Front Matter Our Country Long Ago The Barbarous Indians The Mounds Where the Northmen Went The Northmen in America Queer Ideas Prince Henry the Navigator Youth of Columbus Columbus and the Queen "Land! Land!" Columbus and the Savages Home Again Columbus Ill-treated Death of Columbus How America Got its Name The Fountain of Youth "The Father of Waters" The French in Canada French and Spanish Quarrels The Sky City Around the World Nothing but Smoke Smith's Adventures The Jamestown Men Smith Wounded Pocahontas Visits England Hudson and the Indians The Mayflower Plymouth Rock The First Thanksgiving Snake Skin and Bullets The Beginning of Boston Stories of Two Ministers Williams and the Indians The Quakers The King-Killers King Phillip's War The Beginning of New York Penn and the Indians The Catholics in Maryland The Old Dominion Bacon's Rebellion A Journey Inland The Carolina Pirates Charter Oak Salem Witches Down the Mississippi La Salle's Adventures Indians on the Warpath Two Wars with the French Washington's Boyhood Washington's Journey Washington's First Battle Stories of Franklin Braddock's Defeat Wolfe at Quebec England and her Colonies The Stamp Tax The Anger of the Colonies The Boston Tea Party The Minutemen The Battle of Lexington Bunker Hill The Boston Boys The British leave Boston Declaration of Independence A Lady's Way of Helping Christmas Eve The Fight at Bennington Burgoyne's Surrender Winter at Valley Forge The Quaker Woman Putnam's Adventures Indian Cruelty Boone in Kentucky Famous Sea Fights The "Swamp Fox" The Poor Soldiers The Spy A Traitor's Death Two Unselfish Women Surrender of Cornwallis British Flag hauled down Washington's Farewell

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

The Battle of Lexington

General Gage knew that the patriots were collecting supplies, and he was determined to seize them if he could. But there were good patriots in Boston who were watching him closely, and they had agreed to warn their friends of any danger, by means of lanterns hung up in the tower of the Old North Church.

Two lights in the tower, one night, notified the people of Charlestown that the British were moving, and the minutemen on guard scattered to rouse their fellow-soldiers. Paul Revere, among others, dashed off on horseback, narrowly escaping capture by the British, who were guarding all the roads. As he galloped rapidly on, he roused the people by crying: "The British are coming!" Finally he reached Lexington, about nine miles from Boston. Here Samuel Adams and John Hancock had both taken refuge, because Gage wanted to seize and ship them off to England, to be tried there for treason.

Paul Revere's Ride


The clatter made by Revere roused the sleeping patriots, and when one of them asked what all this noise meant, Revere quickly answered: "Noise! You'll have noise enough before long. The regulars are coming!" Just then the window opened, and Hancock called Revere in. Soon after Revere rode rapidly on again to warn Concord, Massachusetts, while Adams began cleaning his gun to join in the fight. But Hancock stopped his companion, saying that it was their duty, as members of the Council, to plan and think, instead of fighting.

The alarm enabled the patriots to conceal most of their arms and stores, and when the British soldiers arrived in Lexington, soon after sunrise on April 19, 1775, they found about seventy minutemen drawn up on the green. The leader of the minutemen bade them "Stand firm! Don't fire until you are fired at. But if they want war, let it begin right here."

The British officer, at the head of about three hundred men, now loudly cried: "Disperse, ye rebels! Disperse!" Then, as they did not obey, he drew his pistols. Who fired first is a question which has never been settled, but a few minutes later seven American patriots lay on the ground dead, and the rest were obliged to retreat.

The British now marched on to Concord, where they began to destroy the stores. Although they had fancied the patriots would offer no more resistance, they soon found they were mistaken. The minutemen were assembling as fast as they could, and Dr. Warren addressed those at Lexington, saying: "Keep up a brave heart. They have begun it—that either party can do; and we'll end it—that only we can do."

The British guard at the Concord bridge was now attacked. Hearing shots in that direction, the British hurried back, to find their men falling rapidly beneath the fire of the minutemen. The latter were posted behind every bush, tree, barn, and stone wall all along the road, so that the British had to retreat between two lines of fire.

The Retreat from Concord


Bewildered by the constant shots of enemies they could not see, the British soldiers soon broke ranks and rushed blindly on, never pausing to take breath until they met new forces at Lexington, which covered their retreat. There the fugitives fell to the ground exhausted and panting, their tongues hanging out of their mouths from heat and thirst. After they recovered a little, the British, who had marched out of Charlestown that morning playing "Yankee Doodle "to vex the patriots, were only too thankful to beat a retreat. When they reached their fortifications at sundown they had lost about three hundred men, while only eighty-eight of the patriots had fallen.

The Revolutionary War had begun, and the day after the battle of Lexington the Massachusetts Congress wrote to England: "We determine to die or be free." The news of the first bloodshed was rapidly carried from place to place by men on horseback. They went everywhere, calling the people to arms. Guns were polished and bullets cast, the women sacrificing even cherished pewter spoons and dishes to supply the necessary ammunition.

The call to arms found Israel Putnam—a hero of the last French and Indian War—plowing in his field. Unyoking his oxen from the plow, Putnam bade a lad run for his coat and gun, while he saddled his horse. He then rode quickly away to take part in the struggle, which was to last about seven years. Two other patriots, John Stark from New Hampshire, and Benedict Arnold from Connecticut, were equally prompt in responding to this appeal, and it is said that in less than three days, sixteen thousand Americans were assembled around Boston, completely hemming in General Gage and the British troops.