Fighting for a Reputation

As you read in the last blog post, I have just released Patriot's Day – a little book that was published in 1895 – that tells the story of Lexington and Concord on April 19th, 1775. 

Ezra Ripleyl_Page_08The next book I'm going to put out was written in 1827 and is titled History of the Fight at Concord, on the 19th of April, 1775 by Ezra Ripley. 

The subtitle tells a deeper story of this book.


Here are a few of the opening paragraphs. 


It may be thought singular, that, at this late period, a particular account of the Fight at Concord, on the memorable 19th of April 1775, should now for the first time make its appearance. Some apology may be thought due to the public for neglecting so long a matter of acknowledged importance, which, we apprehend, will be manifest in the following statement.

During nearly half a century, it was, as we supposed, the universal belief that the first regular and forcible resistance to the invading British soldiers was made at Concord North Bridge; —that there the fire of the British was first returned by the Americans; —that there the first British blood was shed; and of course that there commenced the war that terminated in the Independence of the United States. We had no idea that any persons ever would or could seriously entertain a different opinion. We had supposed that public records, numerous historical sketches, and common consent were sufficient to perpetuate material facts and prominent characters. When therefore, the "History of the Battle of Lexington," appeared in 1825, we were surprised. Nothing could have been more unexpected. That pamphlet has made impressions on the minds of many, unfavorable, in some respects, as we believe, to the truth, and to some worthy and patriotic characters. The same causes which originated these errors, have given rise to opinions and publications in Great Britain and the United States equally erroneous. A large portion of the people do not possess the means of better information ; and those who do, have been unwilling to come forward in a controversy very unpleasant and attended with many difficulties.

******   And a bit further on   ******

We have no objections to the historical account given by Major Phinney of the march of the British troops from Boston to Lexington, their outrageous behavior while there, &c. except so far as relates to the returning of the fire of the British. This we mean to controvert, and to shew by testimony and evidence that cannot be resisted nor rationally disputed, that the inhabitants of Lexington, very recently, have made an unjust claim upon the public faith ;—that they have appropriated to themselves facts and honors to which they had no right, and have thereby attempted to wrest from the inhabitants of Concord and adjacent towns, the legitimate honors which their brave and patriotic fathers achieved and bequeathed to them.

Typical New England rivalry?  Looks like. 

I hope you'll enjoy Patriot's Day.  It is truly a little treasure.  I'll let you know when this one is ready. 

Patriot’s Day by Geo. Varney

It's with great pleasure that I announce that we at Battle Road Books have produced a replica of this wonderful little book:  Patriots' Day by George Varney

Our goal at Battle Road Books is to keep the history of the Revolutionary War alive and vibrant and easily accessible.  We also don’t think you should pay an arm and a leg just to read these old books.

Patriot's Day

On the left is the original book.  It's a little book – I'm finding that many of the old books I'm buying are small – just a bit smaller than 5"x7".  On the right, of course, is the "reincarnation."  It is not a scanned copy – have you seen those? – they're a mess.  Nope.  We lovingly went through every page of this book and made each page as close to the original as possible. 

It is a book that was produced in 1895, written by George Varney, as a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord.  I love this book and am thrilled that you'll be able to love it too. 

Here's the Preface:


The bill abolishing the practice of appointing annually a day of ''fasting and prayer,'' having passed the Massachusetts House of Representatives, received the approving vote of the Senate on March 16, 1894, and was on the same day signed by the governor, Frederic T. Greenhalge. The bill also established the nineteenth day of April as an annual holiday. The latter, therefore, is the legitimate successor of Fast Day, which had come to be observed chiefly by its desecration.

The first proclamation of the new holiday was issued on the eleventh day of April, 1894, and gave it, most appropriately, the name Patriots' Day. Neither the statute nor the proclamation prescribed any definite form of celebration; consequently, there is ample scope and freedom for the preferences of communities and organizations in its observance. The proclamation was as follows: —

''By an act of the Legislature, duly approved, the nineteenth day of April has been made a legal holiday.

''This is a day rich with historical and significant events which are precious in the eyes of patriots. It may well be called Patriots' Day. On this day, in 1775, at Lexington and Concord, was begun the great war of the Revolution; on this day, in 1783, just eight years afterwards, the cessation of war and the triumph of independence were formally proclaimed; and on this day, in 1861, the first blood was shed in the war for the Union.

