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.
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.
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.
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.
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.