Frank Warren Coburn.

The battle of April 19, 1775 : in Lexington, Concord, Lincoln, Arlington, Cambridge, Somerville, and Charlestown, Massachusetts online

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There have been many histories of the Battle
of Lexington and of the Battle of Concord, some
of them excellent to the extent of that part of
the contest to which they were devoted. From
time to time gifted orators have gone to the one
town or to the other, and eloquently portrayed
the heroic deeds of men within that town on the
opening day of the American Revolution. No
fault should be found with any of those, designed
as a healthy stimulus to local pride, and to
foster sentiments of national patriotism.

But the student in American local history
needs a more extensive view of the operations of
that day. He needs to be better informed as to
the various scenes of carnage that were waged
along all of those nearly twenty miles of high-
way. Men were slain in Lexington, and in
Concord; but there were many others slain in
Lincoln, in Arlington, in Cambridge, and in
Somerville. Nor should we forget the youngest
martyr of the day, but fourteen years of age,
who fell in Charlestown.

For the purpose, then, of presenting to such
as may be interested, I have assembled here the
most comprehensive account that has ever been


offered, and one that aims to be a history of the
entire day. I have endeavored to make it not
only complete and interesting, but just and
reliable, recognizing fully the rights of my own
ancestors to rebel, and also recognizing the
rights of the mother country to prevent such
rebellion — even by an appeal to arms. Since
those days we have grown to be a mother
country ourselves, and have had reason, on more
than one occasion, to exercise that accepted
right of parental control.

This narrative is based upon official reports,
sworn statements, diaries, letters, and narratives
of participants and witnesses; upon accounts of
local historians and national orators; and, in a
few cases, upon tradition, if such seemed
authentic and trustworthy.

But I am sorry to say, that in more than one
instance, I have found even the sworn state-
ments at variance with each other. I am satis-
fied that the authors did not intend to mislead
in any way, but simply tried to tell to others
what appeared to them. Their mental excite-
ment naturally added a little of that vivid
coloring noticeable in most war narratives of a
personal nature. My work has been to har-
monize and simplify these, and to extract simply
the truth.

In 1775 the greater part of the present town of
Arlington was a part of Cambridge, and known


as the Menotomy Precinct. Later it was incor-
porated as a separate town and called West Cam-
bridge. Later still its name was changed to
Arlington. Somerville, in that year, was a part of
Charlestown. What remained of Charlestown
eventually became a part of Boston, though
still retaining its ancient name. In writing of the
events that happened within the boundaries of
each, I shall speak of them as of Arlington, of
Somerville, and of Charlestown.

I am glad to add that the bitterness and
hatred, so much in evidence on that long-ago
battle day, no longer exist between the children
of the great British Nation.

Frank Warren Coburn.

Lexington Mass., April 19, 1912.


Authorities " xn

In Parliament ...... 1

The Provincial Congress ... 5

British Forces in Boston ... 13

The British Start for Lexington and

Concord 19

The Messengers of Alarm . . 20

Flight of Hancock and Adams . 30

Alarms in Other Places ... 32

Lieut. -Col. Smith's Advance Through

Cambridge 47

Lieut. -Col. Smith's Advance Through

somerville . 48

Lieut. -Col. Smith's Advance Through

Cambridge 50

Lieut. -Col. Smith's Advance Through

Arlington 51

Lieut. -Col. Smith's Advance Through

Lexington 57

The Opening Battle on Lexington

Common 58

Lieut. -Col. Smith's Advance Through

Lincoln 72

Lieut. -Col. Smith's Advance Into Con-
cord 73

Battle at North Bridge in Concord 78

Lieut. -Col. Smith's Retreat Through

Concord 95


Lieut. -Col. Smith's Retreat Through

Lincoln 99

Lieut. -Col. Smith's Retreat to Lexing-
ton Village .... 105

Earl Percy Marches to Reinforce

Lieut. -Col. Smith . . . 114

Percy's Retreat Through Arlington 130

Percy's Retreat Through Cambridge 145

Percy's Retreat Through Somerville 150

Percy's Arrival in Charlestown

Americans Killed, Wounded and
Missing ....

