The Battle of Lexington
Patriot's Day Reenactment 2003

Note: Hover over images for captions. Click on images for larger version. (Be warned: Some images don't improve much on viewing the larger versions.) Movies are AVI files, which can be viewed with Quicktime or possibly also Windows Media Player; Real Player doesn't seem to work (at least not for me; Frank says it works for him). You may have to download the videos to your desktop. They're all under 4 MB and 15 seconds or less.
The nice minuteman who gave us the tickets to the special viewing area.

I resolved that this was the year I was going to see the reenactment of the Battle of Lexington (aka "the skirmish on the Green" or "the shot heard 'round the world") and duly recruited Derrick, Mike, and Derrick's car (a crucial element of the plan). Armed with cameras an instructions to "just head out Mass. Ave." we left Somerville at 4:15 am (slightly later than planned, because someone forgot to turn on her alarm after setting it to 3:30 am -- whoops!) We arrived in Lexington well before 5 am though, since no one outside of Lexington appears to be up at that hour. We located parking without too much difficulty ("Okay, so the key is to arrive early enough to park in the Stop and Shop lot." -Derrick) and began wandering around trying to find the best place to watch from. Due to a merging together of memories of previous trips to Lexington and Concord, we almost went too far. Happily, we stopped to ask a friendly minuteman and he not only set us straight, but gave us three tickets to the special "Family Viewing Area." We wound up front row seats. (Wow!) When we saw him later, he was wearing a sword, giving orders, and leading one of the groups around, so we figured he must have been one of the officers. (I don't think he was Captain John Parker; I'm pretty sure he was in blue.) Sadly, I didn't manage to get a very good picture of our friendly minuteman. That's him on the right. -->

Having acquired an excellent viewing spot, we settled down to wait the 45 minutes or so in the cold and dark until things started happening. During this period of time some of the townspeople and minutemen spent time milling around the common in small groups. When we first got there, we saw a couple minutemen wander by asking if thre were pickeys yet. Gradually more people appeared, including women carrying candle lanterns. One minueman in green kept wandering and telling people "Don't worry the heat will be one soon." At this point, Captain Parker and some of the militia are waiting across the green in Buckman's Tavern for word from their scouts of the impending arrival of the British. At this point, it's still pretty dark and kind of cold. Wiser spectators had brought blankets and chairs. And hot drinks. The only way I could frame pictures on my digital camera was by observing where my subjects were in relation to the electric lights, which were the only things that showed up on my viewfinder.

A couple minutemen standing on the green in the pre-dawn. As time pass, more people gathered on the green.  There were even a parson, though he was too far from the flash in this picture. This guy kept saying ''Don't worry, the heat will be on soon.'' Women also gather on the common to wait and watch.  Unfortunately, for our cameras, this group gathered right in front of us. There were some very little ''minutemen'' on the green. One colonial (on the left in this picture) had a bright orange coat, causing some in the crowd to mistake him for a redcoat. Some of the women were carrying lanterns with candles in them.

Gradually dawn breaks. It was kind of pretty. It was still pretty cold. Even with my gloves on, my hands are getting pretty cold. Happily, I can operate my camera without taking them off.

Signs of light appear in the east.

It continued to get lighter and soon I could distinguish objects other that electric lights on the viewfinder of my camera.

The view to the east as the sun rises.  You can people watching on the far side of the green.  The building in the background is the Masonic lodge. A minuteman walking in front of one of the two houses right on the Green; that house was having quite a party.  When the battle started there were maybe 20 people sitting on it's rooves and porches. A cold little reenactor hugging her mom for warmth.

At 5:30 am, the general alarm bell sounds in the belfry and the minutemen start to gather. The announcer then gives the audience a quick summary of the events as they happened and as we'll see them. Paul Revere's ride, which had begun at 11 pm the night before, brings him to Lexington and the house of the Reverend Jonas Clarke around midnight. He warns John Hancock and Sam Adams, who are there, that the regulars are coming to arrest them and they should flee. He then borrows a horse with which to ride on to Concord, but gets captured and questioned by the British for a few hours. He walks back to Lexington, to Clarke's House. Shortly before the Redcoats arrive, Hancock's secretary rmeinds him he has forgotten his trunk full of secret papers. Hancock says that if the British get ahold of those papers "many patriots will die." Revere and Lowell head to the tavern to retrieve the papers.

