The Midnight Ride

18 April 1775, Dr Joseph Warren sent Paul Revere and William Dawes (by two different routes) to Lexington, to alert Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British troops were marching to arrest them and capture patriot arms and ammunition stock piled in Concord.

Paul Revere, in Boston, was rowed across the Charles River by friends to Charlestown, where he would be able to see the lanterns hung as signals in the Old North Church. Two lights in the steeple sent Revere northwest by horseback, alerting residences along the route that British Regulars were on the way.

After successfully delivering the warning to Samuel Adams and John Hancock; Paul Revere, Dawes and another rider (Dr Samuel Prescott) headed for Concord. Soon, all three were pursued by British troops, Prescott and Dawes escaped, but Revere was arrested. Eventually he was released and walked back to the Lexington green, where he witnessed the beginning of The American Revolution. - AsNotedIn

Associated Works


Y/M/D Description Place
1775/00/00 Mary Newman, mother of Robert Newman, lives in a dwelling on the corner of Sheafe St and Salem St (lost). As is common for many families, she rents part of her home to British officers during the occupation of Boston.
1775/04/00 Newman lives at home with his mother in a house where she also rents room to British officers.
1775/04/00 Dr Joseph Warren arranges for Paul Revere and William Dawes to ride to Lexington to alert Samuel Adams and John Hancock if the British troops were marching to arrest them
1775/04/18 British gunsmith Jasper reports to Col Josiah Waters, a Patriot, that a Sergent Major in the British Army who is quartered at the Jasper home (lost) on Hatters Square returned hastily to retrieve his gear. Blackstone Block Historic District, Boston
1775/04/18 British Army troops muster in Boston, plan to cross Charles River to arrest Adams and Hancock and raid Patriot supplies.
1775/04/18 Newman pretends to retire to his chamber to go to sleep, but instead he sneaks out of his house and meets up with Old North vestryman Capt John Pulling Jr and Thomas Bernard, at the Old North Church. Old North Church, Boston
1775/04/18 Robert Newman hangs two lanterns in the steeple of the Old North Church. Old North Church, Boston
1775/04/18 Paul Revere leaves his house in Boston and is rowed across the harbor to Charlestown. "While waiting to start his famous ride, he realized that he'd forgotten his spurs, sent his dog home with a note asking that they be brought to him." Esther Forbes Paul Revere House, Boston
1775/04/18 William Dawes leaves Boston via Boston Neck to warn John Hancock and Samual Adams. He began the second leg of his journey from the Church Green in Roxbury. John Eliot Square District, Roxbury, Boston
1775/04/18 William Dawes passes through Dudley Square in Roxbury, turns right and climbs the hill to the Parting Stone, where he takes the right hand road to Brookline. Parting Ways Stone, Roxbury, Boston
1775/04/18 Paul Revere alerts Isaac Hall Isaac Hall House, Medford, MA
1775/04/19 Dr Prescott arrives at South Acton garrison house and warns Major Francis Faulkner of the approaching British Regulars Faulkner Homestead, Acton
1775/04/19 About midnight: Paul Revere arrives at Lexington warning John Hancock and Samuel Adams they are about to be arrested. Hancock-Clarke House, Lexington, MA
1775/04/19 William Dawes arrives at Clarke House Hancock-Clarke House, Lexington, MA
1775/04/19 Revere is briefly detained and questioned. "in an instant I saw four of them, who rode up to me, with their pistols in their hands, said G-d d-n you stop. If you go an Inch further, you are a dead Man" PR Minute Man National Historical Park - Battle Road Unit, Concord, MA
1775/04/19 Revere is briefly detained and questioned. "in an instant I saw four of them, who rode up to me, with their pistols in their hands, said G-d d-n you stop. If you go an Inch further, you are a dead Man" PR Minute Man National Historical Park - Battle Road Unit, Lexington, MA
1775/04/19 Since he is one of few people with a set of keys to Old North, British troops arrest Robert Newman. He is later released after he tells them that he had lent the keys to Capt Pulling. Pulling had fled Boston.

Paul Revere's Ride (poem)


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.
He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."

Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,--
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,--
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

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.

It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,---
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.


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