The Life of Colonel Paul Revere

Author: Paul Revere  | Date: 1891

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Elbridge H. Goss I Boston 1891

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

[1775]

Paul Revere of Boston in the Colony of Massachusetts Bay in New England of lawful age doth testify and say that I was in Boston on the evening of the 18th of April, 1775, sent for by Doctor Joseph Warren of said Boston on the evening of the 18th of April, about 10 o’clock, when he desired me "to go to Lexington, and inform Mr. Samuel Adams, and the Honorable John Hancock. Esq. that there was a number of Soldiers, composed of light troops and grenadiers, marching to the bottom of the Common, where was a number of boats to receive them. It was supposed that they were going to Lexington, by the way of Cambridge River, to take them [Adams and Hancock] or go to Concord, to distroy the Colony stores."

I proceeded immeditely, and was put across Charles River, in a boat and landed near Charlestown Battery, went in to the town, and there got a horse. While in Charlestown, I was informed by Richard Devens, Esq. that he mett that evening, after sun sett, nine officers of the Ministeral [Gage’s] Army, well mounted on good horses and armed going towards Concord. I set off. It was then about 11 o’clock. The moon shone bright. I had got almost over Charlestown Common towards Cambridge when I saw two officers on horseback standing under the shade of a tree in a narrow part of the roade. I was near enough to see their holsters and cockades, when one of them started his horse towards me, and the other up the road, as I supposed, to head me should I escape the first. I turned my horse short about, and rid upon a full gallop for Mistick Road. He followed me about 300 yardes, and finding he could not catch me, returned.

I proceeded to Lexington, thro Mistick, and alarmed Mr. Adams and Col. Hancock. After I had been there about half an hour Mr. Daws arrived, who came from Boston, over the neck. We set off together for Concord, and were overtaken by a young gentleman named Prescot, who belonged to Concord and was going home. When we had got about half way from Lexington to Concord, the other two stopped at a house to awake the man. I kept along. When I had got about 200 yards ahead of them, I saw two officers under a tree as before. I immeditely called to my company to come up, saying here was two of them, (for I had told them what Mr. Devens told me, and of my being stopped). In an instant I saw four officers who rode up to me, with their pistols in their hands, and said: "God damn you stop! If you go an inch further, you are a dead man!"

Immeditely Mr. Prescot came up. We attempted to git thro them, but they kept before us, and swore if we did not turn in to that pasture, they would blow our brains out. They had placed themselves opposite to a pair of burrs, and had taken the burrs down. They forced us in. When we had got in, Mr. Prescot said to me, "Put on." He turned to the left. I found since that he knew the ground for he lived within three or four miles. He jumped his horse over the wall and got to Concord, I turned to the right towards a wood, at the bottom of the pasture, intending when I gained that, to jump my horse and run afoot. Just as I reached it, out started six officers, siesed my bridle; put their pistols to my breast, ordered me to dismount, which I did. One of them, who appeared to have the command there; and much of a gentleman, asked we where I came from. I told him. He asked what time I left it. I told him. He seemed surprised.

He said, "Sir, may I crave your name."

I answered, "My name is Revere."

"What," said he, "Paul Revere?"

I answered, "Yes."

The others abused me much, but he told me not to be afraid, no one would hurt me. I told him they would miss their aim. He said they should not; they were only waiting for some deserters they expected down the road. I told him I knew better. I knew what they were after, that I had alarmed the country all the way up, that their boats were catch’d aground, and I should have five hundred men there soon. One of them said they had fifteen hundred coming. He seemed surprised and rode immeditly off into the road, and informed them who took me. They came down immeditly on a full gallop. One of them (whom I have since learned, was Major Mitchel of the 5th Regiment) clapped his pistol to my head, and said he was agoing to ask me some questions, and if I did not tell the truth, he would blow my brains out.

