"Histories of ages past
Unenlightened shadows cast
Down through all eternity
The crying of humanity"
(lyrics from Hurdy Gurdy Man by 1960s folk singer Donovan)
|My minuteman son, Robbie|
Well...I did it; after over a year of thinking about it and planning in my head what I'd like to see, and months of putting it all together, my first time ever
of hosting a Revolutionary War event has come to pass: commemorating Patriot's Day - the day on in which what is usually considered the first battles of the Revolutionary War took place at Lexington & Concord in April of 1775.
Normally when I write a blog post, I try to make it something that lovers of American history will be interested in. And I hope it's the same for this week's posting. However, this posting is as much to me a pictorial souvenir of my first time hosting a Rev War event as anything I've written.
I cannot think of when I've been more proud of an accomplishment as this.
Thus the reason why you will see over 70 pictures.
Besides myself, there were a number of other photographers whose shots I am using this week:
B&K Photography (as noted by their watermark on their pictures)
Jenny Monarch Mailley
And members of the Northville Historical Society & Mill Race Village.
(links to B&K and Mill Race Village are at the bottom of this post)~
~Now, before we get into the gist of the posting, a little prelude:
please understand: I am a firm believer in prayer.
No, they don't always get answered in the way I may like, but I pray nonetheless.
I try to keep my prayers for blessings to family and friends. But every-so-often I might ask for something personal...such as what I prayed for on the Saturday night before this Patriot's Day event: I prayed for decent weather for the following day - Sunday April 28 - the Big Day.
You see, for days previous the weather forecasters were inundating us here in metro-Detroit with calls for Saturday night rain turning to snow giving us an accumulation by Sunday morning of anywhere from a half inch to 5 inches of the white stuff, along with cold blustery winds and clouds for most of the day.
This was predicted even as late as Saturday night.
As you probably know, weather can many times make or break an event, especially if it's a first-time event.
I looked out the window about 11 pm on that Saturday and---yep---here comes the rain again.
So when I said my nightly prayers, I asked for decent weather...or, if nothing else, dry weather.
Cut to Sunday morning:
woke up, fell out of bed, but before I dragged a comb across my head, I peeped through the window blinds to see....dry pavement...and rays of sun beaming up from the sun rise.
By the time I had my van packed, my colonial clothes on, and was ready to go, the sun was up, the sky was blue, it was beautiful...woo hoo!
And the weather stayed perfect all the day long, with temps even rising into the mid-to-upper 50s!
Thank you, God, especially considering the following day - Monday - had an all-day cold, wet, windblown rain a-falling!
~ ~ ~
For years I have celebrated Patriot's Day pretty much on my own, venturing out to historic Greenfield Village while wearing the fashion of the 1770s.
|Patriot's Day at Mill Race Village 2019|
I had thought and thought for quite a long time about how very cool it would be to create a living history event here in Michigan to commemorate this oh-so-important day and date of April 19, 1775 with an actual reenactment.
And with the sestercentennial (250th anniversary) of the American Revolution at hand, I believe the timing could not be better to begin these commemorations and celebrations, especially for those of us who reenact the period.
Now with the success of recent shows as AMC's "Turn: Washington Spies," HBO's "John Adams," and the play "Hamilton," we are seeing a pretty strong resurgence of interest in the era of the Revolutionary War. I have had many patrons come up to me at reenactments and comment on how they've seen at least one of the above shows and it piqued their interest in the period. Or, in some cases, re-piqued
. And this is why they come out: to see history up close and personal.
But TV shows and a play are not enough.
As I have often said, it is unfortunate that Patriot's Day is only celebrated "officially" in four states: Maine, Wisconsin, Connecticut, and, of course, the state in which it all happened, Massachusetts, where the Battles of Lexington & Concord are reenacted annually.
~Patriot's Day at Greenfield Village~
On my own near an actual 18th c house.
And for years I have been doing my
part to spread the word here in southeastern lower Michigan (and in this Passion for the Past
blog) by dressing in period clothing and venturing out to our local historic open-air museum of Greenfield Village to pay a sort of homage to our founding generation. Sometimes I go alone, while other times I am with a few other living historians. Either way, I suppose this manner allows me to be that much closer to the time period in which the events had occurred. A sort of mind-travel.
So I spent many hours over the winter months planning an event to celebrate this, um, non-holiday
of April 19 here in Michigan.
