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.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
On the night of April 18, 1775, Paul Revere rode into the Massachusetts countryside to warn of approaching British regulars. En route to Concord, Revere was detained by British soldiers who eventually let him pass. When Revere made his way to Jonas Clark’s house in nearby Lexington, he found John Hancock and Samuel Adams locked in a debate over their course of action. It was now dawn of April 19.
With the citizens alarmed and armed, the surprise the British had hoped to achieve was fruitless. At Lexington, colonial militia lined up on the green and fired ‘the shot heard ‘round the world’. Meanwhile, as British troops approached Concord, shots ran out and the church bells toiled. Word of the fight at Lexington had already reached the town. Militia poured into town, and although the exact figures are not known, it’s believed that close to 4,000 colonials stood to face Britain’s best.
Later, Ralph Waldo Emerson would describe this as the first full American volley of the great Revolution.