Captain David Brown – Concord

4S Capt David Brown

Captain David Brown was the leader of the Concord Minutemen.  He had trained and drilled his company (about forty men) within sight of the North Bridge.  His home was very nearby.

Captain Brown and his wife Abigail Munroe (no doubt related to Will Munroe of Munroe Tavern, Lexington) had nine children on April 19th, the youngest was two.  They would have another child in ’76.

When they were gathered on Punkatasset Hill, overlooking the North Bridge, Brown’s men had taken up their position on the left of the front line.  This arrangement would have put Isaac Davis and his Minute Men in the rear as the line went down the hill.

Colonel Barrett asked Captain Brown if he would lead the attack.  Brown said he would rather not.  So Barrett asked the same question of Captain Isaac Davis.  His response rings in history:  “I have not a man who is afraid to go.”

Now, to be fair, Davis’s company was better equipped than Brown’s.  Each of Davis’s men had a bayonet affixed to his musket.  They were exceptionally well trained.  And we won’t ever know why Brown hesitated.  But  knowing how the charge turned out for Captain Davis, is it any wonder that Brown was never able to cross that bridge again without thinking of that day?  (See In a Nutshell)

Captain Brown went on from that day to lead an exemplary career in the Continental Army.  As a member of the Committee of Correspondence for Concord, he was a delegate to the state conventions in ’79.  He ran for state senate in ’89 but lost the election.  He is buried in the Old Hill Burying Ground Cemetery next to two of his sons.  His home, that witnessed the days events was torn down in 1865.  




Moonlight and Messengers

When Paul Revere and two cohorts rowed across the Charles River from Boston to Charleston to begin his infamous “midnight ride,”  there were a few very tense moments.  It was just after ten o’clock on the night of April 18th, 1775 and Revere was dispatched by Dr. Warren to ride to Lexington to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that the Redcoats were headed that way.  Then he would go on to Concord, further spreading the word.

But before he could mount up on Deacon Larkin’s horse for this ride, he had to make it across to Charleston.  The moon was full that night and Revere later described the scene.  He said the little rowboat would have been clearly visible in the moonlight.

Between the Boston and Charleston was moored the H.M.S. Somerset.  It was a huge hulk of war ship, with sixty-four guns and a crew of four hundred.  As they quietly but quickly rowed past, moon bright in the night sky, they knew that if anyone looked out from the ship, they would be seen and their mission would fail.  Their lives might well be forfeit as well.

Here’s how Henry Wadsworth Longfellow described the Somerset in the less-than-accurate “Paul Revere’s Ride’’

“a phantom ship, with each mast and spar

Across the moon like a prison bar

And a huge black hulk, that was magnified

By its own reflection in the tide.”

As the little boat drew near, though, the ship turned slightly and, as if Providence were protecting them, the shadow from the huge hulking mass actually hid them from sight as they crossed.

As if Providence were protecting them….

Who are Roger’s Rangers?

As you read about the Militia men and Minutemen in 1775, you often find reference to Rogers Rangers?  So just who were these guys?

Well, today’s US Army Rangers claim a heritage back to Maj. Robert Rogers and his specially trained fighting men during the French and Indian war.  Yes, the original Rangers were a specialized unit of the British Army.

Wikipedia says, “It was trained by Major Robert Rogers as a rapidly deployable light infantry force tasked mainly with reconnaissance as well as conducting special operations against distant targets. Their tactics, built on earlier colonial precedents, but codified for the first time by Rogers, proved remarkably effective, so much so that the initial company was expanded into a ranging corps of more than a dozen companies (containing as many as 1,200-1,400 men at its peak). The ranger corps became the chief scouting arm of British Crown forces by the late 1750s. The British valued them highly for gathering intelligence about the enemy.”

They are often represented by a picture of a soldier with his musket and a hatchet.  These were outdoors men, adept at being on their own in the woods, able to take care of themselves.  They were said to fight much like the Indians, close in combat with a hatchet, swift and violent.  This was an elite fighting unit.  They were expert marksmen, fast, quiet and deadly.

If you couldn’t keep up because of illness or injury, Rogers sent you back to HQ (wherever that was at the time) to recover.  You were welcome to rejoin the “teams” when you were 100%.  Though they worked as a team, if surrounded or outnumbered, they could be counted on to react with individual strength and fortitude.  This was one of the traits, by the way, that set the American Militia and Minutemen apart from the Redcoats.  The Redcoats weren’t very good at reacting if their officers were taken out.

Will Munroe, owner of Munroe’s Tavern and 2nd in command of the Lexington Militia, was a former Ranger.

Note:  Thank you to my Appleseed friend GearHeadPatriot for helping me get a feel for these Rangers so I can get to know Will Munroe better.