''Thus the day is grand with the memories of the mighty struggles which in one instance brought liberty, and in the other union, to the country.

''It is fitting, therefore, that the day should be celebrated as the anniversary of the birth of Liberty and Union.

''Let this day be dedicated, then, to solemn religious and patriotic services, which may adequately express our deep sense of the trials and tribulations of the patriots of the earlier and of the latter days, and also especially our gratitude to Almighty God, who crowned the heroic struggles of the founders and preservers of our country with victory and peace.''

It is earnestly and devoutly to be desired that the sentiments of this proclamation shall imbue every breast; that patriotism shall more and more take the form of

religion, holding relation, not to one nation only, but to all the peoples of the earth; that the happy time may come when justice, forbearance, and magnanimity will so prevail among men that violent and destructive differences between individuals, communities, states, and nations will be prevented by wise tribunals chosen and empowered to adjudicate disputes and establish peace and amity in all lands.

For the incidents and data of this presentation of the opening conflict of our Revolutionary War, I am indebted in part to several works, a list of which may be found on the last page of this volume.

The illustrative views, except the view of Lexington Green, the two flags, and the diagrams of Concord and Lexington, are from photographs made since 1875; and most of the objects remain the same to the present date.

The view of the conflict at Lexington is from a copper-plate engraving made previous to December, 1775, and accurately represents the scene as preserved also by history and tradition. A room in the building at the left (Buckman's Tavern) was used by John Hancock as an office while the Provincial Congress held its sessions in Concord. The large building in the middle is the first church, with the belfry on the ground nearby, as it stood at the time. Another illustration in the poems is from a recent photograph of the same belfry as it now appears.

It should be explained that the patriots' guns were not pointed as shown in the picture until the British had opened fire. In the background appear the ranks of the main body of the ''Regulars'' on the march towards Concord, nearly seven miles to the right of Lexington Green, or  ''Common'' as it has been called in recent years.

Boston, April 3, 1895.

Posts taken from this book:

The Scar of Lexington"  

A Minuteman's Story of the Concord Fight

Stories Heard on Father's Lap

Stories Heard on Grandpa's Lap

Brown Beauty – hero of Lexington and Concord

Brown Beauty – hero of Lexington and Concord – It could be said.

We know that Paul Revere, on that famous night, was rowed across Back Bay to meet up with rebel forces in Charleston.  There, waiting for him, were Whigs that provided him with a horse. 

The horse belonged to Samuel Larking, a fisherman and chair maker from Charleston.  It was requested by John Larkin, a very wealthy merchant and deacon from Charleston.  Often history tells us that it was “Deacon Larkin’s horse.”  Apparently it was his father’s.

Paul Revere StatueThere are many versions of the story with a number of names for this equine hero.  Among them, Sparky.  That doesn’t sound very heroic.  The Larkin family history says the horse was named Brown Beauty.  Still, not all that heroic a name.  Seems like it should have been William Wallace or something.  But I digress.

Though we don’t know for sure what breed of horse Brown Beauty was, she was likely a Naragansett.

Horse Show Central’s article says this, “Brown Beauty was probably of a breed of horse that was very popular at that time on the East Coast. Instead of the jarring two-beat trot, the Narragansett offered a smooth four-beat saddle gait, favored for its speed and comfort. In addition the breed had an amiable, courageous temperament vital in times of crisis. The Narragansetts were a direct derivative from Old English Ambler (palfreys) which had been taken across the Atlantic by the pioneers and later became extinct in Britain; and of course are the forerunners of today s American Saddlebred.” 

The Narragansett is now extinct. 

What happened to Brown Beauty?

Well, the horse was confiscated by the Redcoats that captured Paul Revere – um, no, he didn’t make it to Concord.

Legend has it that the sergeant that stole the horse from Revere rode her to death that night.  At any rate, the horse was never returned.

But Brown Beauty wasn’t the only Larkin family loss in 1775. 