Now all of my planning of an actual reenactment of Patriot's Day - including speaking with a couple of reenacting friends for thoughts and ideas, and then writing event proposals, having multiple face-to-face meetings with all involved, as well as sending e-mails, and making phone calls - has finally come to pass, and my cocked (tricorn) hat is off to the wonderful folks who work at and volunteer at Historic Mill Race Village
, located in Northville, Michigan (not too far from Detroit), for allowing this historical dream to come true. Mill Race Village has a fine collection of 19th century structures taken (mostly) from the city of Northville and have been restored into a beautiful Victorian park setting...though, as you shall see in the pictures posted here, a Victorian converted to colonial America can be had as well. (If you follow my blog here then you know that my reenacting group, Citizens of the American Colonies, has participated in the Mill Race 4th of July celebrations for the past couple of years, and we plan to do so again this year.)
Now, it wasn't just me putting all of this together; I had help from so many, including behind the scenes help from good friends Tony (American Patriot) and Dalton (British Regular), as well as the many other reenactors & living historians that have been there with their thoughts, ideas, and opinions. And between all of us I believe we came up with a fine inaugural event.
By the way, the reason why the date of April 28 was chosen rather than the actual historical date of April 19th is because the 19th fell on Good Friday this year, and it was decided that since it was Easter weekend we should postpone it for another week.
So we did.
Now let's carry on with just how our first annual Patriot's Day celebration played out. Remember, however, that our reenactment, as well as the historical narrative written here, has been very much abbreviated:
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.
|No, this is not Buckman's Tavern. It is the Cady Inn, built in 1835 in |
Northville and now restored and relocated to Mill Race Village.
But on this day, it became, for us, Buckman's Tavern 1775.
Charlotte and Lynn, our servers for the day.
|And making preparations to take care of |
a room full of militiamen awaiting
a possible battle.
The following came 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!"
|"You, there, Boy! Ring the bell in the tower! Summon the town! |
The Regulars are on the march!"
'Twas not midnight at our reenactment. We wouldn't get very many visitors if it were. I, as Paul Revere, told the young lad to ring the warning bell in the school house tower to warn the town that the Regulars were coming out! Yes, a diversion from what actually happened, but the idea was a sort of blending of the multiple riders who went to the many towns and villages throughout Massachusetts.
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."
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.
|Their firelocks unloaded, a few members of Lexington's militia await their turn for a few lite accommodations should anything arise.|
|Bringing up the last of the dried fruit from the cellar, the workers also had bread, cheese, eggs, and ale on hand for the men.|
(We did not really have actual ale there, but instead a variety of non-alcoholic beverages available)
|As you can see, the tavern was accessorized with items of which could |
have been the same scene at the original Buckman's in 1775.
|The visitors did get the feeling they were inside a Revolutionary War era publick house, which was our intention.|
The change from a 19th century tavern to the 18th century
is not too long of a stretch, and I am of the opinion that
the 1835 Cady Inn is pretty much spot on.
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, one of the freed prisoners with Revere whose testimony has given us a more complete picture of the events of that night, walked straight for the welcoming lights of Buckman's Tavern. Sanderson wrote, "I went to the tavern. The citizens were coming and going; some went down to find whether the (Regulars) were coming; some came back, and said there was no truth in it. I went into the tavern, and, after a while, went to sleep in my chair by the fire."
|This is my son, Robbie, who is a part of Tony's group, |
the 1st Pennsylvania. But today he was a militiaman.
|Tony and I, while a-waiting to hear if the Regulars were truly |
coming our way, whiled away the time by playing a game of checkers.
I lost to Tony again! He is good~
Checkers was played throughout Britain well into the seventeenth century by members of nearly every class. As the century progressed, more and more people decided to emigrate to the new colonies in America. Many of these people took Checkers with them, continuing to play the game in their new homes far away from Britain. Meanwhile, back in the mother country, as the seventeenth century came to a close, the game once known as Checkers, for the checkerboard pattern on the game board, was becoming known as Draughts (pronounced 'drafts'), because the game pieces were dragged or moved over the board. By the turn of the eighteenth century, the name Draughts was in common use across all of Britain. However, in the American colonies, those who played the game still called it by its original name, Checkers. Thus originated the divergence of the two names between what would become two separate countries.
By the way, the first known game of checkers was played in 3000 B.C.
