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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > American Age of Discovery, Colonization, Revolution, & Expansion > American Revolution

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American Revolution 1763-1789 The birth of a new nation - to commence at the Proclaimation of 1763 to the end of the Articles of Confederation.

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  #46  
Old 18 Oct 09, 12:44
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Who fired first?

This is a question that will never get an iron clad answer. Was there a gunshot from the dorms that caused the jumpy National Guardsmen to open up at Kent State or maybe a load noise like a trash can falling over? Same story as Lexington, things just happened too fast.

In The Revolution Remembered: Eyewitness Accounts of the War for Independence (Clements Library Bicentennial Studies) there was an affidavit from one of the militiamen who was trying for a pension a half century after the fact. He says Pitcairn just had the troops open fire without any demands to disperse. The book cited gives dozens of first hand accounts by veterans of the war and several new pieces of information came from it.

My favorite was this young militiaman at Lexinington. His friend was standing next to him and was hit. The friend crawled off into the bushes and the militiaman went on to Concord and back. As he was crossing the green/commons, the boy met the mother of his wounded friend. She was carrying a lantern and was searching around. The boy showed his friend's mother where they standing when her son was hit. At the spot there was a blood trail that they followed. They found the friend dead from loss of blood and carried his body home.

To this day, there is a local legend that a glow, as if from a lantern, has been seen moving about Lexington common. The legend says it is a heartbroken mother looking for her dead son. The militiaman's affidavit was written from other than Lexington and prior to the ghost story gaining currency. This affidavit appears to be the only first hand account of the "ghostly" incident and was not found until it was re-discovered in the National Archives in 1974-75, along with thousands of other affidavits filed for the purpouse of obtaining a pension.

Writing this post has given me the urge to re-purchase this book that I originally bought over 30 years ago. Proof that one should NEVER EVER lend a favorite book to anybody.
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  #47  
Old 27 May 14, 14:12
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If not for the quick reinforcements than came from the surrounding country side the militia attacking the British on the return trip would have never happened. And it must be remembered these militia men were farmers and tradesman as they had no organized military. And if not hiding along the road on the road to Lexington the whole attack would have not been as effective as reinforcements shelling Lexington. The British were actually scorning the militia as they felt they were cowards hiding while attacking them. It could be said that these new guerilla type tactics originated from the Battle of Lexington
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  #48  
Old 28 May 14, 00:18
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I used to live in Arlington MA, near the route the British took in returning to Boston. There is a granite memorial to this gentleman near the center of town.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Whittemore

The monument reads, in part:

"...shot, bayonetted, and left for dead..."

This at age 80, yet he survived and lived to be 98!

I wonder if the following details might have been omitted from the memorial:

"Every day for the next 18 years he could be found in the tavern in the town center telling the story to every unsuspecting newcomer who stopped in for a flagon of cider or beer."
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  #49  
Old 28 May 14, 07:54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by History Hunter View Post
If not for the quick reinforcements than came from the surrounding country side the militia attacking the British on the return trip would have never happened. And it must be remembered these militia men were farmers and tradesman as they had no organized military. And if not hiding along the road on the road to Lexington the whole attack would have not been as effective as reinforcements shelling Lexington. The British were actually scorning the militia as they felt they were cowards hiding while attacking them. It could be said that these new guerilla type tactics originated from the Battle of Lexington
The Minutemen companies were organized into companies, each from the same town, township, or county.

And, no, it cannot 'be said that these new guerilla type tactics originated from the Battle of Lexington.'

In that period, these type tactics were termed 'partisan' tactics and had been used in both Europe and in North America long before the War of the American Revolution in general and Lexington and Concord in particular.

What is usually overlooked on the British march back to Boston was the ranging British light infantry companies that swept on the flanks of the British march column, catching the militia unawares in flank and rear, shooting down or bayonetting the militia. There is a mural of this type of action on the march back to Boston at the Visitor's Center for Lexington and Concord. It's an excellent painting and catches perfectly the fighting on the flanks of the British infantry column during their retreat to Boston.

This is also contained in Thomas Fleming's Now We Are Enemies later retitled The Battle of Bunker Hill.

I highly recommend the book.

Sincerely,
M
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  #50  
Old 28 May 14, 08:55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoPref View Post
I used to live in Arlington MA, near the route the British took in returning to Boston. There is a granite memorial to this gentleman near the center of town.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Whittemore

The monument reads, in part:

"...shot, bayonetted, and left for dead..."

This at age 80, yet he survived and lived to be 98!