According to the Larkin Genealogy page, “During the Battle of Bunker Hill, some British troops marched through the Boston suburb of Charlestown, Massachusetts, where the Larkin families lived. John's brother, Ebenezer Larkin (1740-1794), fired a musket from a window of his home at the British troops, who in reprisal, burned the Larkin homes to the ground. John Larkin and his family fled, unscathed, to Cambridge where they lived in a house once occupied by General Washington and later by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.”

Sons of Liberty Flag

The Sons of Liberty Flag was originally flown in Boston by the Sons of Liberty, a loose knit association of colonists resisting British efforts to take away their liberties. The flag had 9 vertical red and white stripes. The flag became known as the "Rebellious Stripes" and was eventually outlawed by the British. The colonists reversed the stripes to horizontal and kept using it in protests against tyrannical attempts to tax them against their will. Eventually the stripes grew to 13, representing unified resistance from all 13 British colonies.


History of the Sons of Liberty Flag

The Sons of Liberty were formed in Boston around the time of the Stamp Act protests in 1765. Local patriots would meet at a large elm tree to protest. This became known as the Liberty Tree. They began to fly this flag whenever the leaders would want to call the townspeople together and it became known as the Sons of Liberty Flag or the Liberty Tree Flag. Legend says the 9 stripes represented the 9 colonies that attended the Stamp Act Congress to coordinate their dissent.

The Liberty Tree became a popular meeting place for the Sons of Liberty to express their dissent. Unpopular officials were hung and burned in effigy from the tree. Colonists posted notices threatening citizens who cooperated with British taxation schemes. The British finally cut the tree down in an effort to stop the dissent. The colonists erected a pole in its place called the "Liberty Pole" and flew the Sons of Liberty Flag from it instead. The flag came to be known as the "Rebellious Stripes" and was outlawed by the British. The colonists simply reversed the stripes and kept using it.

As word spread about the Liberty Tree and Liberty Pole in Boston, similar Liberty Trees and Liberty Poles sprung up around the colonies as meeting places for resistance against the British. Sons of Liberty groups formed across the colonies as well. The Boston Sons of Liberty reached the height of their influence at the Boston Tea Party in 1773, when they threw tea from the British East India Company into the harbor to protest unlawful British taxes. By the time the Revolutionary War started in 1775, the stripes had grown to 13, representing the unified resistance of all 13 colonies. From around 1776 to 1800, the Sons of Liberty Flag was used as a United States merchant flag for merchant shipping, so is sometimes called the Colonial Merchant Ensign (an ensign is a flag).

Questions about the history of the Sons of Liberty Flag

There are a few questions pointed out by historians about the traditional history of this flag. First of all, there is a very old Sons of Liberty Flag held by the Old State House in Boston that was featured in the July 1936 National Geographic Magazine. This flag was donated to the State House by a John C. Fernald in 1893. The year earlier he had loaned it to the Columbian Expedition in Chicago, which wrote this about the flag in its official catalogue of items:

Furnald told the State House he had purchased the flag from the grand-daughter of a wireworker named Samuel Adams who had died in 1855 at the age of 96. The idea that it had once flown from the Liberty Tree was passed on down through the family over the years. The problem is that this story cannot be verified from any other sources. It was purely a verbal tradition passed down in the family.

The story has several historical problems. First, the Liberty Tree was not on Boston Common, but a few blocks away. Second, there were likely no mass meetings of the Sons of Liberty at the tree in 1775 because there were so many British troops in the city. Third, Mr. Adams would have been 16 in 1775 and as a teenager would not likely have been given the responsibility of caring for the Sons of Liberty's flag, although it could have belonged to his father or grandfather before him.

The last problem is that modern historians have examined this Sons of Liberty Flag and believe it does not date from the Revolutionary War period due to its machine woven cotton cloth. Cotton cloth was not widely available until 1800 and machine woven cloth was very rare in 1775 as machine looms were very new at the time. Most cloth was still hand woven at this time.

Some historians believe this flag was not flown from the Liberty Tree at all, but instead, the flag flown was a British Red Ensign, the official flag of Great Britain and hence the official flag of the British colonies. Flying the British Red Ensign would have been illegal for colonists as the flag was reserved for military uses, but they may have flown it and added white stripes to symbolize their rebellion. This may have been the origin of the "rebellious stripes" label.