Yes, it is one of the oldest games still played today.
The game board you see here I am quite fond of, for a friend of mine, who is also a former co-worker, made it out of an old teacher's desk of oak wood. Since the desk came out of one of the schools that I attended as a youth, I like to think it may have originally belonged to a former teacher of mine. You never know...but it's well made and almost like an heirloom piece.
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.
|We, as the Lexington Militia, began to gather|
up our accouterments.
|Captain John Parker prepared his musket, and Robbie began to gather his things.|
|Captain John Parker, as portrayed by Ken Roberts.|
Ken has been reenacting since at least 1976.
Now you may recall that toward the top of this posting you saw me as Paul Revere. But with a change of coats and hat I suddenly became a militiaman. As with many new reenactment events in these parts, there are quite a few participants who prefer to see how the first one goes before joining in the next year. And thus was the case here with my first Patriot's Day. We did not have nearly the amount of militia and military as I would have liked, though I am very pleased with all who did come out. So this being the case, I played two roles here to help fill in the militia ranks.
In other words, I was about to participate in my first reenactment battle...ever.
|Some go on my left, others on my right.|
Thank God Tony was there to help me!
|Our "Liberty Boy," EJ, was right there|
with us, ready to help.
From the book "Soldier of the American Revolution
" by Denis Hambucken and Bill Payson:
|Tony's militia kit~|
This man has it down
and has taught me much.
That's me in the militia~
This was my first time ever
doing any sort of military.
Militias are reserves of civilian men armed, trained, and ready to mobilize in case of danger. All able-bodied adult males, with few exceptions, were to participate with training exercises as required by town ordinances. Upon enlistment, conscripts usually signed a covenant outlining a code of conduct, duties, and rights. It was usually expected that each man have for himself a good firelock and prescribed quantities of gunpowder and lead.
Social classes were clearly defined in Colonial America. Aside from slaves, who were excluded from service, the lowest classes and laborers were the highest represented and constituted the bulk of the militia. The remainder was made up of craftsmen, artisans, shopkeepers, gentlemen farmers, and other members of the middle class. Clergymen, jurists, doctors, and other officials whose role was deemed critical to the welfare of the community were usually exempt, and the very wealthy could avoid conscription by hiring stand-ins.
Militiamen, sporting an array of civilian clothes, muskets, and hunting rifles, mustered several times a year at the village green, tavern, or at another landmark.
Muster day was always an important event in small towns, where entertainment in any form was a rare treat. Knowing they would be scrutinized by the better part of their community, the men put forth their best effort and appearance.
After the role call, they engaged in a series of drills and marching exercises, practiced volley fire, and honed their loading speed and aim.
As tensions with the British establishment started to mount in the years leading up to the American Revolution, militias were mustered more frequently, and officers with Loyalists leanings were forced out.
The effectiveness and the readiness of the militias depended on the fitness of the conscripts and the professionalism and zeal of the officers, who were generally elected by their own troops.
| Militia officers often drew on some military experience, |
many having served in the French & Indian War.
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.
Mobilizing militias quickly over vast distances in a widely agricultural society was difficult. An elaborate network of bells, alarm guns, and messenger riders was put in place to call militiamen to arms and to spread the alarm from town to town, as was the case for the Battles of Lexington & Concord. In some communities, a portion of the militia was designated as rapid responders, men who vowed to be ready to fight at a minute's notice. These minutemen were selected from the younger militiamen for their vitality and marksmanship. They trained more frequently than other militiamen and usually were equipped with military-grade muskets and bayonets that they were to keep within reach at all times. The minutemen's quick response to the British advance toward Lexington was a key factor in the events that led to the outbreak of the War.
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).
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.
|Colonel Smith sent for reinforcements from Boston, which arrived at the Lexington Green at 5:00 a.m., which resulted in a tense standoff with American militia.|
|The Redcoats came a-marching up the road toward the green. |
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."
|Our Lexington militia.|
As I mentioned, we did not have a high number of participants - it would be awfully hard to get 80 militia and a thousand Regulars in these parts, but we still gave the public a good lesson of the occurrences on this April day in 1775.
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.
|Lexington militiaman, Elijah Sanderson, saw the Regulars shoot at him, but he was amazed that nobody seemed to fall, and thought that the Redcoats were firing blanks.|
Then one British soldier turned and fired toward a man behind a wall. "I saw the wall smoke with bullets hitting it," Sanderson recalled. "I then knew they were firing balls."
