Monday, March 30, 2009

Paul Revere Capture Site

Minute Man Nat. Historical Park
Marrett Rd. (Rt. 2A)
Lincoln, Mass.

Inside Minute Man National Historical Park , right on Route 2A, is this small display that marks the approximate spot where Paul Revere, William Dawes and Dr. Samuel Prescott were stopped by a British patrol as the three men were headed towards Concord in the early morning hours of 19 April 1775. Both Dawes and Prescott managed to escape but Revere was taken prisoner by the British soldiers. The marker in the center of the display reads as follows:

"At this Point, on the old Concord road as it then was, ended the midnight ride of Paul Revere". He had, at about two o'clock of the morning of April 19, 1775, the night being clear and the moon in its third quarter, got thus far on his way from Lexington to Concord, alarming the inhabitants as he went, when he and his companions, William Dawes, of Boston, and Dr. Samuel Prescott, of Concord, were suddenly halted by a British patrol, who had stationed themselves at this bend of the road. Dawes, turning back, made his escape. Prescott, clearing the stone wall, and following a path known to him through the low ground, regained the highway at a point further on, and gave the alarm at Concord. Revere tried to reach the neighboring wood, but was intercepted by a party of officers accompanying the patrol, detained and kept in arrest. Presently he was carried by the patrol back to Lexington. There released, and that morning joined Hancock and Adams. Three men of Lexington, Sanderson, Brown and Loring, stopped at an earlier hour of the night by the same patrol, were also taken back with Revere.

Paul Revere's version of this story, from a written and corrected deposition taken down in 1775, is a little more colorful:

We set off for Concord, and were overtaken by a young gentleman named Prescot, who belonged to Concord, and was going home. When we had got about half way from Lexington to Concord, the other two stopped at a house to awake the men, I kept along. When I had got about 200 yards ahead of them, I saw two officers as before. I called to my company to come up, saying here was two of them, (for I had told them what Mr. Devens told me, and of my being stopped). In an instant I saw four of them, who rode up to me with their pistols in their bands, said ''G---d d---n you, stop. If you go an inch further, you are a dead man.''

Immediately Mr. Prescot came up. We attempted to get through them, but they kept before us, and swore if we did not turn in to that pasture, they would blow our brains out, (they had placed themselves opposite to a pair of bars, and had taken the bars down). They forced us in. When we had got in, Mr. Prescot said ''Put on!'' He took to the left, I to the right towards a wood at the bottom of the pasture, intending, when I gained that, to jump my horse and run afoot. Just as I reached it, out started six officers, seized my bridle, put their pistols to my breast, ordered me to dismount, which I did. One of them, who appeared to have the command there, and much of a gentleman, asked me where I came from; I told him. He asked what time I left . I told him, he seemed surprised, said ''Sir, may I crave your name?'' I answered ''My name is Revere. ''What'' said he, ''Paul Revere''? I answered ''Yes.'' The others abused much; but he told me not to be afraid, no one should hurt me. I told him they would miss their aim. He said they should not, they were only waiting for some deserters they expected down the road. I told him I knew better, I knew what they were after; that I had alarmed the country all the way up, that their boats were caught aground, and I should have 500 men there soon. One of them said they had 1500 coming; he seemed surprised and rode off into the road, and informed them who took me, they came down immediately on a full gallop.

One of them (whom I since learned was Major Mitchel of the 5th Reg.) clapped his pistol to my head, and said he was going to ask me some questions, and if I did not tell the truth, he would blow my brains out. I told him I esteemed myself a man of truth, that he had stopped me on the highway, and made me a prisoner, I knew not by what right; I would tell him the truth; I was not afraid. He then asked me the same questions that the other did, and many more, but was more particular; I gave him much the same answers. He then ordered me to mount my horse, they first searched me for pistols. When I was mounted, the Major took the reins out of my hand, and said ''By G---d Sir, you are not to ride with reins I assure you''; and gave them to an officer on my right, to lead me. He then ordered 4 men out of the bushes, and to mount their horses; they were country men which they had stopped who were going home; then ordered us to march. He said to me, ''We are now going towards your friends, and if you attempt to run, or we are insulted, we will blow your brains out.'' When we had got into the road they formed a circle, and ordered the prisoners in the center, and to lead me in the front. We rode towards Lexington at a quick pace; they very often insulted me calling me rebel, etc., etc. After we had got about a mile, I was given to the sergeant to lead, he was ordered to take out his pistol, (he rode with a hanger,) and if I ran, to execute the major's sentence.

