Lexington, Massachusetts, on sighting British Troops
(attributed), 19 April 1775
THE BLUE PRESS
We originally ran this “Letter to the Editor’ in the
April 1993 issue. We thought it was good enough to re-
run, and we hope more and more shooters will begin to
celebrate Patriot’s Day.
By E. James Adkins
We don’t celebrate the 19th of April anymore. It was
never celebrated in a big monumental way, but we once
celebrated that day.
‘Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.’
-so wrote Longfellow in his poem that begins:
‘Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,’
Revere and others went forth on the night of April 18,
1775 with the alarm, “The redcoats are coming, the red-
coats are coming!” They rode all through the night.
‘It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.’
‘It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.’
Why was it so immediately important, on the night of
April 18, 1775, for all of the people to know that the
‘redcoats are coming’?
It was the practice in our colonial period for each vil-
lage to have a “common” or ‘village green” that was
used for public gatherings. The most significant use of the
“common’ was as a mustering point and drill field for
the village militia, “every able bodied man between the
ages of 16 and 60 years.” The militia was trained (as they
termed it, “disciplined’ and ‘well regulated’) in the use
of arms, here at the village green. The militia provided
protection for individuals and property of the village
against all threats. A man would spend some time in the
‘gaol’ if he missed a militia call. The militia, each man,
was required to keep and bear his own arms. It was com-
mon for the militia to maintain a community armory for
the storage of shot, powder, flint, additional small arms
and any heavy arms that it might afford. Individuals
could draw from these supplies as needed, as well as
acquiring their own private supplies.
On the night of April 18, 1775, Governor Gage
(British Governor of fortress Boston) ordered British ‘red-
coats” to march to the many surrounding villages, to
seize and destroy all stores of munitions and to arrest the
country leaders, the “arch-conspirators.” British Major
Pitcairn led the march into the countryside. The prime
objective was to still the voice of the people, disarm
them and make them more servile. Rebellion must stop,
they said. So, Revere took to horse to give the alarm: ‘To
arms, to arms, the redcoats are coming!’
Early on the morning of the 19th of April, 1775,
Major Pitcairn’s “redcoats’ arrived at Lexington and met
Captain John Parker’s company of colonial militia drawn-
up on the meeting house green.
‘By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.’
-so wrote Emerson in 1837.
Some colonials were wounded and some were killed.
Resistance to the larger British force proved futile. Pit-
cairn’s return march to Boston became a humiliating rout
as our colonial militiamen, Minutemen and individual
countrymen harassed the British column from behind
stone walls, rocks and trees, every step of the way.
The shot heard round the world, the first shot in our
fight for independence from King George’s slavery, was
fired to protect and defend the natural right of men to
protect themselves, to keep and bear arms for the pur-
pose of preserving liberty. This right to keep and bear
arms was codified on the 15th of December 1791 when
it became the Second Amendment to the Constitution of
the United States of America.
We don’t celebrate the 19th of April anymore. Per-
haps we should.
‘That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
Spirit, that made those heros dare
To die, and leave their children free.’
The redcoats are coming!