The Other Side of History

The news that would have reached the London Chronicle might have read something like this.

Concord, Mass, April 19, 1775.  Troops, having learned of a possible cache of arms and the presence of senior leaders of the insurgency, marched on Lexington and Concord to capture the arms and arrest the rebel leaders.  They were successful in dispersing a small force on the Lexington Green and then approached Concord to complete their mission.   The enemy, estimated at 400 poorly equipped local residents, abandoned the village for a nearby hill without resistance. 

After interrogating some residents, a cannon was found, confiscated and disabled; insurgent leaders John Hancock and Samuel Adams could not be found. The soldiers, having completed their mission elected to return to Boston without waiting for promised reinforcements.  As they started back, insurgent fighters began to attack from concealed roadside positions.  The army lost 73 killed, 174 wounded, and 26 missing; insurgent losses were pegged at 49 killed, 39 wounded and five were unaccounted for.

Of course, we see it a bit differently and a single shot fired at Lexington before the British opened fire and killed eight citizens is now referred to as the “shot heard round the world.”

Paul Revere had kicked off the action on April 18, 1775.   He was working as an express rider to carry news, messages, and copies of resolutions from rebel committees in Boston to places as far away as New York and Philadelphia.  Revere was asked to ride to Lexington to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British troops were marching to arrest them. He was rowed across the Charles River to Charlestown and borrowed a horse to make his now famous ride.

He arrived in Lexington about midnight and delivered his message to Adams and Hancock.  Revere was joined by another rider –one William Dawes, – who had been sent with the same message by a different route.  The two decided to continue to Concord and were joined on that leg by Dr. Samuel Prescott.  On the way, all three were stopped by a British patrol. Prescott escaped almost immediately and continued to Concord.  Dawes evidently escaped soon after, but Revere was held for a few hours before release.  By now Revere was without a horse so he returned to Lexington in time to witness part of the encounter on Lexington Green.

The American Revolution was officially under way on this day in 1775.

When he wasn’t being a courier, Paul Revere was a really talented gold and silversmith as well as an engraver and illustrator.  He was widely known for his silver bowls and tea services and widely admired for political cartoons – one in particular of the Boston Massacre.

Revere eventually had 16 children (not all survived) with two different wives and worked hard all his life to support his family.  In addition to excelling in smithing and art, he offered services carving false teeth, built a powder mill, commanded soldiers, operated a hardware store and built a foundry that manufactured fittings for Boston shipbuilders. Obviously an entrepreneur, he also opened a copper rolling mill in Canton, Massachusetts that made sheathing for the dome of the Massachusetts statehouse and the hull of the USS Constitution.

Revere made over 5,000 items in silver and produced more than 24,000 prints.  If you look around and find one of these items in your personal collection, call your Washington home insurance agent; you will want to review your coverage.  Don’t bother checking the family pewter though.  There are lots of “Revere Bowls” in pewter; he didn’t make any of them.

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