Chapter title – April 18, 1775 – Midnight Ride of Paul Revere
Leaders of the colonial resistance belonging to the Boston Committee of Correspondence and the Massachusetts Committee of Safety had heard reports of the British plans to move against Lexington. The groups had hired Paul Revere to act as a messenger to carry letters back and forth between colonial leaders in various locations around Boston. One of the leaders contacted Revere on the evening of the 18th and told him that British troops were on the move and he should ride to Lexington to warn the leaders that were staying there that the British were on the march. Since colonial leaders had already taken the precaution of moving the gunpowder, cannon and ammunition to other locations, he was not worried about the British finding them.
One If by Land, Two If By Sea
The British had two options to get to Lexington, a northern route and a southern route. If the British took the northern route, they would have to cross the Charles River, about a half-mile wide at that point, land on the north shore and take the road to Lexington. The other overland route went south and then west to cross the river over a bridge, then continue on to Lexington. Revere wanted to know which route they would take, so he tasked a church sexton at the Old North Church, and then called Christ Church, to signal him from the tower when he discerned which route the soldiers would take. His instructions to the sexton were to light one lamp if the troops were taking the land route and two lanterns if the troops were to cross the Charles River. Narrow Escapes
Revere then went to his house to get his boots and coat. From there he proceeded to the North End waterfront to row across the river to get a horse. As he rowed, a British warship anchored on the other side came into view. Revere managed to land without anyone in the ship discovering him. As he picked up his horse, some members of the Sons of Liberty that met him warned him of the British patrols that were about. Revere borrowed a horse from a local patriot sympathizer and waited. He did not wait long. As Revere and his contacts talked, the sexton in the church tower lit two lamps and waved them about. After seeing the signal, Revere set out for Charlestown, just outside Boston, and was almost captured by a British patrol. He decided upon a different, longer route through Medford. As he rode, he warned residents that the British regulars were out and on the march to Lexington.
Lexington and Concord
Once he arrived in Lexington, about half past the midnight, he went to the places that Samuel Adams and John Hancock stayed, awakened them and warned them that British regulars were on the march. Shortly after Revere’s arrival two more men arrived, William Dawes and Dr. Samuel Prescott. After a brief meal, Dawes, Prescott and Revere decided to go on to Concord and verify that the supplies had indeed been moved. The men rode off to warn Concord residents that the British were marching their way. Before they got to Concord, a British patrol captured them. Dawes and Prescott managed to escape; however, the British retained Revere. After questioning him for some time, they released him, after taking his horse. Revere walked back to Lexington in time to witness the beginning of the American Revolution.
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