Sunday, April 9, 2017

April 18th & 19th, 1775: As Seen Through the Eyes of Those Who Were There

~ Today's posting is a sort of  'Reader's Digest'  collection of descriptions,  quotes,  and commentary concerning the people involved in the Battle of Lexington & Concord.
It is not,  by any means,  meant to be a comprehensive account. 
Of course it isn't - this is only a blog post. 
But my objective here is to give the reader an idea of what the men and women of that time went through on such a fateful day.  A 1st person you are there account of occurrences on a date which truly should live on in infamy,  but,  unfortunately,  does not in most parts of these United States.
In fact,  if you mention April 19th,  1775 to most outside of Massachusetts,  you'll find they haven't a clue as to what occurred.
Well,  maybe we should start spreading the word.  Maybe,  just maybe,  in our own small way,  we can get the news out,  and the celebrations of the beginning of the founding of the United States can be...well...celebrated.
Or at the very least commemorated.
Today's post might be a good start ~ 
~ ~ ~

"The Revolution and the beliefs and ideals that came out of it are what hold us together and make us a united people.  There is no American ethnicity,  so the Revolutionary beliefs in liberty and equality and constitutionalism are the adhesives that make us a nation." 
Gordon S. Wood - Revolutionary War historian and author.

~ ~ ~

Boston,  as it was,  just days before the Revolution began:
(From the book The British Are Coming by Rick Atkinson - pp 44,  45):
Daily life plodded on.  Goods smuggled or stockpiled before the port closing could be found for a price,  including candles for five shillings a pound in the Faneuil Hall market,  along with indigo and a few hogshead of sugar.  Greenleaf's Auction Room sold German serges,  Irish linens,  and Kippen's snuff by the cask.  Harbottle Dorr's shop in Union Street advertised spades,  Smith's anvils,  and brass kettles,  "none of which have been imported since the port was shut up."  A vendor near swing bridge offered fish hooks,  cod lines,  and  "nails of all sorts."  With spring coming on fast,  W.  P.  Bartlett's shop in Salem sold seeds for crimson radishes,  yellow Spanish onions,  tennisball lettuce,  and several kinds of peas,  including black-eyed,  sugar,  blue union,  and speckled.  "Choice cayenne cocoa"  could be found on Hancock's Wharf,  and pearl dentifrice---reputedly invented by the Queen's dentist  "for the preservation of the teeth"---was peddled in a shop on Ann Street. 
Auction houses sold the furniture of distraught residents determined to move---to England,  to Halifax,  deeper into New England,  or just  away.  Mahogany tables,  featherbeds,  and looking glasses went for a song.  For those who preferred to dance away their troubles,  an unlikely new school in Boston offered lessons in minuets,  hornpipes,  and English country steps  "in the most improved taste." 
Freeholders  (property owners)  gathered for meetings in Faneuil Hall.  The town agreed to borrow 600 pounds to buy grain for the almshouse poor.  A report in late March noted that thirty-eight smallpox patients were quarantined on a hospital scow  (a ship)  in the Charles River,  "some distance from the wharf."  The Freeholders voted to continue a recent ban on inoculations;  many now feared that it posed a greater risk of epidemic than natural infection.  Any household with sick inhabitants was required to display a large red flag on a six foot pole or incur a fifty pound fine.  For those intent on inoculation,  newspapers advertised the services of a private hospital in New York...

