The two boys participate in the events of an eleven-hour period of great anxiety and turmoil before and during the Battle. As they wait for the confrontation with the British that will begin the American Revolution, Charles knows much of what will happen, but is bound by the Time Travel Paradox not to do anything that will change recorded history. Even so, a mistake in the way he is dressed nearly causes his true identity to be uncovered, with potentially disastrous consequences.
Charles meets Ben's father, who is a Minuteman, his sister Emmy, and John Hancock, Sam Adams and Captain John Parker, all of whom he sees as real people rather than the larger-than-life characters of history books. The youngsters are also witnesses to Paul Revere's warning to the Minutemen that the Redcoats are on the march.
As the Minutemen and the British soldiers face each other on Lexington Commons and the British commander calls upon the Americans to throw down their arms, a single shot is fired. The Redcoats open fire on the Minutemen, beginning the Battle and the war that will end with the creation of the United States of America.
Who fired that first shot is one of the great mysteries of American history - a mystery that is solved by Charles Miller.