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Day the American Revolution Began: 19 April 1775
     

Day the American Revolution Began: 19 April 1775

4.8 4
by William H. Hallahan
 

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At four in the morning on April 19, 1975, a line of British soldiers stared across the village green of Lexington, Massachusetts, at a crowd of seventy-seven Amercican militiamen. A shot rang out, and the Redcoats replied with a devastating volley.

But the day that started so well for the king's troops would end in catastrophe: seventy-three British soldiers

Overview

At four in the morning on April 19, 1975, a line of British soldiers stared across the village green of Lexington, Massachusetts, at a crowd of seventy-seven Amercican militiamen. A shot rang out, and the Redcoats replied with a devastating volley.

But the day that started so well for the king's troops would end in catastrophe: seventy-three British soldiers dead, two hundred wounded, and the survivors chased back into Boston by the angry colonists. Drawing on diaries, letters, official documents, and memoirs, William H. Hallahan vividly captures the drama of those tense twenty-four hours and shows how they decided the fate of two nations.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Aiming to do more than just describe Paul Revere's famous ride and the "shot heard round the world," military historian Hallahan argues that the Battle of Lexington and Concord wasn't merely the mythic event that has become part of our American heritage; it was a politically important occurrence, a catalyst for radicalizing the colonies behind the emerging idea of national independence. Before the battle, he contends, most Americans were unhappy with British rule, but they shared little consensus about how to react. The shocking news of battle, however, emboldened radical elements in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Williamsburg, effectively undermining advocates of a negotiated political settlement with Britain. Although there's nothing particularly groundbreaking about Hallahan's treatment of the battle, of such well-known revolutionary personalities as Washington and Hamilton or of the early days of the revolution (Bernard Bailyn, Henry Steele Commager and Richard B. Morris do a far better job in their classic works), he does remind us of the peculiar genius of Samuel Adams, whose behind-the-scenes tactical brilliance provoked from the British a response of unthinking rage. Depicting him as a visionary propagandist and the leading force behind Boston's urban guerrilla war against British forces, Hallahan shows how Adams incited the British by leading mob actions such as the Boston Tea Party and the rushing of Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson's Boston home. Indeed, as the ill-fated British Army marched toward Lexington and Concord, it was searching for the elusive Adams. Hallahan rescues the reality of events long buried beneath layers of myth and folklore. B&w photos. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780380796052
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
04/28/2001
Series:
Harper Perennial
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.79(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

0n the morning of Tuesday, April 18, 1775, under bright skies and in cool spring temperatures, twenty British officers and sergeants, all mounted, all under the command of the mercurial Major Edward Mitchell of the 5th Foot, rode out of the British army stables in Boston. They traveled down the long thread of land called the Boston Neck, the only land access from the city to the mainland, then, turning north and west, they spread out along the road to Concord.

The preceding winter had been the mildest in New England history. The roads were dry underfoot, and their horses could cover ground quickly. The greenery had begun to grow a month early, and the trees were already budding out.

From their horses, these British soldiers looked. at familiar scenes in a peaceful countryside. Farmers were out in their fields, plowing with oxen from first light to the last peep of sun. On the roads, drovers with. switches and flailing hats were driving animals—ever thing from cattle to gabbling flocks of turkeys-to Boston's market. Everywhere, people were doing chores and errands in the urgent business of getting crops started. Countless eyes saw Major Mitchell and his mounted military detachment pass by.

Boston itself was even quieter on that April Tuesday. The port had been closed since the previous June 1 by order of His Majesty King George III until such time as the citizens reimbursed the East India Company for tea that had been dumped into Boston Harbor.

A closed port meant a dead city. Almost all commerce had ceased. No ships came or went. Most businesses were shut down: the rope walks, the sail lofts, the ships chandlers, allclosed; the warehouses empty. Large groups of sullen, unemployed men stood about on the docks or moped in the taverns. The other colonies were sending food to ward off starvation. So far, the city had refused to pay for the tea.

Dr. Joseph Warren was in his Boston medical office but not attending to medical duties. He was spending the day sifting through bits and pieces of information that grew more ominous as the hours, passed. For Dr. Warren was spying on General Thomas Gage and his troop movements.