These historians point out that there are many contemporary references to the Boston patriots flying a flag from the Liberty Tree, but none of them describe the Sons of Liberty Flag with 9 red and white stripes. Instead, nearly all of those who describe the flag describe a red flag and call it a British or Union Flag (the Union representing the union of England and Scotland into Great Britain). If this is the case, as it appears to be, the Sons of Liberty Flag developed out of the British Red Ensign. Perhaps the colonists removed the British Union Jack from the corner of the flag as a gesture of defiance when the war began.

Sons of Liberty Flag in the Revolutionary War and Beyond

The Grand Union Flag, which was the first unofficial, though commonly used, flag of the united colonies, added 6 white stripes to a traditional British Red Ensign, the official flag of Great Britain. This may have been an effort to emulate the Sons of Liberty's "rebellious stripes."

The Sons of Liberty Flag may also be the basis from which the First Navy Jack Flag, the first US naval flag, was created, as well as the the first 13 star flag, the first official flag of the United States.

You may find a few variations of the Sons of Liberty Flag showing a snake, a cup of tea or other symbols in the center of the red and white stripes. These are not flags from the Revolutionary War era, but are modern variations of the flag. The only exception to this is the First Navy Jack Flag which has a snake over the words "Don't Tread On Me." This is traditionally considered to be the United States navy's first flag.


This article is a re-post from Revolutionary War and Beyond, our sister site. 

To Cite or Not to Cite. . .

As you may know, I buy too many books.  Well, define “too many.”  Here’s my excuse:  I have to become immersed in the history and culture of 1775 in order to write the novel.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Recently I bought the book Angel in the Whirlwind: The Triumph of the American Revolution by Benson Bobrick.  It has pretty good reviews. 

Upon opening the book, I did what I always seem to do – I turned to the section on April 19th.  Since I know more about that day than other bits and pieces of Rev War history, my sensors are more tuned to see things that just might be “off.”

Now, don’t get me wrong here – it’s probably a fine book. 

The first thing I found, though, that made me go “hmmm” was when the author stated (page 113) that “he (Gage) dispatched 800 troops under Colonel Francis Smith and Major John Pitcairn to capture Adams and Hancock and seize the rebels’ stores.”  The sentence was not footnoted. 

Citation neededNow certainly, Gage had been told in a letter from the Earl of Dartmouth, dated January 27, 1775, “It is the opinion of the King’s servants, in which His majesty concurs, that the first and essential step to be taken toward reestablishing Government, would be to arrest and imprison the principal actors and abettors of the Provincial Congress whose proceedings appear in every light to be acts of treason and rebellion.”  

And there are speculations that one of the reasons the Lexington training band was on the green that morning was their suspicion of just that.  Some believe (and I don’t think it’s unreasonable) that Captain Parker had his men there to protect Hancock and Adams, who were staying at the Clarke residence just up the road from the green.

But I haven’t seen primary sources that Smith’s orders included arresting Hancock and Adams. Here are Smith’s orders:

Tuesday, April 18, 1775

Orders from General Thomas Gage

to Lieut. Colonel Smith, 10th Regiment 'Foot

Boston, April 18, 1775

Lieut. Colonel Smith, 10th Regiment 'Foot,


Having received intelligence, that a quantity of Ammunition, Provisions, Artillery, Tents and small Arms, have been collected at Concord, for the Avowed Purpose of raising and supporting a Rebellion against His Majesty, you will March with a Corps of Grenadiers and Light Infantry, put under your Command, with the utmost expedition and Secrecy to Concord, where you will seize and destroy all Artillery, Ammunition, Provisions, Tents, Small Arms, and all Military Stores whatever. But you will take care that the Soldiers do not plunder the Inhabitants, or hurt private property.

You have a Draught of Concord, on which is marked the Houses, Barns, &c, which contain the above military Stores. You will order a Trunion to be knocked off each Gun, but if it’s found impracticable on any, they must be spiked, and the Carriages destroyed. The Powder and flower must be shook out of the Barrels into the River, the Tents burnt, Pork or Beef destroyed in the best way you can devise. And the Men may put Balls of lead in their pockets, throwing them by degrees into Ponds, Ditches &c., but no Quantity together, so that they may be recovered afterwards. If you meet any Brass Artillery, you will order their muzzles to be beat in so as to render them useless.

