Winter Tea Party winners: Angela's book,THE SCARLET COAT, will go to: Print copy- Andrea Stephens; e-book copy - Catherine Wight!

LUCY REYNOLDS has a table topper quilt on the way, and winners of the Valentine Ebook Collection are: Deanna Stevens, Caryl Kane, Anne Payne and Winnie Thomas. With thanks to all who joined in!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Paul Revere and His Riders

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Thanks to the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, every American knows that Paul Revere made a midnight ride warning the colonists that the British are coming. Here is one stanza of the poem.

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.


One thing the poem leaves out is there were many riders who rode to warn patriots of British invasion. Here's a brief sketch of all five riders who were well known.

Sybil Ludington: Sybil was the only woman rider. Her ride took place later than the other riders, April 26, 1777, but her service to the American cause was invaluable. She was the daughter of Colonel Henry Ludington. She rode 40 miles, double the miles Revere rode, to warn the colonists at Danbury, Connecticut of the approach of the British. She was later commended by George Washington for her heroism, and a statue of her was erected along her route in Carmel, New York.

William Dawes: During the war, in 1776, William Dawes was commissioned as a second major of the Boston militia regiment. A year earlier, on the night of April 18, 1775, Doctor Joseph Warren sent William Dawes, along with Revere, to ride from Boston, Massachusetts north to Lexington to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock of their impending arrest, and to alert the colonial minutemen that the British were coming. Dawes arrived in Lexington half an hour after Revere because he took the longer route by land through the Boston Neck and his horse wasn't as fast. After warning Adams and Hancock, Dawes and Revere set out to warn Concord in case that was the British target.

British officers waited on the road between Lexington and Concord and ordered Dawes, Revere, and Prescott, another rider, to halt. The three men rode off in different directions hoping at one of them would escape. Dawes later told his children that after he rode into the yard of a house shouting that he had lured two officers there. Fearing an ambush, the officers stopped chasing him. But Dawes's horse bucked him off and ran away. He had to walk back to Lexington. Dawes and the other riders' warnings were successful. The town militas were ready for the British and won their first colonial victory. The British never found the weapons they planned to destroy and had to retreat to Boston.

In 1896, Helen F. Moore wrote this verse about the ride of Dawes.

Tis all very well for the children to hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere;
But why should my name be quite forgot,
Who rode as boldly and well, God wot?
Why should I ask? The reason is clear-
My name was Dawes and his Revere.


Samuel Prescott: Paul Revere arranged for Samuel Prescott to meet him and Dawes on the road from Lexington to Concord the night of April 18, 1775. Prescott was a native of Concord, Massachusetts and knew the territory. He was to be a guide for the other two men.
When Prescott met Revere and Dawes on the road to Concord, British officers forced them to split up. Prescott would be the only man to eventually reach Concord safely and warn the Patriots there. Prescott then continued west to warn Acton, Massachusetts while his brother Abel Prescott rode south to warn Sudbury and Framingham. By this time, many riders were also dispatched from other towns to spread the warning. Bells were rung, and cannons were fired to warn of the danger at hand.

Prescott witnessed the Battle of Concord, then rode back to Lexington where he stayed to volunteer as a surgeon for two weeks. Later he became a surgeon for the Continental Army.

Israel Bissell: Israel Bissell made the longest ride in mid April 1775, starting around the 13th of that month. According to legend, Bissell was a professional post rider for the American colonists who rode 345 miles in four days and six hours along the Old Post Road covering a total of 345 miles. He shouted along the way "To arms, to arms, the war has begun." Bissell began his journey in Watertown, Massachusetts and drove his first horse so hard that it died just outside of Worcester, Massachusetts. He continued down to Philadelphia warning the militias along the way. Bissell carried a message from General Joseph Palmer where he was supposed to pass it to another courier. The newspapers of the day printed the warning and Bissell's name as the only rider. Some believe he is a composite of all the riders who carried the warning. Even if Bissell only rode from Watertown to Hartford, he rode the furthest of the five riders, and should be remembered for this service to the American colonists. Later Bissell enlisted in the Connecticut regiment and would eventually become a sergeant under Colonel Erastus Wolcott, signer of the Declaration of Independence.

The American poet and historian, Clay Perry, wrote an ode to Bissell with these opening lines:

Listen, my children, to my epistle
Of the long, long ride of Israel Bissell,
Who outrode Paul by miles and time
But didn't rate a poet's rhyme.


Paul Revere: Paul Revere, the most famous of riders, was trained to be a silversmith. When the Stamp Act of 1765 caused financial difficulties for his business, he joined the Sons of Liberty, the group of men responsible for organizing early revolution efforts. This is how he become aquanted with Joseph Warren, the leader who sent the riders out with their warning. Between 1773 and 1775, Revere made 18 rides as a courier for the Boston Committee of Public Safety reporting unrest. One April 7, 1775, Joseph Warren sent Revere to Concord to warn the Massachusetts Provincial Congress about British troop movements. Concord citizens moved the munitions and hid them.

Before the famous ride, Revere had instructed Robert Newman, the sexton of the North Church, to send a signal by lantern to alert colonists in Charlestown about to the movements of the troops. The code was "one if by land, two if by sea", one lantern would signal the army chose the land route while two lanterns would signal the route "by water" across the Charles River. There were two lanterns hung on April 18.

On the night of April 18, 1775, Warren sent Revere to send the signal to Charlestown that the British troops were on the move. Revere rode through northern Boston warning the American patriots about the enemy's movement. He never shouted the phrase "the British are coming." He rode swiftly and in secrecy northward. His journey ended in Lexington where he met other Sons of Liberty John Hancock and Samuel Adams. After meeting up with William Dawes and Samuel Prescott, Revere was captured and questioned by the British, so he never completed his ride to Concord. After he was released the same night, he helped Hancock escape Lexington.

During the war, Revere served in the Continental Army and afterwards returned to his profession as a silversmith.


2 comments:

  1. I wrote a post about Longfellow's poem I think you might enjoy:
    http://passionforthepast.blogspot.com/2014/04/listen-children-and-you-shall-hear.html

    ReplyDelete

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