A leadingphysician, a graduate of Harvard University, and the son of a leading Boston family, Dr. Warren was also a passionate Whig, a leading radical, and one of Samuel Adams's most valued lieutenants. He was also a leading member of the Massachusetts Committee of Safety, an extralegal executive body of the radicals that, had charge of Massachusetts's huge militia.

He had achieved lasting fame among the, radicals when, whileSam Adams was attending the First Continental Congress, he hadwritten the Suffolk Resolves under Adams's instructions. Paul Reverehad carried them to Philadelphia, where they, by providing the defiant tone which Adams pushed through, turned out to be the turningpoint of the First Congress.

Dr. Warren was still weighing an important piece of intelligence. There had been a change of assignment in the British garrison that indicated a potential military maneuver: On April 15, three days earlier, Gage had detached his elite troops-grenadiers and light infantry from their regular duties in order to give them separate training. Lightly equipped, specially trained, and fast moving, these companies could be used to strike into the countryside and return with great speed. All told these units contained 700 men-just the right sizea hit-and-run strike. But when and where were they to be used?

Dr. Warren was one of only a handful of radicals still left in Boston. None were to be found in their shops or countinghouses, or haranguing each other in taverns such as the Green Dragon or the Bunch of Grapes, or in the popular British Coffee House. They had all heard rumors from London that the king's cabinet, out of patience, was demanding results, from General Gage and that the king had ordered him to take sterner action—to confiscate illegal arms, to break up illegal assemblies, and to arrest the radical leaders, especially John Hancock and Sam Adams.

So on April 8, the radical politicians had prudently moved in large numbers out into the countryside, beyond the reach of Gage's long, red-coated arms. In fact, a number of radicals had defiantly attended an illegal Provincial Council meeting in Concord to select delegates to the equally, illegal Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia. They also decided to remain safely outside Boston to watch from afar and await Gage's move.

Dr. Warren had even sent his own family away for their protection, and every military uniform that passed his office windows reminded him that by remaining in the city he was continually in danger of sudden arrest and confinement. But he couldn't leave yet. He still needed one piece of vital information.

Silversmith Paul Revere had also elected to stay in Boston. From his shop on Fish Street, near Hancock's Wharf, he was watching and waiting along with Dr. Warren, secretly gleaning hints and clues from informants all over the city. He, too, believed that the British garrison was on the verge of launching an operation.

To the angry British officials who knew him well, Paul Revere was primarily a post rider for the radical groups and a thorn in their sides. But he was much more than that.

He was a deeply committed radical ready for any assignment. A man with many skills—a gifted silversmith, a goldsmith, a pewtersmith, a maker of false teeth, and an engraver—he was also a political cartoonist, a writer, a newspaper propagandist, a rioter, and an occasional arm bender. The physically powerful Revere was more than Sam Adams's leading post rider. He was his most trusted lieutenant.

Meet the Author

William H. Hallahan is the author of both fiction and nonfiction. His previous book, Misfire, covered the history of U.S. military shoulder arms and the men who carried them into battle. He lives in New Jersey.

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Day the American Revolution Began: 19 April 1775 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am 17 years old and intend to study to become a social studies teacher in college. I have read numerous novels about the American Revolution, but Hallahan's was excellent. It was filled with detail and it was interesting. The novel truly engages the reader. I recommend to any one interested in history, especially revolutionary studies or war studies. It really is a 5 star book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If high school history books were written like this, history would have been everyone's favorite subject
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excellent book about the history of America's key people in the revolution against the monarchy tyrant britain. Great book for all readers who would like to know more about the coming of America and the mood of the people at the time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great refresher for anyone who has not recently read an account of the battle of Lexington and Concord. Hallahan describes what was happening in Boston, New Yor, Philadelphia and London before and after the battle. Although he does not mention it, it is obvious that an armed citizenry in the colonies was more than the might of the British Empire could bear. Revisionist historians have portrayed the British as reasonable and thoughtful in their dealings with the colonies. Nothing could be further from the truth. The British Empire headed by George III was a corrupt tyranny and no one suffered from this tyranny more than the citizens of Britain. The difference between the native English and their American cousins was that the Americans had guns, the English citizens did not. This is a hard book to put down