Today is Patriot's Day in New England. A day long set aside in New England for remembering the battles of Lexington and Concord, the first of the American revolution.
Ask most Americans what they know of the battles and except for a blank stare you may, if lucky, be held captive by a recitation of the famed Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem "The Midnight ride of Paul Revere". "Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere..." you may read the rest here. The uninitiated might be forgiven for believing that Paul won the war, however like most history Paul's story is mostly hooey, with a bit of irony tossed in for good measure.
On the night of April 18, 1775 Revere found 2 men who agreed to row him across the Charles River, so that he might better see a warning signal. The signal, one or two lighted lanterns in the North Church steeple, "One if by land, two if by sea..." was his sign to gather his horse and ride to Lexington and Concord warning the citizen's along the way that "the British are coming." Revere was joined by 2 other riders, William Dawes and Samuel Prescott, only one succeeded.
The three men were soon stopped by a British patrol. Revere never saw the signal. Dawes and Prescott escaped, along with their horses. Dawes soon became lost and never completed his ride. Prescott did make it to Concord, and successfully warned the townsfolk, who were armed and waiting when the British arrived.
Revere was eventually freed, but not his horse. He walked back to Lexington arriving in time to watch the battle taking place on Lexington Green. Paul did fight on the colonist side during the revolution, but was tried for cowardice, and acquited by American General Pelig Wadsworth, grandfather of the poet who later made Revere famous.
So why the rewriting of history? Midnight Ride was published in 1861, by Longfellow, a staunch abolitionist. The "Ride" was a contemporary call to arms. This time to the U. S. Civil War.