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Paul Revere's Ride: April 18-19, 1775

April 18-19, 1775

9:30 p.m.: William Dawes, a tanner, rides slowly past British guards on Boston Neck, the only land route out of the city.

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10 p.m.: Paul Revere contacts friends to hang two lanterns in the Old North Church. That's a signal to patriots in Charlestown that British troops are coming by sea, and to prepare a horse for an express rider. The troops aim to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock in Lexington, and seize munitions at Concord.

10 p.m.: British troops are quietly awakened for their secret mission. Between 800 and 900 troops will be ferried from an isolated beach in the Back Bay across to Cambridge.

11 p.m.: Revere lands in Charlestown and begins his ride. Soon he runs into British sentries who give chase. Revere outruns them, but now must alter his route. He passes Mystic (Medford) about 11:30.

Midnight: Revere arrives at the Jonas Clarke home. Samuel Adams and John Hancock are there. Revere urges them to flee. Dawes arrives later. He and Revere set off to warn Concord.

12:45 a.m.: Dawes and Revere are overtaken by Samuel Prescott of Concord, who has been visiting his fiance in Lexington.

1 a.m.: The trio run into more British patrols. Dawes and Prescott escape, though Dawes is thrown from his horse. Prescott rides on to Concord. Minutemen gather on Lexington Green.

2 a.m.: Revere is released, but his horse is confiscated. He walks back to Lexington. Meanwhile, British troops reassemble in Cambridge and begin their march. Later, six light companies - about 250 men - are sent ahead. But the element of surprise is gone.

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3 a.m.: Revere arrives back at the Clarke house and finds it in an uproar. Hancock wants to stay and fight and is arguing with Adams. As dawn nears, Hancock is persuaded to flee. British troops, marching quickly, are now in Menotomy (Arlington).

4:30 a.m.: Hancock's clerk, John Lowell, alerts Revere to another crisis. Hancock has forgotten a large trunk stuffed with secret papers. He and Revere hurry to Buckman Tavern.

5 a.m.: Some 250 British Regulars are confronted by about 70 militia gathered on Lexington Green. British officers order the militia to disperse. As the Minutemen comply, a shot is fired. Revere, lugging Hancock's trunk into the woods with Lowell, hears the shot but can't see who fired it. The British troops begin firing volleys, and a few militia shoot back. The American Revolution has begun.

Later that morning, British troops march to Concord and split up to secure the North and South Bridges. Soldiers sent farther on to seize munitions at a farm house discover they are too late; the arms have been moved. Minutemen at the North Bridge rout British Regulars in the first significant battle of the war.

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