Thaddeus Bowman rides in warning that the Regulars are near. The minutemen begin to assemble on the green. The minutemen form up in two lines to wait. (At this point, they march a little in formation to fife music. [video]) Paul Revere and John Lowell run into Buckman's tavern and retrieve Hancock's trunk of secret papers and run back across the green and into the woods with it. [video] (Read more about Paul Revere, including the trunk incident.) The minutemen wait. Soon the sounds of the British marching music can be heard in the distance.

Two minutemen passing time; vans from channels 5 & 7 are in the background. The minutemen begin to assemble on the green.  Captain Parker will come out of Buckman's Tavern, in the background, and get them in better order shortly. The minutemen formed up in two lines to await the arrival of the British.  I believe the figure by himself on the right is Captain Parker.

Eventually we can see as well as hear the British marching up Mass Ave. with a police escort. They run the last little way up onto the green and form ranks. Captain Parker tells his men. "Stand your ground. Don't fire unless fired upon. But if they mean to have a war let it began here." (We couldn't hear this from where we were.) Major John Pitcairn, the British officer commanding these 6 companies, and two of other British Officers approach the minure man and yell, "Lay down your arms! You rebels disperse. Damn you disperse!" (This we heard some of.) The minutemen start looking nervous. The British officers return and the lines of British start yelling taunts at the militia. One colonials breaks and runs. (The audience laughs.) Several of the men in the back start backing up. The British fix bayonets and start marching forward.

The Redcoats arrive on the green.  The minutemen have started backing up. Closer view of the Redcoats on teh field. The Regulars fix bayonents point their muskets forward.

The shooting starts. The colonials are mostly running away, though a few do stop and fire their muskets first. [video] Most of the firing seems to be coming from the British, who rapidly overrun the field. [video]

Minutemen fleeing the green amidst a lot of smoke.  The white building is the Harrington house. A couple of Redcoats firing at the retreating colonials. The backs of the redcoats chasing the fleeing colonials. The officers are trying to regain control of their men, while the drums call them back.  The shooting is mostly over.

Having regained control of their men, the British officers reform them on the green and scold them for a little while. The women rush in from the sidelines to see to the fallen. Formed up and scolded, they fire another volley in unison, causing the women to flee screaming back to the sidelines. [video] That done, they give three cheers for King George and start marching off by company towards Concord.

Redcoats reforming ranks on the green. A Redcoat pokes a fallen minuteman with his musket butt on the way back to reform. Women rush to the fallen. The British forces start reforming. The Redcoats begin marching off towards Concord. The Btitish march from the field.  A fallen colonial lies on the field. The grenadiers march past the body. The band marches past the body.

Afterward the battle the minutemen reformed on the green. The reenactors also reform, listen as the names of the eight men who died are read, and march off to the graveyard to fire a few volleys to honor the fallen.

The minutemen return to the green
and regroup Another shot of citizens returning.  Captain Parker did reform his men after the British had passed, since they would be passing this way on their return to Boston.

Below are somes shots from the cemetary. They stopped at one grave in particular, which seemed to actually have been of a British soldier who died since he got a Britsh flag, though I couldn't quite hear all of what they said. (A few accounts mention one British solider was killed in the battle.) The minutemen fired a salute to honor the fallen, [video] and then narch solemnly from the ncemetary. [video]

I think these are a couple of the officers. There were two guys with pikes instead of muskets for some reason.  In the background is Thaddeus Bowman. The parade off to the cemetary. This might be
Captain Parker. Paul Revere and John Lowell, still carrying Hancock's trunk. The ceremony for the fallen British (?) soldier.  The guy in the grey coat is the one who gave us the tickets. The minutemen lower their muskets after firing a salute.

More on April 19, 1775

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