British Killed, Wounded, Prisoners
and Missing ....

Distances Marched by the British
Soldiers ....

English Friends After the Battle
Index • ....






Major John Pitcairn . . facing title

Copied from a rare miniature in the possession of the Lexington
Historical Society, and published in this work by their permission.

The Doolittle Pictures.

Plate I. The Battle of Lexington, April
19th, 1775 . . . facing page 58

Plate II. A View of the Town of Concord,

facing page 73

Plate III. The Engagement at the North
Bridge in Concord . facing pace 78


Plate IV. A View of the South Part of
Lexington . . . facing page 122

The Amos Doolittle Pictures of Lexington and Concord, copper"
plate engravings, size about 12x18 inches, and hand-colored, were
originally published by James Lockwood in New Haven, December
13, 1775. The drawings were made by Mr. Earl, a portrait painter,
and the engravings therefrom were by Amos Doolittle. Both were
members of the Governor's Guard, and came on to Cambridge as
volunteers under Benedict Arnold immediately after the battle of
April 19th, and soon after commenced these early specimens of
American art. The student of today prizes them, not for their
artistic excellence, but for their faithfulness in depicting the scenery,
buildings, and troops engaged.

In the Book Buyer for January, 1898, is an illustrated article
on Early American Copperplate Engraving, by William Loring
Andrews. I am indebted to him, and to the publishers, Charles
Scribners' Sons, for permission to copy the Doolittle set for this work.

Hugh Earl Percy . . facing page 114

From a contemporary copperplate engraving published by John
Fielding. London, 1785.

General William Heath, facing page 154

From a portrait in Harper's Magazine, October, 1883, and copied
for publication in this work by permission of Harper & Brothers.


Boston and Vicinity in 1775-6, facing page 19

Copied from part of the map to illustrate the Siege of Boston in
Marshall's Life of Washington, and dated 1806. I have made slight
additions to indicate Smith's and Percy's movements.

Lexington Common and Vicinity, page 59

Concord Village and Vicinity, page 79

Battle Road Through Concord and Lin-
coln . . . . . page 100

Battle Road Through Arlington and Cam-
bridge page 131

Battle Road Through Somerville and

Charlestown . . . page 151


Individuals, Societies, and Historical Works of Value to Me
in the Preparation of this Work.

Adams, Josiah. Address at Acton, July 21, 1S35.

Adams, Josiah. Letter to Lemuel Shattuck, in Vindica-
tion of the Claims of Capt. Isaac Davis.

Allen. Joseph and Lucy Clark Allen, Memorial of, by
their Children.

Almanack. George's Cambridge, or the Essex Calendar
for 1776.

Almanack. Nathaniel Low, 1775.

Almanack. North American, 1775. By Samuel Stearns.

Almanack. North American, 1776. By Samuel Stearns.
Containing Rev. Wm. Gordon's Account of the Battle.

Austin, James T. Life of Elbridge Gerry.

Bacon, Edwin M. Historical Pilgrimages in New England.

Bancroft, George. History of the United States.

Barber, John Warner. Historical Collections of Massa-

Barber, John W. History and Antiquities of New Haven.

Barrett, Capt. Amos. Concord and Lexington Battle, in
Journal and Letters of Rev. Henry True.

Barry, William. History of Framingham.

Bartlett, George B. Concord Guide Book.

Bartlett, S. R. Concord Fight.

Bolton, Charles Knowles. Brookline, the History of a
Favored Town.

Bolton, Charles Knowles. Letters of Hugh Earl Percy.

Bond, Henry, M.D. Genealogies of the Families of
Water town.

Boston. Celebration of the Centennial Anniversary of
the Evacuation of, by the British Army.

