by Christian L. Clingman
On this day, the morn of April 17, 1775, dating 235 years ago, a militia made up of independent Americans met a battalion of British soldiers. The American militia was made up of no more than 70 men, while the British battalion was made up of 1200 to 1500. The Americans were outnumbered 20 or 25 to 1.
General Gage had sent the British battalion to Concord, Massachusetts from Boston, the day before, resolving to destroy the military stores supporting American troops there. These troops were to land at a place called Lechmere’s Point. To carry this pivotal invasion, they had to leave under cover of night in boats. But their coming was not unknown.
Paul Revere had a friend sit in the North Church tower in the belfry with two lanterns. One signal was to stand as a sign that the British were coming by land, two meaning by the Sea. Stationed on the opposite shore, Paul Revere stood with his horse, staring at the belfry of North Church and awaiting the response. Concord was an important location. With British troops beginning to invade America, Revere suspected that the British would target Concord, for such a place provided accessible provisions for all American troops. Thus, after some time passed, Revere saw a lantern unveiled, then two, as a sign that the British were coming by sea. Revere sped down the twisted roads of Massachusetts and to every man and household that he passed he cried, “The British are coming! The British are coming!” Passing by one of the houses was one of his friends, Pastor Jonas Clark.
The word spread quickly and the Minute Men of the Revolution left their homes and gathered together at Lexington that sat along the way to Concord, at 4:30 that morning. At first, the militia had gathered at the City of Cambridge, for they heard that the British would be passing there. But it was suspected that it was a feigned move by the enemy and that their point of movement had been directed to another place. So instead, the Minute Men gathered not far from the meetinghouse of Lexington. There they saw the troops of the British march up. Their red coats flapped in the slight breeze and their bright muskets were primed and loaded. As later on that day, Jonas Clark would title them properly as “Blood Thirsty Oppressors.” The officers of the battalion saw the small independent militia standing in their way with loaded muskets in their hands. Enraged by this defiance, the British commander demanded that the Minute Men lay down their arms and disperse. The British soldiers shouted a huzzah and charged towards the American band. One of the British officers pointed his sword towards the company and cried, “Fire! By God, Fire!” Hundreds of muskets discharged and eight Americans fell dead and ten were wounded but the rest of the American militia remained unharmed. In a little while, the British sent more rounds of fire and the militia was defeated. The British praised and gloried in this victory and continued on their march to Concord. Another militia made up of about 200 men, saw the oncoming British troops and retreated to cover. The British then took possession of the old North Bridge, left a guard there and took hold of the military stores. A body of the militia approached the British and attacked them. The British fired upon them and killed many. As to the events hereafter, Richard Frothingham recalls in his book, The Rise of the Republic.
“No mausoleum ever commanded such honor as Americans attach to the graves of these early martyrs to American liberty. This precious blood roused righteous indignation in the breasts of the yeomanry, who had been flocking in and stood with their old firelocks in their hands on that village green. They resolved to avenge the death of their brethren. Two hours after the firing at the bridge, the King’s troops began their march for Boston, when the militia fell upon them in such fiery spirit, and with such deadly effect, that the march soon turned into a run. The proud veterans were saved from total destruction by a reinforcement which left Boston in the morning and joined them at Lexington; and they found security only in the shelter of ships of war at nightfall, when by the light of the flashing musketry they entered Charlestown and rested on Bunker Hill.”
Now here is the point I want to make. All the above is a summary of the events before and after the Battle of Lexington. Here I would like to point out the courage of these men—our forefathers and foundations of our country. They, who though only few and knowing deeply that to rebel against a tyrannical power larger in military force than them would mean certain death. Facing against all odds, they stood in the way of tyranny that sought to expand beyond its own borders and to covet, steal, possess, and oppress the people of New England. These were indeed brave men.
Surely, you may recall the history of the 300 Spartans standing in the gap against a force made up of thousands upon thousands of Persians who sought to drive back and control the Kingdom of Greece. These Spartans were in a much like similar situation to that of the Independent American Forefathers who came together as a militia and stared back at the face of death. But the providence within these two events was much different altogether.
Many Spartans trained as warriors from their childhood, taken from their homes and parents. The Kingdom of Sparta was rich and powerful. They had been in existence just as long as the Kingdom of Greece and were developing into a powerful nation as the years passed. They knew how to fashion their weapons of defense and offense, plan effective battle tactics, do hand-to-hand combat, and practice stages in war with spear and shield. They were skilled not only in these weapons on land, but also by the weapons of the sea. They worshiped their gods and faithfully offered sacrifices to them. They had hundreds of years to reform old ways and to establish new laws in War and Civilization. And when faced by the great Persian army coming from the West, they killed hundreds before they themselves were killed.
Now look at the independent republic of America that had hardly passed its centennial anniversary. Many looked after the care of their families, learned the skill and trade of farming and commercial industries, and built up a life of love and prosperity, though not always a life of physical health. Few personally trained in the skill and practice of battle and warfare. Many families kept at least one musket in their house, but rarely used it in battle. Rather they mostly used their muskets for hunting and for the odd few skirmishes with renegade Indians. The way of arms was clumsy for the most skilled man. A musket could only fire two shots in a minute, and that was if one still stayed alive. This American militia, consisting in at the most of 70 men, stared at the oncoming force of 1500 British men. They had time to run. They had never been in a situation like this before and had never trained nor prepared for such an encounter. They had had hardly two days to prepare for this invasion and with no time to make plans of strategy. Instead of backing down, these Minute Men of the Revolution stared into the face of Death and Tyranny. They declared by their stance that they would not back down and let oppression tear through their land of freedom. They would stand to do what was right and not back down when the might of wrong and evil came towards them. They had the heart of David, the spirit of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and the mind of a William Wallace, when against all odds they showed that whether they lived or died, whether victorious or defeated, won or lost, they would never bow down to tyranny. They would rather lose and die for a righteous cause, than to live in shame and disgrace, and do nothing while Tyranny lay hold of their freedom. Against all odds, this ill-trained and ill-prepared independent American militia stood in the gap and faced head on against the British. They knew that those who were with them, though unseen, were more than that of their enemies.
Why did this nation win against the mighty odds of their enemies? Because they were on God’s side. If we are on God’s side, though we die and fall in the battle, He will, through us and using us, help us to win the War. Let us stand in the face of Death and Tyranny, against all oppression and Evil, against all odds and terrors, and declare each day that we will stand for Truth and Righteousness, and never, never will we submit to the World! We stand here today in the gap and though you kill us and though God chooses not to deliver us, we will never bow to the Golden Image of Wickedness!
Jonas Clark, The Battle of Lexington: A Sermon and Eyewitness Narrative (Ventura, CA: Nordskog Publishing Inc., 2007).
Richard Frothingham, The Rise of the Republic of the United States (First Edition 1872 and republished many times).
Christian Clingman is the fourteen-year-old son of NPI sales and marketing coordinator, and NPI Advisory Council member Eugene Clingman. © 2010. Used with permission.