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.

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

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.

 

And now for something a little different. . .

 

I’m a day late, here.  Had some issues getting this thing put together and online.  I hope it was worth the wait.

Last week, I was privileged to tell the overview of April 19th, 1775 to the local Kiwanis Club.  Now, mind you, I can tell this story in about an hour and a half.  We had 30 minutes and had a few other stories to tell.  The gauntlet thrown down, I picked up the challenge and here is a "short" version of this inspiring story.  Enjoy. 

 

General Percy’s Really Bad Day

“Farmers and merchants with pitchforks.”

That’s what the Redcoats thought we were. And the terms were said with jeers and taunts. One of the most vocal in the British derision of the American Patriots was from Lieutenant-General Hugh Percy, 2nd Duke of Northumberland.

General Percy wakes on the morning of April 19th, after a good night sleep, drops his feet to the floor, where his Lordship’s slippers wait for him. He puts on his Lordship’s dressing gown and sits down to sip tea. And that’s the high point in his day. It’s about to get much worse.

His assistant enters with this mail and, there he finds orders that he should have gotten hours ago. He was called to lead the reinforcements to back up the eight hundred troops that headed out last night on a not-so-secret mission to confiscate weapons and ammunition from the Patriots in Concord.http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/26/2ndDukeOfNorthumberland2_cropped.jpg/200px-2ndDukeOfNorthumberland2_cropped.jpg

That mission had gone horribly wrong early on. And reinforcements had been called for.

But General Percy hadn’t gotten the message.

So now, he’s rushing to put the back-up expedition together without the help of his second in command, Major Pitcairn who is already out in the American countryside, playing second-in-command for the earlier mission.

General Percy will take the relief column out and will get to Lexington in time to see the earlier force returning from being trounced by “farmers and merchants.” At the point the Percy first sees the troops he’s meant to reinforce, what he sees will shock him.

Colonel Smith and Major Pitcairn are out of the battle, both having been wounded. The younger officers and sergeants of His Majesty’s Forces – the finest professional army in the world at the time – are threatening to shoot their own soldiers to regain order. It’s chaos!

Percy actually did save the for those Redcoats. If he hadn’t shown up at that time, there might have been nothing left of the original eight hundred. Even so, getting his troops and Smith’s troops back to Boston was no easy task. It was a grueling retreat.

His report of that day stated: 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 a regular body. Indeed they knew too well what was proper, to do so. Whoever looks upon them as an irregular mob, will find himself very much mistaken. They have men amongst them who know very well what they are about, having been employed as rangers against the Indians and Canadians, and this country being very much covered with wood, and hilly, is very advantageous for their method of fighting.

So, disdain turned to grudging respect for his Lordship that day. Those farmers and merchants with pitchforks turned out to be decent soldiers after all.

Jason Russell’s Bloody Battle

On April 19th, 1775, Jason Russell was 59 years old and lame. His beautiful home, built or remodeled on land he inherited just before marrying his wife in 1740, was in Menotomy (modern day Arlington) right on the main road to Lexington.

 After the Redcoats marched by before dawn, Jason took his wife and family to a neighbors home further from the road. But Jason returned. When warned to flee to safety, he is remembered as saying “An Englishman’s home is his castle.”

Late in the day, on April 19th, he is within the walls of his “yard” and is joined by Militia and Minutemen from the surrounding countryside. They set up a defense to intercept the retreating Redcoats. But, even after being warned, they neglect to watch for the Redcoat flankers.

The lot of them – twenty or so – were overtaken by the flankers and rushed into Jason’s house for protection. Jason was slower than the rest, of course, and was shot twice on his doorstep and stabbed multiple times as the Redcoats followed the Minutemen into the house.

Eight were able to make it into the basement and were able to defend their position by firing up the stairs. The rest were mowed down in the front room of Jason’s home.

When Mrs. Russell returned home, the blood was ankle-deep where she found her husband’s body, along with eleven others, laid out in her kitchen. The blood stains never came out of the floor.

This was the bloodiest battle for the Americans on that day. Jason Russell and the eleven others that died there that day were buried in a mass grave near the house. An obelisk that marks the grave reads:
 
Erected by the Inhabitants of West Cambridge, A.D. 1848, over the common grave of Jason Russell, Jason Winship, Jabez Wyman and nine others, who were slain in this town by the British Troops on their retreat from the Battles of Lexington and Concord, April 19th, 1775. Being among the first to lay down their lives in the struggle for American Independence.

 

The tragic life of John Raymond

British at Munroe TavernJohn Raymond’s murder at the hands of drunken British soldiers on April 19th, 1775 capped a life etched with misfortune.

His parents owned a tavern on property across the street from Munroe Tavern that was beseiged with financial problems.  Apparently it thrived at one time.  But by the time John’s father died in 1760, possibly as a soldier in the French and Indian war, it was far from successful.  Monroe Tavern was not Munroe Tavern at the time, since Will Munroe didn’t take it over until 1770.  Will bought the property from John Buckman Sr, who was Raymond’s main competitor, selling spirits that Raymond apparently couldn’t afford to buy.

When John’s mother died, she left John and his family with enormous debt.  He was sent to debtor’s prison and the town fathers that his wife and children be allowed to remain on the property until it was sold.  The neighbor across the road, Lydia Mulliken, saved them by buying the tavern and property in 1774.  Apparently this cleared up the debt that John owed and he was freed from prison.  He and his family lived there until at least April 19th, 1775.

On April 19th, Will Munroe went to fight on the Green, being Captain John Parker’s second in command.  He left John Raymond, who history tells us was crippled, in charge at the Tavern.  When Lord Percy and his Redcoat reinforcements took over the Tavern, John served them as best he could.   Alcohol didn’t mix well with angry Redcoats and things began getting violent.

As Will’s wife and little children watched from the woods behind the tavern, John Raymond attempted to make an escape.

The Redcoats shot him in the back.  John Raymonds sad life ended in the yard of Munroe Tavern.

 

The Clock

Nathaniel Mulliken (1722 -1777) Lexington, Massachusetts.

Nathaniel Mulliken made this clock.  That, in itself is not that great a deal.  What’s great about seeing this clock is that, after April 19th, 1775, there were no more clocks made my Nathaniel.

Nathaniel wasn’t dead, or even injured that we know of.  But he would never make another clock.  It is said that his youngest brother, Joseph made cabinets for clock but Joseph was only ten when Nathaniel stopped making clocks.

Okay, enough silliness and suspense.

Remember I’ve talked about how dangerous a retreating army is?  Well, that’s exactly what the town of Lexington experienced on the afternoon of April 19, 1775.  The Redcoats were in disarray.  The most feared army in the world had just been undone by the Rebel Alliance made up of farmers and tradesman and they left Concord, beating a hasty and disorganized – and just plain fearful – retreat back to Boston – 18 miles away.

They were tired, hungry, running out of ammunition and had to run the gauntlet made up of thousands of Colonial militia men and minutemen.  When they got to Lexington, thankfully, they were met by reinforcements sent by General Gage.  Lord Percy set up cannons at the Munroe Tavern and gathered the tired and wounded Redcoats there to rest and get medical attention.

Just down the road from the Tavern, lay the Mulliken home and clock shop.  It too was commandeered by the Redcoats.  At least one dead Redcoat soldier would be found later in the day with a Mulliken clock works in his pocket.  When the Redcoats left Lexington, they burned the Mulliken property and several others to the ground.

Nathaniel would soon join the Continental Army and would not return.

Hence, no more Mulliken clocks.