When we got within about half a mile of the Meeting House we heard a gun fired. The Major asked me what it was for, I told him to alarm the country; he ordered the four prisoners to dismount, they did, then one of the officers dismounted and cut the bridles and saddles off the horses, and drove them away, and told the men they might go about their business. I asked the Major to dismiss me, he said he would carry me, let the consequence be what it will. He then ordered us to march.When we got within sight of the Meeting House, we heard a volley of guns fired, as I supposed at the tavern, as an alarm; the Major ordered us to halt, he asked me how far it was to Cambridge, and many more questions, which I answered. He then asked the sergeant, if his horse was tired, he said yes; he ordered him to take my horse. I dismounted, and the sergeant mounted my horse; they cut the bridle and saddle of the sergeant's horse, and rode off down the road. I then went to the house were I left Messrs. Adams and Hancock, and told them what had happened; their friends advised them to go out of the way; I went with them, about two miles across road.

After resting myself, I set off with another man to go back to the tavern, to inquire the news; when we got there, we were told the troops were within two miles. We went into the tavern to get a trunk of papers belonging to Col. Hancock. Before we left the house, I saw the ministerial troops from the chamber window. We made haste, and had to pass through our militia, who were on a green behind the Meeting House, to the number as I supposed, about 50 or 60, I went through them; as I passed I heard the commanding officer speak to his men to this purpose; ''Let the troops pass by, and don't molest them, without they begin first.'' I had to go across road; but had not got half gunshot off, when the ministerial troops appeared in sight, behind the Meeting House. They made a short halt, when one gun was fired. I heard the report, turned my head, and saw the smoke in front of the troops. They immediately gave a great shout, ran a few paces, and then the whole fired. I could first distinguish irregular firing, which I supposed was the advance guard, and then platoons; at this time I could not see our militia, for they were covered from me by a house at the bottom of the street. s/PAUL REVERE.

Adjacent to the Capture site is a small parking lot and a dirt foot path that leads into the Park.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Isaac Hall House

Isaac Hall House
43 High St.
Medford, Mass.

This historic building on High St. in Medford was built in 1720 and was home to Captain Isaac Hall, the company commander of the Medford Minute Men in 1775. Paul Revere stopped here on the night of 18 April 1775 and awoke Capt. Hall, warning him that the "Regulars" were out.

Here is the stanza from Longfellow's famous poem "Paul Revere's Ride", that describes Revere passing through Medford that evening:

It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer's dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.

This building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. The Isaac Hall house is currently the site of the Gaffney Funeral Home.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Historic Museums Re-open for the Season

Buckman Tavern
One Bedford St.
Lexington, Mass.

Next Saturday (April 4) the Lexington Historical Society's three Revolutionary War era museums in Lexington will re-open for the season offering tours to the general public.

Buckman Tavern, located just across from Lexington Green, will be open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., with tours every half hour. The Hancock-Clarke house at 36 Hancock St. and the Munroe Tavern, 1332 Mass. Ave, will only be open weekends, but starting June 15 they will be open daily with tours on the hour. The Hancock-Clarke house opens at 10:00 am and Munroe Tavern opens at noon.

Tickets good for all three (First Shot Tickets) are available at any one of the three house museums and are $10.00 for a adult and $6.00 per child. Children under the age of six and Lexington Historical Society members are admitted free of charge. Tickets to visit just one of the properties are also available. Tours of these historic house museums will end (until next season) on November 1. You can call 781-862-5598 for more information.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Old Belfry

The Old Belfry
Belfry Hill
Clarke St. and Mass. Ave.
Lexington, Mass.
The Old Belfry in Lexington was first built on its present day site in 1761. The bell in its peak was intended to be used as an alarm bell to warn of imminent attack, fire and other emergencies as well as the death of a member of the community.

The Belfry was moved in 1768 to Lexington Green. On the morning of April 19, 1775 the bell was rung to call out the Lexington militia and to warn of the approaching British Regulars.

The Old Belfry finally was moved back to its original location overlooking Lexington Green in 1891 by the Lexington Historical Society. In 1909 it was destroyed by a strong gale. It was rebuilt in 1910.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lock, Stock and Barrel

Lock, Stock and Barrel
Crowne Plaza Hotel
King of Prussia, Pennsylvania

The Friends of Valley Forge Park is hosting a symposium this weekend (March 27-29) on the American Revolution. Guests will be staying at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Prussia, Pennsylvania which is a short distance from Valley Forge National Historical Park.