The Common was shrouded in dense clouds of dirty white smoke.
|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 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?
But the day had just begun...
We will take a sort of 'halftime' break here before we get to Concord.
It was not my aim to make this event a 1st person immersion, for most here are not comfortable doing such a thing (though I love it!). Rather, it was a combination 1st and 3rd person, which works very well for such a public place as Mill Race. In this manner the visitors are able to get a feel for the times without being uncomfortable. The main point for this reenactment is to teach the public about the beginnings of what became our country's fight for independence from England and to get the word out to remember the date of April 19.
So, many of us enjoyed this perfect weather day by strolling the dirt road and speaking to each other and the visitors as if we were all neighbors, which seemed to create a pleasant atmosphere.
|This is Jenny and it is her first time out as a colonial|
reenactor. She is EJ's mom and we're very glad to
have her part of our group.
|With her husband off fighting in the militia,|
Mrs. Mailley needs to have hinges made and
replaced on her cellar door, so it's to the
blacksmith shop to acquire them.
|I do like window shots, for, to me, they are|
like peering through a window into the past.
|Are we in Colonial Williamsburg?|
These few pictures give that impression, though, no, we are still at Mill Race Village in Northville, Michigan.
Pictures like what we see here is what I enjoy most, for they seem to transport us back in time 250 years.
For this first event, I had our ladies placed inside the Greek Revival style of the Hunter House, originally built in 1851 by Stephen Hunter for his wife and family. Though not of "our" era, it works as a fine substitute.
|Especially when you have a young 18th|
century lad in the doorway.
|EJ welcomes his mother into the house.|
"Did you get the hinges, mother?"
|My wife also took part in the event, which|
made me very pleased indeed, for she does
not reenact nearly as much as she used to.
|Jackie is flanked by Susan on the left and my wife Patty on the right. All three women are relatively new to the colonial world and took the opportunity on this day to pick the brains and share their knowledge|
|Heather spent her time doing needlepoint.|
We kidded her about how she brought rain to each reenactment that took place last year. If that's the case, then this year began on the right foot and the 'bad luck rain spell' is broken, for this day's weather could not have been any better.
My wife and Susan are both accomplished spinsters (in the original sense of the word...a woman who spins on a spinning wheel) and have gone from 'sheep to shawl;' that is, they have gone through the process of taking raw wool directly from the sheep, sorted the wool by grades, then scoured (or cleaned) the wool to remove the lanolin (or suint), which is the natural greasy substance found on raw wool that comes from the glands of sheep to protect its fleece. The traditional way scouring is done is to immerse the fleece into a tub filled with a mixture of stale urine and warm water. But scoured wool still retains dirt, dung, straw, and other impurities, so picking is their next job, which is the way to remove them. Next comes the monotonous task of carding, in which the purpose is to blend, clean, and join the woolen fibers into a continuous mass which can be spun into yarn. This is done by way of carding paddles.
And, now, finally spinning can commence.
|My wife Patty:|
Spinning was another task entrusted to the
women and girls of early America.
|This is Susan:|
Spinsters made wool into yarn by attaching the fiber to the spindle that, when turned, she could expertly twist the wool fibers to give them strength. Thus, by doing this, she is making yarn in which she may later knit into scarves, hats, mittens, stockings, and a myriad of other necessities for her family.
Also on hand we had Dr. Bloodsworth, the physician, as portrayed by Tom Bertrand.
Tom has the tools and knowledge to show the guests just what a visit to the doctor was like during the later 1700s.
|We had Tom set up in the gazebo. |
Besides bringing his doctoring supplies, he also
brought along a few historic flags from his collection.
No, Doc, I am feeling just fine, thank you very much.
|Throughout the day he was busy explaining to the visiting public the pleasantries of 18th century medical practices.|
Next year I hope to utilize Tom more in our scenarios.
We also had a couple of men who brought along a variety of historic guns to show the visitors.
|David Pierce and his friend, George, brought out |
numerous pieces to give a broad overview of
the weaponry used in 18th century America.