~   ~   ~

Straight-last buckle shoes
With the anniversary date of April 19,  1775 at hand,  what I thought I'd do for this week's post is look at that turbulent day through the eyes and words of those who were there,  whether soldier or civilian  (including women),  as well as descriptive narratives from writers who have a gift of engulfing the reader into the world of the past.  And I tried to find remarks that will give a more  "you are there"  view of the occurrences,  using the primary sources available.  I often will help teach the students I work with as a teacher's aid in this same manner,  for,  to me,  there are no better descriptions than from those who witnessed history first hand...and the students tend to agree. 
So,  let us begin our journey back in time,  to a command that was sent from Lord Dartmouth to General Gage on Friday,  April 14,  1775 concerning events from the Americans of late - events against the Crown:
The violence by those who have taken up arms in Massachusetts have appeared to me as the acts of a rude rabble,  without concert,  without conduct,  and therefore I think that a small force now,  if put to the test,  would be able to conquer them...
Dartmouth also directed Gage “to arrest and imprison the principal actors & abettors in the Provincial Congress whose proceedings appear in every light to be acts of treason & rebellion.”
Gage lost no time putting Dartmouth’s orders into effect.  On April 18 he sent the following orders to Lt.  Col.  Francis Smith of the 10th Regiment:  “A Quantity of Ammunition and Provision together (with) numbers of Cannon and small Arms having been collected at Concord for the avowed purpose of supporting a Rebellion against His Majtys Government,  you will march with the Corps of Grenadiers and Light Infantry put under your Command with the utmost Expedition and Secrecy to Concord;  where you will seize and destroy all the Artillery and Ammunition Provisions Tents & all other Military Stores you can find. . . .”  
The captured gunpowder and flour were to be dumped into the river,  tents burned,  salt pork and beef supplies destroyed.  Enemy field guns should be spiked or ruined with sledgehammers.  
Smith’s troops—seven to eight hundred strong,  with an additional fourteen hundred to join them later on—left Boston that night for what promised to be an uneventful thirty-mile march through Lexington to the storehouse at Concord and back.
A number of other people left Boston on that night,  allowing for one of the most important occurrences in American history to occur with an event in which many today laugh or scoff at.  However,  what happened on the night of April 18,  1775 was nothing to laugh or scoff at: 
Paul Revere & William Dawes
speak with Messrs. Adams
and Hancock
Now,  I would hope that you know the story of Paul Revere's ride.  No,  not the Longfellow version,  but what really  happened.  Though popular lore later credited Revere with a stirring battle cry---"The British are coming!"---a witness quoted him as warning in a bit more of a common manner,  "The Regulars are coming out!"  
And then,  after he made his warnings in Lexington and spoke with Adams and Hancock,  Paul Revere,  with William Dawes and Samuel Prescott,  again ventured out but never made it to Concord - - he was,  instead,  captured by the British Regular Army roughly in between Lexington and Concord,  and then eventually let go after the sound of musket fire and warning bells coming from the direction of Lexington. 
Samuel Prescott,  of the three,  was the only one to make it to Concord. 
If not,  please click HERE.
As for the occurrences of that night and what happened in Lexington the following morning,  we hear from Elijah Sanderson,  who was a Patriot and Minuteman that lived in Concord.  He tells of his determination to gather intelligence for the Americans in the following written statement that was originally printed on April 28,  1825 and describes how he was captured with Paul Revere:
"On the evening of the 18th of April,  1775,  we saw a party of officers pass up from Boston, all dressed in blue wrappers.  The unusually late hour of their passing excited the attention of the citizens.  I took my gun and cartridge box and thinking something must be going on more than common,  walked up to John Buckman's tavern near the meeting house.  
Before we continue with Mr.  Sanderson,  let's learn a little about taverns.  Taverns were the pulse of 18th century urban life,  and their importance to the local community cannot be overstated.  These  "publick houses"  (or  'ordinaries,'  as they were also known)  have played an important part in social,  political,  and even military life,  though we see them taking more of a back seat in their role in our Nation's history.  The Buckman Tavern of Lexington,  Massachusetts was also one of the rallying places of the Minute Men in the early morning hours of April 19,  1775.
The following comes mostly from the book  "Taverns of the American Revolution"  by Adrian Covert:
Established in 1713,  it was early in the morning of April 19,  1775,  when the Buckman Tavern was headquarters to one of the most significant events in American history,  for it was close to midnight on April 18 when Paul Revere came into Lexington,  loudly calling out the warning,  we are told,  that the British Regulars were coming out and the farmers and shopkeepers should leave their warm beds and prepare to muster as citizen-soldiers,  for the Regular Army had left Boston in force to seize and destroy military supplies in Concord.  Upon his arrival,  Revere went straight to the Jonas Clarke parsonage to warn a sleeping John Hancock and Samuel Adams where,  in hearing the commotion outside,  the sentry requested he not make so much noise.  "Noise!"  Revere cried out,  "You'll have noise enough before long!  The Regulars are coming out!"
Soon after Revere and William Dawes arrived in Lexington,  Samuel Adams and John Hancock fled for safety.  Everyone knew what to do upon hearing the warning.  Literally within minutes,  men throughout the town were dressing hastily and reaching for their muskets,  while wives packed a few provisions in their shoulder bags;  the local militia were soon rallying at Buckman's under the leadership of Captain John Parker,  who ordered the militiamen into formation outside the tavern on Lexington Green.  Parker told the men that upon the arrival of the British Regulars,  not to  "meddle or make with said Regular troops unless they should assault or molest us,"  in which case they should  "disperse and not to fire."
The Lexington Militia began to gather
up their accouterments at a reenactment. 
As the Redcoats had not yet made it to Lexington,  the men eventually went into the tavern,  emptying their firelocks beforehand,  as etiquette would have,  before passing through the entry,  to await the arrival of the British troops,  for it was common practice at the time to not enter a tavern with loaded musketry.
Now,  many people do not know that at this same time in these wee morning hours of April 19,  while the militiamen gathered inside Buckman's,  Paul Revere,  in an attempt to get to Concord after leaving Lexington,  was captured by British scouts.  It was not just Revere being held,  but a few other men as well.  But Paul Revere was known amongst the British scouts,  and he was roughed up a bit,  and threatened with having his  "brains blown out"  if he didn't tell them the truth about what he knew of the Patriot's plans.  Luckily a short time after,  upon hearing gunfire coming from the direction of Lexington,  the British scouts,  in order to move much more quickly to warn their commanders of the coming events from the information they had extracted from Revere and the other riders,  set their captives free,  though taking their horses.  The gunfire the Redcoats heard came from the militiamen emptying their firelocks before entering the tavern,  as mentioned above,  and not from a skirmish between the two groups,  as they had thought.
Elijah Sanderson continues:  After some conversation among the citizens assembled there,  an old gentleman advised,  that some one should follow those officers and endeavor to ascertain their object.  I then observed,  that if any one would let me have a horse,  I would go in pursuit.  Thaddeus Harrington told me I might take his,  which was there.  
It had been rumoured,  that the British officers had threatened,  that Hancock and Adams should not stay at Lexington.  They had been boarding some time at Parson Clarke's.  We set out in pursuit.  Just before we got to Brook's in Lincoln,  while riding along,  we were stopped by nine British officers,  who were paraded across the road.  They were all mounted.  One rode up and seized my bridle,  and another my arm,  and one put his pistol to my breast,  and told me,  if l resisted,  I was a dead main.  I asked what he wanted.  He replied he wanted to detain me a little while.  While  (I was)  under detention they look two other prisoners,  one Allen,  a one-handed peddler,  and Col. Paul Revere.  
They kept us  (prisoners)  in the middle of the road,  and rode on each side of us.  We went toward Lexington.
When we had arrived within fifty or one hundred rod of the meeting house,  Loring  (as he afterwards informed me)  told them,  'The bell's a ringing,  the town's alarmed,  and you're all dead men.'  They then stopped—conferred together.  One then dismounted,  and ordered me to dismount.  (T)hen mounted,  they rode in a good smart trot on toward Boston.  We then turned off to pass through the swamp,  through the mud and water,  intending to arrive at the meeting house before they could pass,  to give information to our people.  Just before they got to the meeting house,  they had bolted,  which led us to hope,  we should get there first;  but they soon started off again at full speed,  and we saw no more of them.
I went to the tavern.  The citizens were coming and going;  Some went down to find whether the British were coming;  some came back;  and said there was no truth in it.  I went to sleep in my chair by the fire. 
Inside of  the actual Buckman's Tavern
Definite word reached the men inside Buckman's,  just before sunrise,  that the Regulars were not too far out of town,  and Captain Parker's company of militiamen prepared themselves for whatever event that might occur. 
The firearms of these militiamen were as varied as the men themselves,  and,  as noted in David Hackett Fischer's Paul Revere's Ride,  many men on this early April 19th morn armed themselves with weapons not designed for war.  One man carried a  "long fowling piece,  without a bayonet,  a horn of powder,  and a seal skin pouch,  filled with bullets and buckshot."   Some carried arms of great antiquity.  You see,  most towns expected individual militiamen to supply their own weapons,  and acted only to arm those who were unable to arm themselves.  The most common types of firearms at Lexington & Concord were the long-barreled export fowler and the New England musket  (as was carried by John Parker).
Writing of the occurrences of April 18,  1775
Sanderson went on:  In short time after,  the drum beat,  and I ran out to the common,  where the militia were parading.  The captain ordered them to fall in.  I then fell in.  I was all in the utmost haste.  The British troops were then coming on in full sight.  I had no musket:  having sent it home,  the night previous,  by my brother,  before I started for Concord-and,  reflecting I was of no use,  I stepped out again from the company,  about two rods,  and was gazing at the British,  coming on in full career.  Several mounted British officers were forward—I think,  five—The commander rode up,  with his pistol in his hand,  on a canter,  the others following,  to about eight or ten rods from the company perhaps nearer,  and ordered them to disperse.  The words he used were harsh.  I cannot remember them exactly.  He then said   'Fire'   and he fired his own pistol,  and the other officers soon fired,  and with that the main body came up and fired,  but did not take sight.  
They loaded again as soon as possible.  All was smoke when the foot fired.  I heard no particular orders after what the commander first said.  I looked and seeing nobody fall  [th]ought to be sure they couldn't be firing balls and I did not move off.  After our militia had dispersed,  I saw them firing at one man,  (Solomon Brown,)  who was stationed behind a wall,  I saw the wall smoke with the bullets hitting it.  I they knew they were firing balls.  
After the affair was over,  he told me he fired into a solid column of them,  and then retreated.  He was in the cow-yard.  The wall saved him.  He legged it just about the time I went away.  In a minute or two after, the British music struck up, and their troops paraded and marched right off for Concord."

