeking the guidance of Col. Timothy Pickering in Salem, MA in 1774
  • Brooks asked for permission from his own commander, Col. Bridge to advance upon Concord ahead of the main body of men from Reading and was granted permission to do so
  • In the early part of the nineteenth century recounted that his men fired first

John Brooks was an accomplished physician who would also become an accomplished soldier during the Revolutionary War. His story, though told through a secondary source in the nineteenth century does match up well with much of the corroborating evidence presented throughout this lesson. Brooks recounts moving on ahead of his regiment and taking up shelter around the barn and in the barn yard of one of the Meriam barns. Which one is of course unknown, but students can undoubtedly use a visit to the site to help them make a best guess as to where Brooks had his men take up position.

Brooks' situation as being in command in combat for the first time was undoubtedly one which those of us who have never experienced combat cannot appreciate. However the concept of not believing what you are seeing is one that many of us can probably relate to and is the situation in which Brooks finds himself as he arrives at Meriam's Corner. He clearly doesn't allow himself to believe that the soldiers in red that he is seeing are part of the Regular column, chosing to believe they are part of a Provincial artillery company. Once he discovers his mistake he also realizes that in the position he is in, he cannot be flanked. That makes sense as one can tell by visiting Meriam's Corner. If one stands directly behind the Nathan Meriam house at the position where it is believed the barn was and takes in the whole landscape it is clear that if the regulars want to cross the brook they need to cross the bridge thus giving up their flanking positions and needing to rejoin the column. If one had positions near that spot it would have been near impossible to miss the bottlenecked column with volley fire from covered positions, and it also would have made firing on the part of the Regulars quite difficult. As we know from many sources no Reading men were hit that day. Were they in the position as described by Brooks that would seem to make sense.

Of course the biggest problem with this account is that it directly contradicts the account of Edmund Foster which clearly blames the regulars for initiating the fight. We will never know who is correct, but a site visit to Meriam's Corner will surely help students identify the way geography plays a role in history.