I feel bad that I didn't get more photos of Dave (that weren't blurry), but it seemed like every time I went inside where they were set up, there were visitors and I really couldn't get any good, clear photos.
|The conversations at our Patriot's Day commemoration at Mill Race Village centered on the day's historical events, and in this manner the opportunities to teach the guests and each other were strong. |
It kept our focus on the past..
|Gil & Cyndi are brand new to the 18th century. They have been involved in Civil War and WWII reenacting for quite some time, so this era of the Rev War was a bit of a jump for them.|
But they enjoyed themselves greatly.
Robbie came a-courting:
|That is my son, Robbie, and his beloved Heather.|
I do not believe they realize just how many people took their photograph as they were sitting on the bench. The few of us reenactors all did, for certain, but I saw many of the guests taking quite a few shots as well.
|"Well, you see, my dear, it seemed that we were this close to the redcoats out on Lexington Common this morning. I think I got me one, but the smoke was too thick to see. I do plan to go to Concord, for I know they will need my help there."|
|Overheard from our two ladies a-walking along the road: "The men are going off to Concord to help prevent the Regulars from taking their powder. I pray for their safe return."|
This young man, EJ, did a terrific job spreading the news throughout the village of Liberty and Union for the Sons of Liberty!
He also rang the bell in the school house bell tower after Paul Revere pounded on his family's front door as he warned the townsfolk that the Regulars were on the march.
EJ could almost be one of the "Liberty Boys" who might have been friends with Christopher Seider, the young man who was shot and killed by Loyalist Ebenezer Richardson in Boston on February 22, 1770, and is carrying on where Christopher left off!
Carrying a replicated cloth flag known in 1775 as the Taunton flag - a pure 'slap-in-the-face' to King George and all who are loyal to him - EJ walked the roads of Lexington expressing where his loyalties lie:
with the American Patriots!
Thank you EJ - you played a very important and critical role at our
Patriot's Day event this year.
Huzzah to you!!
Again from the book "Soldier of the American Revolution
" by Denis Hambucken and Bill Payson:
Preparing to head to
|His Majesty's army was |
a respectable profession
British troops were superior to American militias in almost every respect. Their ranks were made up of career soldiers who were disciplined, fit, well-trained, and well equipped.
Many men in the ranks did enlist as a means of escaping poverty, and serving in His Majesty's army was a respectable profession. Recruiting officers were discriminating, with a marked preference for young, healthy countrymen thought to present the ideal mix of vigor and respect for authority.
Soldiers were subjected to deliberate and rigorous training programs similar to those of modern armies, starting with basic marching exercises, gradually working their way to weapons training.
Pay was low, even by the day's standards, and all sorts of fees were withheld from the soldier's stipend to cover the cost of food, clothing, shoes, medical care, and other camp expenses. Discipline was extremely harsh. Even trivial offenses were swiftly met with lashings that were witnessed by the entire company.
However, in spite of very demanding conditions, a good many soldiers managed to find some gratification in the service. Life in His Majesty's army was relatively comfortable and predictable, if somewhat regimented. The men took satisfaction in the camaraderie that inevitably formed, and they took pride in being part of the most formidable military force in the world.
|The Redcoats - a formidable force!|
~(Just as with our battle at Lexington, the battle in Concord is very much abbreviated here)~
The report of the bloody transaction at Lexington was spreading in every direction with the rapidity of a whirlwind. The people were seen, in arms, moving swiftly to the seen of action.
The alarm reached Concord about the hour of four in the morning by way of Dr. Samuel Prescott who, only a short time before, was riding with Paul Revere and William Dawes. The town father's, after speaking with their minister, William Emerson, decided to muster their militia immediately and also to confirm the accuracy of the alarm by sending riders to Lexington. Like the Lexington militia, they all agreed that the town should defend itself.
The time was diligently improved by the inhabitants in removing and concealing the publick stores
. 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)
|Could this be Phebe Emerson?|
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.|
|As mentioned earlier, we did not have a large number of men to put on as close a representation as I would have liked, but we did give the many guests, most of who love to hear the sound of any sort of musketry, somewhat of an idea of what it was like.|
And after the battle had ended we spent time speaking with the visitors, explaining what had actually occurred historically.
|"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 bridge you see in this photo at Mill Race is based on the North Bridge at Concord.|
|I had never participated in any sort of battle (mock or otherwise) until this day. Not that I plan to all of a sudden become military - I have no such inkling to do so. However, for something like this where they have townsfolk portraying militia, I can help out, now that I do own my own musket.|
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."
|That's me in the rust-colored coat and wide-brimmed farm hat.|
|We chased the Redcoats back to the road to Boston. |
From Lieut. Colonel Smith, in a letter to Massachusetts Governor Gage:
"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."