You will observe by the Draught that it will be necessary to secure the two Bridges as soon as possible, you will therefore Order a party of the best Marchers, to go on with expedition for the purpose.

A small party of Horseback is ordered out to stop all advice of your March getting to Concord before you, and a small number of Artillery go out in Chaises to wait for you on the road, with Sledge Hammers, Spikes, &c.

You will open your business and return with the Troops, as soon as possible, which I must leave to your own Judgment and Discretion.

I am, Sir,

Your most obedient humble servant

Thos. Gage.

Now I have never claimed to be a scholar.  I have no letters behind my name indicating degrees in anything.  I am merely a self-taught writer who is fascinated by history. 

But as I study and read, I find myself looking at claims like this one and wanting the citation.  I am determined to get the history as right as I can as I write this blog and as I write the novel(s).

And when I digress from what the primary sources tell us, I say so.  (Someday I’ll tell you my theory of Sam Prescott ending up on that road to Concord that night. It is totally a theory, but an “educated” one.)

I guess the question that’s hanging out there now is how much I cite my writing.  Maybe not enough. And is that even something that blog readers care about? 

I don’t know.  You tell me.

By the way, I did find other things in that chapter that could have been worded more precisely and left the wrong impression.  I may pick up the book again.  But I might not, too.

From Rabble to Respect

Coming into April 19th, 1775, the Redcoats thought of the Americans as mere shop-keepers and farmers.  They totally underestimated the colonial forces.  For example, we’ll look at some of the words of Lord Hugh Percy.  If you’ll recall, he brought the reinforcements that in his words saved Smith’s forces “from inevitable destruction.”

But first, a bit about him.

Portrait_of_Hugh_Percy,_Second_Duke_of_Northumberland_by_Gilbert_Stuart,_c._1788Lord Hugh Percy was aristocracy.  He was heir to a vast fortune, maybe the greatest in the western world at that time.  He was a professional soldier from his teenage years and, when he came to America, was 32 years old.

In 1774, he arrived in Boston as a colonel of his own regiment.  He was generous with his money lived in a fine house, entertaining his officers and friends lavishly.  He was a good leader and, when he arrived in America, had positive feelings about the colonists.  In England, he had voted against the Stamp Act and though the American policies were foolish.  

With regards to fighting the colonies, he said, “Nothing less than the total loss or conquest of the colonies must be the end of it, either, indeed is disagreeable.”

But that all changed.  Over the next months, Percy’s view of the Americans flipped.

Just weeks after coming to America:
“. . . A set of sly, artful, hypocritial rascals, cruel, and cowards.”
“Like all cowards, they are cruel and tyrannical.”
He thought the colonists had “not the least idea of religion or morality,” and that they “talk much and do little.”  “I cannot but despise them completely.”  
On April 19th, though, his opinion changed.

“During the whole affair, the rebels attacked us in a very scattered, irregular manner, but with perseverance and resolution, nor did they ever dare to form into any regular body.  Indeed they knew too well what was proper, to do so.  Whoever looks upon them as an irregulr mob, will find himself very much mistaken.  They have men amongst them who know very well what they are about. . .”
“For my part, I never believed, I confess, that they would have attacked the king’s troops, or have had the perseverance I found in them yesterday.”

(Note:  All quotes taked from Paul Revere's Ride, by David Hackett Fischer.)

Visiting with a Wounded Redcoat

In my last post, I shared the story of Mrs. Butterfield – who returned home to Menotomy, after fleeing the Redcoat march to Concord, to find that a wounded patriot and a wounded redcoat were both in a single bed in one of the rooms of her home. 

“While receiving the best of care at the Butterfield home, he (the Redcoat) was visited by Rev. Dr. McClure, a prominent clergyman, who kept a journal, a fragment of which has come to light, and is of great interest, not only to the people of Menotomy, but to all interested in the events of that time.


