From our friends at the Lexington Historical Society, a few events to mark on your calendar if going to be in that area of the country. Click here for more information about the events below.
On Thursday, August 8th at 7:00 p.m. at the Lexington Depot I Am An Honest Woman: Female Revolutionary Resistance
Most women had limited opportunities for political action during the American Revolution. While some of the lower classes could take to the streets, “genteel” women had to find more subtle ways to support the Patriot cause, while maintaining the illusion of domestic contentment.Dr. Emily Murphy, National Park Service curator and living historian, will discuss the “Daughters of Liberty” and their political accomplishments. These women were able to take an active role in the Revolution by politicizing traditional female activities, like spinning flax into linen to create homespun fabric in protest of British imports. A group of 50 protesting Bostonian men would incite a riot, but who would cross a crowd of dutiful housewives showing off their domestic skills?
Saturday, August 31, 12:00 – 4:00 p.m., across from Battle Green on Harrington Road Lexington’s Spinning Protest
On the exact 250th anniversary of the 1769 spinning protest in Lexington, come to a reenactment of that important event! There will be spinners in period dress, interpreters sharing information about the craft of spinning, the political climate of the time and the British goods boycott that sparked the 1769 spinning bee. Plus, a preview of our 2020 Buckman Tavern exhibit on women and political protest.Free and open to the public.
We all have bucket list items that we want to check off in our lifetime. Some revolve around traveling, some may revolve around learning a new hobby or skill. We may have different categories of items. The last is true for me.
One of those categories was to see the first shots of the wars of the United States (okay and the French and Indian War, since that started the march toward independence, when looked at through the lens of history and distance). Continue reading “First Shots”→
“the Country was an amazing strong one; full of Hills, Woods, stone Walls, & c., which the Rebels did not fail to take advantage of, for they were all lined with People who kept an incessant fire upon us…”
From the diary of Lieutenant Frederick Mackenzie who was part of the 23rd Regiment–the Royal Welch Fusiliers that survived the ordeal of April 19, 1775. He would keep a diary until the early 1790’s and chronicled his experiences in the American Revolutionary War. His account on April 19, of the retreat from Concord is most descriptive. The British did not just take the brunt of the firing as the marched hurriedly back toward Boston and safety, but;
“as we did too upon them, but not with the same advantage, as they were so concealed there was hardly any seeing them: in this way we marched between 9 and 10 miles, their numbers increasing from all parts…”
The column was led by Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith and had been tasked by General Thomas Gage, British military leader in North America, to root out the military supplies being stored in Concord by the colonials. The mission, albeit supposedly secretive, did not remain so for long, and the colonials got word out to the countryside. After initial firing at Lexington Green and then at the North Bridge in Concord, the British had to march back through the countryside, facing arriving militia and minute men.
“while ours was reducing by deaths, wounds, and fatigue; and we were totally surrounded with such an incessant fire as it is impossible to conceive; our ammunition was likewise near expended.”
Luckily, for Mackenzie and the other struggling British officers and rank-and-file, on a rise in the ground, outside the town of Menotomy, was a relief column, ready to provide a few moments’ respite.
Leading up to the anniversary of April 19, 1775, we will be sharing some short remembrances from a few people who are from Lexington and Concord.This installment is by Rich Gillespie, a native of Lexington, Massachusetts.
If you live in Lexington, Massachusetts, the beginning of the American Revolution is an essential piece of life. The Minuteman statue dominates the center of town, the village green where the Alarm List stood to face the Regulars is much as it once was, the Town Seal seen on your friendly snowplow quotes Sam Adams’ comment to John Hancock upon hearing the firing—“Oh, What a glorious morning for America!”, and the high school’s team is predictably the Minutemen. The British marched to and from Concord within 150 yards of my 4th grade classroom, and the spring field trip was to the key sites of Lexington and Concord. My first job (as was my sister’s) was guiding visitors on Lexington Green.
On this date, 241 years ago, the first salvo of what would become the American Revolutionary War, was fired on Lexington Green and North Bridge in Concord.