Booth, E. C. Article in Somerville Journal, April, 1875.

Boutwell, George S. Oration at Acton, Oct. 29, 1851.

British Officer in Boston in 1775, in Atlantic Monthly,
April, 1877.

Brooks, Charles, and James M. Usher. Historv of

Brown, Abram English. Beneath Old Roof Trees.

Brown, Abram English. History of Bedford.

JBrown, Charles, of East Lexington.


Cambridge of 1776. Edited for the Ladies' Centennial

Committee, by A. G.
Clarke, Jonas. Pastor of the Church in Lexington.

Opening of the War of the Revolution. Appended

to a Sermon Preached by Him, April 19, 1776.
Cleaveland, Colonel, of the Artillery. Historical Record

of the 52nd Regiment.
Concord Celebration of the Two Hundred and Fiftieth

Anniversary of the Incorporation, Sept. 12, 1SS5.
Concord Fight, Souvenir of the 120th Anniversary of.
Converse, Parker Lindall. Legends of Woburn.
Curtis, George William. Oration on the One Hundredth

Anniversary of the Fight at Concord.
Cutter, Ben. and William R. History of Arlington.
Dana, Richard H. Oration on the One Hundredth

Anniversary of the Battle of Lexington.
Dawson, Henry B. Battles of the United States.
De Bernicre's Report of the Battle.
Depositions of Eye-witnesses and Participants.
Drake, Francis S. The Town of Roxbury.
Drake, Samuel Adams. Historic Fields and Mansions of

Drake, Samuel Adams. History of Middlesex County.
Drake, Samuel Adams. Old Landmarks and Historical

Personages of Boston.
Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Historical Discourse, Concord,

Sept. 12, 1835. Containing Diary of Rev. William

Emerson (eye-witness), April 19, 1775.
Everett, Edward. Oration at Concord, April 19, 1825.
Everett, Edward. Address at Lexington, April 19 (20 ),

Everett, Edward. Mount Vernon Papers.
Farmer, John. Historical Memoir of Billerica.
Frothingham, Richard. History of the Siege of Boston.
Frothingham, Richard. Rise of the Republic of the

United States.
Gage. Gen. Thomas. Report of the Battle.
Gettemy, Charles Ferris. True Story of Paul Revere's

Ride, in the New England Magazine, April, 1902.
Gordon, William, D.D. History of the United States.
Goss, Elbridge Henry. Life of Col. Paul Revere.
Graham, James. History of the L T nited States.
Great Britain, War Office of, for Gen. Gage's Report.
Green, Samuel Abbott. Groton During the Revolution.
Flale, Edward E., in Winsor's Memorial History of



Hamlin, Rev. Cyrus. My Grandfather, Col. Francis

Hanson, J. W. History of Danvers.
Harper's Popular Cyclopaedia of U. S. History.
Haven, Samuel F. Historical Address, Dedham, Sept. 21,

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Mosses From an Old Manse.
Hazen, Rev. Henry A. History of Billerica.
Heath, Major-General. Memoirs of. Written by Him-
Historical Records of the British Army. The Fourth or

King's Own Regiment of Foot.
Holland, Henry W. William Dawes and His Ride with

Paul Revere.
Houghton, H. M. Plans Locating Graves of British

Hudson, Alfred Sereno. History of Sudbury.
Hudson, Charles. History of Lexington.
Hudson, Charles. History of Marlborough.
Hudson, Frederic. Concord Fight in Harper's New

Monthly Magazine, May, 1875.
Hunnewell, James F. A Century of Town Life. A

History of Charlestown.
Hurd, D. Hamilton. History of Essex County.
Hurd, D. Hamilton. History of Middlesex County.
Jewett, C. F. & Co. History of Worcester County.
King, Daniel P. Eulogy at the Funeral of Gen. Gideon

Lannon, John. Lexington.

