YES to Independence!

     In just a few days, the people of Scotland will be voting on Independence. My Scot heart swells with pride at the thought.
      Scotland has not been their own country for over four hundred years. And yet, the brushfires of freedom in the hearts of the Scots have never been fully quenched.
      I wonder what Will Munroe would say. His Great-Grandfather William was born just after the Union of the Crowns and was brought to America in 1657 as an indentured servant. He worked hard, bought his freedom and started a dynasty of sorts in Lexington, Massachusetts.
      Would the Munroe family have left America if their homeland had been free? Obviously we can only speculate. This Clan, though, lost more men on April 19th than any other family in New England. Over 25% of the Colonists killed that day had ties to Clan Munroe.
      Clan Munroe was invested in Liberty.
      That is not to say that all the Scots in America were on the side of Independence. I’m sad to say – many fought with the British Army for King George.
      So, the question that will be asked and answered on September 18th is the same question that was asked here on our shores. It was answered so poignantly by Captain Levi Pearson –

In 1843, 91-year-old Capt. Levi Preston was asked by a young historian why he had fought in the American Revolution. “What we meant in going for those Redcoats was this: we always had been free, and we meant to be always free. They didn’t mean we should.”

     Will Scotland be free?
      I’d be voting YES.


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.

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.

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.


PC Crap: Adding Insult to Injury – Part One

Welcome to Munroe Tavern, the sign says, ‘Museum of the British Redcoats and Munroe Family Home.” Hold on one cotton-pickin’ minute there hoss!

Are we talking about THE Munroe Tavern, here?

A little backstory, please.

On April 19th, 1775, Munroe Tavern was owned and operated by Will Munroe. Sgt Will served as second in command on Lexington Green that morning. Will was the great-grandson of another William Munroe, who was brought to the New World in chains as a Scottish prisoner of war. Once he worked off his slave sentence, he moved to what became Lexington and did quite well for himself and his progeny. Even so, knowing the Scots as I do, there was sure to be leftover animus against the “English.”

And, in 1775, there was additional reason for this Scots family to dislike – dare I say – hate all things Redcoat. As the Redcoat Army swept back through Lexington, they were burning and looting as they went. When they finally met up with Percy and their reinforcements, they commandeered the tavern as a temporary field hospital.

Will Munroe had left his crippled handyman, John Raymond, in charge of the Tavern as he went off to fight. When the tavern was taken over, Will’s wife and three young children  – ages seven, four and two – fled to the woods. John was forced to serve the Redcoats under penalty of harm. When things began getting out of hand, with shots fired in the tavern and things broken by out-of-sorts Redcoats, John tried to make his escape. He was shot in the back as Anna and the children watched from the woods.

Before leaving the tavern, the Redcoats set fire to the place. Luckily, someone was there quick enough to put the fire out and save the tavern from the same fate as the neighbors’ properties.

In the next post, I’ll tell you the rest of the unbelievable story.  Will Munroe might be spinning in his grave.

Part Two