Lossing's Field Book of the Revolution, Vol. I., Chapter XXII.







General Gage at Boston. – Proceedings of the Massachusetts Assembly. – Proposition for a General Congress. – Boldness of the Patriots. – Attempt to Dissolve the Assembly. – The "League." – Appointment of Delegates to a Continental Congress. – Denunciation of the "League." – Closing of the Port of Boston. – Peaceable Resistance of the People. – Preparations for War. – Recantation of the Hutchinson Addressors. – Spirit of the American Press. – Zeal of the Committees of Correspondence. – Their importance. – Fortification of Boston Neck. – Attempted Seizure of Arms and Ammunition at Cambridge. – Alarm concerning Boston. – Convention in Boston. – Revolutionary Town Meetings. – Order for Convening the Assembly countermanded. – Meeting of the Assembly. – Appointment of Committees of Safety and Supplies. – Appointment of military Officers. – Spiking of Cannons. – Efforts of Franklin and others. – Counteraction by Adam Smith and others. – Proceedings in Parliament. – Appearance of Pitt in Parliament. – His Speech on American Affairs. – His conciliatory Proposition. – Virtual Declaration of War against the Colonies. – Warm Debates in Parliament. – Chatham and Franklin. – Gibbon and Fox. – John Wilkes in Parliament. – His Character and Career. – Bill for destroying the New England Fisheries. – A conciliatory Bill. – Singular Position of Lord North. – His Triumph. – Action of the London Merchants. – The moral Spectacle in the Colonies. – Carrying Ammunition out of the City. – Detection. – Hostile Movements of Gage. – Counteraction of the Whigs. – British Expedition to Concord. – Its Discovery by the Americans. – Lexington aroused. – Midnight March of the Enemy. – The British Troops and Minute Men at Lexington. – Conduct of Major Pitcairn. – Battle on Lexington Common. – The Concord People aroused. – Assembling of the Militia. – Concord taken Possession of by the Enemy. – Colonel Barrett. – Destruction of Property in Concord. – Rapid Augmentation of the Militia. – Preparations for Battle. – March toward the Bridge. – Battle at Concord Bridge. – Retreat of the British to the Village. – The Scalping Story explained. – Retreat of the Enemy from Concord. – Their Annoyance on the Road by the Militia. – Re–enforcement from Boston. – Junction of the Troops of Percy and Smith. – Their harassed Retreat to Charlestown. – Skirmish at West Cambridge. – British Encampment on Bunker Hill. – Quiet the next Day. – General Effect of these Skirmishes. – Unity of the American People. – Massachusetts Provincial Congress. – Accounts of the Battles sent to England. – Excitement in London. – Government Lampooned. – List of the Names of the first Martyrs.


Scene IV. In Boston, while the Regulars were flying from Lexington.

LORD BOSTON, surrounded by his Guards and a few Officers.

Lord Boston. If Colonel Smith succeeds in his embassy, and I think there’s no doubt of it, I shall have the pleasure this evening, I expect, of having my friends Hancock and Adams’s good company; I’ll make each of them a present of a pair of handsome iron ruffles, and Major Provost shall provide a suitable entertainment for them in his apartment.

Officer. Sure they’ll not be so unpolite as to refuse your excellency’s kind invitation.

Lord Boston. Should they, Colonel Smith and Major Pitcairn have my orders to make use of all their rhetoric and the persuasive eloquence of British thunder.

Enters a messenger in haste.

I bring your excellency unwelcome tidings –

Lord Boston. For Heaven’s sake! from what quarter?

Messenger. From Lexington plains.

Lord Boston. ’Tis impossible!

Messenger. Too true, sir.

Lord Boston. Say – what is it? Speak what you know.

Messenger. Colonel Smith is defeated and fast retreating.

Lord Boston. Good God! what does he say? Mercy on me!

Messenger. They’re flying before the enemy.

Lord Boston. Britons turn their backs before the Rebels! the Rebels put Britons to flight! Said you not so?

Messenger. They are routed, sir; they are flying this instant; the provincials are numerous, and hourly gaining strength; they have nearly surrounded our troops. A re-enforcement, sir, a timely succor, may save the shattered remnant. Speedily! speedily, sir! or they’re irretrievably lost.



General Gage soon became a tyrant in the eyes of the people of Boston. However humane were his intentions, the execution of his commission necessarily involved harsh and oppressive measures. Pursuant to the provisions of the Port Bill, he proceeded, after the appointment of the members of the Council, 2 to transfer the government offices to Salem [June 1, 1774.], and on the 31st of May the Assembly held its final session in Boston. By proclamation, Gage adjourned the House until the 7th of June, and ordered the next meeting at Salem. Anticipating this measure, the House appointed two members of the Assembly – Samuel Adams and James Warren – to act in the interim, as the exigencies of the case might require. These, with a few others already named, held private conferences, and arranged plans for the public good. On the third evening after the adjournment of the Assembly, their plans were matured. The suggestions of New York and other places, as well as the hints thrown out by Pownall in the House of Commons respecting a general Congress, were favorably considered. A plan was arranged for a Continental Congress; they also matured measures for making provisions for supplying funds and munitions of war, prepared an address to the other colonies, inviting their co-operation in the measure of a general Congress, and drew up a non-importation agreement.


These several propositions and plans were boldly laid before the General Court when it reopened at Salem [June 7, 1774.]. The few partisans of the crown in that Assembly were filled with amazement and alarm at the boldness of the popular leaders; and as rank treason was developed in the first acts of the majority, a partisan of government determined, if possible, to put a stop to further rebellious proceedings. Feigning sudden illness, he was allowed to leave the Assembly. He went immediately to the governor and acquainted him with the proceedings in progress. 4 Gage sent his secretary to dissolve the Assembly by proclamation [June 17.], but the patriots were too vigilant for him. The doors of the Assembly were locked, and the keys were safely deposited in Samuel Adams’s pocket. The secretary read the proclamation on the stairs, but it was unheeded by the patriots within. They proceeded to adopt and sign a "Solemn League and Covenant," in which all former non-importation agreements and cognate undertakings were concentrated, and a committee was appointed to send the covenant, as a circular, to every colony in America. 5 They also adopted the other plans matured by Adams and others, and a resolution that "a meeting of committees, from the several colonies on this continent, is highly expedient and necessary, to consult upon the present state of the country, and the miseries to which we are and must be reduced by the operation of certain acts of Parliament, and to deliberate and determine on wise and proper measures to be recommended to all the colonies for the recovery and re-establishment of our just rights and liberties, civil and religious, and the restoration of union and harmony between Great Britain and America, which is most ardently desired by all good men." They designated the 1st of September as the time, and Philadelphia as the place of meeting. Thomas Cushing, the Speaker of the Assembly, James Bowdoin, many years a member of the Council, Samuel Adams, John Adams, and Robert Treat Paine, were chosen delegates. A treasurer was appointed, and the towns were called upon to pay their respective shares of the sum of two thousand five hundred dollars, voted to the delegates in payment of their expenses. The whole business being ended, the Assembly adjourned indefinitely, and thus ended the last session of the Assembly of Massachusetts Bay, under a royal governor.

Gage was greatly irritated by the proceedings of the Assembly, and the acts of the people of Boston in sustaining these traitorous measures. He refused to receive the answer of the General Court to his address, and issued a strong proclamation in denunciation of the League as an unlawful combination, hostile to the crown and Parliament, and ordering the magistrates to apprehend and bring to trial all who should be guilty of signing it. The people laughed at his proclamation, defied the pliant magistrates, and signed the League by thousands. Uncompromising hostility was aroused, and the arm of bold defiance was uplifted, even in the midst of distress and the menaces of foreign bayonets.

At noon on the 1st of June [1774.] the port of Boston was closed to all vessels that wished to enter, and, after the 14th, all that remained were not allowed to depart. The two regiments ordered to Boston by Gage had arrived, and were encamped on the Common. Soon afterward, these being re-enforced by several regiments from Halifax, Quebec, New York, and Ireland, the town became an immense garrison. The utter prostration of all business soon produced great distress in the city. The rich, deprived of their rents, became straitened, and the poor, denied the privilege of labor, were reduced to beggary. All classes felt the scourge of the oppressor, yet the fortitude and forbearance of the inhabitants were most remarkable. The sympathy of the people abroad was commensurate with the sufferings of the patriots, and from every quarter came expressions of friendship and substantial tokens of attachment to the sufferers. The people of Georgia sent the Bostonians sixty-three barrels of rice, and seven hundred and twenty dollars in specie. Wheat and other grain were forwarded to them from different points; Schoharie, in New York, alone sending five hundred and twenty-five bushels of wheat. The city of London, in its corporate capacity, subscribed one hundred and fifty thousand dollars for the relief of the poor of Boston. The people of Marblehead and Salem offered the Boston merchants the free use of wharves and stores, for they scorned to enrich themselves at the expense of their oppressed neighbors. A committee was appointed in Boston to receive and distribute donations, and, in the midst of martial law, the suffering patriots were bold and unyielding.


General Gage was warned to relax the rigor of his military rule, or open rebellion would ensue. He affected to disregard these warnings, yet he employed precautionary measures. Boston is situated upon a peninsula, at that time connected with the continent by a narrow strip of land called the Neck. Convinced that hostilities must ensue unless the home government should recede, and relying more upon soldiers than upon conciliatory deeds, Gage moved in subserviency to this reliance, and stationed a strong guard of armed men upon the Neck. He gave as a reason for this measure the shallow pretext that he wished to prevent desertions from his ranks. The people readily interpreted the meaning of his movement, and saw at once that the patriots of Boston were to be cut off from free communication with those in the country, and that arms and ammunition were not to be transported from the city to the interior. For the first time the free intercourse of New Englanders was interrupted, and the lightning of rebellion, that had for years been curbed within the hearts of the people, leaped forth in manifestations which alarmed the hitherto haughty hirelings of royalty. The members of the new Council, appointed by the governor under the act which changed, and indeed abrogated, the charter of Massachusetts, who had accepted office, were treated with disdain at every step, and a large proportion of them were forced to resign. The courts of justice were suspended; the attorneys who had issued writs of citation were compelled to ask pardon in the public journals, and promise not to expedite others until the laws should be revoked and the charter re-established. The people occupied the seats of justice, that no room might be left for judges. When invited to withdraw, they answered that they recognized no other tribunals and no other magistrates than such as were established by ancient laws and usage. 7

Persuaded that war was inevitable, the people, throughout the province, began to arm themselves and practice military tactics daily. Every where the fife and drum were heard, and fathers and sons, encouraged by the gentler sex, took lessons together in the art of war. The forge and hammer were busy in making guns and swords, and every thing bore the animated but gloomy impress of impending hostility. The zeal of true patriots waxed warmer; the fears of the timid and lukewarm assumed the features of courage; the avowed friends of government became alarmed, and those Addressors, as they were called, who signed an address to Hutchinson on his departure, were obliged to make public recantations in the newspapers. 8 Some of the Boston clergy (particularly Dr. Cooper, the person who first received Hutchinson’s letters from Franklin) were very active in promoting hostility to the rulers, and the press exerted its power with great industry and effect. 9

The Massachusetts Spy and the Boston Gazette were the principal Whig journals, and through the latter, Otis, Adams, Quincy, Warren, and others communed with the public, in articles suited to the comprehension of all. Epigrams, parables, sonnets, dialogues, and every form of literary expression remarkable for point and terseness, filled these journals. The following is a fair specimen of logic in rhyme, so frequently employed at that day. I copied it from Anderson’s Constitutional Gazette, 10 published in New York in 1775. That paper was the uncompromising opponent of Rivington’s (Tory) Gazette, published in the same city:

"THE Quarrel with America fairly Stated.