Lexington, Handbook of its Points of Interest, 1891.
Lexington, Historical Monuments and Tablets.
Lexington Historical Society, Alonzo E. Locke, President,

and various officers and attendants.
Lexington Historical Society, Proceedings of. Vol. I.,

II., III., IV. Contributions by Edward P. Bliss;

Francis H. Brown, M.D.; G. W. Brown; Albert W.

Bryant; Elizabeth Clarke; Elizabeth W. Harrington;

Herbert G. Locke; James P. Munroe; Elizabeth W.

Parker; G. W. Sampson; A. Bradford Smith; Geo. O.

Smith; and Rev. Carlton A. Staples.
Lexington, History of the Fight at, From the Best

Lexington, Proceedings at the Centennial Celebration of

the Battle of.
Lewis, Alonzo. History of Lynn.
Lincoln, William. History of Worcester.


Lincoln, Mass. Celebration of the 150th Anniversary of

Its Incorporation, April 23, 1904.
Local Loiterings and Visits in the Vicinity of Boston. By

a Looker-on.
Lossing, Benson J. History of the United States.

McGlenen, Edward W., Boston.

McKenzie, Rev. Alexander. Address at Dedication of

Monument Over Cambridge Killed.
Mansfield, Rev. Isaac, Chaplain of Gen. Thomas's Regi-
ment. Thanksgiving Sermon in Camp at Roxbury,

Nov. 23, 1775.
Marshall, John. Life of George Washington.
Massachusetts Archives, at State House, Boston.
-Massachusetts Historical Societ}' Collections, Vols. II.,

IV., V., XVIII., and Vol. IV., Second Series.
-Massachusetts Historical Society Proceedings, May, 1876.
Military Journals of Two Private Soldiers, 1758, 1775.

Lemuel Lyons, Samuel Haws.
Muzzey, A. B. History of the Battle of Lexington.
Muzzey, A. B. Reminiscences and Memorials of the Men

of the Revolution.
Narrative of the Excursion and Ravages of the King's

Troops. Worcester, Printed by Isaiah Thomas, by

Order of the Provincial Congress.
New England Historic Genealogicol Society.
Osgood, Charles S. and H. M. Batchelder. Historical

Sketch of Salem.
Paige, Lucius R. History of Cambridge.
Parker, Charles S. Town of Arlington, Past and Present.
Parliamentary History of England. Published Under

the Superintendence of T. C. Hansard, Vol. XVIII.
Percv, Acting Brigadier-General, His Report of the

Phinney, Elias. History of the Battle of Lexington.
Provincial Congress of Massachusetts. Journals of Each.

Rantoul, Robert, Jr. Oration at Concord, on the Seventy-
fifth Anniversary of the Events of April 19, 1775.

Revere, Paul. His Account of the Ride to Lexington.
Reprinted in the Life of Revere by Goss.

Reynolds, Rev. Grindall. Concord Fight.

Riply, Rev. Ezra. History of the Fight at Concord.

Russell, Edward J., Dorchester.

Samuels, E. A., and H. H. Kimball. Somerville, Past and

Sawtelle, Ithamar B. History of Townsend.


Scull, G. D. Memoir and Letters of Capt. W. Glanville
Evelyn, of the 4th Regiment (King's Own).

Sewall, Samuel. History of Woburn.

Shattuck, Lemuel. History of Concord, Bedford, Acton,
Lincoln and Carlisle.

Sidney, Margaret. Old Concord, Her Highways and

Simonds, Eli. Article Containing his Statement about
the Battle of Lexington, Boston Globe, July 17, 1895.

Smith, Samuel A. West Cambridge on the Nineteenth'of
April, 1775. An Address.

Smith, S. F., D.D. History of Newton.

Somerville, Handbook of the Historic Festival, 1898.

Staples, Rev. Carlton A.

Stearns, Jonathan F., D.D. Historical Discourse, Bed-
ford Sesqui-Centennial, Aug. 27, 1879.

