April 19th, 1775
Appleseed – Lest We Forget – April 19, 1775!!!
Lest We Forget – April 19, 1775
It’s easy in the hustle and bustle of everyday life to forget things that are important – and one day in American history – you can argue it is THE most important day – should never be forgotten.
It’s the day our fellow Americans took up arms to win liberty for all of us.
April 19, 1775. A Wednesday, back then.
It’s hard for us moderns to understand how tough it was, or to understand the magnitude of what they did.
Contrary to the common, somewhat vague image of illiterate farmers caught up in the emotions of the moment and heading out to take potshots at the redcoats, the reality of it was far different.
In 1774 by order of the English Parliament the port of Boston was closed until damages for the Boston Tea Party were paid.
Closed, can you imagine it? The busiest port in the colonies, everyone out of work, people nearly starving. The city kept alive by donations of food from the other colonies.
And yet, Americans were determined not to pay those damages. So English troops arrived, as the British took over local government to ensure compliance.
By April 1775, tensions were high, with the King and Parliament pressuring British General Gage to take action.
On the night of April 18, 1775 – a Tuesday – Gage dispatched ten companies of Light Infantry and Grenadiers on a rapid expedition to Concord to ferret out military stockpiles he suspected were there.
The ’embattled farmers’ found out beforehand, and took action. Paul Revere rode, and he did not ride randomly. Every house at which he stopped saw another rider taking off in a different direction to sound the alarm.
By dawn, as the British redcoat column was approaching Lexington (five miles short of Concord), historians have estimated 14,000 Americans were converging on them from miles around.
Not a cell phone among them. Not one on the internet. Not even a single telephone.
Yet in a few hours, 14,000 trained men were marching through the night.
Think you, with your cell phone and email, could do it today?
Even now, it’d a remarkable accomplishment – doubtless impossible to repeat today. To get that many people turned out, on short notice, in the middle of the night.
Maybe they cared about freedom, do you think?
It almost makes you wonder: do you think we care as much about freedom, today? Enough to get out of the bed in the middle of the night, and fast-march 15, 18, or 20 miles to face British lead and steel? With a single-shot, muzzle-loading musket?
Maybe you begin to understand the magnitude of the debt we owe the Founders.
It sure looks, from the perspective of the 21st century, like a mighty accomplishment, something we couldn’t do again, today.
But they did it. They did not draw back. They did not shirk. They did not shrink from the call.
And for that, we – each of us – owe them thanks.
By now, we all know the story of Capt. John Parker and his 77 militiamen who stood waiting on Lexington Green. If he indeed said “If they mean to have a war, let them have it here!” he said inspiring words.
But the historical facts are that the British fired a sudden volley, killing 8 Americans and wounding another 8 (a twenty-percent casualty rate), whereas the few shots our boys got off in return nicked the leg of a redcoat private and grazed a horse. Considering the American marksmanship displayed later throughout the day, it suggests the British actually surprised them – and indeed some thought the Brits were firing blanks to scare them, until the first musket balls whistled by.
Oddly enough, the encounter at Lexington did not start the War.
Nor did the later encounter at the North Bridge.
The North Bridge at Concord is an example of the ‘fog of war’ – the colonists, uncertain of what happened at Lexington, retreated before the Brits as they approached Concord, eventually winding up north of the river at their militia training ground on Punkatasset Hill. This allowed the Brits to occupy and search the town, recovering items that looked ‘military’, which they piled up and set on fire. It was the sight of the column of smoke above the trees that alarmed our guys – as one said – “are we going to stand by idly, while they burn our houses?” – setting the stage for the march to the North Bridge, where they were fired upon by three British companies posted there. To the cry of “Fire, fellow soldiers, for God’s sake, fire! – fire as fast as you can!” their training and practice in marksmanship broke the British, who fled to Concord. And the militia crossed the North Bridge.
It was a remarkable moment in American history. That April morning was the first time Americans were ordered to fire on British troops. And the first time they killed the King’s soldiers.
Even now, the War did not break out. The American militia, having defended itself successfully after being fired upon, and maybe realizing what they had done by firing on the King’s troops – it must be a terrific blow to rise out of bed a citizen and have the sun set on you as a traitor – took up positions behind a nearby wall.
Time was rapidly approaching noon, and the British began a hasty retreat back toward Boston – and Lexington. Just outside Concord, as the end of the column was crossing a bridge at a place called Merriam’s Corner (where the road made a sharp turn), the British rear guard turned and fired a volley at Americans following them. At that, militia units concealed on the north side of the road opened fire on the red-clad column to protect and support their brethren. At that point, it became a shooting war, and the 18-mile road back to Boston taken by the redcoats has ever since been known as Battle Road.
Did the boys from Lexington get a second chance? You bet.
Did the British nearly get caught in a trap? You bet.
Was it a ‘close-run’ thing for General Gage’s men? You bet.
If to forget is to show disrespect, let’s not forget what they did that day.
It has truly been said that April 19, 1775 was “the Day Marksmanship met History, and Liberty was born”.
Don’t let the memory of their deeds be forgotten. Read this to your kids – or let them read it for themselves.
The founders knew the price they paid for liberty. They hoped their posterity would remember that price, and never let liberty go.
In fact, John Adams, our second president, left us a message. I paraphrase: “Posterity, you will never know the price my generation paid for your freedom…
“If you ever forget – if you ever forget – we’ll be sorry we ever made the effort.”
Have Americans forgot?
I hope not.
Go to the library. There you’ll find books devoted to that first day of the American Revolution. The first day in history where a people stood up to tyranny and won their freedom on the battlefield. You’ll read how close we came to capturing the entire British column. You’ll read how propaganda was effectively used by American liberty-lovers to advance the cause of Liberty.
You’ll read about a day of contrasts – the elation of victory, the mourning for dead and wounded comrades, the exhaustion of battle, the misery of burning homes and lost relatives, of temporary graves by the roadside, of whole towns in flight.
It all happened. It was real. It was the beginning of the liberty you inherited, which you hardly think about, the liberty you so take for granted.
Those guys who didn’t take it for granted, who fought for liberty, who turned out to the sound of midnight alarm bells – they deserve better than that.
Take a minute, and think about them this April 19.
April 19th, the day the Founders took on the world’s mightiest army – with muzzle-loading firearms.
They did it for you.
To remember them, is the least we can do. To remember them, is to honor them. It is little enough to ask…
The words above were first written here: http://www.closetrevolutionary.com/appleseed-lest-we-forget-april-19-1775/
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