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) 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."
|Could this be Mary Hartwell?|
The Concord fight , with all of its unequaled and un-eclipsed glory, was won by Massachusetts militiamen. We weep over it, but we cannot alter it. But not so, thank God, with "Concord Fight" - and by "Concord Fight," I say here, for fear of being misunderstood, I mean by "Concord" all the transactions of that day.
"Concord Fight" broke the ice. "Concord Fight," the rush from the heights at North Bridge, was the first open marshalled resistance to the king. Our fathers, cautious men, took there a step that they could not take back if they would and would not if they could.
Meanwhile, back at Buckman's Tavern:
Before the citizen-soldiers of New England marched to war, they reflected at length on what they had to do, and how they meant to do it. When they believed that their homes and their way of life were at stake, they fought with courage and resolve---not for the sake of fighting, but for the sake of winning.
|I wrote of the day's events.|
Now, some of you may be wondering why Dr. Benjamin Franklin was here during this April 19 when, in actuality, he would have still been in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, on his way back to America.
Perhaps my favorite personal story was of how he became a Patriot, and I should like to present it here.
Benjamin Franklin initially saw America's future as more equal part of the British Empire. He spent 15 years in England before the revolution as a lobbyist and considered himself a loyal Englishman as well as a loyal citizen of Philadelphia. This was generally true of the colonists.
The Stamp Act was the root of an evolving change of mind for Franklin.
|Bob Stark portraying Benjamin Franklin|
Most of the following on Benjamin Franklin comes directly from the book, Legends & Lies: The Patriots
, though with interjections interspersed to shorten, yet complete the story:
When sixty-nine year old Benjamin Franklin landed in Philadelphia on May 5, 1775, he seemed to be a man without a country. He had spent most of the last two decades living in London, working to find ways to keep the colonies and England bound together. His son, William, the governor of New Jersey, was an outspoken Loyalist.
What Franklin could not have known as he stepped off the ship on that day in early May of '75 is that he had stepped right into the Revolution. The first shots had been fired while he was still at sea. He immediately accepted an appointment as one of Pennsylvania's five delegates to the Second Continental Congress, becoming the oldest and most famous representative, which made him quite happy.
|Dr. Franklin preparing his notes.|
What brought him back home to Philadelphia began a couple years earlier, in 1773, after the Tea Act was passed. That's when Franklin published several provocative essays, among them, "Rules By Which A Great Empire May be Reduced to a Small One." His purpose was to "hold up a looking-glass in which some ministers may see their ugly faces, and the nation its injustice."
At the same time he tried to convince the colonists to have patience.
But among the final steps to preserve the uneasy alliance was his decision to secretly forward inflammatory letters written by American Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson. In December, 1772 Franklin anonymously received a number of letters that had been written to the British government by Thomas Hutchinson, Governor of Massachusetts. The letters urged the British to send more troops to suppress the American rebels and Franklin felt that his fellow revolutionaries should be aware of the letters’ content. He circulated them secretly under the condition that they not be made public.
Despite Franklin’s wishes, John Adams published the letters in the Boston Gazette in June, 1773. The Bostonians were furious and Hutchinson was forced to flee the country. The British government desperately sought who had leaked the letters. When three innocent men were accused in December, 1773, Franklin stepped forward and admitted his part in the affair. Franklin was then summoned to appear before the Privy Council, where he was accused of illegally disclosing private correspondence. While these hearings were taking place, news of the Boston Tea Party reached England and Franklin bore the brunt of growing British anger toward the colonies. On January 29, 1774, he stood before thirty four of the highest-ranking British government officials, including Lord North. In a dramatic conclusion, he was vilified by the council, that had said he was "the actor and secret spring by which all of the Assemblies motives were directed," and his actions had caused a "whole province set in flame."
By the time the hearing was done, Franklin's reputation in England had been shattered. To Franklin, who cared so deeply for England and reveled in the respect he had earned there, this attack on his character was a huge personal insult.
My wife, speaking with
Dr. Franklin, is a staunch
Patriot and a supporter of
Dismissed in England and distrusted by Americans, Franklin sailed home. People would often refer to going to England as "going home." But with the Hutchinson affair, Franklin had become a passionate patriot. His loyalty was now to America and he went home - and this time for him, "going home" meant Philadelphia.
