The residents in and around Boston thought it might happen. But they didn’t realize just how bad it would be.
Rumors and secret meetings abounded in Lexington, Concord, Menotomy Village and other small towns nearby the British-held port city. Quiet talk of war permeated conversations, increasing the anxiety of the colonists as they knew conflict approached closer every day. When it exploded into full scale skirmishes on April 19, 1775, the dye had been cast. The American Revolution had begun.
The British regulars first left Boston, then travelled west through Charlestown before they marched in the dead of night through Menotomy Village, MA. As the local residents awakened to the vibration of soldiers marching down the main road on their way to Concord, bells sounded the alarm and residents seized their muskets, prepared to make their stand. These lands were their homes and they intended to defend their families and farms to the death, if need be.
The first shots were fired on the Lexington town green. The color of the spring lawn was watered with the red blood of the local men and boys who had risen before dawn to defend their town. Eight patriots were killed and several wounded. One British soldier was also injured.
The British forces proceeded towards Concord, where gunpowder and arms were rumored to be hidden for use by the colonists against the regulars. Wise patriots had actually moved the weapons elsewhere before the enemy troops arrived. But that didn’t stop the confrontation immortalized in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem, “Concord Hymn.” Two British soldiers were killed in the battle at the Old North Bridge. Their graves near the bridge are decorated with flowers to this day, courtesy of the British Embassy.
As the exhausted British troops retreated down the road toward Boston, colonists who had learned to fight behind trees and stone walls, picked off numerous red-coated soldiers along the way. In the meantime, reinforcements for the Brits were on the way down the main road from Boston. Once they joined forces west of Menotomy Village, the battle grew even uglier. By the time the conflict reached the Jason Russell farm in Menotomy, the fiercest battle of the day—and the deadliest for both sides—occurred at the Russell House.
Menotomy Village is today called Arlington, Massachusetts. When I grew up there, I frequently walked by the Jason Russell House. It was now designated a historical site with a sign out front and, as a young girl, I wondered what had occurred there. It was not until I grew up that I learned the full story of this major incident, hidden from most history books. I was so moved by what I learned, I determined to write about it in novel form. I wanted to bring the characters alive on the page through words that would help my readers understand that these were living, breathing humans who sacrificed so much for the birth of America.
I’ve written this story in the multi award-winning Fields of the Fatherless. You can purchase the book on either e-book or paperback. I hope that reading about this little-known battle will help you appreciate our ancestors who shed their blood to create a free America.
April 19 is now a public holiday called Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts and Maine. In Wisconsin, schools are required to teach students about the events and notable people of the American Revolution.
It is regrettable that most of these United States do not commemorate the first day of the war that birthed America. We should never forget. I will do my part to help Americans remember.
To purchase Fields of the Fatherless in Paperback, click here.
In E-book, click here