Patriots’ Day

Monday was a holiday, at least in Massachusetts. It was Patriots’ Day, recognizing the battles of Lexington and Concord, generally considered to be the start of the war known as the American Revolution.

In fact, relations between England and the colonies had not been good for several years. Increasingly unhappy with decisions made by a distant government, the colonists were challenging England through words and actions. The Quartering Act, the Stamp Act, and the Tea Act were met with the Boston Massacre, the Continental Congress and the Tea Party. When the colonists began to unify the Committees of Safety into Minutemen Militia, England responded by sending an army in seach of military stores in Concord, Massachusetts. The troops moved out on the evening of April 18, 1775.

Patriot spies were alert to this movement and two messengers, Paul Revere and William Dawes, set out on horses to spread the alarm though the countryside. At dawn on the 19th of April, when the British arrived at Lexington, halfway to Concord, they found a body of militia drawn up on the village green. Someone fired a shot, and the resulting exchange left eight dead and ten wounded.

The British column went on to Concord, destroyed such of the military stores as the Americans had been unable to remove, and set out on their return journey. By this time, the alarm had spread far and wide, and the American colonists had assembled along the British troops’ route. From behind walls, rocks, and trees, they shot at the columns of Redcoats. At day’s end the British counted 273 casualties; American casualties numbered 95 men. The war of the American Revolution had begun.

This is Minnesota, not Massachusetts. However, every year, I still think about that day in ’75, when a handful of farmers and mechanics stood up against the greatest army on earth, determined to fight for their political rights.