On Feb. 26, 1775, the first armed resistance by the colonies to British authority occurred at North Bridge in Salem. When reports that a cannon and ammunition had been hidden in North Fields, (now North Salem) General Gage sent Colonel Leslie and 300 British soldiers from Boston to Marblehead by ship. The citizens of Salem had been forewarned of the approaching British forces gathered at the North Bridge and raised the draw. What might have been the first battle of the Revolutionary War was averted because of a compromise that was made by Colonel Timothy Pickering and Colonel John Mason of the local militia and Colonel Leslie. The draw was lowered and Colonel Leslie and his men marched a short distance beyond, turned and headed back to Marblehead. The British soldiers under Leslie numbered approximately 140. American soldiers under Pickering numbered approximately 50.