Let's also take this opportunity to see what happened to Mr.  Revere,  in his own written words,  after he made it back to Lexington following his failed attempt to go to Concord  (this being a combination of two accounts,  one written in 1783,  and the other,  more well known,  written in 1798):
Mr. Lowell  (a clerk to John Hancock)  asked me to go to the tavern with him,  to get a trunk of papers belonging to Mr. Hancock.  We went up chamber,  and while we were getting the trunk,  we saw the British very near,  upon a full march.  Before we left the house,  I saw the ministerial troops from the chamber window.  We made haste - we hurried toward Mr. Clark's house,  and had to pass through our militia,  who were on a green behind the Meeting House,  to the number as I supposed,  about 50 or 60,  I went through them;  as I passed I heard the commanding officer speak to his men to this purpose;  ''Let the troops pass by,  and don't molest them,  without they begin first.''  I had to go across road;  but had not got half gunshot off when the ministerial troops appeared in sight,  behind the Meeting House.  They made a short halt,  when one gun was fired,  which appeared to be a pistol.   I heard the report,  turned my head,  and saw the smoke in front of the troops.  Then I could distinguish two guns.  They immediately gave a great shout,  ran a few paces,  and then a continual roar of musketry,  I could first distinguish irregular firing,  which I supposed was the advance guard,  and then platoons;  at this time I could not see our militia,  for they were covered from me by a house at the bottom of the street...(then)  we made off with the trunk."
Without fully realizing it at the time,  Mr.  Revere witnessed the very beginnings of the first real battle for America's fight for Independence.
The battle begins - - Lexington Common
The following description comes from the various book sources utilized throughout this text.  It is in this narrative we find ourselves in the midst of that first great skirmish::
As British Colonel Francis Smith approached the town,  it became clear that the countryside had been alerted and the element of surprise lost.  As the Regulars rounded a gentle turn in the road,  the Village of Lexington came into view.
As the Regulars came closer,  they saw Captain Parker's militia near the northeast corner of the Common,  hurrying into line.  One militiaman turned to his captain and said,  "There are so few of us it is folly to stand here."
Captain Parker turned to his men and replied,  "The first man who offers to run shall be shot down!"  And then he said,  "Stand your ground!  Don't fire unless fired upon!  But if they want to have a war,  let it begin here!"
The mood was dark.  Nearly everyone believed that this was no mere drill or demonstration.  On both sides,  there was a strange and fatal feeling that bloodshed was inevitable.  To his men Captain Parker said,  "Let the troops pass by.  Don't molest them without they being first."
Just as the Regulars were forming on the Common,  Paul Revere and John Lockwell had emerged from the Buckman Tavern with John Hancock's trunk.  Their route took them directly through the ranks of soldiers.
The men studied the red-coated soldiers,  only yards away.  To men on both sides,  time itself seemed to stop---a temporal illusion that often occurs in moments of mortal danger.  When the mind moves at lightning speed,  the world itself seems to slow down.
As the Regulars came closer,  an officer was heard to say,  "Damn them!  We will have them!"
Men on both sides heard the cry from a Regular officer say,  "Lay down your arms,  you damned rebels!"  And militiaman John Robbins heard the foremost officer yell,  "Throw down your arms,  ye villains,  ye rebels!"  Jonas Clarke heard an officer say,   "Ye villains,  ye rebels,  disperse,  damn you,  disperse!"
Captain Parker later testified,  "I immediately ordered our militia to disperse and not to fire."
Though some scattered,  some remained.
Some also began to move backwards and to both sides.  Jonas Clarke wrote,  "Upon this,  our men dispersed,  but not so speedily as they might have done."  In the confusion,  some of the militia did not hear the order and stayed where they were.  None of the militia laid down their arms.
A shot rang out---some say they saw a cloud of white smoke in front of the Regulars.  Others say it came from near the tavern.  For our reenactment I had our historic gun presenter hide behind a tree and fire a shot.  As David Hackett Fischer wrote,  "We shall never know who fired first at Lexington,  or why.  But everyone on the Common saw what happened next.  The British infantry heard the shot,  and began to fire without orders.  Their officers could not control them.
Then came,  as Paul Revere later wrote in a deposition,  a  "continual roar of musketry"  along the British line.
The British firing made at first a slow irregular popping sound.  Then suddenly there was a terrible ripping noise like the tearing of a sheet as  (they)  fired their first volley.  Then one British soldier turned and fired toward a man behind a wall.  "I saw the wall smoke with the bullets hitting it.  I knew they were firing balls."
After the volley from the Regulars,  the spectators fled for their lives.  Timothy Smith testified that,  "I immediately ran,  and a volley was discharged at me,  which put me in imminent danger."
Heavy lead musket balls flew in all directions,  making a low whizzing noise which sounded to some like a swarm of bees.  The Common was shrouded in dense clouds of dirty white smoke.  One militiaman remembered,  "All was smoke when the Foot fired."  Another recalled that,  "the smoke prevented our seeing anything but the heads of some of their horses." '
From the book Paul Revere & the World He Lived In by Esther Forbes,  we get an up-close and personal view of this battle from a citizens point of view:
"Aunt Lydia had been hanging out of an upper window to watch.  A bullet whizzed by her head and hit the barn.  "What's that?"  They told her a bullet and she'd best take care of herself.  And Jonathan Harrington,  shot through the chest,  was able to crawl the few yards to his own door and die there.  Jonas Parker,  brought to his knees by the British fire,  had been finished off by a bayonet.
Two of the wounded were carried to Reverend Clarks'.  Miss Dolly remembered that the one who had been grazed insisted that he was killed,  and the one who had been really wounded  "behaved better."'
A few Americans managed to get off a shot or two.
Some of the men were determined to stand their ground and fight back.  Many remembered seeing Jonas Parker,  kin of the Captain,  "standing in the ranks,  with his balls and flints in his hat on the ground between his feet,  and heard him declare he would never run.  He was shot down at the second fire."  They saw him  "struggling on the ground,  attempting to load his gun..."
"As he lay on the ground,  they run him through with the bayonet."
The Redcoats were able to pass through with relative few obstacles and carried on with their march to Concord. 
As soon as the patriots dispersed,  the detachment of Regulars pushed on toward Concord,  six miles distant.  As the British troops disappeared into the west,  the people of the town gathered on the Common.  There was,  at first,  a sense of shock,  a terrible numb and empty feeling of cruel and bitter loss.  The result of this British charge left eight Americans dead,  nine wounded,  and a musket hole in the door of the Buckman.
Some of the men who survived now wore bloody bandages.  A few had faces and shirts blackened by powder stains.
The people of Lexington asked themselves,  who were these arrogant men in their proud red coats?  By what right did they act as they did?

