A Midnight Ride to Lexington

The events of this week in 1775, especially of April 18-19, are some of the most famous in the story of how Americans won the liberty that we still enjoy today.
this-week-in-history-1775-1Those eventful days began on April 18, 1775 with a horseback ride by Paul Revere and William Dawes. They set out to warn militias across the Massachusetts countryside of approaching British troops, who were sent to Concord to confiscate the weapons there. These British troops were also dispatched to “bring back the bodies of Mess. Hancock and Adams.”

Arriving in Lexington around midnight at the home of the Rev. Jonas Clark (where John Hancock and Samuel Adams were staying), Revere passed on word of the British plans. Revere and Dawes then left Lexington, joined by Samuel Prescott, and continued their ride towards Concord. On their way, Revere and Dawes were captured by the British but Prescott escaped and alerted Concord.


Minutemen facing British soldiers on Lexington Common, Massachusetts, in the first battle in the War of Independence, 19th April 1775. Original artist William Barnes Wollen. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

After the alert by Revere had been delivered in Lexington, the local militia (largely the men from Clark’s church) was mustered. On the morning of April 19, 1775, some 77 Americans would face about 800 British troops. Gunfire was exchanged — the American Revolution had begun!

As the smoke cleared, 18 Americans lay wounded or dead (all the casualties being from Pastor Clark’s church), including both black patriots (such as Prince Estabrook) and white patriots (such as John Robbins). (One of the amazing items we have in the WallBuilders library is a sermon preached by Jonas Clark on the one-year anniversary of the Battle of Lexington.)

The much larger British force, having prevailed in that Lexington skirmish, continued their march towards Concord, where they would be met by the Rev. William Emerson and 400 American patriots awaiting them. Also involved in that Concord group was black patriot Peter Salem, who a few weeks later went on to become the hero of the Battle of Bunker Hill.
this-week-in-history-1775-3As we remember the events of this week that occurred 241 years ago and the liberties they eventually produced, let’s also remember the responsibility those events place upon us. As John Adams reminded us:

Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.