I am excited for this next stage of our virtual tour because we are going to a place and learning about a battle that I researched when writing Testing Liberty. You may wonder what an event from the past has to do with a book set in the future. Everything!
Sneak peek of Testing Liberty. This scene takes place in the virtual reality of a 3D game. Note: this book has not been through editing yet so this scene may change.
I am a firm believer that we can find answers for today’s problems by looking into our past. What can a person do to make a difference in their country? When it seems like forces are at work to re-make America, what can a person do to help steer their country back on course?
Early Americans–a scruffy bunch of unorganized farmers and ordinary people, spread out over the entire East coast–contended with the most formidable power in the world! How did they do it?
North Bridge Inn Bed and Breakfast, pictures from their website, used with permission.
We check in, virtually, to the North Bridge Inn, a bed and breakfast that is between our two points of interest: Concord and Lexington!
“We had a wonderfully peaceful stay here at the North Bridge Inn.
The towns of Concord and Lexington are quaint and friendly.
The Inn is a lovely retreat in a beautiful, historic town.” – Anna & Ross, Los Angeles, CA
Built in 1885 and renovated in 1998, this inn is one of the most popular Bed and Breakfasts Inns in Concord, MA. Our room, the Alcott Suite, is so inviting that we want to stay and relax, but we have some exploring to do!
The Lexington Historical Society offers us a suggested itinerary, which we like but have to customize to fit our family’s needs.
We visit a museum and several buildings actually built in the 18th century: the Hancock-Clarke House, Buckman Tavern, and Munroe Tavern. The Old Belfry is an exact replica of the original which a gale destroyed in 1909.
After shuffling through one building after another, watching informative videos, and listening to our guides, we’ve learned a lot. But the boys are ready to stretch their legs, so we head for the Lexington Green.
Pratt, Mara L. American’s Story for America’s Children: The Early Colonies. Boston: D.C. Heath & Company, 1901.
The first battle of the American Revolution took place here, April 19, 1775. A guide in colonial-period costume gives us a tour of the historical markers and monuments and shares history:
Tired of the taxes and unjust treatment by Britain, the Patriots began to act as a unit, rather than as 13 individual colonies. They gathered military supplies and hid them at Concord. Then they secretly trained and organized companies of men into local militia.
These were the Minute Men – soldiers ready to fight at a minute’s notice.
Butterworth (2), Hezekia. The Story of America. New York: The Werner Company, 1898
When the British learned of these measures, they sent soldiers from Boston to Concord to capture their supplies. But the Americans had been watching . . .
Paul Revere, in particular had been watching. He was a messenger who kept a close eye on British activity in Boston. Noticing suspicious activity, he set off to warn the residents of Concord. “The British are coming!”
While the residents hid their stores of weapons, Paul Revere returned to Boston and met with Patriot leaders. Our guide reminds us of the signal of the lantern in the belfry tower of the old North Church. This signal gave the Patriots a heads-up.
He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,–
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm.”
Minute Men hurried to their secret meeting places and readied themselves. As the sun crested the horizon in Lexington, 250 Redcoats approached, their armor glistening in the morning light. 77 Patriots, determined to fight for their country, stood ready for battle.
“If they mean to have war,” Captain John Parker said to his Minute Men, “let it begin here.”
No one knows which side fired the first shot, “the shot heard round the world,” but the fight for freedom had begun. This battle ended quickly, leaving eight Patriots dead and ten wounded, the British suffering no losses. Unless you count Pitcairn’s horse.
Feeling triumphant, the British regulars proceeded on to Concord to search for supplies. Four hundred Minute Men guarded the bridge to Concord. Every farmer, every man and boy who could use a rifle, had come out to do his part. Surprised at the Americans’ resistance, the British fled. My favorite stanza of the poem follows:
You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,—
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.
The Americans had badly beaten the British at Concord, giving hope to Patriots everywhere. Patriots came from all over Connecticut and Massachusetts. The Green Mountain Boys came from Vermont. These ragtag colonists, farmers and family men, came out to defend their country. They “committed themselves to war with the world’s most formidable empire.” ~America’s Beginnings by Tony Williams, pg. 99
“Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.”
~ the stanzas are all from “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
picture taken from their website
We’re feeling proud to be Americans, but we’re also wondering if we are again at an hour of darkness and need in our country. And we’re also hungry. So we stop at the Main Streets Cafe, where I get the Tavern Gumbo and Bill gets Seared Salmon and Super Greens Salad. The kids want pizza. Of course. I hope to find something gluten-free on the menu for my oldest.
“Life is good! Main Streets is an old-world meeting place with brick walls and wood floors that will transport you back in time. It is a “Cheers” sort of atmosphere for the townspeople and a great find for all others.”
After a satisfying meal, we still have a few places we want to visit in this beautiful area of Massachusetts: the North Bridge, Minute Man National Historical Park, and Walden Pond.
Henry David Thoreau, the author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, surveyor and historian, once settled down in a little cabin off Walden Pond. He wanted a place where he could concentrate and devote himself to writing. More than that, he said he “wished to live deliberately.”
We end this stage of our journey with a quote from Thoreau:
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.”
— Henry David Thoreau, Walden, “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For