"Rudely forced to drink tea, Massachusetts in anger
Spills the tea on John Bull – John falls on to bang her;
Massachusetts, enraged, calls her neighbors to aid,
And give Master John a severe bastinade.
Now, good men of the law! pray, who is in fault,
The one who begun, or resents the assault?"

The Boston Committee of Correspondence were busy night and day preparing the people of the province for energetic action, and it needed but a slight offense to sound the battle cry and invoke the sword of rebellion from its scabbard. 11


From an English print published in 1777.

Alarmed at the rebellious spirit manifested on all sides, Gage removed the seat of government from Salem back to Boston [August, 1774.], and began to fortify the Neck. The work went on slowly at first, for British gold could not buy Boston carpenters, and workmen had to be procured from other places. The people viewed these warlike preparations with indignation, which was heightened by an injudicious act of Gage in sending a detachment of troops to seize a quantity of gunpowder belonging to the province, stored at Charlestown and Cambridge [September 1, 1774.]. This act greatly exasperated the people, and large numbers assembled at Cambridge, determined upon attacking the troops in Boston. About the same time, intelligence went abroad that the ships of war in Boston harbor were bombarding the town and the regular troops were massacring the people, sparing neither age nor sex [September 3.]. The news spread rapidly, and the thrill of horror produced by the report was succeeded by a cry of vengeance. In less than thirty-six hours the country for more than one hundred and seventy miles in extent was aroused. From the shores of Long Island to the green hills of Berkshire, "To arms! to arms!" was the universal shout. Instantly, on every side, men of all ages were seen cleansing and burnishing their weapons, furnishing themselves with provisions and warlike stores, and preparing for an immediate march; gentlemen of rank and fortune exhorting and encouraging others by voice and example. The roads were soon crowded with armed men, marching for Boston with great rapidity, but without noise or tumult. Full thirty thousand men were under arms and speeding toward the town; nor did they halt until well assured that the report was untrue. 12

At a Convention of delegates from the several towns in Suffolk county, to which Boston belonged, held on the 6th of September [1774.], it was resolved that no obedience was due to any part of the late acts of Parliament. Collectors of taxes, and other officers holding public money, were recommended to retain the funds in their hands until the old charter was restored; that persons who had accepted seats in the Council had violated the duty they owed to their country; that those who did not resign by the 20th of September should be considered public enemies; that the Quebec Act, establishing Romanism in Canada, was dangerous to Protestantism and liberty, and that they were determined to act on the defensive only so long as just reason required. They also recommended the people to seize and keep as a hostage any servant of the crown who might fall in their way, when they should hear of a patriot being arrested for any political offense. They drew up an address to General Gage, telling him frankly that they did not desire to commence hostilities, but that they were determined not to submit to any of the late acts of Parliament; they also complained loudly of the fortifications upon the Neck.

Gage denounced the convention as treasonable, and, in reply to their address, declared that he should take such measures for the safety of his troops and the friends of government as he thought proper, at the same time assuring them that the cannon placed in battery on the Neck should not be used except to repel hostile proceedings. Unlike Governor Carleton of Canada, he had no word of kindness or act of conciliation for the patriots, 13 and they, in turn, reviled the governor and set his power at naught. Tarring and feathering and other violent acts became common, and the Tories or friends of government in the surrounding country were obliged to seek refuge in Boston. The eight military companies in the town, composed of citizens, were mostly broken up. John Hancock had been commander of a corps called the Governor’s Independent Cadets. General Gage had dismissed him, and the company, indignant at the affront, appointed a committee, on the 14th of August, to wait on the governor at Salem, and return him their standard, "as they had almost unanimously disbanded themselves." 14

The day before the meeting of the Suffolk convention, the general Continental Congress met in Philadelphia [September 5, 1774.], and as soon as information of its firm proceedings reached Massachusetts, the patriots assumed a bolder tone. Gage summoned the House of Representatives to meet at Salem, to proceed to business according to the new order of things under the late act of Parliament. Town meetings were held, but so revolutionary were their proceedings, that Gage countermanded his order for the Assembly. His right to countermand was denied, and most of the members elect, to the number of ninety, met at Salem on the day appointed [October 5.]. Gage, of course, was not there, and as nobody appeared to open the court or administer the oaths, they resolved themselves into a provincial Congress, adjourned to Concord, and there organized by choosing John Hancock president, and Benjamin Lincoln, afterward a revolutionary general, secretary. A committee, appointed to consider the state of the province, prepared an address to Gage, which the Congress adopted, and then adjourned to Cambridge, where another committee was sent to present the address to the governor. In that address they protested against the fortification of the Neck, and complained of the recent acts of Parliament, while they expressed the warmest loyalty to the king and the government. Gage replied, as he did to the Suffolk committee, that his military preparations were made only in self-defense, and were justified by the warlike demonstrations on every hand. He concluded by pronouncing their Assembly illegal, and in contravention of the charter of the province, and warned them to desist.


The denunciations of Gage had no other effect than to increase the zeal of the patriots. The Provincial Congress proceeded to appoint a Committee of Safety, at the head of which was John Hancock, giving it power to call out the militia. A committee was appointed to provide ammunition and stores [October 26, 1774.], and the sum of sixty-six thousand dollars was appropriated for the purpose. Provision was also made for arming the people of the province. They appointed Henry Gardner treasurer of the colony, under the title of receiver general, into whose hands the constables and tax-collectors were directed to pay all public moneys which they received. Jedediah Preble, Artemus Ward, and Seth Pomeroy, were appointed general officers of the militia. 16 The first did not accept the appointment, and Ward and Pomeroy alone entered upon the duty of organizing the military. Ammunition and stores were speedily collected at Concord, Woburn, and other places. Mills were erected for making gunpowder; manufactories were set up for making arms, and great encouragement was given to the production of saltpeter.

The Provincial Congress disavowed any intention to attack the British troops, yet took measures to cut off their supplies from the country. Gage issued a proclamation [November 10.], denouncing their proceedings, to which no attention was paid; and as the recommendations of the Provincial Congress had all the authority of law, he was unsupported except by his troops, and a few officials and their friends in the city. Apprehending that the people of Boston might point the cannons upon the fortifications about the town upon himself and troops, he caused a party of sailors to be landed by night from a ship of war in the harbor, who spiked all the guns upon the battery at Fort Hill.

At a session of the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, convened on the 23d of November, it was voted to enrol twelve thousand minute men – volunteers pledged to be ready to enter the field at a minute’s notice – and an invitation was sent to Connecticut and Rhode Island to follow this example, and increase the number of minute men to twenty thousand. They elected the same delegates to the general Congress, to meet again in May, 1775; appointed Colonel Thomas and Colonel Heath additional generals; and adopted measures for the formation of a new Provincial Congress, to meet early in the ensuing year. They then adjourned to attend the general thanksgiving, held according to their own appointment. 17 When the year 1774 closed, the colonies were on the verge of open insurrection. Let us turn for a moment to view the progress of events in England.

When the colonial agents there observed the manifest improbability of a reconciliation and the certainty of an appeal to arms, they were exceedingly active in their efforts to mold the popular opinion in favor of the colonies. The various addresses put forth by the Continental Congress were printed and industriously circulated. Dr. Franklin and other friends of America traversed the manufacturing towns in the north of England, and by personal communications enlightened the people upon the important questions at issue. The inhabitants of those districts were mostly Dissenters, looking upon the Church of England as an oppressor; and, by parity of simple reasoning, its main pillar, the throne, was regarded equally as an instrument of oppression. They were, therefore, eager listeners to the truths respecting human rights which the friends of republicanism uttered, and throughout Yorkshire, Lancashire, Durham, and Northumberland, the people became much excited.


From a medallion by Tassie.

Ministers were alarmed, and concerted measures to counteract the effects produced by these itinerant republicans. Adam Smith, the author of "The Wealth of Nations," Wedderburne, the solicitor general, and other friends of the ministry, wielded their pens vigorously; and, at their solicitation, Dr. Roebuck, of Birmingham, a very popular man among the manufacturing population, followed in the wake of Franklin and his friends, and endeavored to apply a ministerial antidote to their republican poison. In this he was measurably successful, and the districts were quieted.

Parliament assembled on the 30th of November [1774.]. The king informed them that America was on the verge of open rebellion. When the usual address to the king was proposed in the House of Commons, the opposition offered an amendment, asking his majesty to lay before Parliament all letters, orders, and instructions relating to American affairs, as well as all the intelligence received from the colonies. Lord North opposed the amendment, because it made the first advances toward a reconciliation, and therefore was inconsistent with the dignity of the government! The address was replete with assurances of support for the king and ministers in all measures deemed necessary to maintain government in the colonies, or, in other words, in drawing the sword, if necessary, to bring the Americans to the feet of royal authority. A debate, characterized by considerable bitterness, ensued, but the amendment was rejected, and the loyal address was adopted by a vote of two hundred and sixty-four against seventy-three. Similar action was had in the House of Lords, and an address was carried by a vote of sixty-three to thirteen. Nine peers signed a sensible protest, which concluded with these words: "Whatever may be the mischievous designs or inconsiderate temerity which leads others to this desperate course, we wish to be known as persons who have ever disapproved of measures so pernicious in their past effects and future tendencies; and who are not in haste, without inquiry and information, to commit ourselves in declarations which may precipitate our country into all the calamities of a civil war."

