The Midnight Ride (1775)


~ by James Still ~

The Mechanics was the first patriot intelligence network.  Paul Revere, a member of this spy ring, rode to Lexington with William Dawes (who was sent by a different route) to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams of British troop movement.  Here is Revere’s account:

“… I was one of upwards of thirty, chiefly mechanics [skilled workers], who formed ourselves into a Committee for the purpose of watching the Movements of the British Soldiers…  We held our meetings at the Green-Dragon Tavern… we frequently took Turns, two and two, to Watch the Soldiers, By patrolling the Streets all night…

On Tuesday evening, the 18th [April 1775], it was observed, that a number of Soldiers were marching towards the bottom of the Common. About 10 o’Clock, Dr. Warren Sent in great haste for me, and begged that I would immediately Set off for Lexington, where Hancock & Adams were, and acquaint them of the Movement, and that it was thought they were the objects…. The Sunday before…  I agreed with a Col. Conant, & some other Gentlemen, in Charleston, that if the British went out by Water, we would show two Lanterns in the North Church Steeple; & if by Land, one, as a Signal…  I left Dr. Warrens, called upon a friend, and desired him to make the Signals…  

In Medford, I awaked the Captain of the Minute men; & after that, I alarmed almost every House, ’till I got to Lexington. I found… Hancock & Adams at the Rev. Mr. Clark’s…  After I had been there about half an Hour, Mr. Dawes came; after we refreshed ourselves, we set off for Concord, to secure the Stores [Colony military supplies]…”  Paul Revere, Letter to Jeremy Belknap, 1798

James Still (Mar 2015),

“I proceeded immediately, and was put across Charles River and landed near Charlestown Battery, went in town, and there got a Horse…  I set off, it was then about 11 o’clock, the Moon shone bright…”  Paul Revere, Deposition, 1775

“… it was probable we might be stopped before we got to Concord; for I supposed that after Night, they [British soldiers] divided themselves, and that two of them had fixed themselves in such passages as were most likely to stop any intelligence going to Concord.”  Paul Revere, Letter to Jeremy Belknap, 1798