Well-known writers and historians such as Thomas Fleming, James L. Kochan and Tom McGuire will be in attendance. In addition to attending the lectures and programs at the hotel, a visit to Valley Forge and an exclusive look-behind-the-scenes of its museum is included in the weekend. More information about the weekend can be found here.

Subjects to be covered include programs on General George Washington, the making of the American Army and the roles played by African-Americans and women during America's War for Independence. All of these sessions are taught by experts in the field.

Unfortunately I won't be in attendance this weekend, but if I was there are two programs in particular that I would want to sit in on. (As it so happens, they are being held at the same time so I would have had to choose.)

The first program deals with the Lexington and Concord alarm of 19 April 1775 and it examines the primary evidence for the events of that day. Jim Hollister from Minute Man National Historical Park here in Massachusetts is the guest speaker.

The second program deals with the dress and accoutrement's of the British Army in Philadelphia in 1777. Here is the program description:

Howe’s Redcoats: The Dress and Military Equipage of the British Army during the 1777 Philadelphia Campaign. James L. Kochan presents the uniforms, arms, and personal gear of the British soldier during this session from initial procurement and issue to field modification, using 18th century records and correspondence, surviving artifacts, and period artwork.

This sounds like a great weekend for historians, teachers, reenactors and for anyone else interested in the history of the American Revolution. Maybe next year (if there is a similar event) I'll give a first-hand review of the weekend.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Hartwell Tavern

The Hartwell Tavern
Minute Man Nat. Historical Park
Marrett Rd. (Rt. 2A)
Lincoln, Mass.

The Hartwell Home and Tavern, located in MMNHP in Lincoln, was built by Ephraim Hartwell in 1732-33. Situated right on Battle Road on April 19, 1775 British Regulars passed by the tavern both going to Concord and on the way back to Boston. The Hartwell Tavern has been restored by the National Park Service to its original 18th. century appearance.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Golden Ball Tavern

Golden Ball Tavern
662 Boston Post Road
Weston, Mass. 02493
781-894-1751


The Golden Ball Tavern in Weston was built in 1768 and was operated as a tavern on the old Boston Post Road from 1770 -1793. The original owner, Isaac Jones, was an important man in his community but in 1775 he was also a well-known Tory.

In February of 1775 Isaac gave tea and comfort to two British Army officers, Captain John Brown and Ensign Henry De Berniere along with their "batman" John, who had been sent out of Boston by General Gage on a secret mission to scout the countryside. Gen. Gage was seeking intelligence on the state of the roads in anticipation of sending an expeditionary force either to Concord or Worcester to seize colonial stores of powder and arms.

Having almost been discovered and captured in their mission, returning from Worcester in a winter storm the three men again received the hospitality of the Golden Ball's tavern keeper. He allowed the men to warm up and get some rest before guiding them back onto the road to Boston. Jones later had a change of heart and became a supporter of independence and worked for the Continental Army during the Revolution.

The Golden Ball Tavern remained in the Jones family until the 1960's when the Golden Ball Tavern Trust was established. The Tavern is open for tours (by appointment only) and for special events, such as their annual outdoor antique show and sale. A more complete history of the Tavern is told here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day

Today is March 17 the traditional date commemorating St. Patrick's Day, the official Saint of Ireland. St. Patrick was born in what is now England and was a citizen of the Roman Empire. He was kidnapped by Irish raiders and then taken back to Ireland where he lived for six years. Escaping back to England he became a Christian and then returned to Ireland to "spread the word". At the time of his death Ireland, formerly an island dominated by pagan Celtic tribes, had become almost totally Christian.

Today is also Evacuation Day, a holiday celebrated in Boston and Suffolk County in Massachusetts. Evacuation Day marks the anniversary of the British Army and Navy's forced withdrawal from the occupied town of Boston in 1776. This was Gen. Washington's first victory of the American Revolution.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Tales of a Wayside Inn

The Wayside Inn
72 Wayside Inn Rd.
Sudbury, Ma. 01776

The Wayside Inn and Tavern has been in existence since 1716 when David Howe first opened his home to travelers. Located on the old Boston Post Road the Inn was ideally located for farmers bringing their livestock and produce to market and to travelers from Connecticut, New York and other points south.