I wonder if the following details might have been omitted from the memorial:

"Every day for the next 18 years he could be found in the tavern in the town center telling the story to every unsuspecting newcomer who stopped in for a flagon of cider or beer."
Thanks for the link, very interesting. IIRC, the W. R. Grace site in Cambridge is on Whittemore Ave, probably named after him.

Very interesting he was involved in the capture of Louisbourg. I am of the view that the return of Louisbourg by the British to the French was a major cause of the revolution, as Massachusetts/New England had paid such a high price in blood and money to capture it. I think this led to a lot of resentment against the British.

Sounds like his life would be a good miniseries!

Link to an alternate history thread I started on Louisbourg.

http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...=massachusetts

Last edited by lakechampainer; 28 May 14 at 17:56..
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  #51  
Old 05 Jun 14, 13:10
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Often forgotten because of its anti-climatic nature was Col Leslie's march on Salem MA with 250 Royal Welsh Fusiliers on Feb 25, 1775, There is a good brief description here:

http://www.wpi.edu/academics/military/abssalem.html

Known locally as Leslie's Retreat, it established on both sides the expectation that the other would not initiate belligerence.
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  #52  
Old 14 Oct 14, 22:26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paul mullin View Post
Not quite, the militia got thier butts kicked at Lexington green, and the British took heavy losses on the return to Boston from harrasing fire.
The British never seemed to be able to learn early lessons of guerrilla warfare
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  #53  
Old 14 Oct 14, 22:30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by History Hunter View Post
If not for the quick reinforcements than came from the surrounding country side the militia attacking the British on the return trip would have never happened. And it must be remembered these militia men were farmers and tradesman as they had no organized military. And if not hiding along the road on the road to Lexington the whole attack would have not been as effective as reinforcements shelling Lexington. The British were actually scorning the militia as they felt they were cowards hiding while attacking them. It could be said that these new guerilla type tactics originated from the Battle of Lexington
The British should have learned from their own history of the French and Indian War in regards to guerrilla tactics and fighting in the colonies
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  #54  
Old 23 Feb 15, 17:02
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiredGoon View Post
What I'm talking about is the Battle of Lexington and Concord in total, not just Lexington Green. Initially the training bands and minute men at Lexington Green fell back, but they regrouped and engaged the British on their return from Concord at the county line (the militia volley took Pitcairn's horse out from under him:thumb: ) At Concord bridge the Americans showed superior discipline than the British light infantry, and effectually "crossed the T" inflicting heavy casualties and routing the British back to Concord green. On the return march to Boston from Concord the British took much more than just harrassing fire from the Americans. The Americans continually showed a high degree of discipline and engaged the British on their own terms using unit formations and firing massed volleys. Not the old myth of farmers hiding behind trees, independantly taking pot shots.
You seem to have a bit of misconception there as what you say that they used unit formations is far from the truth. In actuality they fought from behind walls and behind buildings. There still is question why Parker was ordered to stand in unit formation being outnumbered 20-1 at Lexington when he could have fired on the British from the hills entering Lexington instead of nose to nose on the Green He would have never fought like this being a veteran of the F&I wars and well indoctrinated in guerilla type warfare. he would never have used the formation type warfare as the British which is why they took such casualties on the return and the British were mad because they would not "fight like gentlemen".
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Old 24 Feb 15, 20:02
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Quote:
Originally Posted by History Hunter View Post
You seem to have a bit of misconception there as what you say that they used unit formations is far from the truth. In actuality they fought from behind walls and behind buildings. There still is question why Parker was ordered to stand in unit formation being outnumbered 20-1 at Lexington when he could have fired on the British from the hills entering Lexington instead of nose to nose on the Green He would have never fought like this being a veteran of the F&I wars and well indoctrinated in guerilla type warfare. he would never have used the formation type warfare as the British which is why they took such casualties on the return and the British were mad because they would not "fight like gentlemen".
In respect to Parker's actions at Lexington, if I read your comment right, I don't believe he had any intention of opposing the British with force. As I understand, he had ordered his troops to disperse before the firing began.

Regards,

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Regards,

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  #56  
Old 25 Feb 15, 06:27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by History Hunter View Post
You seem to have a bit of misconception there as what you say that they used unit formations is far from the truth. In actuality they fought from behind walls and behind buildings. There still is question why Parker was ordered to stand in unit formation being outnumbered 20-1 at Lexington when he could have fired on the British from the hills entering Lexington instead of nose to nose on the Green He would have never fought like this being a veteran of the F&I wars and well indoctrinated in guerilla type warfare. he would never have used the formation type warfare as the British which is why they took such casualties on the return and the British were mad because they would not "fight like gentlemen".
How do you know that Parker was 'well indoctrinated in guerilla-type warfare'? With whom did he serve in the French and Indian War?