Franklin and his associates caused strong remonstrances and petitions to be sent in from the northern manufacturing districts; and respectful petitions were also sent in from London, Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol, and other large towns, praying for a just and conciliatory course toward America. These petitions were referred to an inactive committee – "a committee of oblivion," Burke called it – while a few counter petitions, procured by Roebuck, were acted upon immediately. Petitions from Americans, and even one from Jamaica, in favor of the colonies, were treated with disdain, and the Americans had every reason to believe that government was anxious to light up the flame of war, with the expectation of at once crushing the spirit of independence in the West by a single tread of its iron heel of power.

Parliament, which adjourned until after the Christmas holidays, reassembled on the 20th of January [1775.]. Greatly to the astonishment of every one, Lord Chatham (Pitt) was in his place in the Upper House on the following day. It was understood that he had washed his hands of American affairs, and that he would probably not be seen in Parliament during the session. It was a mistake, and the great statesman opened the business of the session by proposing an address to the king, asking him to "immediately dispatch orders to General Gage to remove his forces from Boston as soon as the rigors of the season would permit." "I wish, my lords," he said, "not to lose a day in this urgent, pressing crisis. An hour now lost may produce years of calamity. For my part, I will not desert, for a single moment, the conduct of this weighty business. Unless nailed to my bed by extremity of sickness, I will give it my unremitted attention. I will knock at the door of this sleeping and confounded ministry, and will rouse them to a sense of their impending danger. When I state the importance of the colonies to this country, and the magnitude of danger from the present plan of misadministration practiced against them, I desire not to be understood to argue for a reciprocity of indulgence between England and America. I contend not for indulgence, but justice to America; and I shall ever contend that the Americans owe obedience to us in a limited degree." After stating the points on which the supremacy of the mother country was justly predicated, the great orator continued: "Resistance to your acts was necessary as it was just; and your vain declarations of the omnipotence of Parliament, and your imperious doctrines of the necessity of submission, will be found equally incompetent to convince or to enslave your fellow-subjects in America, who feel that tyranny, whether ambitioned by an individual part of the Legislature or the bodies who compose it, is equally intolerable to British subjects." He then drew a picture of the condition of the troops in Boston, suffering from the inclemencies of winter, insulted by the inhabitants, wasting away with sickness and pining for action; and finally, after alluding to the wisdom of the late Congress and the approval of their acts by the people, he exclaimed, "I trust it is obvious to your lordships that all attempts to impose servitude upon such men, to establish despotism over such a mighty continental nation, must be vain – must be fatal. We shall be forced ultimately to retract; let us retract while we can, not when we must. . . . . . To conclude, my lords, if the ministers thus persevere in misadvising and misleading the king, I will not say that they can alienate the affections of his subjects from his crown, but I will affirm that they will make the crown not worth his wearing. I will not say that the king is betrayed, but I will pronounce that the kingdom is undone."

Chatham’s motion was negatived by a vote of sixty-eight to eighteen. Not at all discouraged, he immediately presented a bill, in which it was proposed to renounce the power of taxation, demand of the Americans an acknowledgment of the supreme authority of Great Britain, and invite them to contribute, voluntarily, a specified sum annually, to be employed in meeting the charge on the national debt. This accomplished, it proposed an immediate repeal of all the objectionable acts of Parliament passed during the current reign, and then in force. 19 This, of course, ministers regarded as a concession to the colonies quite as injurious to national honor as any thing yet proposed, and more humiliating, even, than Dr. Tucker’s propositions, then attracting much attention, that Parliament should, by solemn act, separate the colonies from the parent government, and disallow any application for restoration to the rights and privileges of British subjects, until, by humble petition, they should ask for pardon and reinstatement. 20 Chatham’s proposition received very little favor in the House of Lords, though loudly applauded by the more intelligent people without, 21 and it was negatived, on the motion of the Earl of Sandwich to "reject the bill now and forever," by a vote of sixty-one against thirty-two.

The ministry, governed by the ethics of the lion (without his magnanimity), "might makes right," followed up their foolish rejection of the olive branch, by proposing measures tantamount to an actual declaration of war upon the American colonists, as rebels. On the 2d of February [1775.], North proposed the first of a series of coercive measures. He moved, in the Commons, for an address to the king, affirming that the province of Massachusetts was in a state of rebellion; that Great Britain would not relinquish an iota of her sovereign rule in the colonies, and urging his majesty to take effectual measures for enforcing obedience to the laws. The address concluded with the usual resolution to support him with their "lives and fortunes."


On introducing the motion, North intimated that a part of his plan was to materially increase the military forces in America, and to restrain the entire commerce of New England with Great Britain, Ireland, and the West Indies. Fox moved an amendment, censuring the ministry and praying for their removal. Dunning and the great Thurlow engaged in the debate on the side of the opposition, which became very warm. Fox’s amendment was negatived by a vote of three hundred and four against one hundred and five, and North’s motion prevailed by a majority of two hundred and ninety-six to one hundred and six in the Commons, and in the Upper House by eighty-seven to twenty-seven; nine peers protesting. 22


In the debate on this bill the celebrated John Wilkes, 23 then a member of Parliament, formerly editor of the North Briton, a radical paper, who had given the government a world of trouble during a portion of the first eight years of the reign of George III., took a conspicuous part in favor of the Americans. He declared that a proper resistance to wrong was revolution, and not rebellion, and intimated that if the Americans were successful, they might, in after times, celebrate the revolution of 1775 as the English did that of 1688. Earnest recommendations to pursue milder measures were offered by the opposition, but without effect. It was voted that two thousand additional seamen and one thousand four hundred soldiers should be sent to America.

A few days afterward [February 10, 1775.] Lord North brought forth another bill, providing for the destruction of the entire trade of the New England colonies, and of their fisheries. 24 It had a clause, excepting those individuals from the curse who should produce a certificate from their respective governors testifying to their general good conduct, and who should acknowledge the supremacy of the British Parliament. In addition to the opposition which the bill received in the Commons, the merchants of London presented an earnest remonstrance against it, 25 and so did the Quakers in behalf of their brethren in Nantucket, but without effect. It passed by a majority of one hundred and eighty to fifty-eight. [March 8.] Fresh intelligence from America, representing the general adhesion to the Continental Congress, arrived at this juncture, and another bill was speedily passed [March 21.], in the form of an amendment, including all the colonies in the Restraining Act, except New York and North Carolina, where loyalty seemed to predominate.

While the Restraining Act was under consideration, North astonished all parties by offering what he pretended to be a conciliatory bill. It proposed that when the proper authorities, in any colony, should offer, besides maintaining its own civil government, to raise a certain revenue and place it at the disposition of Parliament, it would be proper to forbear imposing any tax, except for the regulation of commerce. The ministerial party opposed it because it was conciliatory, and the opposition were dissatisfied with it because it proposed to abate but a single grievance, and was not specific. To his great astonishment, the minister found himself in the midst of a cross-fire from both parties; yet he stood his ground well, and adroitly carried the proposition through. Although he acknowledged that it was really a cheat with a fair exterior of honesty, and intended to sow division in the councils of the colonies, heedless members of Parliament gave it support, and the bill was passed by a vote of two hundred and seventy-four to eighty-eight.

On the heel of this bill Burke proposed a conciliatory plan [March 22.], and five days afterward Mr. Hartley offered a mild scheme, similar to Chatham’s; but they were negatived by large majorities. The "lord mayor, aldermen, and livery of London," urged by the merchants, who were smarting under the effects of the lash applied to the Americans, addressed the king in condemnation of the late measures toward the colonies. They were sternly rebuked by his majesty [April 16, 1775.], who expressed his astonishment that any of his subjects presumed to be abettors of the rebels. It was obvious that

"King, Commons, and Lords were uniting amain
To cut down this guardian of ours,"

and Franklin, abandoning all hope of reconciliation, sailed for America.

For more than ten years the colonies had complained of wrongs, petitioned for redress, and suffered insults. Forbearance was no longer a virtue, and, turning their backs upon Great Britain, they prepared for war. In this movement Massachusetts took the lead, The Provincial Congress ordered the purchase of ammunition and stores for an army of fifteen thousand men. They called upon the Congregational clergy to preach liberty from their pulpits, and hearty responses were given. "The towns, which had done so fearlessly and so thoroughly the preparatory work of forming and concentrating political sentiment, came forward now to complete their patriotic actions by voting money freely to arm, equip, and discipline ‘Alarm List Companies;’ citizens of every calling appeared in their ranks; to be a private in them was proclaimed by the journals an honor; to be chosen to office in them, a mark of the highest distinction. In Danvers, the deacon of the parish was elected captain of the minute men, and the minister his lieutenant. The minute men were trained often, the towns paying the expense; and the company, after its field exercises, would sometimes repair to the meeting-house to hear a patriotic sermon, or partake of an entertainment at the town-house, where zealous sons of liberty would exhort them to prepare to fight bravely for God and their country. Such was the discipline – so free from a mercenary spirit, so full of inspiring influences – of the early American soldiery. And thus an army, in fact, was in existence, ready at a moment’s call, for defensive purposes, to wheel its isolated platoons into solid phalanxes, while it presented to an enemy only opportunity for an inglorious foray upon its stores." 26

Had the counsels of inflamed zeal and passion – inflamed by the most cruel and insulting oppression – prevailed, blood would have been shed before the close of 1774. Troops continued to arrive at Boston, 27 and the insolence of the soldiery increased with their numbers and strength; but the Americans were determined that when collision, which was inevitable, should take place, the first blow should be struck by the British troops, and thus make government the aggressor. The occasion was not long delayed. General Gage discovered that the patriots were secretly conveying arms and ammunition out of Boston. In carts, beneath loads of manure, cannon balls and muskets were carried out; and powder, concealed in the panniers of the market-women, and cartridges in candle-boxes, passed unsuspected by the guard upon the Neck. 28 On discovering these movements, and learning that some brass cannon and field-pieces were at Salem, Gage sent a detachment of troops to seize them. They were repelled by the people under Colonel Timothy Pickering, without bloodshed, as we have noticed on page 374. This movement aroused the utmost vigilance throughout the country. At a special session of the Connecticut Assembly [March, 1775.], Colonel Wooster was commissioned a major general, and Joseph Spencer and Israel Putnam were appointed brigadiers. Elbridge Gerry, a merchant of Marblehead, and afterward a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was at the head of the Massachusetts Committee of Supply, and under his directions munitions of war were rapidly accumulated, the chief deposit of which was at Concord, about twenty miles from Boston. Meanwhile, Sewall, the attorney general of the province, wrote a series of powerful articles, calling upon the people to cease resistance; and, greatly to the alarm of the patriots lest there should be defection in their strong-hold, Governor Trumbull, of Connecticut, soon afterward offered to mediate between General Gage and the people of Boston, for the sake of preventing hostilities. Timothy Ruggles, president of the "Stamp Act Congress," got up counter associations against those of the patriots, and a small number at Marshfield and other places signed the agreement, calling themselves the "Associated Loyalists." But John Adams promptly replied to Judge Sewall; Governor Trumbull’s apparent conservatism was soon understood to be but a testimony against government, to prove that offers of reconciliation had been made and rejected; the patriots made the "Associated Loyalists" recant, and the republicans assumed a bolder tone than ever of defiance and contempt.

