Archives for February 2015

Sons of Liberty – Lexington Green – Part 2

In a nutshell (because this is a blog post, not a book) here’s what really happened.  As the Redcoats marched down the road (review the map again), unless steered differently, they would have simply kept on marching right past the Lexington meetinghouse, kept on going and never engaged the men who stood on the far north part of the Green.  But they were steered.  At this point in the march, they were being led by a young, brash Irish lieutenant named Jesse Adair.  When Lt. Adair saw them men way over on the green (hard to see, it was just dawning), he turned the column and marched them onto the Green.

There to make a show. . .

The men of Lexington – about 70 of them – were there to make a show.  And to make sure that Adams and Hancock were not accosted.  They were led not by some friend of Adams named Kelly but by their elected Captain.  It was Captain John Parker who led them, who gave them their orders before dawn on April 19th.

“Men,” he said, “do not fire unless fired upon.  But if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”  Parker didn’t want a war.  As he looked around at those 70 men, he saw his friends, neighbors, uncles, cousins — you get the picture.  The only thing he wanted more than their safety that morning was to stand for the Liberty they were due as British citizens.  Because British Citizens they were. 

And as Lt. Adair and Maj. Pitcairn rode back and forth before the Lexington troops – with at least 200 of their own on the Green and 600 more on the road – screaming at Parker’s men to lay down their arms and disburse – Parker realized that his men were completely outnumbered.

Go home boys. . .

So, he turned to his men and ordered them to go home.  “Don’t lay down your arms, boys,” he told them, “but go on home.”

That’s exactly what they did (except for two or three).  They turned and began to walk from the Green. 

A shot rang out. 

And the Redcoats opened fire.

Into the backs of the retreating Lexington men.  One volley.  Then another.  Then, the soldiers did what they did best, they lowered their muskets and charged with fixed bayonets.

In less time than it’s taken you to read this far, eight men lay dead.  More wounded.  Five pairs of fathers and sons are separated by death.  Jonathan Harrington (see his house up there above the Green), dispersing as he was told to, shot in the back, crawled up to his front porch and died in his wife’s arms.

It’s just wrong.  End of story. . .

HISTORY Channel’s version just gets it wrong.  Apparently the real heroes don’t matter.  Apparently the truth doesn’t matter.  Apparently, HISTORY doesn’t matter. 

And maybe Brian Williams was there.

Am I ticked at this portrayal?  Very.  And you should be too.

Sons of Liberty – Lexington Green – Part 1

In my last blog post, I reviewed the segment of the HISTORY Channel’s Sons of Liberty which encompassed the “Midnight Ride” of Paul Revere and William Dawes.  In this post, we’ll look at the segment on Lexington Green.

When we left off, Paul Revere had gallantly ridden away from Lexington to distract the Redcoat patrol away from Hancock and Adams.  I did mention that this didn’t happen, right?  Well, when we get to Lexington Green, blood may shoot out of my eyes.

Blood shot out of my eyes. . .

The next scene is of men running through Lexington, supposedly the Lexington militia?  Maybe?  Seems logical as they’re running with their muskets in their hands.  And the camera backs up and we see the town and the alarm bell ringing and finally, as the camera pulls back even more, the Green itself.  It is portrayed as a huge open field some ways from town.

Which it wasn’t. 

In this drawing, you can see that the green was the center of town.  The road from Boston to Concord ran from right to left, toward the northwest.  At the meetinghouse, the road forked and the north road ran on the east side of the green, passed by Buckman’s Tavern.  Then at the “top” of the green, another road ran east.  This road was “residential” in that there were homes/farms along this road.  The men who lived here simply crossed the road to get to the green. 

So, please get the picture out of your mind that the Battle of Lexington Green was fought way out of town. 