I told him I esteemed myself a man of truth, that he had stopped me on the highway, and made me a prisoner, I knew not by what right. I would tell him the troth. I was not afraid. He then asked me the same questions that the other did, and many more, but was more particular. I gave him much the same answers. After he and two more had spoke together in a low voice he then ordered me to mount my home. They first searched me for pistols. When I was mounted, the Major rode up to me and took the reins out of my hand, and said, "By God, Sir, you are not to ride with reins, I assure you," and gave them to an officer on my right to lead me. I asked him to let me have the reins and I would not run from him. He said he would not trust me. He then ordered four men out of the bushes, and to mount their horses. They were country men which they had stopped who were going home. Then ordered us to march. He said to me, "We are now going towards your friends, and if you attempt to run, or we are insulted, we will blow your brains out!" I told him he might do as he pleased. When we had got into the road, they formed a circle and ordered the prisoners in the centre and to lead me in the front.

We rid down towards Lexington, a pretty smart pace. I was often insulted by the officers, calling me, "damned rebel, etc., etc." The officer who led me said I was in a damned critical situation. I told him I was sensible of it. After we had got about a mile, I was given to the sergeant to lead. He was ordered to take out his pistol, and if I run to execute the major’s sentence. When we got within about a half a mile of the Lexington meeting house, we heard a gun fired. The major asked me what it was for. I told him to alarm the country. He then ordered the other four prisoners to dismount. They did. Then one of the officers dismounted and curt the bridles and saddels off the horses, and drove them away, and told the men they might go about their business. I asked the major to dismiss me. He said he would not carry me. Lett the consequence be what it will. He then ordered us to march. When we got within sight of the meeting house, we heard a volley of guns fired, as I supposed at the tavern, as an alarm. The major ordered us to halt. He asked me how far it was to Cambridge, and many more questions, which I answered. He than asked the sarjant if his horse was tired, He said, "Yes." He ordered him to take my horse, which he did. I dismounted. The sarjant mounted my horse. They cutt the bridle and saddle off the sarjant’s horse and they told me they should make use of my horse for the night and rode off toward Cambridge down the road.

I then want to the house where I left Messrs. Adams and Hancock, and told them what had happined. Their friends advised them to go out of the way. I went with them, about two miles across road and there stopt. After resting myself, I sett off with another man to go back to the tavern to enquire the news. When we got there, we were told the troops were within two miles. We went into the tavern to git a trunk of papers belonging to Col. Hancock. Before we left the house I saw the Ministeral Troops from the Chamber window coming up the road. We made haste and had to pass thro’ our militia, who were on a green behind the meeting house to the number as I supposed about fifty or sixty. It was then daylight. I passed thro’ them. As I passed I heard the comanding officer speake to his men to this purpose:

"Lett the troops pass by, and don’t molest them, without they begin first." I had to go across road, but I had not got half gunshot off when the Ministeral Troops appeared in sight behinde the meeting house. They made a short halt, when a gun was fired. I heard the report, turned my head, and saw the smoake in front of the troops. They imeaditly gave a great shout, ran a few paces, and then the whole fired. I could first distinguish iregular fireing, which I suppose was the advance guard, and then platoons, At the time I could not see our militia, for they were covered from me by a house at the bottom of the road, and further saith not.

PAUL REVERE.

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Chicago: Paul Revere, The Life of Colonel Paul Revere in History in the First Person: Eyewitnesses of Great Events: They Saw It Happen, ed. Louis Leo Snyder and Richard B. Morris (Harrisburg, Pa.: Stackpole Co., 1951), Original Sources, accessed July 3, 2022, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=IXVHUV76ZXM9GAX.

MLA: Revere, Paul. The Life of Colonel Paul Revere, Vol. I, in History in the First Person: Eyewitnesses of Great Events: They Saw It Happen, edited by Louis Leo Snyder and Richard B. Morris, Harrisburg, Pa., Stackpole Co., 1951, Original Sources. 3 Jul. 2022. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=IXVHUV76ZXM9GAX.

Harvard: Revere, P, The Life of Colonel Paul Revere. cited in 1951, History in the First Person: Eyewitnesses of Great Events: They Saw It Happen, ed. , Stackpole Co., Harrisburg, Pa.. Original Sources, retrieved 3 July 2022, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=IXVHUV76ZXM9GAX.