Colonel James Barrett – Concord

 

James Barrett, Colonel of the Concord Militia. He left his home early on the morning of April 19th, 1775 to join his troops first in town, then on Punkatasset Hill.

The Concord forces had been warned earlier in the week by Paul Revere that something was up – the Sons of Liberty in Boston didn’t know quite what. But they urged the Concord folks to make sure their arms and ammunition were hidden.

And, they pretty much were.

Now, Concord was not Lexington. In Lexington, they say, there were no Tories (folks loyal to the Crown) but that wasn’t true in Concord. And the Tories had been taking note of who the “Insurgents” were and passing that information on to General Gage in Boston. So, when the troops arrived that morning, they had specific places to search. And Barrett’s farm was one of those places.

Once in Concord, Colonel Smith, heading up the Redcoat column, split his men up. Some searched the town. Some went across the North Bridge to Barrett’s. And a third group was in charge of holding the North Bridge so the troops who went to Barrett’s wouldn’t be cut off.

When they got to Barrett’s, they searched but found nothing. Mrs. Barrett was there but the Colonel was with his troops. I can only imagine how scared Mrs. Barrett was. The Redcoats, while not being overly vicious, must have been completely intimidating. They forced Mrs. Barrett to make them breakfast.

Then, they offered to pay her. She told them to keep their blood money.

They began their march back to town. On their way, they saw boys up on the hills plowing. The boys waved. The Redcoats waved back.

What they didn’t know was that the boys were planting muskets in the furrows as they dug them.

And Colonel Barrett on Punkatasset Hill? Well, the Concord boys saw smoke coming from town and decided to march to town to stop the Redcoats from burning the town (that’s a whole other story for another time.) They began marching toward the North Bridge and the Redcoats opened fire on them. The Militias returned fire, killing almost half of the officers at the bridge and wounding many more. And the Pride of the British Army turned tail and ran for town.

Barrett held the bridge and, when the other detachment that had been at their house came back, the militia let them pass unmolested.

Remember the orders of the day were: Do not fire unless fired upon. To do so was a hanging offense.

But the Concord Militia and the other Militias that had joined them by now followed the Redcoat column out of Concord as they headed back to Boston. They’d have their chance soon enough.

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.” http://s4.evcdn.com/images/block200/I0-001/003/258/907-5.gif_/captain-david-browns-concord-minute-company-07.gif

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.