Next we see the Redcoats – maybe fifty or so – I’d have to go back and count – please don’t make me – taking their place on the green.  And we have the “men of Lexington” running onto the green, muskets leveled at the Redcoats.  Major Pitcairn (without Scots accent) demands that the “men of Lexington” bring out Sam Adams and John Hancock.  Words are exchanged.  Muskets leveled on each side (notice the lack of bayonets on the Redcoat muskets) and then MAN OF LEXINGTON tells his men to let the Redcoats fire first.  Much shooting ensues.  Lotsa Patriot bodies . . .

Sigh.  Can we talk?

It didn’t happen that way. . .

 

Before I go further though, throughout this silly series, we see the same characters just moving from place to place as the day progresses.  Here, on the Green, we see this MAN OF LEXINGTON who is the focus of the scene.  In the series, he’s one of Sam Adam’s buds named Kelly.  He leads the Lexington men, gives them their order not to shoot first, then becomes a martyr to Pitcairn’s torture.  Balderdash!!!

In part 2, I’ll tell you what really happened. 

Sons of Liberty – Midnight Ride

As promised, I tell you now my thoughts on HISTORY Channel’s Sons of Liberty.  As I said in the earlier post, this 3-episode series made me cry.  The question “Why?” just kept ringing in my head.  Why had the producers made the choices they made?  The likely answer is ratings, I suppose. 

Though, it would seem that a venue titled HISTORY Channel might give more thought to the actual history than, say, HBO.  And this brings up the elephant in the room:  if we know that the portrayal of April 19, 1775 was so “fabricated” for the viewing public, that it cannot be trusted as History, then is anything we see on this so-called “HISTORY” Channel any more reliable? 

But I digress.

For this post, I’ll mutter a bit about the Sons of Liberty portrayal of the night of April 18th and the early parts of April 19th – up through the “Battle” of Lexington Green. 

 

Dr. Joseph Warren – philanderer?

 
First of all, let me mention that I don’t believe for a minute that Margaret Gage was sleeping with Dr. Joseph Warren.  Now, I suppose it’s possible but I imagine this was just a let’s-throw-some-sex-in-here decision by the writers/producers.  (Much like we see in the series Turn.) Though, of course, there was bound to be illicit sex in Colonial America, let’s face it; these people, for the most part were pretty religious.  Sam Adams and John Hancock, for that matter were very religious men – just read their writings. 

Dr. Warren was the head of the Sons of Liberty in Boston.  He was dedicated to a cause.  Besides that, he’d lost his wife in 1772 (leaving behind four children) and sources say that he was desperately sad – to the point of being self-destructive.  Does that mean that he didn’t have a dalliance with the Royal Governor’s wife?  No.  But I do doubt it.

Revere and Dawes – on the road again . . .

Then there’s Paul Revere and William Dawes.  I give SoL credit that they included Dawes in the ride to alert the countryside.  But there were a few problems that I picked out on this issue.  (Let me say, though, that these are really very minor issues and I might be silly to even bring them up.)  It is doubtful that Dawes and Revere had conversations in the days before the ride.  The whole Sons of Liberty/spying thing was pretty secretive.  They likely hadn’t met until they were both at the Clarke House in Lexington.

Revere didn’t ride out of Boston.  He was rowed across Back Bay, in the shadow of the HMS Somerset, to Charleston, where he was met by Patriots who loaned him a horse.  It was Deacon Larkin’s father’s horse – said to be the fastest horse in the region.  And the good Deacon wouldn’t get his dad’s horse back.

Revere gets his fight on . . .

In the series, there’s a fight scene between Revere and a Redcoat patrol that tries to stop him from alerting the countryside. Revere did run into a patrol on the road to Lexington but he was able to evade them with Brown Beauty’s speed.  But I did like this scene – which could have been inserted later and been more accurate.  When Revere is asked who he is, he answers "I’m a colonial scout for an armed resistance against the tyranny of General Gage and the British Crown."    The Redcoat says "Really" – totally unconvinced.  But it was a great line and made me smile.  And, frankly, I really liked their version of Revere.  He was a real fighter.  I like that in a Revolutionary War Hero.  More about the "Paul Revere Show" in another post.