When spring opened, Gage’s force amounted to about three thousand five hundred effective men. He determined, with this force, to nip the rebellion in the bud, and his first active movement was an attempt to seize or destroy the stores of the patriots at Concord, which were under the charge of Colonel James Barrett. Officers in disguise were sent to make sketches of the roads, and to ascertain the state of the towns. Bodies of troops were occasionally marched into the country, and a general system of reconnoissance around Boston was established. The ever-vigilant patriots were awake to all these movements. A night-watch was established at Concord, and every where the minute men were ready with burnished muskets, fixed bayonets, and filled cartouches.

Early in April, many who had taken a prominent part in the revolutionary proceedings at Boston, apprehending arrest, and probable transportation to England for trial, left the town. 29 Among those who remained was Dr. Joseph Warren, and he kept the patriots continually advised of the movements of Gage and his troops. Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who were members of the Provincial Congress, were particularly obnoxious to General Gage, and, as it appeared afterward, he had resolved to arrest them on their return to the city. Fortunately, they were persuaded to remain at Lexington, at the house of the Reverend Jonas Clark.

On Tuesday night, the 18th of April [1775.], Gage sent eight hundred British troops, light infantry and grenadiers, under Lieutenant-colonel Smith, aided by Major Pitcairn, to destroy the stores at Concord. They embarked at the Common, and, landing at Phipps’s Farm, marched with great secrecy, arresting every person they met on the way, to prevent intelligence of their expedition being given.

They left Boston at about midnight, Gage supposing the movement to be a profound secret; but the patriots had become aware of the expedition early in the evening. As Lord Percy was crossing the Common, about nine o’clock, he joined a group of persons, one of whom said, "The British troops will miss their aim." "What aim?" inquired Percy, who was Gage’s confidant in the matter. "The cannon at Concord," replied the man. Percy hastened to inform Gage, and guards were immediately set at every avenue leading from the town, to prevent persons from leaving it. Warren and his friends had anticipated this, and left. Paul Revere and William Dawes had just rowed across the river to Charlestown, with a message from Warren to Hancock and Adams at Lexington. They were almost captured at Charlestown Neck by the guard, but escaped, and reached Lexington, thirteen miles northward of Boston, a little after midnight.


A guard of eight minute men was placed around Mr. Clark’s house to protect Adams and Hancock. The messengers made themselves known to these, but were refused admission to the house, as orders had been given not to allow the inmates to be disturbed by noise. "Noise!" said Revere; "you’ll have noise enough before long; the regulars are coming!" Hancock and Adams were aroused, and their safety being regarded as of the utmost importance, they were persuaded to retire to Woburn.

Revere and Dawes pushed on toward Concord to give the alarm there. One hundred and thirty of the Lexington militia were collected at the meeting-house upon the green by two o’clock in the morning, when the roll was called, and, the air being chilly, they were dismissed with orders to remain within drum-beat.

The midnight march of the British regulars was performed in silence, and, as they supposed, in secret. But vigilant eyes were upon them. Messrs. Gerry, Orne, and Lee, members of the Provincial Congress, were at Menotomy (West Cambridge), and saw them passing; and, as they approached Lexington, the sound of bells and guns warned them that their expedition was known. 31

Colonel Smith detached six companies under Major Pitcairn, with orders to press on to Concord and secure the two bridges; at the same time he sent a messenger to Boston for re-enforcements. Pitcairn advanced rapidly toward Lexington by the light of a waning moon, capturing several persons on the way. One, named Bowman, escaped, and, hastening on horseback to Lexington, notified Captain Parker, commander of the minute men, of the approach of the enemy. It was now between four and five o’clock in the morning. The bells were rung, guns were fired, and the drums were beaten. About one hundred of the militia were speedily collected upon the green, armed with loaded muskets, but in much confusion and alarm, for the number of the approaching regulars was unknown. In the gray of the early morning the scarlet uniforms of the troops appeared, and an overwhelming force halted, within a few rods of the meeting-house, and loaded their pieces. The militia, undismayed, stood firm. They had been ordered not to draw a trigger until fired upon by the enemy, and for a moment silence and hesitation prevailed, for neither party seemed willing to become the aggressor. The parley with judgment was but for a moment. Pitcairn and other officers galloped forward, waving their swords over their heads, and followed by their troops in double-quick time. They shouted, "Disperse, you villains! lay down your arms! Why don’t you disperse, you rebels? disperse!" In rushing forward the troops became confused. As the patriots did not instantly obey the command to lay down their arms, Pitcairn wheeled his horse, and, waving his sword, gave orders to press forward and surround the militia. At the same moment some random shots were fired by the British, but without effect, which were promptly returned by the Americans. Pitcairn then drew his pistol and discharged it, at the same moment giving the word fire! A general discharge of musketry ensued; four patriots were killed, and the remainder were dispersed. Finding themselves fired upon while retreating, several of them halted, and returned the shots, and then secured themselves behind stone walls and buildings. Three British soldiers, and Pitcairn’s horse, were wounded, while eight Americans were killed: four on the ground, near the spot where the monument stands, and four others while escaping over the fences. 32


As soon as the patriots dispersed, the detachment of regulars, joined by Colonel Smith and his party, pushed on toward Concord, six miles distant. Confident of success, the whole party were in high spirits. But Concord had been aroused, and a formidable body of militia had collected to receive the invaders. We have noticed that Revere and Dawes started from Lexington to alarm the country toward Concord. They met Dr. Samuel Prescott, and, while in conference with him, some British officers came upon them. Revere and Dawes were made prisoners, but Prescott escaped over a wall, and reached Concord about two in the morning. The bells were rung, and before daylight the people were under arms. When the guns at Lexington were heard in the morning, the Committee of Safety, and the principal citizens of Concord, had assembled, and arranged a plan of reception for the British troops.


The military operations were under the able management of Colonel James Barrett, 34 while the whole male population, and some women, aided in removing the stores to a place of safety in distant woods. The militia of Lincoln and other places hastened to join those of Concord, and the whole paraded on the Common. Guards were stationed at the North and South Bridges, and in the center of the town, all under the command of Captain Jonathan Farrar.

At about seven o’clock the British column was seen advancing on the Lexington Road. Some companies of militia that had marched down that road returned in haste and reported the number of the British as three times that of the Americans. These companies, with those in the town, fell back to an eminence some eighty rods from the center of the village, where they were joined by Colonel Barrett, and were formed into two battalions. They had hardly formed, before the glittering of the bayonets and flashing of the red uniforms of the British in the bright morning sun were seen, but a quarter of a mile distant, rapidly advancing. A short consultation was held. Some were for making a desperate stand upon the spot, while others proposed a present retreat, until re-enforced by the neighboring militia. The latter council prevailed, and the provincials retired to the high ground over the North Bridge, about a mile from the Common.


The British troops entered Concord in two divisions: one by the main road, the other on the hill north of it. Colonel Smith and Major Pitcairn, who had immediate command of the grenadiers and light infantry, remained in the town, but detached six companies under Captain Parsons to secure the bridges, prevent the militia from crossing them, and to ferret out and destroy the secreted stores, information concerning which had been given by Captain Beeman of Petersham, and other Tories. Captain Lawrie, with three companies, was stationed on the North Bridge, while Parsons, with the other three companies, marched to destroy the stores at the residence of Colonel Barrett. Captain Pole, with a party, took post at the South Bridge, and destroyed what few stores were found in that vicinity; but so diligently had the people worked in concealing the stores that the object of the expedition was almost frustrated. The British broke open about sixty barrels of flour in the center of the town, but nearly half of that was subsequently saved. They knocked off the trunnions of three iron twenty-four pound cannons, burned sixteen new carriage wheels, and a few barrels of wooden trenchers and spoons, cut down the liberty-pole and set the court-house on fire. The flames were extinguished by a Mrs. Moulton, before much damage was done. About five hundred pounds of balls were thrown into the mill-pond and wells.


While the British were thus engaged, the number of the militia was rapidly increasing by accessions of minute men from Carlisle, Chelmsford, Weston, Littleton, and Acton, neighboring towns, and before ten o’clock the force amounted to nearly four hundred men. Joseph Hosmer, acting as adjutant, formed them into proper line as fast as they arrived on the field, westerly of the house since owned by Joseph Buttrick. Most of the operations of the British, within the town, could be seen from this point, and when the fires in the center of the village were lighted the people were greatly excited. Many of the prominent citizens, and the Committee of Safety, were with the militia, and, after a brief consultation, and a stirring appeal from the brave Hosmer, it was resolved to dislodge the enemy at the North Bridge. "I haven’t a man that’s afraid to go," said the intrepid Captain Isaac Davis; and, wheeling into marching order, they were joined by other companies, and pushed forward toward the bridge, under the command of Major John Buttrick, of Concord. The Acton company, under Davis, was in front, followed by those of Captains Brown, Miles, and Nathan Barrett, and by others whose commanders’ names are not recorded, in all nearly three hundred effective men. They marched in double file, with trailed arms. The British guard were on the west side of the river, but, on seeing the Americans approaching, they crossed over, and commenced taking up the planks of the bridge. Major Buttrick called to them to desist, and urged his men forward to arrest the destruction of the bridge. The enemy formed for action, and when the Americans were within a few rods of the river, they were fired upon by some of the regulars. The first shots were ineffectual, but others that followed were fatal. One of the Acton company was wounded, 37 and Captain Isaac Davis and Abner Hosmer, of the same company, were killed. "Fire, fellow-soldiers! for God’s sake, fire!" shouted Buttrick, on seeing his companions fall, and immediately a full volley was given by the provincials. Three of the British were killed, and several wounded and made prisoners. Some other shots were fired, but in a few minutes Lawrie ordered a retreat, and the provincials took possession of the bridge. Two of the British soldiers killed were left on the ground, and were buried by the provincials. Their graves are a few feet from the monument. Another, who was not yet dead, was dispatched by a blow from a hatchet in the hands of a young provincial who had more zeal than humanity. This circumstance gave rise to the horrible story sent abroad by the British and Tories, that the militia "killed and scalped the prisoners that fell into their hands."