Confident of success and high in spirit,  the Regulars were unaware that Concord had been aroused,  and a formidable body of militia had collected to  "receive the invaders."
This goes right along with the story that Mary Hartwell of Lincoln,  who was a witness to the events,  liked to tell her grandchildren.
Dawes, Revere, and Prescott
On the night of April 18th,  an advance guard of British soldiers captured Paul Revere just down the road from the tavern.  Dr. Samuel Prescott of Concord,  who was riding with Revere and William Dawes,  escaped by leaping his horse over a stone wall and fleeing through pasture and swamp.  He emerged at the Hartwell Tavern.  Prescott awakened old Ephraim  (68 years old at the time)  and told him about the British regulars on the march.  Ephraim sent his black slave Violet down the road to awaken Capt. William Smith,  Capt. of the Lincoln Minute Men.  
Violet made it to Mary and Sam Hartwell's house,  and Mary took over and relayed the message to Smith's house.  
Bells were rung,  thus the Lincoln Minutemen were warned in time,  and arrived at the North Bridge before the British soldiers got there.
(from the Minuteman National Park Service website as well as the Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution by Benson J. Lossing.)

From Sudbury,  we hear of the awakening of the town as the events of the day unfolded:
I must warn Master Plympton
that the Regulars are on the march!
"An express came from Concord to  (the home of)  Thomas Plympton Esq., who was then a member of the Provincial Congress,  in that the British were on their way to Concord - between 4 and 5 o'clock in the morning.  The sexton was immediately called on the bell ringing and the discharge of Musket which was to give the alarm.  By sunrise the greatest part of the inhabitants were notified.  The morning was remarkably fine and the inhabitants of Sudbury never can make such an important appearance probably again."
Thomas Plympton had a son named Ebenezer Plympton.  Ebenezer is listed on the muster role as a private in Captain Aaron Haynes' Company of Militia  (North Militia 1775)  which was part of the Alarm Company that marched to Cambridge by Concord during the Lexington Alarm on the nineteenth of April,  1775.  He was also part of Captain Asahel Wheeler's company in 1777.
After the War,  Ebenezer continued to serve his town as his ancestors had before him,  for he was a Deacon as well as the town Magistrate  (the judge of a police court)  of Sudbury. 
This very same Plympton House,  pictured above,  now sits inside historic Greenfield Village in Dearborn,  Michigan,  restored to its original 18th century charm. 

Josiah Walpole Hall

Now let's take a rare opportunity to actually look into the eyes of two men who were indeed a part of that first day's battle  (taken from the book,  The Last Muster - Images of the Revolutionary War Generation  by Maureen Taylor).
Twenty two year old minuteman Josiah Walpole Hall,  upon hearing the warning muskets and bells,  traveled the road from Walpole to Concord,  Massachusetts,  in the early hours of April 19,  1775,  to deliver the message that General Gage's regulars were crossing the Charles River to march to Lexington to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock for treason and then to Concord to seize the cannon and military stores there.  
During the war that followed,  Hall served in Colonel Joseph Read's Regiment. 
He died at South Walpole, Massachusetts,  at the age of 101

As for this next fellow,  I am not sure,  but I do suspect that there was a relation between this Jonathan Harrington and the Jonathan Harrington mentioned earlier,  who had died at the door of his home:
Here is a daguerreotype of 
Jonathan Harrington from the early 1850s.
 You are looking into the eyes of history - 
the eyes that actually saw the 
Battle of Lexington and Concord!
(from the collection of the Lexington, Massachusetts
Historical Society)
"Imagine the excitement of Jonathan Harrington on the morning of April 19,  1775.  At seventeen he was the youngest member of Capt. John Parker's company of minutemen.  It was his job to play the fife when the soldiers crossed the North bridge at the Battle of Lexington & Concord.  Harrington was there with his father,  brother,  and three cousins.  It would be his only military service in the War."
And from the above-mentioned book,  The Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution  (published in 1850,  by the way),  we hear more about Mr. Harrington.  You see,  author Benson Lossing realized that people of his generation knew about the battles fought in their own regions,  but very little about the battles outside of their area,  and he considered it important to capture that information prior to its being lost.  Lossing sketched landmarks as they existed at the time of his travels to make sure that they were recorded for the  "admiration and reverence of remote posterity."  The result of his travels is this three-volume set,  which includes in-depth interviews with veterans,  including Jonathan Harrington. 
Lossing,  I have read,  was awed to be in the company of a man who was present at the first battle of the Revolution,  and in his own words wrote of his excitement:
Here is the sketch of Jonathan 
Harrington drawn by historian 
and author, Benson J. Lossing, 
in October 1848.
The signature is Mr. Harrington's.
"I hastened to East Lexington to visit Jonathan Harrington,  an old man of ninety,  who played the fife when the minute men were marshaled on the Green upon that memorable April morning.  He was splitting fire-wood in his yard with a vigorous hand when I rode up;  and as he sat in his rocking-chair,  while I sketched his placid features,  he appeared no older than a man of seventy.  His brother,  aged eighty-eight,  came in before my sketch was finished,  and I could not but gaze with wonder upon these strong old men,  children of one mother,  who were almost grown to manhood when the first battle of our Revolution occurred!  Frugality and temperance,  co-operating with industry,  a cheerful temper,  and a good constitution,  have lengthened their days,  and made their protracted years hopeful and happy.  The aged fifer apologized for the rough appearance of his signature,  which he kindly wrote for me,  and charged the tremulous motion of his hand to his labor with the ax.  How tenaciously we cling even to the appearance of vigor,  when the whole frame is tottering to its fall!  Mr. Harrington opened the ball of the Revolution with the shrill war-notes of the fife,  and then retired from the arena.  He was not a soldier in the war,  nor has his life,  passed in the quietude of rural pursuits,  been distinguished except by the glorious acts which constitute the sum of the achievements of a GOOD CITIZEN.
I wonder if Lossing asked Harrington to play a tune on the fife?  I certainly would have asked if that had been me!

Now we read of another one who was "there" - - in 1843,  Mellon Chamberlain interviewed an old Rev War soldier known as Capt. Levi Preston as to what he did and thought sixty eight years before,  on April 19,  1775,  during the battle of Lexington & Concord.  And here is the answer he received  (written in Chamberlain's own words):
Capt. Preston
"Captain Preston,  why did you go to the Concord fight,  the 19th of April,  1775?"
The old man bowed beneath the weight of years,  raised himself upright,  and turning to me said,  "Why did I go?"
"Yes,"   I replied;  "my histories tell me you men of the Revolution took up arms against  'intolerable oppressions.'"
"What were they?  Oppressions?  I didn't feel them."
"What,  were you not oppressed by the Stamp Act?"
"I never saw one of those stamps,  and always understood that Governor Bernard put them all in Castle William.  I am certain I never paid a penny for one of them."
"Well,  what then about the tea-tax?"
"Tea-tax!  I never drank a drop of the stuff;  the boys threw it all overboard."
"Then I suppose you had been reading Harrington or Sydney and Locke about the eternal principles of liberty."
"Never heard of 'em.  We only read the Bible,  the Catechism,  Watt's Psalms and Hymns,  and the Almanack."
"Well then,  what was the matter?  And what did you mean in going to the fight?"
"Young man,  what we meant in going for those red-coats was this:  we always had governed ourselves,  and we always meant to.  They  (the British)  didn't mean we should."