Stedman, C. History of the Origin, Progress and Termi-
nation of the American War.

Stephens, Alexander. Memoirs of John Home Tooke.

Stone, Edwin M. History of Beverly.

Sumner, William H. History of East Boston.

Swan, Charles W. MSS. of Levi Harrington. Account
of the Battle, given by him to his son, Bowen,
March, 1846. (Eye-witness on Lexington Common,
and then about fifteen years of age.)

Tenney, Wallace Fay.
Tolman, George. Concord Minute Man.
Thornton, John Wingate. Pulpit of the American

United States Geological Survey, Maps of.

Watson, John Lee. Paul Revere's Signal. The True
Story of the Signal Lanterns.

Webber, C. H. and W. S. Nevins. Old Naumkeag.
Historical Sketch of Salem.

Wellington, Caroline, Charles A., Cornelius, and Eliza.

Wheildon, W. W. Chapter in the History of the Concord
Fight. Boston Sunday Herald, April 19, 1885.

Winsor, Justin. Memorial History of Boston.

Worthington, Erastus. History of Dedham.

Wyman, Thomas B. Genealogies and Estates of Charles-



The Treaty of Peace signed at Paris, Feb. 10,
1763, terminated the prolonged struggle between
England and France, for supremacy in the New
World. For seven long years it had lasted, and
its cost had been treasure and bood. Justly
proud were the British Colonies of the martial
success of their mother country, a goodly
part of which they had valorously won them-

During the war, and at its close, England had
been generous in remitting to the Colonial Treas-
uries large sums in partial liquidation of the war
expenses advanced by them; but subsequently
it was esteemed wise, oy a majority of her states-
men, to gradually replace such sums in the
royal coffers, by a system of colonial taxation
very similar to modern methods of raising war
revenues. In the abstract this fact was not
particularly disagreeable to the colonists, for
the necessity was admitted, but the arbitrary
method of levying those taxes was bitterly con-

England's Parliament claimed the right to tax
the distant Colonies even as it taxed the neigh-
boring Boroughs, and as a commencement of its
financial plan enacted a Stamp Act, so called,
to take effect Nov. 1, 1765, similar in intent and
working, to the modern revenue stamp of our
Government. These stamps were to be pur-
chased of the Crown's officers and affixed to


certain articles of merchandise and in denom-
inations according to a schedule of taxable value.

The opposition to this Act was immediate,
continuous, and bitter in the extreme, and the
result was that it was repealed March 18, 1766.

The next move on the part of the Mother
Country was the passage of a Military Act
which provided for the partial subsistence of
armed troops on the Colonies. Violent opposi-
tion to this was also immediate and general, but
without avail. In Boston one result was a con-
flict between the troops and the inhabitants on
March 5, 1770, and now referred to as the
Boston Massacre.

In June, 1767, another Act was passed, taxing
tea and other commodities, which was repealed
April 12, 1770, on all articles except the tea.
Large consignments were sent to America. Ships
thus laden that arrived in New York were sent
back with their full cargoes. At Charleston
the tea was landed but remained unsold. At
Boston, a party disguised as Indians threw it
from the ship into the sea.* Parliament in con-
sequence passed the Boston Port Bill, March 7,
1774, closing Boston as a commercial port, and
removing the Custom House to Salem in another
harbor a dozen miles or more northward up the

This Act went into effect June 1, 1774, and
was immediately felt by all classes, for all com-
merce ceased. Boston merchants became poor,
and Boston poor became beggars. The hand of
relief, however, was extended, even from beyond

* In a little cemetery at West Fairlee, Vt., is a memorial stone
which reads "Wm. Cox, died July 27, 1838, Aged 88. He helped
steep the tea in the Atlantic." His name seems tq_have been over-
looked by historians, so I mention it here.


the sea. The City of London in its corporate
capacity subscribed £30,000*. In America the
assistance was liberal and speedy. George
Washington headed a subscription paper with

These severe measures of Parliament, with
their natural effect of ruin and starvation among
the people of America, served to stimulate a
feeling of insubordination, and hatred of the
Mother Country, from which crystalized the
First Continental Congress which assembled at
Philadelphia, Sept. 5, 1774, soon followed by the
First Provincial Congress of Massachusetts
which met at Salem, Oct. 7, of the same year.