EXPLANATION OF THE PLAN. – 1. Lexington Road; 2. Hills and high land where the liberty pole stood; 3. Center of the town, and main body of the British; 4. Road to the South Bridge; 5, 5, 5. Road to the North Bridge and to Colonel Barnett’s, two miles from the center of the town; 6. High ground a mile north of the meeting-house, where the militia assembled; 7. Road along which they marched to dislodge the British at North Bridge; 8. Spot where Davis and Hosmer fell; 9. Reverend Mr. Emerson’s house; 10. Bridges and roads made in 1793, when the old roads with dotted lines were discontinued; 11. The monument. The arrows show the return of Captain Parsons, after the firing at the North Bridge; 12 is the place where re-enforcements met him.

Colonel Smith, in the village, on hearing the firing at the bridge, sent a re-enforcement. These met the retreating detachment of Lawrie, but, observing the increasing force of the militia, wheeled, and joined in the retreat. In the mean time, the party under Captain Parsons returned from Colonel Barrett’s, and were allowed by the provincials to cross the river at the North Bridge, where the skirmish had just occurred, unmolested. It may be asked why the militia did not cut them off, which they might easily have done. It must be remembered that war had not been declared, and that the people had been enjoined to make Great Britain the aggressor, they acting only on the defensive. The militia at Concord had not yet heard of the deaths at Lexington; their volley that had just slain three of the king’s troops was fired purely in self-defense, and they hesitated, for the moment, to act on the offensive by renewing the combat. This is the explanation given by their cotemporaries.

Observing the rapid augmentation of the militia, Colonel Smith thought it prudent to return with his troops to Boston as speedily as possible. A little after twelve o’clock they commenced their retreat toward Lexington, the main column covered by strong flanking guards. They soon perceived that the whole region was in arms, and minute men were collecting from all points. The cautious counsels at Concord, not to attack the enemy without further provocation, were disregarded, and at Merriam’s Corner, a company of provincials under Captain Brooks (afterward the distinguished colonel at Saratoga, and Governor of Massachusetts), secreted behind barns and fences, made a destructive assault upon the retreating enemy. A volley was fired in return, but not a militia-man was injured. This example was followed along the whole line of march to Lexington, and the British were terribly galled all the way. From every house, barn, and stone wall guns were fired with sure aim, and many of the regulars were slain. At Hardy’s Hill there was a severe skirmish, and at almost every wooded defile numbers of the enemy were picked off by the concealed marksmen. All military order among the provincials was at an end, and each fought according to the dictates of his own judgment. Some of them were killed by the flankers, who came suddenly upon them behind the walls; but the number of the militia slain was comparatively small. Colonel Smith was severely wounded in the leg at Fiske’s Hill, near Lexington; and near the battle ground of the morning, at Lexington meeting-house, several of the British soldiers were shot. Greatly fatigued by the night’s march and the day’s adventures, and worried on every side by the militia, that seemed, to use the expression of one of their officers, "to drop from the clouds," the whole body of eight hundred men, the flower of the British army at Boston, must have surrendered to the provincials in an hour had not relief arrived.

An express was sent from Lexington to General Gage, early in the morning, acquainting him with the rising of the militia, and praying for a strong re-enforcement. At nine o’clock three regiments of infantry, and two divisions of marines, amounting to about nine hundred men, with two field-pieces, under Lord Percy, left Boston and marched toward Lexington. They passed through Roxbury, the bands playing Yankee Doodle in derision, it being employed as a sort of "Rogue’s March" when offending soldiers were drummed out. 39 Vague rumors of the skirmish at Lexington had reached the people there, and this movement confirmed their worst fears. No sooner had the British troops passed by, than the minute men assembled, and, along the whole march, vigilant corps of militia were gathering, and hovered around the little army of Percy, ready to strike a blow whenever it might be effectual.

Percy’s brigade met the wearied troops between two and three o’clock, about half a mile from the Lexington meeting-house. He formed a hollow square, planted his cannon for its defense on the high ground near Munroe’s Tavern and received within it the worn-out companies of Colonel Smith. Many of the soldiers fell upon the ground, completely overcome.

They "were so much exhausted with fatigue that they were obliged to lie down for rest on the ground, their tongues hanging out of their mouths, like those of dogs after a chase." 40 Percy dared not halt long, for the woods were swarming with minute men. After partaking of a little refreshment and brief rest, the united forces resumed their march toward Boston, marking their retreat by acts of vengeance, aside from the more dignified use of ball and bayonet. Three houses, two shops, and a barn, were laid in ashes in Lexington, and many buildings were destroyed or defaced, and helpless persons abused on the route. But prompt and terrible retribution instantly followed. As soon as Percy renewed the retreat, the provincials again attacked his forces from concealed points, until they arrived at West Cambridge, where a hot skirmish ensued. General Heath and Dr. Warren were active in the field, and in this foray Warren barely escaped with his life, a musket ball having knocked a pin out of an ear-curl of his hair. The British kept the militia at bay, and committed many atrocious acts. Percy tried to restrain his soldiers, but in vain. Houses were plundered, property destroyed, and several innocent persons were murdered. This conduct greatly inflamed the militia, and

"Again the conflict glows with rage severe.
And fearless ranks in combat mix’d appear."

"Indignation and outraged humanity struggled on the one hand, veteran discipline and desperation on the other." 41 The contest was brief, and the enemy, with their wounded, pressed on toward Boston. The Cambridge bridge had been taken up, and they were obliged to go by the way of Charlestown. They took the road that winds around Prospect Hill, while the main body of the provincials, unawed by the field-pieces, hung close upon their rear.

The situation of the British regulars was now critical, for their ammunition was almost exhausted, and a strong force was marching upon them from Roxbury, Dorchester, and Milton. Colonel Pickering, in the mean time, with seven hundred of the Essex militia, threatened to cut off their retreat to Charlestown. Another short but warm engagement occurred at the base of Prospect Hill, but the regulars reached Charlestown in safety. By command of General Heath the pursuit was now suspended.

Throughout the day Charlestown had been in the greatest excitement. Dr. Warren rode through in the morning, proclaiming the bloodshed at Lexington. Many of the people had seized their muskets, and hastened to the country to join their brethren. The schools were dismissed; the shops were closed; and when it was ascertained that the British were retreating and must pass through the town, many of the inhabitants prepared to leave and to carry with them their most valuable effects. When the firing at Cambridge was heard, the people rushed toward Charlestown Neck, to flee to the country. There they met the retreating troops, and were obliged to fly back, panic-stricken, to their houses. A report got abroad that the British were slaughtering women and children in the streets. Terror every where prevailed, and a large number of the defenseless people passed the night in the clay-pits back of Breed’s Hill. The alarm was false; not an individual was harmed in Charlestown. Percy ordered the women and children into their houses, and demanded nothing but refreshments for his troops. The main body occupied Bunker Hill that night, and a strong line was formed upon Charlestown Neck. A re-enforcement was sent over from Boston, guards were stationed in various parts of the town, the wounded were conveyed to the hospitals in the city, and that night all was quiet in the neighborhood. General Pigot assumed command at Charlestown the next morning, and before noon the crest-fallen troops returned to their quarters in Boston. Thus ended the first act in the bloody tragedy of the American Revolution. 42 During the day the British lost sixty-five killed, one hundred and eighty wounded, and twenty-eight made prisoners; in all two hundred and seventy-three. The provincials lost fifty-nine killed, thirty-nine wounded, and five missing; in all one hundred and three. 43

The events of the 19th of April, 1775, were of vast importance, considered in their relation to subsequent scenes and results. On that day the life of the first British soldier, sent hither to oppress a people panting for the privileges of freedom, was sacrificed – on that day the first American, aroused by armed invasion to the necessity of resistance, fell in defense of the dearest rights guaranteed to him by the British Constitution 44 – on that day "the scabbard" was indeed "thrown away," 45 and a war of seven years’ duration began – and on that day the jubilee trumpet was sounded, proclaiming "Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." 46 The events of that day formed the first disruption of the chrysalis of old political systems, whence speedily came forth a noble and novel creature, with eagle eye and expansive wings, destined speedily to soar far above the creeping reptiles of despotism that brood amid the crumbling relics of old dynasties. They formed the significant prelude to that full diapason, whose thundering harmony, drawn forth by the magic touch of the spirit of Freedom, filled the nations with wonder, and ushered in the New Era so long predicted and so long hoped for.

The military events of the day, compared with the movements of armies in the great contests of war at other times, were exceedingly insignificant in themselves; but the temper shown by the provincials, and the vulnerable character of the British soldiery, as exhibited in the various skirmishes and in the retreat, had a great and abiding effect upon the minds of both parties. The haughty boasts of English officers, that three regiments might march unmolested throughout the continent, and that the Americans were "sorry poltroons, their courage displayed to its utmost in tarring and feathering individuals," were silenced, and Gage, in alarm, called upon the ministry to send large re-enforcements. The patriots, on the other hand, learned their strength when united; that British troops were not invincible, and that the true spirit and courage of men resolved on freedom animated and nerved the militia. Britons were alarmed; Americans were elated. Individual wrongs were adopted by the whole people as their own, and every man slain at Lexington, Concord, and Menotomy or West Cambridge, lived again in the strong arms of a thousand determined patriots. In Massachusetts, in particular, ties of consanguinity, property, marriage, manners, religion, social circumstances, and general equality, made whole communities weep over a single victim, and the hearts of the people of the whole province were made to bleed when the first martyrs in the cause of American Independence were laid in the grave. 47 Linked with that grief was the buoyant sentiment expressed by Percival:

"O it is great for our country to die, where ranks are contending!