Moving on...
At Concord’s North Bridge,  the British Regulars turned and looked up the hill in amazement at the men coming toward them.  Leading the way down from Punkatasset Hill to confront the British troops at the bridge were the minutemen of Acton,  Massachusetts,  who were one of the few companies to be fully equipped with bayonets and cartridge boxes that allowed a greater rate of fire than powder horns.  Behind the Acton company were minutemen from other towns,  followed by the militia.
The Regulars never imagined that these  “country people”  would dare to march against the King’s troops in formation,  and were astounded by their order and discipline.  One British soldier wrote,  “They began to march by division down upon us from the left in a very military manner.” 
Slowly the British Regulars began to understand that this 
was no rural rabble confronting them.

The New England regiments moved in a long column,  supposedly,  as tradition tells us,  led by young fifer Luther Blanchard of Acton,  who,  with drummer Francis Barker,  played a bold taunt of defiance called  “The White Cockade,”  an old tune thought to be  “intensely galling to the Hanoverians.”  “The White Cockade”  was a traditional Scottish tune that celebrated the attempt by  “Bonnie Prince Charlie”  to reclaim the throne of Britain for the House of Stuart.   During the 1745 Jacobite uprising,  the Bonnie Prince plucked a white rose and placed it on his bonnet as a symbol of rebellion.
It has been questioned whether or not  “The White Cockade”  was played on April 19th,  1775.  A deposition from Charles Handley,  a 13 year old boy who was at the Widow Brown’s tavern a mile from North Bridge,  clearly states that he heard it as the Acton Company passed the tavern:  “They marched quite fast to the music of a fife and drum,”  he said many years later,  “I remember the tune,  but am not sure of its name…I think it was called  ‘The White Cockade.’”   Handley then whistled the notes,  which were verified by the listener to be the tune in question.  This seems to be the only eyewitness account of a specific tune being played at a specific time. 
Hmmm...I wonder where Jonathan Harrington fits in with all of this...

Could this be Phebe Emerson?
When the enemy approached the town,  the Americans then collectively retired across the North Bridge to the high ground beyond it,  and then waited for the reinforcements from the adjacent counties.
Concord resident,  Phebe Bliss Emerson,  the minister's wife,  was deeply frightened.  According to family tradition,  Phebe was  "delicate,"  a euphemism that commonly referred to a mental state rather than a physical condition.  She had heard the alarm from her African slave,  Frank,  who came running into her chamber with an axe in his hand,  shouting that the Redcoats were coming.  Mrs.  Emerson turned white as a Concord coverlet and fainted away on the spot.  When she revived,  she looked around for her husband and saw him outside in the yard helping people of the town who had gathered in front of the Old Manse  (their home).  Phebe Emerson rapped sharply on the windowpane to get her husband's attention, and told him that,  "she thought she needed him as much as the others."
(From the Diaries and Letters of William Emerson  and taken as written from  "Paul Revere's Ride"  by David Hackett Fischer)
As the Regulars drew near, the throb of their drums could be heard.
The enemy halted near the meeting-house,  sent parties of troops to various places in the town in search of  publick stores,  and detached men to take possession of the bridge,  over which the militia had retreated.
The militiamen were ordered to load their weapons.  Many had done so already;   some deliberately double-shotted their muskets.  There were strict orders not to fire unless the British fired first.  It was agreed by the leaders that if the fighting began,  which was felt to be inevitable,  the Regulars must start it.
The Regulars at the bridge never imagined these  'country people'  would dare to march against the King's troops.
Suddenly a shot rang out.
Captain Walter Laurie saw with horror that one of his own Regulars had fired without orders.  Then two other British soldiers fired before he could stop them.  Then the front ranks of British troops discharged a ragged volley,  much in the same manner as in Lexington.  The infantry fired high,  and most of their volley passed harmlessly over the heads of the militia.  Thaddeus Blood remembered that  "their balls whistled well."  Captain Davis of Acton was killed instantly by a ball that pierced his heart.  The arterial blood squirted from his wound,  and drenched the men beside him.  Private Hosmer was shot dead with a bullet to the head.  Still the Americans came on steadily with a discipline that astonished their enemy.
As men began to fall around him, Major Buttrick of Concord turned and cried,  "Fire, fellow soldiers,  for God's sake,  fire!"
The New England muskets rang out with deadly accuracy by aiming carefully and firing low.  Of eight British officers at the North Bridge,  four were hit in the first American fire,  and at least three privates were killed.  On top of that,  nine others were wounded.
Recent hours of practice on the training field had made a difference.
"The infantry fired high,  and most of their volley passed harmlessly over the heads of the militia."  
Historically at Concord,  the Regulars found themselves caught in a trap.  The New England minutemen and militia were deployed in two long files curving down the hill along the causeway.  Many men in that formation had a clear shot.  The British soldiers were packed in a deep churning mass;  only the front rank could fire.  The loss of officers compounded the confusion.
To the amazement of the American militia,  the Regulars suddenly turned and ran for their lives.  It was a rare spectacle in military history. 
A picked force of  British infantry,  famed for its indomitable courage on many a field in battle,  was broken by a band of American militia.
British Ensign Lister wrote,  "The weight of their fire was such that we was obliged to give way,  then run with the greatest precipitance."
The British light infantry ran pell-mell back toward Concord center,  defying their officers and abandoning their wounded,  who were left to painfully drag themselves away.
The American militia watched, less in exhilaration than in what seems to have been a kind of shock, as the Regulars disappeared in the distance, followed by wounded men  "hobbling and a-running and looking back to see if we was after them."

Notes from nearby Acton from Hannah Davis,  wife of Isaac:
On this spot...
"Isaac Davis was my husband.  He was then thirty years of age.  We had four children;  the youngest about 15 months old.  They were all unwell when he left me,  in the morning;  some of them with the canker-rash.  The alarm was given early in the morning,  and my husband lost no time in making ready to go to Concord with his company  (the Acton Minutemen).  My husband said but little that morning.  He seemed serious and thoughtful;  but never seemed to hesitate.  He only said,  'Take good care of the children,'   and was soon out of sight.  In the afternoon he was brought home a corpse.  He was placed in my bedroom till the funeral."

Hearing once more from Elijah Sanderson,  we learn that he  "went home  (from Lexington to Concord)  after my gun—found it was gone.  My brother had it.  I returned to the meeting house,  and saw to the dead.  I saw blood where the column of the British had stood when Solomon Brown fired at them.  This was several rods from where any of our militia stood,  and I then supposed,  as well as the rest of us,  that that was the blood of the British.
I assisted in carrying some of the dead into the meeting house.
In the afternoon I saw the reinforcement come up under Lord Percy.  I then had no musket;  and retired to Easterbrook’s Hill,  whence I saw the reinforcement meet the troops retreating from Concord.  When they met,  they halted some time.  After this,  they set fire to Deacon Boring's barn—then to his house—then to widow Mullikan's house—then to the shop of Nathanial Mullikan,  a watch and clock maker—and to the house and shop of Joshua Bond.  All these were near the place where the reinforcements took refreshments.  They hove fire into several other buildings.  It was extinguished after their retreat.
During the day the women and children had been so scattered and dispersed that most of them were out of the way when the reinforcements arrived.
I now own the musket,  which I then owned and which my brother had that day,  and told me he fired at the British with it."
"Retreat of the British From Concord"  by James Smilie
Concord must have been such a chaotic state on that 

