As the British approached Lexington the colonists gathered. Between 200 and 300 collected on the common in Lexington. Their goal was to stop the British. Suddenly a shot rang out, and the British soldiers responded by firing on the American militiamen gathered there. Seventeen colonists were felled by the British bullets. If the British had retired to Boston at this point, the war might not have begun in earnest, but Gage insisted on forging on to Concord. By this time militia from the surrounding area were gathering. British troops occupied Concord and a detachment was sent to the North Bridge. On the far side of the bridge gathered large numbers of militiamen. The British in Concord set fire to some supplies. When the militia saw smoke in the sky coming from Concord, a cry went up to stop the British from burning the town. The colonists then advanced on the British troops at the bridge. They started crossing the bridge as the British fell back. Then the British soldiers opened fire. Four Americans fell, two were dead, and the Americans answered fire. Three British soldiers fell dead and nine others were wounded. British ranks broke and the soldiers retreated to Concord. At noon the British commander Colonel Smith decided his work in Concord was completed, and that he could withdraw to Boston. As he withdrew, militia began surrounding his troops on all sides. At Meriam Corner on the road to Lexington, his men had enough, and they opened fire on the gathering American militiamen. The Americans answered. The American militiamen stood behind seemingly every rock, tree and wall on the road between Concord and Lexington. They fired at the retreating British troops every step of the way. The British soldiers retreated as rapidly as they could, and the officers came close to losing control of their soldiers. Just beyond Lexington the British forces were rescued by a force of 1000 reinforcements led by Lord Percy. The British once again advanced on Lexington, capturing the southern part of it and plundering homes there, until the mass of gathering militia became too great. They withdrew to Boston. The Americans harassed them unceasingly on their journey. As Percy, who was no great admirer of the Americans, stated: òWhoever looks upon them as an irregular mob, will find himself very much mistaken. Nor are severl of their men void of spirit of enthusiasm as we experienced yesterday, for many of them concealed themselves in houses and advanced within 10 yards to fire at me and other officers, tho they were morally certain of being put to death themselves in an instant.ó The British were harassed until they crossed Charlestown Neck, at which point the colonist realized that further pursuit would be suicidal. The day was over, and 1,800 British regulars had met some 4,000 Americans. The British had been forced to retreat, losing 65 soldier with an additional 173 wounded. The Americans lost 49 dead and 46 wounded. The war was on - there was no turning back.