The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

Paul Revere's Midnight Ride painting
Paul Revere's ride, April 19, 1775. Emmet, Thomas Addis, 1828-1919. New York Public Library.

Paul Revere’s Ride: The Patriots Prepare for Battle

On April 16th, 1775, Paul Revere began to gather tips that a raid was planned for the city of Concord in the coming days. In fact, it is speculated that these tips came from General Gage’s wife, an American who may have been sympathetic to the plight of her countrymen. With this intelligence, Revere began making plans to alert the surrounding countryside by horseback that the redcoats would indeed be arriving to ransack their military supplies.

Paul Revere reenactment photo
Manipulated photo showing a reenactment of Paul Revere's Ride. John W. Penney. 2011.
One if by Land, and Two if by Sea

There were two routes that the British soldiers could take: by land through the Boston Neck and by sea across the Charles River. Paul Revere arranged to have a signal lit in the Old North Church – one lantern if the British were coming by land and two lanterns if they were coming by sea – and began to make preparations for his ride to alert the local militias and citizens about the impending attack.

 

“One if by land, and two if by sea.”
~ from “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Portrait of Paul Revere
Paul Revere. Copley, John Singleton. 1768. Museum of Fine Arts. Boston.
The Regulars are About!

On April 18th, 1775, 700 British soldiers under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith gathered on Boston Common and boarded ships to raid Concord. These soldiers included eight companies of grenadiers, or soldiers who stood on the frontlines and heaved grenades at the enemy, and eight companies of light infantry. During this time, Paul Revere, along with two other riders, William Dawes and Samuel Prescott, began their nighttime rides to rouse the minutemen and warn citizens of an attack. Revere rode to Lexington, where Samuel Adams and John Hancock were staying en route to the Second Continental Congress, and managed to persuade Adams and Hancock to leave the city for their safety as they faced possible arrest. Revere was later captured, but fortunately for the Patriots, this occurred after the news of a British attack had already been conveyed.