Sincerely,
M
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Old 25 Feb 15, 07:25
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Originally Posted by Porty View Post
In respect to Parker's actions at Lexington, if I read your comment right, I don't believe he had any intention of opposing the British with force. As I understand, he had ordered his troops to disperse before the firing began.
Yes, he did.

'I, John Parker, of lawful age, and commander of the militia in Lexington, do testify and declare, that on the nineteenth instant, in the morning, about one of the clock, being informed that there were a number of Regular Officers riding up and down the road, stopping and insulting people as they passed the road, and also was from Boston, in order to take the Province Stores in Concord, ordered our militia to meet on the common in said Lexington, to consult what to do, and concluded not to be discovered, nor meddle or make with said Regular Troops (if they should approach), unless they should insult us; and upon their sudden approach, I immediately ordered our Militia to disperse and not to fire. Immediately said Troops made their appearance and rushed furiously, fired upon and killed eight of our party, without receiving any provocation therefore from us.'

Sworn Statement of Captain John Parker on 25 April 1775.

It should also be noted that the British commander on the site, British Marine Major John Pitcairn, also ordered his troops not to fire. His purpose was to surround and disarm the militia under Parker.

Sincerely,
M
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  #58  
Old 25 Feb 15, 07:31
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Originally Posted by History Hunter View Post
You seem to have a bit of misconception there as what you say that they used unit formations is far from the truth. In actuality they fought from behind walls and behind buildings. There still is question why Parker was ordered to stand in unit formation being outnumbered 20-1 at Lexington when he could have fired on the British from the hills entering Lexington instead of nose to nose on the Green He would have never fought like this being a veteran of the F&I wars and well indoctrinated in guerilla type warfare. he would never have used the formation type warfare as the British which is why they took such casualties on the return and the British were mad because they would not "fight like gentlemen".
Parker had been in Rogers' Rangers during the French and Indian War. It should also be noted that the type of warfare engaged in by Rogers and his Rangers was not called 'guerilla warfare' at the time, as that term had not come into use yet. That would evolve from the Peninsular War of 1808-1814 during the Napoleonic period.

It was usually known by its French terminology, 'la petite guerre', Indian warfare, or partisan warfare.

Parker formed his men into roughly two lines because he was making a demonstration and did not have any intention of fighting in Lexington.

And it should also be noted that the British light infantry, during the retreat from Lexington and Concord, swept the flanks of the retreating column and more often than not, found the American militia in their firing positions and took them from behind with musket and bayonet. The current mural in the Visitor's Center concisely demonstrates this tactic.

Sincerely,
M
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  #59  
Old 29 Mar 16, 21:20
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Not quite, the militia got thier butts kicked at Lexington green, and the British took heavy losses on the return to Boston from harrasing fire.
Not, not quite.

Warren had already ordered the Militia to disband at Lexington so someone who wanted to start a war with the Brits opened fire on them wounded one of them and then the militia got their asses kicked.

One source who grew up in that area suspects that none other than Paul Revere and his buddies are the ones who fired that first shot...
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Old 24 Apr 16, 07:58
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I have only a small, modern contribution by way of a joke. Ignore if you want. Bt it's all i'm in the mood for at the moment.

My favourite all time American Revolutionary joke comes from a M.A.S.H. episode from the original three series, (while it was still a black comedy show about doctors, rather than a family soap opera about moral values).

Its from the episode called "Crisis", where the MASH people have had their supply line cut, and the surgeons are detailed to conserve everything, and given special responsibilities.

Hawkeye is talking to Trapper John Macintyre, lamenting the toilet paper shortage, (newspaper is selling for $1 a page). Frank Burns feels this is not exactly a patriotic manner in which to conduct their affairs at the 4077th, saying aloud and to nobody in particular...

Frank:.."What if the Minutemen, on their way to Concord, had stopped to worry about...toilet paper!?"

Hawkeye:.."Then we would have had independence ten minutes later!"

Same episode also features a very original and funny posted sheet on the noticeboard, as read by Hawkeye, showing the true depths that these educated professionals had sunk to....

Hawkeye (reading): "UNINHIBITED NURSE INTERESTED IN NITSCHE, FREUD AND PRE-COLUMBIAN ART WILL SPEND EVENING WITH ANYONE WITH TWO PIECES OF WOOD."


Some of the early writing in MASH was terrific for the 'off the cuff' historic references!

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