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.”

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.

FRAGMENT OF DIARY.

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

 

THE SCAR OF LEXINGTON1

[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. 

Stories Heard on Grampa’s Lap

This is from a group of stories told by men and women, living in April 1894.  They heard them from the lips of the heroes of April 19, 1775.*    These narrations were published in the Boston Globe of April 15, 1894, having been obtained by a correspondent of that journal from the persons whose names are mentioned with their recitals.

Belfry on Lexington Green for WEB

Mrs. Pamela Fisk of Arlington is ninety-four years of age, and her stories seem like a new chapter in the history of April 19, 1775.

Mrs. Fisk is a granddaughter of Francis Brown and of Edmund Munroe, both of Lexington, where she was born and spent her early life. Her paternal grandmother was Mary Buckman, who lived at the old Buckman Tavern. So, on all sides, she inherits the blood of true patriots, and has heard the story from their own lips.

“Grandfather Brown,” she says, “told me this story:

'I was out here near the meeting-house at the early hour of two o'clock, and answered the roll-call of our company, and in response to the order of Captain Parker, loaded my gun with powder and ball. I heard the discussion as to the safety of Hancock and Adams, then sleeping over at the home of Parson Clark. I went back home and waited until half-past four o'clock, when I heard the alarm guns and the drum beat to arms, and I was again on the Green.

“’The order not to fire unless fired upon deterred me and all of us from having a shot as the British soldiers came up. I participated in the early action, and, having cared for our dead and wounded neighbors, I was in the afternoon attack; when I was wounded by a ball which entered my cheek, passed under my ear, and lodged in the back of my neck, where it remained nearly a year.’” Mrs. Fisk said: “I used to put my finger on these scars, as he told me just how the ball went. We needed no fairy tales in our youth; the real experiences of our own people were more fascinating than all the novels ever written.”

* From ThPatriot's Day Cover without editse 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. 

241 Years Ago Today

Two-hundred forty-one years ago today, the world changed.  If you’ve been around the Revive 1775 blog for a while, you know the incredible story of April 19th, 1775.

Or at least you know the overarching story.  But the life of the story is in the details.  Wouldn’t you agree?  When I’m invited by a group to tell the story, the first thing I do is find out how much time I have.  I can do a good overview in twenty minutes.  But give me an hour and a half and you’ll come away inspired by what those people went through that day.

So, on the anniversary, what can I say that will do them justice?  For some reason the anniversary finds me rather subdued, struggling to find words to share.

I can’t tell you the story of that day in one blog post.  So, let me simply tell one man’s story.

7156569_sNathaniel Mulliken.  Clockmaker.  Lexington, MA.

Nate was named after his father , who was the Lexington clockmaker before his death in 1767.  The senior Nathaniel left a wife, four sons and three daughters behind.  Nate took over the clock shop next to their home.  It was two doors from Monroe Tavern on the main road from Boston to Concord.

At age 23, Nate was now the man of the family.  He was responsible for caring for his mother and younger siblings.  I’m certain he took that role of provider seriously. SS21Mulliken,N1-1388770365

In the pre-dawn of April 19th – it was a Wednesday morning, Nate joined the Lexington training band on the town green, after having been warned that the Regulars were out.  The Redcoats – eight hundred of his Majesty’s best, were marching to Concord to confiscate the munitions stored there.  It wasn’t the first time they’d tried this, but it was definitely the most ambitious to date.  The secondary mission of the King’s soldiers was to arrest Sam Adams and John Hancock, who were staying in the Reverend Clarke’s home in Lexington.

Nate joined seventy other men on the Green that morning.  And by the time the Redcoats left Lexington to continue their march to Concord, eight men lay dead on the Lexington Green, more wounded.  The tiny town of seven hundred souls heard the victory volley and three cheers before Colonel Smith marched his forces out of town.

The people in Lexington knew that the regulars would be back through later.  They scrambled to bury their dead in a mass grave.  Captain Parker, Nate’s commander gathered his forces and they, too, marched out of town toward Concord.