In the period just before the American Revolution the proprietor of the Inn was Ezekiel Howe, a Lt. Colonel in the Sudbury militia. The Howe Tavern, as it was known then, was a popular gathering spot for the local militia as talk of insurrection spread throughout Massachusetts. On the morning of 19 April 1775, in response to a call out to arms, Col. Howe led the Sudbury militia to Concord Bridge to fight the British Regulars. The present-day Sudbury Militia recreates this in a pre-dawn march through Sudbury and Wayland every year on April 19. The recreated Sudbury
Militia holds its meeting at the Wayside Inn and the metal tankards of its retired Colonels can be found hung from the rafters in the Inn's taproom.

George Washington passed by the old Inn in June of 1775 as he made his way to Cambridge to accept command of the new Continental Army. A slate marker just in front of the Wayside Inn commemorates this event.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the Cambridge poet and professor at Harvard College, wrote a series of poems set in the Inn. The poems, called "Tales of a Wayside Inn", consisted of a series of stories spun by fictional characters at a Sudbury Inn where "The Red Horse prances on the sign." The Inn formerly know as Howe's Tavern became the Wayside Inn in recognition of Longfellow's poem.

With the advent of the stage coach as a regular means of travel the Inn again became an important way-station between Worcester and Boston. But in the early 1900's as the automobile became more and more popular, an historic Inn like the Wayside was easily bypassed by travelers who were able to make much better time on the road with the new "horseless carriages".

Ironically it was Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company, who gave the Inn new life when he acquired the property. Fords plans to create a "living history" community never came to fruition but he established the charter under which the Inn operates today. He also was responsible for moving the old school house and the chapel onto the property and had the grist mill built. The mill still is in operation today and has a miller on site.

The British Union flag flying at the entrance is part of another old tradition at the Wayside. The British flag is flown daily until the 19th of April of every year when a new revolutionary (American) flag is flown.

Visitors to the Wayside Inn on "Patriot's Day" have been known to meet up with "William Dawes" (actually a re-enactor) who stopped in for a pint after his exertions of alerting the citizens throughout the countryside to the fact that the "Regulars were out".

The Wayside Inn is located just off Boston Post Road (Rt. 20) in Sudbury on its own private road. The Inn is still operated as a non-profit enterprise with an educational purpose. The Inn welcomes overnight guests as well as those who enjoy the Wayside's restaurant, which serves excellent New England style fare, its gift shop, the tap room and its historic ambiance.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

British Soldiers Graves Found in Charlestown?

Bunker Hill Monument
43 Monument Sq.
Charlestown, Mass.

A recent article in the Boston Globe relates the story of the work being done by two men in surveying the layout of present day Charlestown and its relationship to the same landscape during the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775. Local Charlestown historian Chris Anderson and Erik Goldstein, a curator at Colonial Williamsburg, have located what they believe to be the gravesites of British soldiers killed during the fighting in the backyards of several Charlestown residents. The British soldiers were buried in the aftermath of the battle in a massgrave in some of the trenches constructed by the Colonial militia. J.L. Bell does his usual excellent work discussing this story in his blog Boston 1775.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Tea for Two...

Hancock-Clarke House
36 Hancock St.
Lexington, Mass.

The Lexington Historical Society is offering what they are calling a Once-in-a-Lifetime opportunity to dine at the historic 1737 Hancock-Clarke house in Lexington. As part of a fund raising effort to support the recent extensive renovation of the property, the Historical Society is opening the house on Sunday March 29 from 3 to 5 p.m. to a limited number of people. Participants will have the opportunity to tour the home and enjoy gourmet tea and finger food in the Rev. Clarke's dining room or the Hancock-Adams room. Tickets are $75 for members, $85 for non-members. Call 781-862-1703 for reservations.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Boston Massacre Reenactment

The Boston Massacre
Old State House
Boston, Mass.
Today marks the 239th anniversary of the infamous Boston Massacre where British Regulars opened fire upon an unruly Boston mob, killing five civilians. To mark this event the Boston Historical Society is hosting its annual reenactment of the Massacre this Saturday (March 7). The reenactment is free to the public and takes place just outside the Old State House from 7:00 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. The Old State House is located at the intersection of Washington and State St. (formerly King St.) in downtown Boston.