April 19th in 1775.
The Regulars were met with hostile fire,  and were unexpectedly driven back.
From British officer Lieut. Col. Smith,  who took part in the skirmish at Lexington and Concord,  describing the return back to Boston in a letter to the Massachusetts Governor Gage:
Boston,  April 22,  1775
"While at Concord we saw vast numbers assembling in many parts;  at one of the bridges they marched down,  with a very considerable body,  on the light infantry posted there.  On their coming pretty near,  one of our men fired on them,  which they returned;  on which an action ensued,  and some few were killed and wounded.  In this affair,  it appears that after the bridge was quitted,  they scalped and otherwise ill-treated one or two of the men who were either killed or severely wounded,  being seen by a party that marched by soon after.
At Concord we found very few inhabitants in the town;  those we met with both Major Pitcairn and myself took all possible pains to convince that we meant them no injury,  and that if they opened their doors when required to search for military stores,  not the slightest mischief would be done.  We had opportunities of convincing them of our good intentions,  but they were sulky;  and one of them even struck Major Pitcairn. 
"Our men had had very few good 
opportunities of getting good shots 
at the Rebels,  as they hardly ever fired 
but under cover of a stone wall,  
from behind a tree,  or out of a house"
On our leaving Concord to return to Boston,  they began to fire on us from behind the walls,  ditches,  trees,  etc.,  which, as we marched,  increased to a very great degree,  and continued without the intermission of five minutes altogether,  for,  I believe,  upwards of eighteen miles;  so that I can't think but it must have been a preconcerted scheme in them,  to attack the King's troops the first favorable opportunity that offered,  otherwise,  I think they could not,  in so short a time as from our marching out,  have raised such a numerous body,  and for so great a space of ground.  Notwithstanding the enemy's numbers,  they did not make one gallant effort during so long an action,  though our men were so very much fatigued,  but kept under cover.
I have the honor, etc.
F. Smith, Lt-Col. 10th Foot."

Here is a portion from the Diary of Lt. Frederick Mackenzie of the Royal Welch Fusiliers  (one of the oldest infantry regiments in the British Army),  telling of his own similar experience:
19 April
During the whole of the march from Lexington the Rebels kept an incessant irregular fire from all points at the column,  which was the more galling as our flanking parties,  which at first were placed at sufficient distances to cover the march of it,  were at last,  from the different obstructions they occasionally met with,  obliged to keep almost close to it.  Our men had had very few good opportunities of getting good shots at the Rebels,  as they hardly ever fired but under cover of a stone wall,  from behind a tree,  or out of a house;  and the moment they had fired they lay down out of sight until they had loaded again or the column had passed.  In the road indeed in our rear,  they were most numerous and came on pretty close,  frequently calling out,  "King Hancock forever!" 
Few or no women or children were to be seen throughout the day.  As the country had undoubted intelligence that some troops were to march out,  and the Rebels were probably determined to attack them,  it is generally supposed they had previously removed their families from the neighbourhood...
"They did not fight us like a regular army,  only like savages 
behind trees and stone walls,  and out of the woods and houses,  
where in the latter we killed numbers of them."

Next we have a portion of a letter to Boston Governor Gage from Brigadier General Percy Hugh of the 5th Regiment of Foot:
Boston,  20 April,  1775
As all the houses were shut up and there was not the appearance of a single inhabitant,  I could get no intelligence concerning them till I had passed Menotomy,  where I was informed that the Rebels had attacked His Majesty's troops,  who were retiring,  overpowered by numbers,  greatly exhausted and fatigued,  and having expended almost all their ammunition.  And about 2 o'clock I met them retiring through the town of Lexington.
As soon as they saw us begin to retire,  they pressed very much upon our rear-guard,  which for that reason I relieved every now and then.  In this manner we retired for 15 miles under an incessant fire all around us,  till we arrived at Charlestown between 7 and 8 in the evening,  very much fatiqued with a march above 30 miles,  and having expended almost all our ammunition.
It was a very precarious retreat to Boston for the Regulars
Photo courtesy of the Boston Discovery Guide

There is a story generally known around the Lexington/Concord area of a middle aged man named Hezekiah Wyman.  In fact,  on that fateful day - April 19,  1775 - it's said that Hezekiah turned 55 years of age.  As the story goes,  upon hearing of  (or possibly witnessing)  the occurrence on the village green where the townsmen of Lexington were over run by the Regulars,  he saddled up his old white mare and,  against the wishes of his wife,  galloped on a course toward Concord.  It did not take long before he met with a column of British infantry then fired at a Regular who advanced toward him,  bringing the soldier down.  Being highly visible - he was described as a  "tall,  gaunt"  man with long gray hair - he became known as  "Death on a Pale Horse"  by those who saw him and grew to fear the sight of this crack shot,  for he would jump off his horse,  steady his aim with his musket,  take a deliberate shot and hit his mark,  then jump back on his mare to find a new position.
Hezekiah Wyman died in 1779.
The man was a real person...but some say his story is a myth...hmmm...
Off to fight...Concord
Here is a very interesting  "home front"  story  (taken from the book Beneath Old Roof Trees by A.E. Brown)  concerning Mary Hartwell of Lincoln as told by her grandson,  who heard it  "repeatedly from her lips."  Says her grandson,  "It was my good fortune to have a grandmother live in the full possession of her faculties until she attained almost a century of life.  The happiest days of my youth were those spent at her fireside,  listening to her experiences on the day long to be remembered:
She said:  "Your grandfather,  who was sergeant,  left the house,  joining the neighbors as soon as the alarm reached us.  I did up the chores at the barn,  and cared for the children as well as I could in my anxiety.  When thus occupied,  a colored woman who lived near us came in to spread the news of the approach of the British,  but was afraid to go farther;  so I said,  "If you will take care of my baby,  I will go and give the warning."  I started for a neighbor's house, glancing down the road,  and saw such a sight as I can never forget.  The army of the king was coming up in fine order,  their red coats were brilliant,  and their bayonets glistening in the sunlight made a fine appearance;  but I knew what all that meant,  and I feared that I should never see your grandfather again,  although I then knew nothing of their bloody work at Lexington.     
I started for a neighbor's house,  glancing down the 
road,  and saw such a sight as I can never forget. 
The army of the king was coming up in fine order, 
their red coats were brilliant,  and their bayonets 
glistening in the sunlight made a fine appearance
Picture courtesy of the Boston Discovery Guide
"'I saw an occasional horseman dashing by,  going up and down,  but heard nothing more until I saw them coming back in the afternoon,  all in confusion,  wild with rage,  and loud with threats.   I knew there had been trouble,  and that it had not resulted favorably for that retreating army.  I heard the musket-shots just below,  by the old Brooks Tavern,  and trembled,  believing that our folks were killed.  Some of the rough,  angry soldiers rushed up to this house and fired in;  but fortunately for me and the children,  the shots went into the garret,  and we were safe.  How glad I was when they all got by the house,  and your grandfather and our neighbors reached home alive!'"
      The scenes that followed the alarm,  when it reached other homes in the town,  were in some respects like those at the home of Samuel Hartwell.  Says Mr. Farrar,  a grandson of Captain Samuel of the company of militia,  and the owner and occupant of one of the Farrar dwellings on the old homestead,  "My grandfather was on his way to mill in the early dawn when he heard of the trouble.  Throwing his saddle-bags containing the grist over a wall,  he made haste to rally his men,  and went on to Concord."
From the book  "Soldier of the American Revolution"  by Denis Hambucken and Bill Payson:
On paper,  the militias were outclassed by the better trained,  better equipped British Army.  They possessed,  however,  a few significant advantages.  The word  "aim"  was not part of the British army's vernacular.  In the tradition of European warfare,  large battalions faced off on open terrain,  needing only to point their muskets in the direction of enemy formations to achieve effective fire.  Americans were superior marksmen,  being accustomed to firearms and hunting from childhood.  From a long history of conflicts from Native Americans,  they had learned to adopt a more modern style of guerrilla warfare.  Americans fought best in wooded terrain where they could engage in fighting retreats and make the most of the familiar ground to find cover and take careful aim.      
The people,  here as elsewhere,  had become so alarmed by premonitions of evil that this morning's intelligence was enough to cause them to believe that neither life nor property was safe within the range of the invading army.  Says Mr. Farrar,  "The Concord families living nearest to our home fled this way for safety,  and with my grandmother and others of the family left this house,  and took refuge in  'Oaky Bottom,'  a retired piece of forest land about one-half mile in the rear of the house,  still known by that name in our community.  Grandmother in her haste had sufficient self-possession to think of the cattle tied in the barn.  These she let loose,  desiring to save them from the flames that she expected would be kindled by Gage's army.  She took her babe,  Samuel  (the third),  in her arms,  the large family Bible,  a loaf of bread,  and a looking-glass,  with what little silver she had,  and bade farewell to the old dwelling,  never expecting to gather her family about her again beneath that ancestral roof.  Every little while they would venture out far enough to look over the hill to see if the soldiers had set the house on fire."
To appreciate the situation of these people and others,  one must place themselves in thought back to that April morning,  having in mind the many real threats and the more unwarranted alarms that had emanated from the army at Boston.