At a prime spot for an ambush, Nate and his brothers in arms waited.  At about two o’clock that afternoon, they would have a measure of revenge.  Captain Parker’s men would open fire on Smith and his troops and continue firing until they could no longer safely hold that position.  Then they would take to the woods, joining thousands of other militia fighters as they circled ahead of the Redcoat army, ambushing them over and over again until the Redcoats finally made it back to Boston.

Nate would return home to Lexington to find his home and shop burned to the ground.

The search of the body of a dead Redcoat would turn up items stolen from the shop before it was torched.

Nate would leave for Boston, to join the Revolution, probably the next morning.  And less than two years later, Nate would die of camp fever at the age of twenty-five.

When they pledged their lives and their fortunes, these men—young and old—knew what they were saying.  They were willing to pay that price – even if they never saw the liberty for which they sacrificed.

 

To Drum or Not To Drum

As a writer, I strive to engage all the senses in my scenes.  In the book I’m working on at the moment, I have Redcoat drums on Lexington Green.  VERY LOUD DRUMS!

Where did I come up with this idea?

You got it, from April Morning.  This time, the movie.  (Read here about me throwing the book across the room.)

One of the things that really made an impression on me when I watched this movie was how loud the drums were as the Redcoats marched onto the Green.  It was the first time I had thought about it.  That roar was very intimidating and I’m certain that the Redcoats made use of them, in part, because of the intimidation factor.

Redcoat Drums

I’m sure that our “shopkeepers and farmers” there on the Green had a visceral response to the sound of the drums.  Hands sweating.  Heart racing.  Head pounding.

Or at least I was certain.

Until I read this.

The story of Patriots' day, Lexington and Concord, April 19, 1775; by Varney, George Jones

The story of Patriots’ day, Lexington and Concord, April 19, 1775; by Varney, George Jones

It mentions here that the normal drum was suppressed and the men prohibited from conversation.  Okay, the Redcoats, at this point, supposed they were on a secret mission.  As they passed through town after town, hearing alarm bells and signal guns, they began to suspect that the secret was out.

So, no drums?

I’m not so sure.

It wasn’t long after this that the Redcoat forces were flagged down by Major Mitchell.  He’s the one that captured Paul Revere.  Revere told him that there were five hundred militia men waiting in Lexington and Mitchell high-tailed it to report this to Colonel Smith.

When Smith heard this, he ordered his army to affix bayonets and load their muskets. The secret was most definitely out.

It’s just an informed guess at this point – and I won’t stop looking for an answer.  But I think they enlisted the drums for the rest of their march to Lexington.  And on to Concord.

So, when you read my next book, the response of our men to the drums will be in there.  Unless I find out  differently.

No Fairy Tales Needed

Mrs. Pamela Fisk of Arlington is ninety-four years of age, and her stories seem like a new chapter in the history of April 19, 1775. Mrs. Fisk is a granddaughter of Francis Brown and of Edmund Munroe, both of Lexington, where she was born and spent her early life. Her paternal grandmother was Mary Buckman, who lived at the old Buckman Tavern. So, on all sides, she inherits the blood of true patriots, and has heard the story from their own lips.

Buckman's Tavern"Grandfather Brown," she says, "told me this story :

‘I was out here near the meeting-house at the early hour of two o’clock, and answered the roll-call of our company, and in response to the order of Captain Parker, loaded my gun with powder and ball. I heard the discussion as to the safety of Hancock and Adams, then sleeping over at the home of Parson Clark. I went back home and waited until half-past four o’clock, when I heard the alarm guns and the drum beat to arms, and I was again on the Green.

‘"The order not to fire unless fired upon deterred me and all of us from having a shot as the British soldiers came up. I participated in the early action, and, having cared for our dead and wounded neighbors, I was in the afternoon attack; when I was wounded by a ball which entered my cheek, passed under my ear, and lodged in the back of my neck, where it remained nearly a year.’ " Mrs. Fisk said : "I used to put my finger on these scars, as he told me just how the ball went. We needed no fairy tales in our youth; the real experiences of our own people were more fascinating than all the novels ever written.

The Story of Patriot’s Day, Lexington and Concord, April 19, 1775 By George Jones Varney – copyright 1895  (Available on Google Books)