Bright is the wreath of our fame, glory awaits us for aye –
Glory that never is dim, shining on with light never ending –
Glory that never shall fade – never, O never! away.
* * * * * * *
"O then, how great for our country to die, in the front rank to perish!
Firm, with our breast to the foe, victory’s shout in our ear.
Long they our statues shall crown, in songs our memory cherish;
We shall look forth from our heaven, pleased the sweet music to hear."

The Provincial Congress of Massachusetts was immediately summoned, and met at Watertown, seven miles west of Boston, on the 22d of April [1775.]. Dr. Joseph Warren was chosen president, and Messrs. Gerry, Church, and Cushing were appointed a committee to draw up a "narrative of the massacre." 48 A committee on depositions was also formed, and many affidavits were taken at Lexington and Concord. When all necessary information was collected, a communication, giving a minute account of the whole affair, was drawn up and ordered to be sent to Arthur Lee, the colonial agent in England [April 25.]. An address "To the Inhabitants of Great Britain" was also prepared and sent with the other papers, and was first published in the London Chronicle of May 30th, 1775. The address was firm but respectful. While its signers asserted their continued loyalty to the sovereign, and their readiness to "defend his person, family, crown and dignity," they boldly exhibited their manhood in declaring that they would no longer submit to the tyrannical rule of a weak and wicked ministry. The Honorable Richard Derby, of Salem, was engaged by the committee to fit out his vessel as a packet, and take the dispatches to London. He arrived there on the 29th of May [1775.], ten days before Gage’s dispatches reached government. The ministry were confounded, and affected to disbelieve the statements that appeared in the London Chronicle of the 30th; but, in a few days, they were obliged to acknowledge the truth of the report. 49

The dispatches of Gage were published on the 10th of June, and London was almost as much excited as Boston. Gage’s report confirmed every important circumstance mentioned by the patriots, and the metropolis was soon enlivened by placards, lampoons, and doggerel verse. The retreat of the British from Lexington was regarded as a defeat and a flight, and at every corner ministers heard revilings concerning "the great British army at Boston that had been beaten by a FLOCK OF YANKEES!"

NOTE. – The following list of the names of the first martyrs in the cause of American liberty, is given in the eighteenth volume of the Massachusetts Historical Collections:

LEXINGTON. – Killed: Jonas Parker, Robert Monroe, Samuel Hadley, Jonathan Harrington, Jr., Isaac Muzzy, Caleb Harrington, John Brown, Jedediah Moore, John Raymond, Nathaniel Wyman, 10. Wounded: John Robbins, Solomon Pierce, John Tidd, Joseph Comee, Ebenezer Monroe, Jr., Thomas Winship, Nathaniel Farmer, Prince Estabrook, Jedediah Monroe, Francis Brown, 10.

CONCORD. – Wounded: Charles Miles, Nathan Barrett, Abel Prescott, Jr., Jonas Brown, George Merlot, 5.

CAMBRIDGE. – Killed: William Marcy. Moses Richardson, John Hicks, Jason Russell, Jabez Wyman. Jason Winship, 6. Wounded: Samuel Whittemore, 1. Missing: Samuel Frost, Seth Russell, 2.

NEEDHAM. – Killed: John Bacon, Elisha Mills, Amos Mills, Nathaniel Chamberlain, Jonathan Parker, 5. Wounded: Eleazer Kingsbury. ----- Tolman, 2.

SUDBURY. – Killed: Josiah Haynes, Asahel Reed, 2. Wounded: Joshua Haynes, Jr., 1.

ACTON. – Killed: Isaac Davis, Abner Hosmer, James Hayward, 3. Wounded: Luther Blanchard, 1.

BEDFORD. – Killed: Jonathan Wilson, 1. Wounded: Job Lane. 1.

WOBURN. – Killed: Daniel Thompson, Asahel Porter, 2. Wounded: George Reed, Jacob Bacon, ----- Johnson, 3.

BEDFORD. – Killed: Henry Putnam. William Polly. 2.

CHARLESTOWN. – Killed: James Miller, Edward Barber, 2.

WATERTOWN. – Killed: Joseph Coolidge, 1.

FRAMINGHAM. – Wounded: Daniel Hemminway, 1.

DEDHAM. – Killed: Elias Haven, 1. Wounded: Israel Everett, 1.

STOW. – Wounded: Daniel Conant, 1

ROXBURY. – Missing: Elijah Seaver, 1.

BROOKLINE. – Killed: Isaac Gardner, 1.

BILLERICA. – Wounded: John Nichols, Timothy Blanchard, 2.

CHELMSFORD. – Wounded: Aaron Chamberlain, Oliver Barron, 2.

SALEM. – Killed: Benjamin Pierce, 1.

NEWTON. – Wounded: Noah Wiswell, 1.

DANVERS. – Killed: Henry Jacobs, Samuel Cook, Ebenezer Goldthwait. George Southwick, Benjamin Deland. Jotham Webb, Perley Putnam, 7. Wounded: Nathan Putnam, Dennis Wallace, 2. Missing: Joseph Bell, 1.

BEVERLY. – Killed: Reuben Kerryme, 1. Wounded: Nathaniel Cleves, Samuel Woodbury, William Dodge, 3.

LYNN. – Killed: Abednego Ramsdell, Daniel Townsend, William Flint, Thomas Hadley, 4. Wounded: Joshua Felt, Timothy Monroe, 2. Missing: Josiah Breed, 1.

TOTAL: Killed, 49; Wounded, 39; Missing, 5 = 93.



1 This is a well-written drama, published by Styner and Cist, Philadelphia, in 1776. Its sub-title is, "A tragi-Comedy of Five Acts, as lately planned at the Royal Theatrum Pandemonium at St. James’s. The principal place of action, in America." It is dedicated "To Lord Boston [General Gage], Lord Kidnapper [Dunmore, governor of Virginia], and the innumerable and never-ending class of Macs and Donalds upon Donalds, and the remnant of the gentlemen Officers, Actors, Merry Andrews, Strolling Players, Pirates, and Buccaneers in America." As most of the real names of the dramatis personæ are familiar to the readers of the few preceding chapters, I give the list as printed in the copy of the drama before me.


Lord Paramount




Lord Mocklaw




Lord Hypocrite




Lord Poltroon


Lord Boston


Lord Catspaw


Admiral Tombstone


Lord Wisdom


Elbow Room


Lord Religion


Mr. Caper


Lord Justice


Lord Kidnapper


Lord Patriot


General Washington

Officers, soldiers

Bold Irishman


General Lee

, sailors, negroes,



General Putnam

&c., &c.


2 The political complexion of the new Council did not please Gage. He exercised the prerogative given to him by the charter to the fullest extent in rejecting thirteen of the elected counselors. The remainder were not much more agreeable to him.

3 A biographical sketch of this distinguished patriot will be found among those of the signers of the Declaration of Independence printed in the Supplement.

4 General Gage was then residing at the house of Robert Hooper, Esq., in Danvers, about four miles from Salem.

5 All who felt an attachment to the American cause were called upon to sign it; and the covenanters were required to obligate themselves, in the presence of God, to cease all commerce with England, dating from the last of the ensuing month of August, until the late wicked acts of Parliament should he repealed and the Massachusetts colony reinstated in all its rights and privileges; to abstain from the use of any British goods whatsoever; and to avoid all commerce or traffic with those who refused to sign the League. Finally, it was covenanted that those who refused to sign the League should be held up to public scorn and indignation by the publication of their names. The articles of the League were transmitted by circulars to all the other provinces, with invitations to the inhabitants to affix their names thereto. Philadelphia alone, as a city, did not accept the invitation to join in such a measure, preferring to refer the matter to a general Congress, and agreeing to execute faithfully all measures therein agreed upon.

6 This picture is from an English print of the time. Then the principal portion of the town was upon the eastern slope and flats. There were a few houses upon the higher ground in the vicinity of Beacon Hill, around the Common, among which was that of John Hancock. In this picture, Beacon Hill is designated by the pole, which, with its barrel, is noticed in a preceding chapter. The peninsula originally contained about seven hundred acres. The hills have been razed and the earth carried into the water, by which means the peninsula is so enlarged that it now comprises about fourteen hundred acres.

7 Otis’s Botta, i., 124.

8 There were many persons of some significance who were willing, at this stage of the controversy, to offer conciliatory measures, and they even gave encouragement to General Gage and his government. One hundred and twenty merchants and others of Boston signed an address to General Gage, expressing a willingness to pay for the tea destroyed. It is averred, also, that some of the wealthiest people of Boston actually endeavored to raise money to pay the East India Company for the tea, but the attempt failed. There were some others who protested against the course of the Committee of Correspondence and the action of a large portion of the ministers of the Gospel, who, they averred, were unduly exciting the people, and urging them headlong toward ruin. But these movements were productive only of mischief. They made the colonists more determined, and deluded the home government with the false idea that the most respectable portion of the people were averse to change or revolution. The following is a copy of the recantation, signed by a large number of the addressors: "Whereas we, the subscribers, did some time since sign an address to Governor Hutchinson, which, though prompted to by the best intentions, has, nevertheless, given great offense to our country; We do now declare, that we desire, so far from designing, by that action, to show our acquiescence in those acts of Parliament so universally and justly odious to all America, that, on the contrary, we hoped we might, in that way, contribute to their repeal; though now, to our sorrow, we find ourselves mistaken. And we do now further declare, that we never intended the offense which this address has occasioned; that, if we had foreseen such an event, we should never have signed it; as it always has been and now is our wish to live in harmony with our neighbors, and our serious determination is to promote, to the utmost of our power, the liberty, the welfare, and happiness of our country, which is inseparably connected with our own." The Committee of Correspondence declared the recantation satisfactory, and recommended the signers of it as true friends to America.

9 There were five newspapers printed in Boston in 1774, as follows: the Boston Post, on Monday morning, by Thomas and John Fleet; the Boston News-Letter, by Margaret Draper (widow of Richard Draper) and Robert Boyle; the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Post Boy and Advertiser, by Mills and Hicks; the Boston Gazette and Country Journal, by Edes and Gill; and the Massachusetts Spy, by Isaiah Thomas. – See Thomas’s History of Printing.