Revere arrived in Lexington at around midnight – not in the full light of day as in the series.  In the show, he busts into a small house where Adams and Hancock are staying and warns them that they need to flee to safety.  Sam Adams wants to stay and fight – this part is true.  But the bit with Revere causing a diversion so Adams and Hancock could get away was purely made up. 

Hancock and Adams at the preachers house – and a fiancee?

Hancock and Adams were staying at the home of the Reverend Jonas Clarke – Lexington’s firebrand preacher. Jonas Clarke succeeded the Reverend John Hancock (our John Hancock’s grandfather) as preacher in Lexington. Our John Hancock spent a lot of time there as a child and young man so he was a very familiar face in Lexington.  Also staying at the Clarke home was Dolly Quincy, Hancock’s fiancee.  It was only after Revere’s capture, his release and his walk back to Lexington that he was able to convince Adams and Hancock to load up the carriage and get to safety.  Of course, John took Dolly along as well. 

Point of fact – Revere didn’t make it. . .

And finally, here’s the most important HISTORY that the HISTORY channel screwed up.  Paul Revere never made it to Concord.  He and Dawes left the Clarke home about 1am, headed to warn Concord.  Along the road they met Samuel Prescott, the young doctor from Concord and also a High Son of Liberty. The three of them rode together, but were captured by a Redcoat patrol in Lincoln.  Dawes and Prescott got away.  Dawes was unhorsed in the escape and walked back to Lexington.  Prescott got clean away and was the one that warned Concord.

Revere was let go about two hours later – and there’s a great story there which I’ll have to tell another time.  The Redcoats kept Brown Beauty and legend has it that they rode her to death.   But this brings up the point that I often make:  April 18th and 19th, 1775 were so filled with TRUE drama that a self-respecting HISTORY Channel would not have to make stories up. 

Well, I certainly didn’t mean this post to be this long.  And I thought I could get through the HISTORY Channels portrayal of events on Lexington Green.  Alas, no.  That will have to wait till next time. 

History Channel: Sons of Liberty – My Take

For several weeks, I’ve been posting reviews for the History Channel’s Sons of Liberty series on my Facebook page.  It quickly became obvious that the history was going to be sacrificed on the altar of entertainment.  In his article, Tom Verenna dissected the series in a powerful way.  But, Buck Sexton made a great point that, if the show isn’t entertaining, then it doesn’t matter if the history is right, no one will watch it. 

Okay.  Makes sense.  And a few friends were watching it and enjoying it despite it’s historical blasphemy.  So, we watched it this weekend.  It’s three episodes, each about two hours long.

And?  What was my review?  A full discussion of the April 19th, 1775 segments will follow in a series of posts.  But for now, let’s just say this:  I cried through most of the second episode and half of the third.

Tears of Joy?  Because I was seeing the settings and people I have come to love and respect and. . . Love on the screen before me, period settings and clothes on display?  Because I was so very entertained?

Well, no.  Though I did enjoy the period clothes and settings.  Anything that makes 1775 come alive before us is good, I suppose.  And, as long as I could watch it with my movie watching hat on, I was entertained.  But that became harder and harder to do after the first episode.

Tears of what then?

I think grief. Sadness. My husband posted today on his Facebook page that “the sheer distortion of the people and events that she has come to love ripped right through her.”  He’s right. 

The drama of April 19th, 1775 was the stuff legends are made of.  Most Americans have never even heard of the heroes and heroines of that day. And if they have, Paul Revere comes to mind, what they know is mixed with myth and fabrications.  A three part series could be made of that day, sticking moment by moment to the truth of that day and it would be just as entertaining as this series, if not more so.  It was the day America became America.  It was the true birthday of our nation. 

And while I don’t really want to take apart this series bit by bit – some will see it as being just so very negative – I want my readers to know the truth.  I think the truth is even better than the Sam and Paul’s Excellent Adventure that the History Channel brought us.  And, where I can, I’ll give kudos.  There are a few kudos to be had. 

So, go watch the series with the History Channel app before mid month, while it’s free.  And watch for my coming posts.