The Ride to Concord
A young doctor named Samuel Prescott became a midnight rider by chance when he met Revere and Dawes on their way to Concord. Prescott was on his way home from visiting his fiancée, and he offered to help spread the word because he was a local.
Paul Revere rode ahead of the other two men to check for British patrols. Halfway between Lexington and Concord, the patrols found them. Revere shouted back that there were only a few and that they could fight them off. But when Prescott rode up to help, more troops appeared. Prescott and Revere made a break for it. Prescott veered to the left and jumped a wall to escape. Revere broke right and was cornered by troops. Dawes escaped in the confusion, yelling out in various accents that he had captured some Regulars. As he was riding off, his horse stopped short and threw him off. Dawes lost his watch and his horse. Tired and frustrated, he ended his ride and began walking back to Lexington.
Prescott, who was the most familiar with the area, made his way back to the main road and continued to notify people. He found other riders to join the cause, and he made it to Concord -- the only one of the original midnight riders to do so. Despite carrying out the mission, historians know very little about Prescott. The most detailed account of the night comes from Revere himself. So we'll turn back to his side of the story.
The British patrols were quite pleased they'd captured the famed Paul Revere, and they questioned him at gunpoint. Revere remained calm and told the troops their plans would be foiled, that the whole countryside was marching at that very moment, ready to fight. The troops escorted Revere back to Lexington, where they heard gunfire. It was just militiamen testing their rifles but it unnerved the British. Realizing they could move faster without prisoners, they released Revere but kept his horse.
Revere continued on foot and met up with Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who were debating whether to fight with the patriots or head for safety. They decided to retreat to Philadelphia, and Revere was sent to a tavern to retrieve Hancock's trunk. On his errand, he heard the first shots fired on Lexington Green. The Revolutionary War had begun, thanks to Revere and the other midnight riders' success in mobilizing the troops. William Dawes went back to the Concord road and found his watch. He fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill, and after the war, set up a store. He died in 1799. Samuel Prescott served as a surgeon in the Continental Army and joined the crew of a privateer. He was captured by the Royal Navy and was held prisoner in Halifax. He died there around 1777, and he never got to marry the young woman he had been visiting the night of the midnight ride. Paul Revere had a disastrous military career. But he did find success as an industrialist during the war, constructing the first powder mill and later a copper mill. He remained a prominent citizen of Boston until his death in 1818.
The midnight ride triggered war and a new independent nation. To learn more about the ride, see the links below.
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More Great Links
- Caes, Charles J. "Midnight Riders." American History. December 2004. (Feb. 13, 2008)http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdf?vid=4&hid=13&sid=065495e2-4c34-4ec1-9164-4e1f27ee3b79%40sessionmgr8
- Dawes, Reggie. "The William Dawes Who Rode." (Feb. 13, 2008)http://www.colorpro.com/wmdawes/theride.html
- Fischer, David Hackett. "Paul Revere's Ride." Oxford University. 1994.
- Fredericks, Pierce G. "Midnight Confusion." The New York Times. April 13, 1958. (Feb. 13, 2008)http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?index=0&did=89077324&SrchMode=1&sid=1&Fmt=10&VInst=PROD&VType=PQD&RQT=309&VName=HNP&TS=1203092815& clientId=11206
- "Revere, Paul." Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2008. (Feb. 13, 2008) http://www.library.eb.com/eb/article-6136
- Revere, Paul. "Letter to Jeremy Belknap, 1798." Manuscript Collection, Massachusetts Historical Society. (Feb. 13, 2008)http://www.masshist.org/cabinet/april2002/reveretranscription.htm