10 Anderson was the father of Dr. Alexander Anderson of New York, the earliest wood-engraver, as a distinct art, in America. Now (1850), at the age of seventy-six, he uses the graver with all the skill and vigor of earlier manhood.

11 The committee of 1774 consisted of Samuel Adams, John Hancock, James Bowdoin, John Adams, William Phillips, Joseph Warren, and Josiah Quincy. The importance of these committees of correspondence may be understood by the estimate placed upon them by a Tory writer over the signature of Massachusettensis. "This," he said, "is the foulest, subtlest, and most venomous serpent ever issued from the egg of sedition. It is the source of the rebellion. I saw the small seed when it was implanted; it was a grain of mustard. I have watched the plant until it has become a great tree. The vilest reptiles that crawl upon the earth are concealed at the root; the foulest birds of the air rest upon its branches. I now would induce you to go to work immediately with axes and hatchets and cut it down, for a two-fold reason: because it is a pest to society, and lest it be felled suddenly by a stronger arm, and crush its thousands in its fall."

12 See Hinman’s Historical Collections from Official Records, &c., of Connecticut.

It was believed by some, that the rumor of the bombardment at Boston was set afloat by some of the leading patriots, to show General Gage what multitudes of people would rise up to crush his troops if he dared to abuse his power by committing the least act of violence.

13 The kindness which Governor Carleton manifested toward the American prisoners captured at Quebec and the Cedars in 1776, did more to keep down rebellion in that province than any severe measures could have effected. Lamb says, that "in the spring of 1776, Governor Carleton addressed the prisoners with such sweetness and good-humor as was sufficient to melt every heart. ‘My lads,’ he said, ‘why did you come to disturb an honest man in his government that never did any harm to you in his life? I never invaded your property, nor sent a single soldier to disturb you. Come, my boys, you are in a very distressing situation, and not able to go home with any comfort. I must provide you with shoes, stockings, and warm waistcoats. I must give you some victuals to carry you home. Take care, my lads, that you do not come here again, lest I should not treat you so kindly.’ " – Lamb’s Journal of the American War, p. 89: Dublin, 1809.

14 I copy from the Massachusetts Spy of September, 1774, the following lampoon in rhyme:

"A sample of gubernatorial eloquence, as lately exhibited to the company of cadets:

"Your Colonel H-n---k, by neglect
Has been deficient in respect;
As he my sovereign toe ne’er kissed,
’Twas proper he should be dismissed;
I never was and never will
By mortal man be treated ill.
I never was nor ever can
Be treated ill by mortal man.
Oh had I but have known before
That temper of your factious corps,
It should have been my greatest pleasure
To have prevented that bold measure.
To meet with such severe disgrace –
My standard flung into my face!
Disband yourselves! so cursed stout!
Oh had I, had I, turned you out!"

This is given as a specimen of the fearlessness of the press at that time, for it most be remembered that the Spy was printed in Boston, then filled with armed troops employed to put down rising rebellion. Gage’s proclamations were paraphrased in rhyme, and otherwise ridiculed. One of these, now before me, commences,

"Tom Gage’s Proclamation
Or blustering Denunciation
(Replete with Defamation).
Threatening Devastation
And speedy Jugulation
Of the New English Nation.
Who shall his pious ways shun."

It closes with

"Thus graciously the war I wage,
As witnesseth my hand – TOM GAGE.

"By command of Mother Carey.

"THOMAS FLUCKER, Secretary." *

* Flucker was Secretary of Massachusetts under Gage. Henry (afterward general) Knox, of the Revolution, married his daughter Lucy, in opposition to the wishes of her father, who desired a more advantageous match for her. Knox was a young bookseller in Boston, and Miss Flucker, who possessed considerable literary taste, became acquainted with him while visiting his store to purchase articles in his line. A sympathy of taste, feeling, and views produced mutual esteem, which soon ripened into love. Her friends looked upon her as one ruined in prospects of future social esteem and personal happiness, in wedding one who had espoused the cause of rebellion; but many of those very friends, when the great political change took place, were outcasts and in poverty, while Lucy Knox was the center of the first social circle In America.

15 A biographical sketch of Mr. Hancock will be found among those of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, in the Supplement.

16 For a sketch of the life of General Ward, see antè, page 190. Pomeroy was in the battle of Lake George, in 1755, and was the soldier of that name whom Everett supposes to have shot Baron Dieskau. See page 109.

17 This appointment was always made by the governor, as at the present day, but the patriots had absolutely discarded his authority.

18 Adam Smith was born at Kirkaldy, in Scotland, in 1723. At the age of three years he was carried off by some gypsies, but soon afterward was recovered. He was educated at Oxford, and was designed for the Church. He became an infidel in religious views, and of course turned his attention to other than clerical duties. He was the friend of Hume, Gibbon, and several of the most distinguished infidel writers of France. He wrote much, but the work on which his reputation rests is his "Inquiry into the Nature and cause of the Wealth of Nations," published in 1771. It was for a long time the ablest work on political economy in the English language. He died in 1790, as he had lived, a contemner of Christianity.

19 These were ten in number: the Sugar Act, the two Quartering Acts, the Tea Act, the Act suspending the New York Legislature (hereafter to be noticed), the two Acts for the Trial in Great Britain of Offenses committed in America, the Boston Port Bill, the Act for Regulating the General Government of Massachusetts, and the Quebec Act.

20 Josiah Tucker, D. D., dean of Gloucester, was an able English divine, and son of Abraham Tucker, author of The Light of Nature Pursued, a work in nine octavo volumes. Dr. Tucker was a famous pamphleteer at the time of our Revolution. He was the only friend of the British ministry who wrote in favor of the independence of the colonies.

21 The corporation of the city of London passed a vote of thanks to him, and Franklin (to whom Chatham submitted the bill before offering it in the Senate) sent forth an address to the people of England, and to his own countrymen there, in which he portrayed the wickedness of rejecting this plan of reconciliation, the only feasible one that had been offered for years. Franklin and other agents asked to be examined at the bar of the House of Commons touching the demands of the general Congress; but even this courtesy, for it could be called nothing more, was roughly denied.

22 Gibbon the historian, author of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, who had then a seat in Parliament, writing to his friend Sheffield, said, "We voted an address of ‘lives and fortunes,’ declaring Massachusetts Bay in a state of rebellion; more troops, but, I fear, not enough, to go to America, to make an army of ten thousand men at Boston; three generals, Howe, Clinton, and Burgoyne! In a few days we stop the ports of New England. I can not write volumes, but I am more and more convinced that, with firmness, all may go well; yet I something doubt."

Gibbon was very much disposed to take sides with the Americans, and it is said that he publicly declared at Brooke’s Coffee-house, that "there was no salvation for England, unless six of the heads of the cabinet council were cut off and laid upon the tables of the houses of Parliament as examples." Gibbon had his price, and, within a fortnight after the above expression was uttered, took office under that same cabinet council, with a liberal salary and promise of a pension. His mouth was thus stopped by the sugar-plums of patronage. So says Bailey, author of "Records of Patriotism and Love of Country," page 169. Bailey also gives the following poem, which he asserts was written by Fox:

"King George, in a fright, lest Gibbon should write

The story of Britain’s disgrace,
Thought no means more sure his pen to secure
Than to give the historian a place.
But his caution is vain, ’tis the curse of his reign
That his projects should never succeed;
Though he write not a line, yet a cause of decline
In the author’s example we read.
His book well describes, how corruption and bribes
Overthrew the great empire of Rome;
And his writings declare a degen’racy there,
Which his conduct exhibits at home."

The first volume of Gibbon’s Rome was published in 1776, and the sixth and last on his fifty-first birthday, in 1788. His bookseller, Mr. Cadell, on that day gave him forty thousand dollars. Gibbon died in January, 1794.

23 This fearless political writer was born in 1727. He became a member of Parliament in 1757. In the fifty-fifth number of the "North Briton," published in 1763, he made a severe attack on government, for which he was sent to the Tower. On account of a licentious essay on woman he was afterward expelled from the House of Commons. Acquitted of the charge for which he was committed to the Tower, he prosecuted Mr. Wood, the Under Secretary, received five thousand dollars damages, and then went to Paris. He returned to England in 1768, sent a letter of submission to the king, and was soon afterward elected to a seat in Parliament for Middlesex. The seat was successfully contested by another. He was then elected alderman of London, and the same year obtained a verdict of twenty thousand dollars against the Secretary of State for seizing his papers. He was sheriff in 1771, and in 1774 was elected lord mayor, and took his seat in Parliament for Middlesex. He was made Chamberlain of London in 1779, and soon afterward retired from the field of party polities. He died at his seat in the Isle of Wight in 1797, aged seventy years. The likeness here given is copied from a medal struck in his honor. The obverse side has a pyramid upon a pedestal, beside which stands a figure of Time inscribing upon the pyramid the number 45. On the pedestal are the words Magna Charta, and beneath, IN MEMORY OF THE YEAR MDCCLXVIII. Wilkes had a most forbidding countenance, but his manners were pleasing. In his private character he was licentious, yet his talents and energy employed upon the popular side made him the idol of the people.

24 According to testimony produced in Parliament, about 400 ships, 2000 fishing shallops, and 20,000 men were thus employed in the British Newfoundland fisheries.

25 The people of New England were, at that time, indebted to the merchants of London nearly five million dollars. With the destruction of the trade of the colonists, all hope of collecting even a small share of this sum would be lost.

26 Frothingham’s Siege of Boston, p. 42.

27 In November, 1774, there were eleven regiments of British troops, besides the artillery, in Boston. In December, 500 marines landed from the Asia man-of-war, and, at the close of the month, all the troops ordered from the Jerseys, New York, and Quebec had arrived. A guard of 150 men was stationed at the lines upon the Neck. The army was brigaded. The first brigadier general was Earl Percy, Moncrief his brigade major; the second general was Pigott, his major, Small; third general, Jones, his major, Hutchinson, son of the late governor. The soldiers were in high spirits, and the officers looked with contempt upon the martial preparations of the people. "As to what you hear of their taking arms to resist the force of England," wrote an officer in November, 1774. "it is mere bullying, and will go no further than words; whenever it comes to blows, he that can run the fastest will think himself best off. Believe me, any two regiments here ought to be decimated, if they did not beat, in the field, the whole force of the Massachusetts province."

