LEXINGTON — A warning bell chimed at 5:30 a.m. A single musket shot went out, alerting the militia to muster. Then the ragtag band of locals gathered on the common, shouted out their roll call, and waited.
On Monday, the sound of drums grew louder and then, in driving rain, the British regulars appeared, decked in Lobster red. Rank after rank marched onto the common. Some locals backed away. Captain John Parker, who led the militia, bellowed: “Steady, men!”
Then, the reenactment’s crescendo: a shot of unknown provenance followed by a crackling barrage of musket fire that left eight Massachusetts men dead.
A frigid rainswept wind didn’t stop the sounds of history from ringing across the common on Monday morning, inaugurating Patriots Day festivities in Massachusetts 243 years after the first battle of the American Revolution.
Despite a driving rain and temperatures in the 30s, hundreds braved the elements for the annual Lexington tradition, vividly recounting the lopsided fight of April 1775 that left the forces of King George III marching to Concord and set the Colonies and the crown inevitably toward a confrontation.
“It was the first major conflict and ignited the Revolution,” Gordon S. Wood, professor of history emeritus at Brown University, told the Globe in 2015.
While this year’s reenactment crowds were noticeably thinner than in years past, the inclement weather didn’t stop several young history buffs from making the trek.
Getting to see the reenactment unfold was worth it, said 8½-year-old Phoebe, who was bundled up next to her father, Dave Cuneo of Franklin, and her friend Leah, 9.
And while many of those portraying the men who fought in the battle have done so for years, there were new faces on the field.
Identical twins Dan and Dave Gipson, respectively of Medfield and Franklin, joined the Lexington Minute Men for the first time this year.
In a joint interview the night before the battle, both said they had seen the reenactment before and were moved to be part of it by their love of history and a shared sense of adventure.
Also: They both turned 50 last year.
“I don’t know if this was a midlife crisis or anything, but I would say it’s a bucket-list thing,” Dan said.
“A bucket-list thing!” Dave affirmed.Joshua Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.