- Historic Sites
Voices Of Lexington And Concord
What was it like to actually be there in April, 1775? This is how the participants, American and British, remembered it
April 1971 | Volume 22, Issue 3
“We then saw the whole body a coming out of town. We were ordered to lay behind a wall that run over a hill, and when they got nigh enough, Major Buttrick said he would give the word fire.”
The doctor being foremost, he came up; and we tried to get past them; but they being armed with pistols and swords, they forced us into the pasture; the doctor jumped his horse over a low stone wall, and got to Concord. I observed a wood at a small distance, and made for that. When I got there, out started six officers on horseback, and ordered me to dismount.
William Dawes was by this time escaping back toward Lexmgton. Sander son resumes:
They brought [Revere] within half a rod of me, and I heard him speak up with energy to them, “Gentlemen, you’ve missed of your aim!”
One said, rather hardly, “What of our aim?”
Revere replied, “I came out of Boston an hour after your loops had come out of Boston and landed at Lechmere’s Point; and if I had not known people had been sent out to give information to the country, and time enough to get fifty miles, I would have ventured one shot from you before I would have suffered you to have stopped me.”
Upon this, they went a little aside and conversed together. They then ordered me to untie my horse (which was tied to a little birch) and mount. They kept us in the middle of the road, and rode on each side of us. We went toward Lexington. They took all of us (Revere, Loring, and Brown, and myself). My horse not being swift, and they riding at considerable speed, one of the officers pressed my horse forward by striking him with his hanger.
When we had arrived within fifty or one hundred rods of the meeting-house, Loring … told them, “The bell’s a ringing, the town’s alarmed, and you’re all dead men!”
They then stopped—conferred together. One of them dismounted, and ordered me to dismount, and said to me, “I must do you an injury.” I asked what he was going to do to me now. He made no reply, but with his hanger cut my bridle and girth. …
The same was done to the horses belonging to Loring and Brown, and all three of the Lexington men were released. Revere was still m custody as the ride was resumed. A moment later, some gunfire was heard in the village—possibly an alarm volley by the assembling militia. The British stopped again, and Revere noted that they were now greatly concerned:
The major inquired of me how far it was to Gambridge, and if there were any other road. After some consultation, the major rode up to the sergeant and asked if his horse was tired. He answered him he was. … “Then,” said he, “take that man’s horse.” I dismounted, and the sergeant mounted my horse. …
The British rode off, leaving Revere standing on the moonlit road. He watched them go quickly past the meeting house and back toward Cambridge, seemingly intent on joining the main expedition. Then:
I went across the burying-ground and some pastures, and came to the Rev. Mr. Clark’s house, where I found Messrs. Hancock and Adams. I told them of my treatment, and they concluded to go from that house towards Woburn. I went with them. …
According to Orderly Sergeant Munroe, who provided the party’s military escort:
To [taking flight] Hancock consented with great reluctance. … I however conducted them to the north part of the town, and then returned. … I found Capt. Parker and his militia company paraded on the common, a little in the rear of the meeting-house. About that time, one of our messengers, who had been sent toward Cambridge to get information of the movement of the regulars, returned and reported that he could not learn that there were any troops on the road from Boston to Lexington, which raised some doubt as to their coming. …
Militiaman Ebenerer Munroe takes up the narrative:
The weather being rather chilly, after calling the roll, we were dismissed, but ordered to remain within call of the drum. The men generally went into the tavern adjoining the common. …
The last person sent [toward Cambridge] was Thaddeus Bowman, who returned between daylight and sunrise and informed Capt. Parker that the British troops were within a mile of the meeting-house. Capt. Parker immediately ordered the drum beat to arms. I was the first that followed the drum. I took my station on the right of our line, which was formed from six to ten rods back of the meeting-house, facing south.
About seventy of our company had assembled when the British troops appeared. Some of our men went into the meeting-house, where the town’s powder was kept. … When the regulars had arrived within eighty or one hundred rods, they, hearing our drum beat, halted, charged their guns, and doubled their ranks, and marched up at quick step.
Capt. Parker ordered his men to stand their ground, and not to molest the regulars unless they meddled with us.