Most school kids know that “the shot heard round the world” refers to the un-named British regular or Massachusetts militiaman who first opened fire at the Battle of Lexington on April 19, 1775. Although we will never know whose musket started the American Revolution, author Jack Crowder has gathered together much of the first-hand information pertaining to the events on Lexington Green and between Lexington and Concord during the first day of the Revolutionary War.
With this book, we have a documentary history of the people, places, times, and events that forever changed the course of our history. Mr. Crowder has delivered a concise hour-by-hour account of April 19th, based on the writings of the participants and eyewitnesses. While no such work could omit the names of Paul Revere, John Hancock, Lord Percy and other notables, most of this story is told from the vantage point and in the words of the common men and women of Massachusetts. Most of the militiamen, for example, were farmers and shop keepers possessing virtually no military experience. Most were under thirty-five, and some were teenagers. Some, like Benjamin Balch and Samuel Payson, were clergymen. A few combatants were women, including Prudence Wright of Pepperell, Massachusetts, the wife of a militiaman, who organized a group of women, dressed in men’s attire, to guard the road that passed through the town. These women ultimately captured two of the enemy on April 19th. (Persons interested in this aspect of the American Revolution should see Mr. Crowder’s other book, Women Patriots in the American Revolution).
The book is amply illustrated with reproductions of period paintings, drawings, and photographs. There is also a town-by-town appendix of militiamen who were mortally wounded in the various skirmishes. Mr. Crowder’s inclusion, finally, of a bibliography of sources and a name index to all persons mentioned in the text or in the affidavits sworn by eye-witnesses will guide researchers who wish to investigate the people and events of “the first 24 hours” even further.
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