While he was at sea, the first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord.
I felt that this story was a very important one that should be told about the man who many, if not most, consider to be America's greatest citizen. For his entire life up to this point he considered himself to be a strong British Patriot, and truly wanted the colonies and the Mother Country to be one with each other.
Franklin's Loyalist son, William, reached his own conclusion that he would remain a staunch Loyalist, no matter the consequences of his father. Every colonist, at some point, had to decide if they were going to remain loyal to the crown or support the independence movement, and for many, that was a difficult decision.
Franklin and his son remained amicable initially, but once the War broke out in earnest, no healing of the rift between them could be had. As Ben Franklin wrote, "Nothing has ever hurt me so much and affected me with such keen sensation, as to find myself deserted in my old age by my only son; and not only deserted, but to find him taking up arms against me, in a cause wherein my good fame, fortune and life were all at stake."
Franklin never forgave his son.
|Bob Stark gave a speech depicting his tale of becoming a patriot inside the |
old church at Mill Race Village.
There were actually quite a few guests in attendance, but I manipulated my camera as to get only those in period dress in my shot.
Yes, I was very glad to have Benjamin Franklin be a part of this event depicting the beginning of the War, for it was the beginning of his war as well.
One of the nice things that many of us were able to do was to spend so much time inside the tavern - the Cady Inn - our own Buckman's.
|We didn't all necessarily stay in 1st person the entire time, though when visitors came in, we certainly spoke to them as if we were there.|
|And the response we received from the visitors of the future was tremendous. Rob and Heather|
|But one is only as good as those he or she surrounds themselves with, and I am very pleased that the members of my own living history group, "Citizens of the American Colonies," are willing to join me in participating in events as this. I am hoping to see civilians who are in military groups, along with their military, take part in this reenactment of what occurred in the spring of 1775 as well, and help to make it grow.|
The day is passed...and past. Who we have left at the closing hour of the Village are the folks you see in this picture. It is unfortunate that the Redcoats had to leave early, for I would've loved to have gotten all participants in this photo. But we have who we have, and whether or not they are in this picture, I thank them and everyone who helped to make the 1st Commemoration of Patriot's Day at Mill Race Village 2019 the success it was. From the bottom of my heart, I thank them.
|I have never received a round of applause before for putting on an event, and these good people gave me one. I am certainly glad they didn't see the watering of my eyes when they did.|
I am so honored.
Most of the historical
text written here was directly lifted, in part, from the following books:
Paul Revere's Ride
by David Hackett Fischer
Beneath Old Roof Trees
by A. C. Brown
History of the Battle of Lexington
by Elias Phinney
Soldier of the American Revolution 1775
by Denis Hambucken & Bill Payson
One of the sources for the Hutchinson Letters came from HERE
Spinning and wool information came directly from the collections of The Henry Ford.
And the book "Taverns of the American Revolution
" by Adrian Covert also helped out greatly.
I would like to thank the photographers for taking amazing pictures and allowing me to use them on this post:
- "like" their page and check out their excellent pictures. Beth and Kevin are wonderful photographers - - thanks to you both for coming up from Ohio to photograph this reenactment. My cocked hat is tipped to you!
Plus there are photos taken by:
Jenny Monarch Mailley
Mill Race Village
Oh...and myself (lol), for I took quite a few here as well!
To the good folks at Historic Mill Race Village
, my hat is off to you for giving me the trust and opportunity to have such an event at your location. I am so glad you were pleased with it.
To Tony Gerring and his 1st Pennsylvania Men, some of which turned militia for this event, I appreciate all you've done as well in helping to make this such a success. A heartfelt thank you.
|No, I'm not part of Tony's 1st Penn., but he sure did fix me up to look like a militiaman!|
To Dalton Lee and the 49th regiment of Foote
for their awesome portrayal of General Gage's Redcoats.
Seriously, guys, I am humbled and honored for your willingness to stay in 1775 and taking part in my first event of this century. You are awesome.
And to the members of my own living history group, Citizens of the American Colonies
: so many of which took part in the different portrayals of civilians of Lexington & Concord, you all are the best 18th century citizens anywhere, and I thank you, thank you, and thank you again!
