The Man Who Finished The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere and William Dawes

Paul Revere and William Dawes didn’t make it to Concord to sound the alarm that the British regulars were out. That ride was completed by twenty-three-year old Dr. Samuel Prescott. 

Dr. Samuel Prescott married Lydia Mulliken and went on to serve as a doctor in the Continental army. He died at the age of 25 (or 26). Legend has it that he died in a prison in Nova Scotia. There are no known likenesses of him. A great deal of myth has been built around Prescott like other little known but important patriots. 

prescott

Imagine you are witness to the events that ended Revere’s and Dawes’ ride:

Samuel Adams joined John Hancock and Reverend Clarke in the living room while Paul Revere delivered Joseph Warren’s warning that the British regulars were out. William Dawes arrived as Paul was finishing. Paul Revere and William Dawes could not linger in Lexington, and they left immediately to ride west toward Concord to spread the alarm.

On the road, Paul and William encountered Dr. Samuel Prescott, who was returning from an evening in Lexington with his finance Lydia Mulliken. The three men knocked on doors and spread the word through the countryside. Midway between Lexington and Concord, Paul scouted the road ahead for British patrols while William and Samuel stopped to warn a family who lived on a large farm.

The bright moonlight shadowed the woods on either side of the road, and Paul was surprised by two British officers who rode out from the shelter of the trees.

“We have been seen!” Paul shouted to William and Samuel.

Two more heavily armed regulars emerged from the shadows. The unarmed patriots’ only choice was to flee. Samuel Prescott urged his horse over a stone wall and escaped into the darkness of the woods.

William, who was mounted on the slowest horse, rode in the opposite direction until he found the shelter of an abandoned farmhouse.

Paul attempted to outrun the British, but six more regulars blocked his path. He was taken prisoner along with three other rebels who had been captured earlier in the morning. An officer ordered Paul to dismount, and then asked him where he had come from and when.

“I have ridden from Boston just hours ago,” Paul said with a surly attitude.

The officer raised an eyebrow in surprise that someone like this man had slipped out of Boston and had ridden this far. “What is your name?”

“Paul Revere,” Paul said boldly.

The officer nodded and said, “You are known.”

“Well you will not find what you are after whether that is men or arms,” Paul sneered. “I’ve warned the countryside all the way from Charlestown, and soon you will be facing five hundred men.”

Another officer rode at Paul at a gallop. The officer identified himself as Major Edward Mitchell. He then held a pistol to Paul’s head and said, “You will answer my questions or I will blow your brains out.”

After more detailed questioning, Major Mitchell ordered Paul to mount his horse. A regular took the reins, and Paul and the other captive rebels were led eastward. As they neared Lexington, the boom of a signal gun reverberated through the cold dawn air. Mitchell questioned Paul about the signal. Paul shrugged and repeated what he had already said twice before.

Soon after, the bell at the meetinghouse on Lexington Green began to ring. At this point, Major Mitchell and his regulars forced the rebels to dismount. One soldier drew his sword and cut the horses’ bridles and saddles off, and drove the horses away. Major Mitchell’s patrol kept Paul Revere’s horse.

Paul Revere and the other rebels were forced to walk back to Lexington.

In the meantime, Dr. Samuel Prescott had ridden to Concord and sounded the alarm to arms along the way.

Book Review – DR. JOSEPH WARREN: The Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hill, and the Birth of American Liberty by Samuel Forman

DR. JOSEPH WARREN: The Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hill, and the Birth of American LibertyDR. JOSEPH WARREN: The Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hill, and the Birth of American Liberty by Samuel Forman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I saw Dr. Joseph Warren’s name the first time, in October 2013, while taking a picture of the Massachusetts Gate at Bunker Hill. That initial meeting didn’t stick. In my defense there was a government shutdown at the time, and the monument was closed.

My second meeting took place in July 2016 when I began historical research for the novel I’m currently writing, which is set in and around Boston over the period January – June 1775. I fell in love with Joseph the moment I read his name and immediately elevated his character above all the others in the book, except the protagonist.

Among the hundreds of people and events of the period that I had to untangle and portray with accuracy, I began to research Joseph Warren outside of the writings of other nonfiction authors.

That’s how I found Dr. Samuel Forman on YouTube. The first video was Ronald Reagan inspired by Joseph Warren. Then, I watched Dr. Forman’s lectures, videos, and interviews on the subject many times. I understood that his interest in Warren came from a physician’s point of view as much as a scholarly one. I mention this to illustrate the very serious effort I made to determine where my definitive fictional portrayal of Joseph Warren would reside. I decided it would reside with Dr. Forman, so I bought this book. My husband commandeered it as soon as it arrived. I allowed it because I was entering my initial research on the Battle of Bunker Hill.

I finished reading the book on January 3, 2017. I cried through the foreword more than once. In Acknowledgements, Dr. Forman thanked his wife for accommodating his endeavor and living with a long-dead patriot as an ex officio member of his household for 6 years. Chapter 15 was especially fun!

I reached out to Dr. Forman because he wrote about reversing Warren’s obscurity through realistically fictionalized works. That’s what I’m striving to do.

Thank you, Dr. Forman, for writing a scientific, fair, and passionate book about Dr. Joseph Warren, a wonderful man who did so much good in his short life. Without it, I would not have “heard” his words as clearly. I promise I will be worthy of Joseph Warren in my own writings of him.

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