April 18, 1775: Paul Revere’s famous midnight ride to Lexington
Most Americans know the name “Paul Revere,” but far less commonly do people recognize the names of the other two famous midnight riders, William Dawes and Samuel Prescott. Together, the three rode on horseback through the night, spreading the word from Boston to Concord of the impending trouble.
Protecting the Patriots
April of 1775 was a month that would eventually go down in history as the year America mobilized toward liberty and freedom from Britain. The Patriots, who were American colonists who wanted independence, had rallied in support of two men, Samuel Adams and John Hancock, whose names might sound familiar. Joseph Warren, a fellow Patriot, sought to send a warning to the two men when received news that the British were heading to Concord to arrest them. He knew that the British were likely to come by sea and that there were British guards at the one toll bridge out of Boston, so Warren split his odds.
By sending militiamen Paul Revere and William Dawes on the ride, one by land and one by sea, he hoped that at least one of them would make it through to Lexington, where they would meet up with Samuel Prescott and ride on to Concord to warn the leaders. Revere, being a known rabble-rouser and recognizable face, traveled along the water. Dawes took the land route, as Warren thought he’d be able to slip past the guards with little fuss since he often left town to trade. The two had both set course for Lexington by 10 PM, alerting the other towns along the way.
A fateful ride
At half-past midnight on April 19, Dawes met up with Revere in Lexington, and the two set out to meet up with Prescott a short way down the line. At 1 AM, the trio was stopped by a British patrol. They captured Revere, but Dawes and Prescott managed to flee in opposite directions. Dawes turned back to Lexington while Prescott continued to Concord to warn Adams and Hancock. The conflict that arose outside of Lexington and Concord between the militiamen and the British troops marked the beginning of the American Revolutionary War.