On this evening 243 years ago, 18 April 1775, silversmith Paul Revere set out on a ride that would become famous throughout the country (well, barring Common Core education anyway). The ride would gain fame in 1861 in a poem, Paul Revere’s Ride, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, although the poem wasn’t very accurate.

The Patriots knew the British would move against Concord to seize and destroy a weapons cache.  They also knew they wanted to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock. The only questions remaining were when they would leave and in which direction they would go.

On the evening of 18 April, the British made preparations to move across the river and go to the north of Boston. Paul Revere went to the Old North Church to instruct Robert Newman to signal Charlestown with two lanterns, indicating the direction the British were moving. Afterward, Revere was rowed across the river, where he borrowed a horse from John Larkin, a Deacon from the Old North Church and set out on his ride to Lexington and Concord. A second rider, William Dawes, set out from the south of Boston, as a precaution someone was captured.

Paul Revere went through Somerville,  Medford and Arlington warning patriots , saying,”The regulars are coming out.” Of course, the poem says he was yelling, “The British are coming”. At that time, all of the American colonials were British subjects; at least until 4 July, 1776!

Revere and Dawes met up in Lexington, where they raised the warning to Samuel Adams and John Hancock that they needed to leave. The riders took a break, probably grabbing something to eat and drink, before heading back out toward Concord, along with Dr. Samuel Prescott. Meanwhile, up to as many as 40 other riders rode off on missions to warn other patriots.

Shortly after leaving Lexington, the three riders ran into a British roadblock. Dr. Prescott was able to evade arrest and rode on to Concord, where he found that the weapons and ammunition had already been moved after Revere’s warnings of two days earlier. Dawes escaped returning toward Lexington, but fell from his horse and wasn’t able to complete the mission.

Paul Revere was captured and was being escorted back to Lexington. As Revere and the British troops approached Lexington, the first shots of the Battle of Lexington Green were fired. The troops took Revere’s horse and released him and went toward to the shooting. Revere went back to the house Hancock had been staying and found Him and his family still there, loading a wagon. Revere helped them load and got them out of town.

Thus ended the night of riding for Paul Revere. In the process, he helped keep the British from capturing two high-ranking patriots and foiled the British efforts to confiscate weapons and ammunition. Not bad for a midnight ride for Paul Revere.