soldier-1939367_640. . . that it was flattened on one side by the ribs as if it had been beaten with a hammer. He was a plain, honest man, to appearance, who had voluntarily turned out with his musket at the alarm of danger, as did also some thousands besides, on that memorable day. [Doubtless Mr. Hemenway of Framingham.] In the same room lay mortally wounded a British officer, Lieutenant Hull, of a youthful, fair, and delicate countenance. He was of a respectable family of fortune in Scotland. Sitting on one feather-bed, he leaned on another, and was attempting to suck the juice of an orange which some neighbor had brought. The physician of the place had been to dress his wounds, and a woman was appointed to attend him.
      "I observed that he had no shirt on, and was wrapt in a coating great-coat, with a fur cap on his head. I inquired of the woman why he was thus destitute of clothing. He answered, 'When I fell, our people [the British] stripped me of my coat, vest, and shirt, and your people of my shoes and buckles.' How inhuman! his own men! I asked him if he was dangerously wounded. He replied, 'Yes, mortally;" that he had received three balls in his body. His countenance expressed great bodily anguish. I conversed with him a short time on the prospect of death, and a preparation for the solemn scene; to which he appeared to pay serious attention. He lived about a week; and the people conveyed his body in a coffin to Charlestown ferry, where I happened to be present, and a barge from the Somerset took it to Boston.
      "Not far from this house lay four fine British horses; the people were taking off their shoes. One informed me that a wagon loaded with provisions was sent from Boston for the refreshment of the retreating army, under an escort of six grenadiers. They had got as far as this place, when a number of men (ten or twelve) collected, and ordered them to surrender. They marched on, and our men fired, killed the driver and the horses; when the rest fled a little way and surrendered.
      "Another wagon sent on the same business was also taken that day. It was strange that General Gage should send them through a country in which he had just kindled the flames of war, in so defenceless a condition. Saw three regulars in beds in a house in Cambridge; one of them mortally wounded. Conversed with them on their melancholy situation. One of them refused to answer, and cast upon me a revengeful look. Perhaps he was a Papist, and his priest had pardoned his sins. The houses on the road of the march of the British were all perforated with balls, and the windows broken. Horses, cattle, and swine lay dead around. Such were the dreadful trophies of war for about twenty miles.”


Taken from Beneath Old Roof Trees, 1896, by Abram English Brown

Mrs. Butterfield of Menotomy

5D Mrs ButterfieldAs you may know, the worst of the fighting on April 19th, was in the towns of Menotomy (current day Arlington, MA) and Camden.  Here is where we find Mrs. Butterfield. 

 "In the confused companies of the British when on their retreat, was seen a horse and chaise in which was being carried one of their officers, who proved to be Lieutenant Edward Hull of the British Forty-third Regiment. He was wounded at North Bridge, and was being conveyed back to Boston. The horse was not so swift as the men; and, falling in the rear, the officer received a second wound. It was near the Samuel Butterfield dwelling, and he was carried into the house vacated by the affrighted family.

Upon the return of the lady of the house, she found her rooms occupied. There was a wounded Provincial, besides Lieutenant Hull. They were both in one room, each having been placed upon a bed by their respective comrades. How much interchange of sympathy there was we do not know, but Mrs. Butterfield could not withhold her sympathetic attention from both. She ministered to friend and foe alike; saw the former recover, and return to his family at Framingham. But notwithstanding the care of the good woman, together with that of nurses, and supplies sent out from Boston with a flag of truce, the young officer died in about two weeks; and, according to the Salem Gazette of May 5, 1775, 'His remains were next day conveyed to Charlestown, attended by a company of Provincials and several officers of distinction, and there delivered to the order of General Gage.'"

      He was the first British officer who lost his life in the war, and was probably buried on Copps Hill.
      While receiving the best of care at the Butterfield home, he was visited by Rev. Dr. McClure, a prominent clergyman, who kept a journal, a fragment of which has come to light, and is of great interest, not only to the people of Menotomy, but to all interested in the events of that time.

In the next post here on Revive1775, we’ll peek into Rev. McClure’s diary. 

Taken from Beneath Old Roof Trees, 1896, by Abram English Brown

The Aftermath of April 19th, 1775

In his book Paul Revere’s Ride, David Hackett Fischer starts his chapter on the aftermath of April 19th this way:  “It was nearly dark when Lord Percy’s men entered Charlestown.  Behind them the sun was setting on the ruins of an empire. 

Nice turn of phrase.

225px-Boston_1775The reactions of the King’s men were varied.  Some were full of blame for their commanders.  Others, who before this day started held the Americans in contempt, returned to Boston with grudging respect.  The men who’d engaged these redcoats in battle were no longer thought of as mere farmers and merchants.  They were soldiers.