28 On the 18th of March the discovery was made, and the guard at the Neck seized 13,425 musket cartridges and a quantity of balls. In doing this, a teamster was severely handled. This circumstance, the oration of Dr. Joseph Warren, in the "Old South," on the anniversary of the Massacre (March 5th), the tarring and feathering of a citizen of Billerica, charged with tempting a soldier to desert, and an assault upon the house of John Hancock, greatly excited the people.

29 "A daughter of liberty, unequally yoked in point of politics, sent word by a trusty hand to Mr. Samuel Adams, residing, in company with Mr. Hancock, at Lexington, that the troops wore coming out in a few days. Upon this, their friends in Boston were advised to move out their plate, &c., and the Committee of Safety voted that all the ammunition be deposited in nine different towns, and that other articles be lodged, some in one place and some in another; so, as to the 15 medicine-chests, 2000 iron pots, 2000 bowls, 15,000 canteens, and 1000 tents; and that the six companies of matrosses be stationed in different towns." – Gordon, i., 309.

30 This building was standing when I visited Lexington in 1848. It was built by Thomas Hancock, Esq., of Boston, as a parsonage for his father, the Reverend John Hancock, of Lexington, about 130 years ago. Mr. Hancock was a minister at Lexington fifty-two years, and was succeeded by the Reverend Jonas Clark, the occupant of the house at the time of the skirmish at Lexington. Mr. Clark lived in the house fifty-two years. The room in which the two patriots, Samuel Adams and John Hancock, were sleeping on the night before the skirmish at Lexington, is retained in its original condition. The wainscoting is of Carolina pine, and the sides of the room are covered with a heavy paper, with dark figures, pasted upon the boards in rectangular pieces about fourteen inches square. In an adjoining room is one of those ancient fire-places, ornamented with pictorial tiles, so rarely found in New England.

31 These three patriots had a narrow escape. They saw the head of the column pass by. Just before the rear-guard had come up, a detachment was sent to search the house where they were staying. They escaped to the fields by a back door, where they kept in concealment until the house was searched and the troops moved on.

32 The names of the slain are recorded on the monument erected to their memory on the green at Lexington. A picture of the monument and a copy of the inscription may be found on page 553. Captain Jonas Parker was among the slain. He had repeatedly said that he never would run from the British. He was wounded at the first fire, but, continuing to discharge his gun, without retreating, was killed by a bayonet.

33 This is the picture alluded to on page 421, from the one drawn by Earl, and engraved by Doolittle in 1775. The largest building in the picture is the meeting-house, and the officer on horseback in front of it is Major Pitcairn. The figures in the foreground are the provincial militia. The dwelling with the two chimneys, on the left (which is still standing), was Buckman’s Tavern. The position of the monument since erected upon Lexington Green, is about where the provincials on the left are seen dispersing. The merit of this picture consists in its truthfulness in depicting the appearance of the spot at the time of the engagement.

34 Colonel Barrett had been a captain in the provincial army during the French and Indian war. He was with Shirley at Oswego, and afterward accompanied Abercrombie to Ticonderoga and Amherst to Crown Point. Becoming aged, he resigned his commission. When the Massachusetts militia were organized at the beginning of 1775, Captain Barrett was solicited to take command of a regiment, but declined on account of his age. "We don’t want active service, we want your advice," said his earnest townsmen. Thus urged, and actuated by patriotic zeal, he took the command. Colonel Barrett died at about the close of the war. These facts I obtained from his grandson, Major Barrett, eighty-seven years old when I visited him in 1848.

35 This sketch is from the road leading to the village of Concord by the way of the North Bridge. The house was erected about eighty years ago, by Colonel Barrett, and is now owned by his kinsman, Prescott Barrett.

36 This view, looking southeast, is from the road leading to the village by the way of the North Bridge, to the residence of Mr. Prescott Barrett. The point from which the sketch was made is upon an elevation a little north of that where the militia assembled under Colonel Barrett. The stream of water is the Concord, or Sudbury River. The site of the North Bridge is at the monument seen in the center of the picture. The monument stands upon the spot where the British were stationed, and in the plain, directly across the river from the monument, is the place where Davis and Hosmer, of the American militia, were killed. The house, the roof and gable of which are seen in the distance, just on the left of the largest tree was the residence of the Reverend Dr. Ripley (afterward a chaplain in the army) at the time of the skirmish. It is upon the road leading to Concord village, which lies nearly half a mile beyond.

37 He was a fifer, named Blanchard. One of the Concord minute men, named Brown, was also slightly wounded. The ball that wounded them passed under the arm of Colonel Robinson, who, by request, accompanied Major Buttrick.

38 This plan I have copied from Frothingham’s interesting work, History of the Siege of Boston, p. 70.

39 Gordon relates that a shrewd boy in Roxbury made himself extremely merry when he heard the tune of Yankee Doodle, and by his antics attracted the attention of Lord Percy. He asked the boy why he was so merry. "To think," said the lad, "how you will dance by-and-by to Chevy Chase." Percy was often much influenced by presentiments, and the remarks of the boy worried him all day. It may be asked why was Earl Percy troubled, and what connection had the name of Chevy Chase with him. The answer is in the fact that Percy was a son of the Duke of Northumberland, a lineal descendant of Earl Percy, one of the heroes of the battle of Chevy Chase, and who was there slain. There was great rivalry between the houses of Percy and Douglas, the former an English borderer and the latter a Scotch borderer. Percy was determined to have a field fight with his rival, and so vowed publicly that he would "take pleasure in the border woods three days, and slay the Douglas’s deer." Earl Douglas heard the vaunt. "Tell him," he said, "he will find one day more than enough." Percy’s aim was the armed encounter thus promised. He appeared at Chevy Chase with his greyhounds and fifteen hundred chosen archers. After taking his sport at the Douglas’s expense, gazing on a hundred dead fallow deer and harts, tasting wine and venison cooked under the greenwood tree, and saying the Douglas would not keep his word, when

"Lo! yonder doth Earl Douglas come

His men in armor bright;
Full twenty hundred Scottish spears
All marching in our sight.
All men of pleasant Tiviot-dale
Fast by the River Tweed.
‘O cease your sport!’ Earl Percy said.
‘And take your bows with speed.’

Soon after this,

"The battle closed on every side,

No slackness there was found;
And many a gallant gentleman
Lay gasping on the ground."

The mail-clad leaders combated hand to hand, until the blood dropped from them like rain. "Yield thee, Percy," cried Douglas. "I shall freely pay thy ransom, and thy advancement shall be high with our Scottish king."

" ‘No, Douglas,’ quoth Earl Percy, then,

‘Thy proffer I do scorn;
I would not yield to any Scot
That ever yet was born.’ "

Douglas almost immediately dropped, struck to the heart with an arrow. "Fight on, my merry men," he cried with his dying breath. Percy took his hand, and said, "Earl Douglas, I would give all my lands to save thee." At that moment an arrow pierced Percy’s heart, and both leaders expired together – See Knight’s Old England, Scott’s Castle Dangerous, and the ballad of Chevy Chase.

40 Stedman’s History of the American War, i., 118.

Stedman was a British officer, and accompanied Earl Percy in this expedition. He highly praises Percy, but says that Colonel Smith’s conduct was much censured.

41 Everett’s Lexington Address.

42 Gordon, Stedman, Stiles, Ripley, Shattuck, Clarke, Frothingham, &c.

43 The following officers and citizens of note were among the slain: Justice Isaac Gardner, of Brookline; Captain Isaac Davis, of Acton; Captain Jonathan Wilson, of Bedford; Lieutenant John Baron, and Sergeant Elisha Mills, of Needham; and Deacon Josiah Haynes, of Sudbury. The estimated value of property destroyed by the invaders is as follows: In Concord, $1375; in Lexington, $8305; in Cambridge, $6010. A list of the killed, wounded, and missing is given on page 532.

44 It will be seen hereafter that the first life sacrificed in defense of liberty in America was upon the Alamance, in North Carolina, in 1771. In that event, however, the militia were in open and armed rebellion against the royal authority, and were the actual aggressors.

45 John Wilkes, in his speech in Parliament, already alluded to, asked, significantly, "Who can tell whether, in consequence of this very day’s violent and mad address [to the king], the scabbard may not be thrown away by them as well as by us?"

46 Levit. xxv., 10.

47 In Lexington, Concord, Danvers, and West Cambridge, monuments have been erected in memory of the slain. The two former will be noticed presently, in connection with an engraving of each. The monument at West Cambridge has been completed since my visit there in 1848. Beneath it rest the remains of twelve persons who were killed in the skirmish there. The names of only three are known: Jason Russel, Jason Winship, and Jabez Wyman. The monument is a simple granite obelisk, nineteen feet high. The funds for its erection were furnished by the voluntary contributions of the citizens of West Cambridge.

48 The first accounts of the events at Lexington and Concord were published in the newspapers and in handbills. One of the latter, preserved in the library of the Massachusetts Historical Society, has the figures of forty coffins at the head.

49 Dartmouth, the Secretary of State for the colonies, issued the following card on the 30th: "A report having been spread, and an account having been printed and published, of a skirmish between some of the people in the province of Massachusetts Bay and a detachment of his majesty’s troops, it is proper to inform the public that no advice has, as yet, been received in the American department of any such event."

Arthur Lee was in London, narrowly watching every movement of government, and transmitting secret intelligence to the Committee of Correspondence of Boston, and to his brother, Richard Henry Lee, member of the Continental Congress. He was the agent of the Massachusetts colony at that time, and issued the following card, over his proper signature:

"As a doubt of the authenticity of the account from Salem, touching an engagement between the kings troops and the provincials, in the Massachusetts Bay, may arise from a paragraph in the Gazette of this evening, I desire to inform all those who wish to see the original affidavits which confirm that account, that they are deposited at the Mansion House, with the Right Honorable the Lord Mayor, for their inspection.





Transcription and html prepared by Bill Carr, last updated 06/03/2001.

Please provide me with any feedback you may have concerning errors in the transcription or any supplementary information concerning the contents. [email protected]

Copyright Notice: Copyright 2001. All files on this site are copyrighted by their creator. They may be linked to but may not be reproduced on another site without the specific permission of their creator. Although public information is not in and of itself copyrightable, the format in which it is presented, the notes and comments, etc., are. It is, however, quite permissible to print or save the files to a personal computer for personal use ONLY.