Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     Most people in the United States have heard the expression, “the shot heard round the world,” and know it refers to the opening of the Revolutionary War. (Yet no one knows whose musket commenced the conflict.) In addition, most people today know little about the early fight between the British regulars and the Massachusetts militiamen and minutemen. For the first time, a detailed description can be found in James Darrell Crowder’s THE FIRST 24 HOURS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION: AN HOUR BY HOUR ACCOUNT OF THE BATTLES OF LEXINGTON, CONCORD, AND THE BRITISH RETREAT ON BATTLE ROAD.

     In his publication, Crowder presents a documentary history of the people, places, times, and events that forever changed the course of American history. But it is very different from other works written about the opening of the Revolutionary War. Based on newspaper accounts and writings of participants and eyewitnesses, he sets the stage for the battles by providing facts about happenings that occurred on the night of April 18, 1775. Then he delivers a concise hour-by-hour account of April 19, one of the most famous days in the Revolutionary War. While no book on the subject can omit the names of such notables as Paul Revere, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and General Thomas Gage, most of the narrative is told from the vantage point of the British soldiers, American combatants, and the common men and women of Massachusetts.

     Readers may be surprised to find that most of the American militiamen were farmers and shop keepers who had little military experience. (Some of them later fought at Bunker Hill.) Even a few clergymen participated. Most of the men were under age thirty-five, although some were teenagers. A few who eventually became involved in the fight were in their sixties and seventies. Of special interest to genealogists is a roster, arranged by town, of the forty-nine men killed.

     Crowder’s volume also points out other unexpected details. Some women, for example, participated by guarding the road that passed through town and ultimately captured two of the enemy. Caesar and John Ferrit, two Indians who were raised in an American family, joined the skirmish in Lexington. Several free blacks and slaves also took part. In fact, Prince Estabrook, a slave who later gained his freedom, was the first African American wounded in the Revolution, and a young black, Caesar Augustus, was probably the last man killed as the British retreated to Charlestown after the fighting at Lexington and Concord had finished.

     By using sources provided by both sides, Crowder tries to present the story as it was viewed differently by the British and the Americans. He also points out the lessons learned that day: the British discovered that the Americans were fighters not to be taken lightly and the Americans realized the well-trained British army was not invincible.

     Organizing the material by town and by the time of day or night of an event, the narrative gives readers a definite “you are there” feeling. Fascinating and very readable, THE FIRST 24 HOURS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION: AN HOUR BY HOUR ACCOUNT OF THE BATTLES OF LEXINGTON, CONCORD, AND THE BRITISH RETREAT ON BATTLE ROAD will be of interest to anyone intrigued by the story of “the shot heard round the world.”

     The 129-page book has soft covers, a preface, maps, illustrations, a bibliography, and a full-name index. To the book’s price of $28.95, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $5.50 for one book and $2.50 for each additional copy; for UPS, the cost is $7.50 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional book. The volume (item order #1463) may be purchased by check, MasterCard, or Visa from Clearfield Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211 (for phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website ).

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