The midnight ride of Paul Revere


Captain William Smith
Riding in the Patriot’s Day reenactment as Captain William Smith was my barn mate, Lindsay, riding Curly. Curly gets very excited every year. She knows her part!

April 18th is famous in Massachusetts as the day that Paul Revere rode to raise the alarm that the British were marching to Concord to seize the Militia’s cache of weapons. Almost every school child has hear the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

Here’s the rest of the poem . . .

But for those of us who live in Lincoln, Massachusetts, we know that Longfellow’s poem wasn’t quite accurate. Because Lincoln is where Paul Revere was captured by the British. Yup. The capture site is in the Minute Man National Park, right across the street from the Lincoln transfer station (i.e., dump).

Here’s what really happened.

Paul Revere did ride out but not alone. He and William Dawes rode to Lexington to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams that the British were coming to arrest them. From Lexington they rode toward Concord, where they met up with Samuel Prescott, a doctor who had been courting his wife-to-be and was heading home, around 2 a.m. The three riders were ambushed by the British. The soldiers grabbed the bridle of Revere’s horse and captured him — Dawes and Prescott escaped and rode off in different directions.

The William Smith house, located on Battle Road in the Minute Man National Park, was lived in continuously until the 1970s when it was purchased by the park. It was recently restored and is now open to the public as a museum.
The William Smith house, located on Battle Road in the Minute Man National Park, was lived in continuously until the 1970s when it was purchased by the park. It was recently restored and is now open to the public as a museum.

Soon after, Dawes fell after his horse spooked, leaving him on foot. Prescott, who knew the area, managed to ride on. One of the people he alerted was William Smith, Captain of the Lincoln Minute Men, who rode into town and raised the alarm.

The raising of the muster is a big deal in Lincoln, even today. Not as big a deal as the events in Lexington and Concord, but every year, we gather around the old church to watch Captain William Smith raise the alarm. Thankfully, not at 2 a.m.

For many years I rode the horse. It was fun to get dressed up in a cape and tricorn hat and ride down into the crowds. But when my Trakehner died, I passed the cape to Lindsay and Curly. It’s a toss up which one of them enjoys it more. Curly may be in her 20s now, but she gets very excited when she gets off the trailer and realizes it’s “the day.”

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