marker photo courtesy of Find-a-Grave
On Lexington Green,  eleven year old Elizabeth Clarke,  the daughter of Reverend Jonas Clarke,  watched as the dead were gathered up and laid in plain pine boxes  "made of four large boards nailed up.  After Pa had prayed,  they were put into two large horse carts and took into the graveyard  (where he)  and some of the neighbors had made a large trench as near the woods as possible,  and there we followed the bodies of the first slain,  father and mother,  I and the baby.  There I stood,  and there I saw them let down into the ground.  It was a little rainy,  but we waited to see them covered up with the clods.  And then for fear the British should find them,  my father thought some of the men had best cut some pine or oak boughs and spread them on their place of burial so that it looked like a heap of brush."

Although Mary Hartwell had good reason for entertaining vindictive feelings towards the invading army,  her actions proved that her better nature soon prevailed.  She said,  "I could not sleep that night,  for I knew there were British soldiers lying dead by the roadside;  and when,  on the following morning,  we were somewhat calmed and rested,  we gave attention to the burial of those whom their comrades had failed to take away.  The men hitched the oxen to the cart,  and went down below the house,  and gathered up,  the dead.  As they returned with the team and the dead soldiers,  my thoughts went out for the wives,  parents,  and children away across the Atlantic,  who would never again see their loved ones;  and I left the house, and taking my little children by the hand,  I followed the rude hearse to the grave hastily made in the burial-ground.   I remember how cruel it seemed to put them into one large trench without any coffins.  There was one in a brilliant uniform, whom I supposed to have been an officer.  His hair was tied up in a cue."  
Burying the British Dead
For more than a century this common grave remained unmarked,  until the people of the town,  considering the events of that day with a forgiving spirit,  erected a memorial stone over the resting-place of the unknown dead.

At Menotomy,  the dead militiamen were heaped on an ox-sled and sent home to their town,  while the children looked on.  Joanna Mansfield recollected the sight of the American dead piled high,  their legs stiff,  and each wearing  "heavy stockings of gray homespun."

I would like to add a few words from Todd Andrlik,  the author of a fantastic book,  Reporting the Revolutionary War: 
New-Hampshire Gazette 
Friday, April 21, 1775
"News of the first full battle of the Revolutionary War spread gradually.  For Massachusetts militia officers in towns along the roads from Boston to Concord,  it came on April 18,  1775,  as neighbors reported seeing British army officers on horseback,  cloaks over their uniforms and pistols.  That night,  provincial riders,  alarm bells,  and signal guns transmitted the warning that eight hundred infantrymen had crossed the Charles River and were marching west.  Militia companies began to muster.
On the morning of April 19,  the news grew grim:  royal troops had fired on a militia company on Lexington Common, killing eight.  At midday,  people learned that those British regulars were searching Concord,  destroying the Provincial Congress's supplies and cannons.  Another exchange of fire at Concord's North Bridge left dead on both sides.
As soon as the royal troops left Concord,  the Middlesex County militia began a concerted counter-attack.  The regulars met their reinforcements in Lexington,  and the combined force struggled east to Charlestown through growing hostile fire.  By the end of the day,  about 3,800 militiamen had seen action against about 1,500 regulars.  More than 270 British were left dead,  wounded,  or missing;  for the Americans,  only ninety-four.
American newspapers formed a consensus that one goal of the British army's march had been to arrest Massachusetts political leaders,  particularly John Hancock and Samuel Adams.  (British)  General Gage described his aim as destroying rebel supplies in Concord;  his orders and private files,  made available in the 20th century,  confirm this."
Of course,  we now know that warning Adams and Hancock of possible arrest was not the case for the march that night,  though that pretty much was the general consensus of the patriots at that time.  

From the New-Hampshire Gazette Friday,  April 21,  1775:
Bloody News!
(taken from Andrlik's book)
PORTSMOUTH,  April 20,  1775
Early this morning,  we were alarmed, with an Express from Newbury-Port,  with the following Letter,  to the Chairman of the Committee of Correspondence in this Town.
SIR, Newbury-Port,  April 19,  1775.
THIS Town has been in a continental Alarm since Mid-day,  with Reports of the TROOPS having marched out of Boston to make some Attack in the Country---The Reports in general concur,  in part,  in having been at Lexington---And it is very generally said they have been at Concord. --- We sent off an Express this Afternoon,  who went as far as Simons' at Danvers,  before he could get Information that he thought might be depended upon--- he there met two or three Gentlemen who affirmed,  the Regular Troops and our Men had been engaged chief of the Morning,  and that it is supposed we had Twenty-five Thousand Men engaged against Four Thousand Regulars;  that the Regulars had begun a Retreat--- Our Men here are setting off immediately---- And as the sword is now drawn,  and first drawn on the Side of the Troops,  we scruple not,  you will give the readiest and fullest Assistance in your Power --- And send this Information further on---- In Behalf of the Committee for the Town,
Your humble Servant,
News as it happened...