Historian John Galvin once wrote about the Battles of Lexington and Concord that they were the “least known of all American battles.” I never really understood what Galvin meant, as I had read extensively about April 19, 1775 and thought I understood the details of that day in history.
Yet, until this past weekend, when I spent the better part of four days touring the sites and walking the trails, talking to the historians around the towns, I did not realize how much more there is to what actually happened on that April day.
For starters, did you realize that Paul Revere did not go town-to-town calling out, “The British are Coming” to homesteads and roadside taverns? Instead, he was the catalyst that started a chain reaction of messengers and runners to different towns throughout the countryside that cast the alarm in a wide net.
He also would have told farmsteads and meetinghouses along the way that the “Regulars are Coming,” since the colonists still thought of themselves as British.
Or that the unofficial birth of the United States Army is attributed to the militia that followed Colonel James Barrett and Colonel John Buttrick down the hill toward the British at the North Bridge?
That was the first time that men, formed in regiments with officers, made an advance against what they perceived as an enemy force, and did so in a “very military manner.”
What prompted the various militia companies, which came from other towns than just Concord, to sally forth from the hill toward the now infamous North Bridge? The main reason was what was happening in Concord was the mistaken reason behind the smoke emanating from the town?
In the town, the British were burning military supplies and the wooden gun carriages found in the hamlet. Sparks landed one of the nearby dwellings and British soldiers actually put down their muskets to form a bucket brigade, with civilians, to help put out the flames. The smoke that billowed from the doused fires is what prompted the militia and minutemen response.
With water being dumped on the flames, smoke billowed up, which prompted milita Adjutant Joseph Hosmer to ask the officers; “Will you let them burn the town down?” That prompted the forward movement of the militia down the hill and against the British.
Or did you realize that some of the militia, from the nearby town of Acton, suffered some of the first casualties at North Bridge, including their militia captain, Isaac Davis, who was one of the first killed in the engagement?
Somewhere in the midst of the action in Concord was Reverend William Emerson, the grandfather of Ralph Waldo Emerson who would later write that the action on April 19, would be known as the “shot heard round the world” years later.
These are just a few of the interesting tidbits that I picked up this past weekend. Altogether, they reinforce the historic events that I knew unfolded on this day in American History. However, along with reflecting on what transpired in my visit to Massachusetts, these new tidbits of valuable information underscore the important stories and accounts that shape this spring day that are beckoning to be told.
There is so much to be gained by walking the grounds, talking to the historians and historical enthusiasts of the area, and just taking time to appreciate what this day, April 19th, meant to the future of the United States and the era it was leaving behind as part of the British Empire.
As we observe the beginning of the end of the American Civil War this week at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, another anniversary is just around the corner.
240 years and 10 days ago and approximately 630 miles the first shots of the American War of Independence was fired on Lexington Green on April 19, 1775.
Two events, two weeks in April. One commemorating the end of what some combatants at the time referred to as the Second American Revolution, whereas the other anniversary began the First American Revolution (if one sticks with that same theme).
So, as you finish your time tracing the last steps of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House head north and traverse the Battle Road between Boston, Lexington, and Concord.
Our friends at the national park, Minuteman National Historical Park have multiple events going on leading up to, through, and after the 19th of April.
Check out their events here; http://www.nps.gov/mima/planyourvisit/calendar.htm
Today, we are pleased to welcome back guest author Kate Gruber.
When American colonists reached for their newspapers on the morning of April 20, 1775—the day after the first shots fired at Lexington and Concord—they did not see the words “The Shot Heard Round The World!” emblazoned across the front page. Today, we use this phrase to describe the legendary first gunshot fired on Lexington Green, the gunshot that began the 8-year war for American independence from Britain. The words “the shot heard round the world” are as omnipresent in our collective memories as “one if by land, two if by sea,” and even “I have not yet begun to fight!” But did you know that this phrase did not exist during the American Revolution? In fact, the words “the shot heard round the world” were not penned until sixty years after the event, and were written not by an eyewitness to the action at Lexington and Concord, but by famed American poet (and Civil War contemporary) Ralph Waldo Emerson.