Paul Revere

We hear the word bicentennial a lot these days, but what does it mean? It is the 200th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. When was this historic document signed and published? July 4th, 1776. Had the Revolutionary War already started when the Declaration was adopted? Yes. When did the War begin? On April 19, 1775. Where was the first battle fought? At Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts.
Why did the British soldiers march from Boston to Lexington and Concord? To capture arms and ammunition that the Americans had stored there. They also wanted to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock who were hiding out in Lexington. Who was the messenger who rode his horse from Boston to Lexington to warn that the British were coming? Paul Revere.
I suppose you know that Paul Revere was not the only rider out on that April night in 1775. The patriots in Boston wanted to be sure the message got through, so they sent out another rider on a different route from the one taken by Paul Revere. The other rider’s name was William Dawes. The two riders met at Lexington and alerted the colonists there. They also warned Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who were staying with Rev. Jonas Clarke.
After Lexington, Paul Revere and William Dawes set out for Concord. They soon met another patriot, Dr. Samuel Prescott, who volunteered to join them. The three horsemen had not gone far when they ran into a British patrol. Dr. Prescott escaped by jumping his horse over a stone wall and continued on to Concord to spread the news. William Dawes also eluded capture but lost his horse and made his way back to Lexington on foot. Paul Revere was detained and forced to dismount. He was later brought back to Lexington and released. His famous ride had ended.
When the British arrived at Lexington, they found a company of armed militia drawn up on the village green. They were ordered to lay down their arms and disperse by the British commander, a Major Pitcairn. Realizing that they were outnumbered, the American commander, Capt. Parker, ordered his militia to fall back. The militiamen started to withdraw, but they did not lay down their arms. A shot was fired. No one knows who fired the first shot, but immediately the British surged forward, firing at the rebellious militia. Within minutes, Major Pitcairn ordered a cease fire, but eight Americans lay dead upon the field and ten had been wounded.
The British then resumed their march to Concord, where they were met at the historic bridge by 400 militiamen. Here the British were turned back after a brief skirmish and they began their retreat to Boston. The militia, or minutemen as they were called, harassed the British from behind fences and stone walls that lined the roads. They kept up the attack all the way to the outskirts of Boston.
It wasn’t really a big battle. The British casualties were 73 dead and 200 wounded. On the American side, 49 Americans died and 46 were wounded, but the die was cast—the war for freedom had begun, and for seven long years it would endure. It was indeed a time that tried men’s souls.
Now a final mention of Paul Revere. Why does everyone know Paul Revere as the heroic horseman who aroused the minutemen on that April night in 1775, while so little is known of his two companion riders, William Dawes and Dr. Samuel Prescott. We can thank the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow for this, because he enriched our poetic literature with a ballad named “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.” And here are a few lines:
So through the night rode Paul Revere;A cry of defiance and not of fear,A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,And words that shall echo for evermore!The British are coming.

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