Paul Revere Describes His Ride

Paul Revere - Describes His

Thanks to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and one of his most-famous poems, American schoolchidren have learned the story of "Paul Revere's Ride."

The Patriot famously saddled-up, after he saw the light of two lanterns at the Old North Church, and set-off to warn his fellow Colonials (in Massachusetts) that "the British are coming."

One thing is very wrong about this learning situation, however. The poem doesn't tell the whole story. In fact, it's fair to say that it partially tells a misleading story.

Why is that? Because "the Redcoats" stopped Revere before he finished his famous ride.

One of his two other riding companions—Dr. Samuel Prescott—made it all the way to Concord, but Paul (who was riding Deacon Larkin's mare, called "Brown Beauty") and William Dawes (who was also stopped by a British Patrol, then escaped but got lost in the dark) did not. 

In 1798, more than two decades after the famous event, Revere described his ride (and his capture) in a letter to Jeremy Belknap:

...if the British went out by Water, we would shew two Lanthorns in the North Church Steeple; and if by Land, one, as a Signal . . .

I set off upon a very good Horse; it was then about 11 o'Clock, and very pleasant . . . I alarmed almost every House, till I got to Lexington.

I found Messrs. Hancock and Adams...I told them my errand...I likewise mentioned, that we had better allarm all the Inhabitents till we got to Concord . . .

I saw two men...in an Instant I was surrounded by four . . . the Docter jumped his Horse over a low Stone wall, and got to Concord . . . Major Mitchel, of the 5th Regiment, Clapped his pistol to my head, called me by name, and told me he was going to ask me some questions, and if I did not give him true answers, he would blow my brains out.

Even though Longfellow made some mistakes in his history-telling, he had a great way with words ... don't you think?

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: Dec 11, 2016

Updated Last Revision: Dec 11, 2016

Media Credits

U.S. National Archives, Illustration 208-FS-3200-5.

Quoted passage from Paul Revere's letter - see American Poems (1625-1892), by Walter Cochrane Bronson, footnote 305, pages 582-583.  


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"Paul Revere Describes His Ride" AwesomeStories.com. Dec 11, 2016. Jun 05, 2020.
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