~In my opinion, the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington & Concord is such an important day and date, and shouldn't only be a 'local' Boston thing. It, instead, at the very least, should be acknowledged in each of our 50 states, right alongside Pearl Harbor Day of December 7 and the attacks we endured on September 11.
Remember Patriot's Day of April 19th!~
See you back at Mill Race on Saturday, April 18, 2020 for our second Patriot's Day commemoration
Until next time, see you in time.
For further reading, and loads of other reenacting photos, please see my previous Patriot's Day celebrations, of which gave me the idea for this reenactment:
Also - - -
Please click the links below for more of my blog posts about the beginnings of the Revolutionary War:
Modern historians like to relegate Paul Revere as more fable than fact, no thanks to Longfellow's poem. But this man deserves his place in our history, and rightfully so, for his ride was as important as nearly any other occurrence of his time.
I have searched multiple sources to find the true story of Paul Revere's Midnight Ride, and put it all here.
I think you just might be surprised at what Revere actually did.
William Dawes' Story
Supposedly, this man was relegated to the footnotes of history due to his name being Dawes. But he, too, has a story to tell of his ride as a partner messenger with Paul Revere.
The Dozens of Other Midnight Riders, including Samuel Prescott
It wasn't just one man who rode out on that fatefull night in 1775. It wasn't even two or three. It was dozens
! And what a web they wove - - - -
Diaries, journals, letters, newspapers/broadsides, remembrances...this is what I used to garner these very personal stories from those who were there - actual witnesses, men & women, of the Battle of Lexington & Concord.
Their tales will draw you into their world.
The Extraordinary Story of Sybil Ludington
Some say her story is not true, though history tends to side with our young female patriot. Check out what I wrote in this posting and then decide for yourself if her own daring ride is true or just a fable.
In the Good Old Colony Days
Sarah and Rachel: The Wives of Paul Revere
Paul Revere was married twice and, between his two wives, he fathered 16 children.
What I attempted to do in this post was to find virtually everything available about these two Mrs. Revere's. I think I succeeded - -
With Liberty and Justice For All: The Fight for Independence at the Henry Ford Museum
An amazing collection of original Revolutionary War artifacts on display for all the world to see, telling the story of America's fight for Independence. An original Stamp Act notification. A letter written by Benedict Arnold. George Washington's camp bed, a coffee pot made by Paul Revere, a writing desk that once belonged to Thomas Jefferson...yeah...this is some great stuff here!
Unsung Patriots: The Printing of the Declaration of Independence
There is so much more to this most important American document, from the idea to composing to printing - who is going to print this? - to delivery...oh yeah, there is a lot more history to our Declaration than I ever realized!
Declaring Independence: The Spirits of '76
Something very special happened almost 250 years ago, but is that story being promoted?
Come on a time-travel visit to colonial America during that hot summer of 1776 and learn, first hand, of the accounts on how we were making a new and independent nation.
Travel and Taverns
The long air-conditioned (or heated) car ride. Motels without a pool! Can we stop at McDonalds? I'm hungry!
Ahhhh....modern travelers never had it so good.
I've always had a fascination of travel back in the day, and I decided to find out as much as I could about them.
I wasn't disappointed - - - I dug through my books, went to a historic research library, 'surfed the net' (does anyone say that anymore?), and asked docents who work at historic taverns questions, looking for the tiniest bits of information to help me to understand what it was like to travel and stay at a tavern in the colonial times.
This post is the culmination of all of that research.
Our country's founding relied greatly on the tavern.
Cooking on the Hearth
No stoves or fast food restaurants. Everything made from scratch.
What was it like for our colonial ancestors to prepare, cook, and eat their meals, and what kinds of food were available to them? How did they keep their foodstuffs from spoiling and rotting?
If you have questions such as this, I believe you will enjoy this post.
A concise pictorial to everyday life in America's colonies. And I do mean "pictorial," for there are over 80 photos included, covering nearly every aspect of colonial life.
I try to touch on most major topics of the period with links to read more detailed accounts.
This just may be my very favorite of all my postings. If it isn't, it's in the top 2!
Living By Candle Light: The Light at its Brightest
Could you survive living in the era before electric lights or even before the 19th century style oil lamps?
Do you know how many candles you would need for a year?
Do you know what it was like to make candles right from scratch, or what it was like to visit your local chandler?
That's what this posting is about!
~ ~ ~