On the question of Colonial Government
Great Britain and her American colonies were
not divided by the Atlantic Ocean, for on the
American side the Crown had its ardent sup-
porters, while on the other side friends of the
American cause were almost as numerous as
were the oppressors. We have seen how the
great City of London contributed liberally to
the Bostonians, shut off from the world by the
Port Bill, and on the floor of Parliament many
gifted orators espoused the American cause.

With prophetic eloquence the Lord Mayor,
Mr. Wilkes, exclaimed:

"This I know, a successful resistance is a
revolution, not a rebellion . . . Who can tell,
sir, whether in consequence of this day's violent
and mad Address to his Majesty, the scabbard
may not be thrown away by them as well as by
us ? . . . But I hope the just vengeance of the
people will overtake the authors of these per-

* Lossing's History of the United States, page 226.
f Frothingham's Rise of the Republic, page 326.


nicious councils, and the loss of the first province
of the empire be speedily followed by the loss of
the heads of those ministers who advised these
wicked and fatal measures."*

Lord Chatham in his motion to withdraw the
troops from Boston, said :

"As an American I would recognize to Eng-
land her supreme right of regulating commerce
and navigation: as an Englishman by birth and
principle I recognize to the Americans their su-
preme unalienable right in their property; a
right in which they are justified in the defence
of to the last extremity. "f

The Corporation of the City of London passed
a vote of thanks to Chatham, and to those who
supported him for having offered to the House
of Lords a plan to conciliate the differences with
America. J

When Lord North's unfriendly proposition
for conciliating America was introduced, it
naturally found an advocate in the loyal and
courtly Gen. Burgoyne — courtly but courage-
ous; loyal ever to his King but not blind to the
merits of the claims of the Colonists. While
modestly pledging his loyalty to the Crown, he
could not refrain from adding:

"There is a charm in the very wanderings
and dreams of liberty that disarms an English-
man's anger."**

In the debate on the bill for restraining the
Trade and Commerce of the English Colonies,
Lord Camden asked: —

* Hansard's Parliamentary History, XVIII, cols. 238, 240.
t Hansard's Parliamentary History, XVIII, col. 154.
J Hansard's Parliamentary History, XVIII, col. 215.
** Hansard's Parliamentary History, XVIII, col. 355.


"What are the 10,000 men you have just
voted out to Boston? Merely to save General
Gage from the disgrace and destruction of being
sacked in his entrenchments. It is obvious,
my Lords, that you cannot furnish armies or
treasure, competent to the mighty purpose of
subduing America. ... It is impossible that
this petty island can continue in dependence
that mighty continent."*

Continuing, he drew a picture of American
union and American courage, that in the end
would prevail.

The Earl of Sandwich replied: —

"Suppose the colonists do abound in men,
what does that signify? They are raw, undis-
ciplined, cowardly men. I wish instead of
40 or 50,000 of these brave fellows, they would
produce in the field at least 200,000, the more
the better, the easier would be the conquest;
if they did not run away, they would starve
themselves into compliance with our measures."!

And the Bill was passed.

One has but to read the stirring debates of
that memorable year in Parliament, over the
Petitions for Redress of Grievances from Amer-
ica; over the Petitions for Reconciliation from
the Merchants of Bristol and of London; over
the Resolutions offered by its own members;
and over the addresses to them by their King ; —
to realize that the great question of American
rights had almost as many, and surely as elo-
quent advocates, there as here.


As we have seen, the First Continental Con-

* Hansard's Parliamentary History, XVIII, cols. 442, 443.

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