Lieut. Barker said of Col. Francis Smith, “had we not idled away three hours on Cambridge marsh waiting for the provisions that were not wanted, we should have had no interruption at Lexington.” And “Being a very fat, heavy man, he would not have reached the bridge itself in half an hour though it was not half a mile.”

Lieut. McKenzie said, “The fact is Gen. Gage had no conception the rebels would have opposed the king’s troops in the manner they did

Others, who before this day started held the Americans in contempt, returned to Boston with grudging respect.  The men who’d engaged these redcoats in battle were no longer thought of as mere farmers and merchants.  They were soldiers.

Col. Smith said, “I can’t think but that it must have been a pre-concerted scheme in them to attack the king’s troops at the first favorable opportunity.”

Lord Percy who pretty much saved the King’s soldiers from utter destruction, said this: “You may depend on it that as the rebels have now had time to prepare, they are determined to go through with it, nor will the insurrection here turn out so despicable as it is perhaps imagined at home. For my part, I never believed, I confess, that they would have attacked the King’s troops, or have had the perseverance I found in them yesterday.

By June, Gage had come to agree with Percy.  “The rebels are not the despicable rabble too many have supposed them to be, and I find it owing to a military spirit encouraged amongst them for a few years past, joined with an uncommon degree of zeal and enthusiasm that they are otherwise… In all their wars against the French they never showed so much conduct, attention and perseverance as they do now.”

Adm. Samuel Graves commander of the Royal Navy in Boston said, “The rebels following the Indian manner of fighting, concealing themselves behind hedges, trees and skulking in the woods and houses whereby they galled the soldiers exceedingly.” Graves made immediate arrangements to get himself out of Boston and ordered his men to not allow any women or children to leave the city – apparently using them as hostages against attack by the rebels.  Afterward, he stated, regarding this move, “to keep the women and children in the town,” helped to “prevent an attack upon Boston.”

Days after the 19th, Graves wanted to destroy the towns of Roxbury and Charleston.  His flag secretary stated, “ It was indeed the admirals opinion that we ought to act hostile from this time forward by burning and laying waste to the entire country.”

Seige of Boston

To say the least, the Redcoats were in shock as they looked up to the heights of Boston – a town they owned just days before – to see it completely surrounded by merchants and farmers determined to be free. 

The Scar of Lexington

The poem below, written many years ago by Miss H. F. Gould of Newbury-port, refers to her father, Captain Benjamin Gould, and his little grandson, now Dr. Benjamin A. Gould, the astronomer.

The British at Lexington



[By Hannah F. Gould.]


With cherub smile, the prattling boy

   Who on the veteran's breast reclines,

Has thrown aside his favorite toy,

   And round his tender finger twines

Those scattered locks, that with the flight

Of fourscore years are snowy white;

And as a scar arrests his view,

He cries, ''Grandpa, what wounded you?''


''My child, 'tis five-and-fifty years

   This very day, this very hour.

Since from a scene of blood and tears

   Where valor fell by hostile power,

I saw retire the setting sun

Behind the hills of Lexington;

While pale and lifeless on the plain

My brothers lay, for freedom slain.


And ere that fight — the first that spoke

   In thunder to our land — was o'er,

Amid the clouds of fire and smoke,

   I felt my garments wet with gore.

'Tis since that dread and wild affray,

That trying, dark, eventful day.

From this calm April eve so far,

I wear upon my cheek the scar.


When thou to manhood shalt be grown.

   And I am gone in dust to sleep,

May freedom's rights be still thine own.

   And thou and thine in quiet reap

The unblighted product of the toil

In which my blood bedewed the soil;

And while those fruits thou shalt enjoy.

Bethink thee of this scar, my boy.


But should thy country's voice be heard

   To bid her children fly to arms,

Gird on thy grandsire's trusty sword.

   And, undismayed by war's alarms,

Remember, on the battle-field,

I made the hand of God my shield!

And be thou spared, like me, to tell

What bore thee up, while others fell.''


Patriot's Day Cover without edits* From The Story of Patriots Day by George Varney – Published by Lee and Shepard Publishers 1895.  This book is in the last phases of reproduction by Battle Road Books and will be available soon.