Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Guns of Lexington

I've been watching a lecture video series by Dr J Rufus Fears on YouTube. It is called "The Story of Freedom". I have been learning so much and wanted to record some of that on my blog both for my own review and perhaps others would enjoy my insight, links, or even the original video.

The first video is titled "The Guns of Lexington" and covers some of the early events in the Revolutionary War. From my notes and put in my own words...
On April 19th, 1775, the British elite were stationed in Boston. A rebellion was starting and Governor Sir Thomas Gage was under orders to put down the rebellion. He was given a two-part mission: to arrest John Hancock and Samuel Adams (in Lexington) and to capture some of the weapons the colonists were stockpiling.
Marching under Sir Francis Smith, about 700 Red Coats sat out in the middle of the night on a 20 mile march. There were two locations where they knew weapons were being stored - Wooster and Concord. If they were going to go to Wooster, they would travel the entire way by land. But, if they were going to Concord, they would launch boats and travel part of the way by sea. Thus, the famous saying "One if by land; two if by sea." And, they went by sea... towards Concord.
Now, these colonsits were British subjects! But, cannons were weapons of mass destruction and there was no need to be in possession of them... except for war! As the Red Coats approached, they expected to see dark, sleeping villages. Instead, they were greeted in Lexington by 77 colonists who had been warned (becaues of spies like Paul Revere and Samuel Adams) that "the British are coming!" This was at about 4:30 in the morning, and as the 700 British soldiers faced the 77 colonists, a colonist leader (Parker) said "Stand your ground! Don't fight unless fired upon! But, if they want to have a war, let it begin here." Then, someone, no one knows who or on which side, fired "the shot heard round the world."
Eight colonists, British subjects, were killed! The Red Coats headed down the road towards Concord. Now, they needed to find cannons to justify the spilling of British blood! While they leave 98 British to dismantle the Old North Bridge, the rest march into Concord and search for weapons. But, they've been removed and so they can't find any!
By noon, hundreds of minutemen from nearby towns arrive. They start shooting at and killing the British soldiers who begin a retreat to Boston. Even though the Red Coats receive backups near Lexington, the colonists continue to follow them all the way to Boston... shooting and killing... They are now a force about 16,000 colonists strong.
When the Red Coats reach Boston, the minutemen surround them and put them under siege. A British General, William Howe, decides he needs to get some cannons on top of some of the hills in Boston so he can fire down on the colonists surrounding the city. But, during the night, the colonists take Bunker Hill and Breeds Hill.

File:The death of general warren at the battle of bunker hill.jpg
The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill, June 17,1775 by John Trumbull at Boston Museum of Fine Arts(from Wikipedia)
Twenty two hundred Red Coats march up the hill in rows of three. Knowing the colonists weapons will shoot farther than the Red Coats, Prescott (a colonist) says "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes!" The British in their formations are heavily attacked. They make several charges and eventually take off their heavy red coats. They have some cannons, but they have the wrong sized cannonballs! Eventually, though, the colonists run out of ammunition. Half of the British soldiers are dead or wounded.
Meanwhile, the Continental Congress is meeting in Philadelphia. They have decided that they are at war and need troops and a leader. On July 1, 1775, General George Washington takes command of the troops under an elm tree in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Now, the colonists are at war with the British.
Other resources:
  • A poem by Emerson (1803-1882) coins the phrase "the shot heard round the world" and is sung at the Concord Monument on July 4, 1837
  • "America: The Story of US" has a 12 minute clip about Lexington & Concord
  • Liberty's Kids has an episode called "The Shot Heard Round the World"
  • Johnny Tremain, both the book (which I haven't read) and the movie (which I watched last week on Amazon Instant Video) are about these events & more
  • Visit the Paul Revere Heritage site to read Longfellow's "Midnight Ride" poem and learn about some of the myths from this poem


KW said...

Very interesting post. I didn't know that the two if by sea statement comes from the Revolutionary War.

Homeschool on the Croft said...

The read-aloud we've just finished was the story of the Minuteboys stationed right where these events took place. Our wee guy LOVED it!

(I kept trying to remind him where his loyalties out to lie, but he was having none of it ;) )

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