I'm not sure who wrote the following letter to a British officer in Boston - the writer,  a woman,  is only known as C.S.  of Philadelphia.
Here is an excerpt:
Letter writing
Sir--we received a letter from you--wherein you let Mr. S know that you had written after the battle of Lexington,  particular to me--knowing my martial spirit--that I would delight to read the exploits of heroes.  Surely,  my friend,  you must mean the New England heroes,  as they alone performed exploits worthy fame--while the regulars,  vastly superior in numbers,  were obliged to retreat with a rapidity unequalled...though we consider you as a public enemy,  we regard you as a private friend...
I tremble at the thoughts of war;  but of all wars,  a civil one:  our all is at stake;  and we are called upon by every tie that is dear and sacred to exert the spirit that Heaven has given us in this righteous struggle for liberty.
I will tell you what I have done...I have retrenched every superfluous expense in my table and family;  tea I have not drank since last Christmas,  nor bought a new cap or gown since your defeat at Lexington,  and what I never did before,  have learnt to knit,  and am now making stockings of American wool for my servants,  and this way do I throw in my mite to the public good.  I know this,  that as free I can die but once,  but as a slave I shall not be worthy of life.
I have the pleasure to assure you that these are the sentiments of all my sister Americans.  They have sacrificed both assemblies,  parties of pleasure,  tea drinking and finery to that great spirit of patriotism that actuates all ranks and degrees of people throughout this extensive continent.  If these are the sentiments of females,  what must glow in the breasts of our husbands,  brothers and sons?  They are as with one heart determined to die or be free. 
All ranks of men amongst us are in arms.  Nothing is heard now in our streets but the trumpet and drums;  and the universal cry is  "Americans,  to arms!"
We are making powder fast and do not want for ammunition.
Your sincere friend,
~             ~             ~

Folks,  to me it's reading these first-hand accounts that make the past come to life like nothing else can.  The primary sources - the words of the people from the past who were there - show us that those who we read about were more than just a history lesson;  they are more than sketches in a school book.  They were living, breathing humans,  the same as we are today.  Whereas we have the comfort of knowing the outcome,  they didn't.
But,  to me,  looking at their  times through their eyes, their thoughts,  and their actions bring them back to life here 250 years afterward.
And this is what I try to do during reenactments:  I do my best to emulate those who we just read about - and so many others - so that the visitors may feel they are actually speaking to one from the 1770s.

Until next time, see you in time - - 

Postscript - - - - 
Many times,  when I write postings like this,  I listen to period-appropriate music to help set the mood.  And on the shelf directly above my computer monitor are replicated artifacts and photos that also help to give me my so-called  "muse."
Top left:  a painting of the 1750s Daggett House and Windmill that now sits in Greenfield Village.
Bottom left:  a replica of the 1775 powder horn originally belonging to William Waller.
On top of the powder horn:  a replica  "tin"  betty lamp - one of the popular lighting apparatus of the 18th century.
Middle:  a replica of one of the two signal lanterns hung in the Old North Church steeple on the night of April 18,  1775.
Middle right:  a Miller beer mug from 1991 depicting Paul Revere's ride.
Bottom right:  a small pottery depiction of Paul Revere's house.

Here is the listing the of songs I put onto a various artist 18th century  "mix tape"  that I listen to often  (remember cassettes?  Yes,  I still love 'em!):
In the Good Old Colony Days
White Cockade
Come Haste to the Wedding
A Toast
Buttered Peas
There Was a Jolly Miller
Fish & Tea
General Washington
Girl I Left Behind Me
Of All the Simple Things
Going to Boston
Death of General Wolfe
Here He Comes! The Hero Comes!
Dog & Gun
President's March
Farewell to Old Ireland
The Drum
Massachusetts Hop
Fancy Minuet
Lovely Nancy
Poor Polly
Lady Washington
Rock of Ages
Good Morrow To Your Night Cap
Johnny Cock the Beaver
Funeral Dirge #1 and #2
Hangman Slacken Your Rope
Stony Point
Billy Broke Locks
A Minuet By the Reverend Mr. Bacon
Soldier Will You Marry Me
The Swallow
Lord Howe's Jig
Barbara Allen
Yankee Doodle
Soldier's Joy
Derby Ram
Home Sweet Home
Buttermilk Sky
Amazing Grace
Over the Hills and Far Away
Johnny Toddy Was a Soldier

The artists performing the above listed tunes are Linda Russell,  Kevin Roth,  David & Ginger Hildebrand,  Hesperus,  J. Eberhart,  Dean Shostak,  Colonial Traditions,  1st Michigan Fife & Drum,  Oscar Brand,  John Townley,  and a CD entitled Music of the American Revolution.
Here are a few links to purchase some of my favorite period music:
George Washington: Music For First President by David & Ginger Hildebrand
Over the Hills and Far Away by David & Ginger Hildebrand
Reflections by 1st Michigan Fife & Drum
Colonial America by Hesperus
Colonial Traditions - various Artists
In the Good Old Colony Days by Linda Russell

And for a very good movie  (considering its age)  on the occurrences of Lexington & Concord,  check out April Morning:
"This is simply a gem of a movie based on Howard Fast's excellent 1962 novel of the first day of hostilities between colonists and Britain.
There may have been bigger blockbusters made about the American Revolution  (The Patriot,  etc.)  but this under- rated 1988 film is a true classic,  capturing the quintessential decency of American colonial village life in Lexington and the developing tensions and conflict on that fateful day of 19th April 1775.
April Morning is also effective because it does not glamorize war or demonize the redcoats.  In fact,  a Patriot and a Redcoat are both seen,  at various stages,  to be scared witless by the whiff of grapeshot and of battle.  Yet overall,  in what is truly a momentous day for the villagers of Lexington and Concord,  we see how the events mature a young colonist,  and this is brilliantly illustrated at the end of the film when he leads his family in prayer for their food and life.  This very subtle approach makes it evident that the boy,  like colonial America,  is gone forever and has been replaced by a decent man who would,  with humility,  be worthy of his emerging new leadership role-in young America."

Discover BOSTON by visiting THIS site
Click > Minuteman National Park Service < for the Minuteman website
Click >Find-a-Grave< website for the Lexington dead marker photo
To learn more about Paul Revere's ride, click HERE
To read more about the Revolutionary War through original artifacts, click HERE
To learn more about how our colonial ancestors lived, click HERE
To learn more about how our colonial ancestors traveled, click HERE
To learn more about how our colonial ancestors cooked and what they ate, click HERE
Researching the 18th century - Click HERE
Men's clothing, hair, and language of the 18th century, click HERE

The narratives and quotes that make up today's post came from the following books:
The British Are Coming by Rick Atkinson
Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer
Reporting the Revolutionary War by Todd Andrlik
Paul Revere & the World He Lived In by Esther Forbes
The Last Muster - Images of the Revolutionary War Generation by Maureen Taylor
The Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution by Benson J. Lossing
Beneath Old Roof Trees by A.E. Brown
Principles and Acts of the Revolution in America by Hezekiah Nile

Did you hear the news from Boston?
I read in the Virginia Gazette there was a battle between 
the King's Regulars and some Rebels...


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