“Here the embattled farmers stood …” Concord Bridge


"Extravagant as the supposition is, let it however be made. Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the State governments, with the people on their side, would be able to repel the danger. The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This proportion would not yield, in the United States, an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops. Those who are best acquainted with the last successful resistance of this country against the British arms, will be most inclined to deny the possibility of it. Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. And it is not certain, that with this aid alone they would not be able to shake off their yokes. But were the people to possess the additional advantages of local governments chosen by themselves, who could collect the national will and direct the national force, and of officers appointed out of the militia, by these governments, and attached both to them and to the militia, it may be affirmed with the greatest assurance, that the throne of every tyranny in Europe would be speedily overturned in spite of the legions which surround it."    Federalist 46


"Here the embattled farmers stood and fired the shots heard round the world."

I knew General Jack Galvin well.  A native Bostonian, he was, in retirement, the head of the Fletcher school of government.  He wrote a couple of books on the beginnings of the war of independence and the militia struggle in Massachusetts against parliamentary rule from London.  British government in its colonies was IMO quite legitimate and legal until the colonials decided that it was not.  They decided that for the reasons that the demon slavemaster Jefferson listed in the Declaration of Independence.

Jack (Plato) Galvin was a bricklayer's son.  His father had laid some of the finest bricks to be  found on Beacon Hill.  Jack was a bright boy who the US Army gratefully accepted for an officer's career.  We used to sit in the bar at the Four Seasons in Boston and discuss the various houses his father had worked in, over there, across the Commons.

Jack once  took me and my employer of the moment for a ride out to Concord and then back through Lexington to Boston.  On the way he told us of the systematic way the colonists had armed themselves with muzzle  loading rifles and small cannon bought in Spanish territory by this maritime people and shipped north to be hidden.  

At the same time the colonials had increased the training time for the general run of militia.  These were basically the able bodied male population of the colony under arms.  From among them the most fit men of military age had organized themselves into "elite" companies with more uniform weapons.  These stood ready "at a moments notice."  And for that they were known as the "Minute Men."

The crisis came when His Majesty's Government decided to send troops into the countryside to seize the militia's cannon and ammunition.  Evidently their intelligence was pretty good for they knew where these were.  Everyone did not want to resist the king. An unlucky soul, Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith was sent out on the long road to Concord with 700 British Regulars, battle hardened veterans of his majesty's many wars.  They were the "scum of the earth enlisted for drink," IOW, my kind of people.  But, as Lyautey remarked, "one does not win empires with virgins."

They met the local militia at Lexington Green halfway to Concord and blew their way through them after a few volleys had been exchanged.  They then moved on toward Concord, but the encounter had been disturbing.  These villagers and farmers had not run.  They had stood and fought.

At Concord the Regulars met an even larger force of militia.  These did not run either, at least for a while, and the losses among the Regulars were serious.  Smith decided that he was meeting resistance that not been expected and decided to withdraw to Boston back down the same road.

By then the militia and their Minute Company pals were fully mobilized.  They lined that road and fought the Regulars from ambush in every village, from every wood line and thicket.  The Regulars formed ranks to return fire many times but their numbers shrank and shrank.  This went on and on, a mile at a time.  LTC Smith sent a courier back to Boston on a fast horse and a relief column marched forth.  They met Smith's remnant somewhere on the road.  Without the relief column Smith's force would have been destroyed.

When the day was done the colonials still had their cannon and ammunition.

"Here the embattle farmers stood and fired the shots heard round the world."  pl


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22 Responses to “Here the embattled farmers stood …” Concord Bridge

  1. Deap says:

    Visited Concord Bridge a few years ago and was happily surprised to see how many tourists were also visiting, reading, learning and walking in those very same steps of our Revolutionary forefathers. Many were making the trek by foot from Lexington to Concord. Also seeing where ancient musket balls pieced the side of a nearby house. You could touch our national history here.
    Somewhere, American history must still be taught to bring in those crowds. Or at least remembered by those who did get this critical part in their K-12 education. Such a common, ordinary site on a low hill, a small bridge in lovely farmland, yet this is where the shot heard ’round the world first sounded. Probably no more than a few pops with trailing musket smoke at the time, with long delays between reloading, having watched some “re-enactments”.
    “Crossing the Delaware” was another benign site of limited geographic impact, yet the scale of its ordinariness only magnifies the impact these locations still mean to us today. Real men with limited resources could make a difference, because they knew they must. Today one can walk across the Delaware Crossing bridge in a few minutes. Yet Washington crossing the Delaware made us who we are today.
    I heard the Rubicon River is little more than a farmer’s drainage ditch today. Yet the legend created at this site now also has eternal life.

  2. Diana Croissant says:

    It is taught only in schools of choice and charter schools and homeshool programs as far as I can tell.
    And the same is true for teaching of classic literature (novels, short stories, poetry, essays). You’ll find those only in schools of choice
    Shakespeare’s tragedies are still taught in public schools but I use the word “taught” lightly. I had some seniors my last year of teaching tell me that when I taught Macbeth to them, it was the very first time that they had understood Shakespeare (and one of his plays is supposed to be taught every year of high school.) The teachers just assigned reading and fill in the blank sheets or true and false questions–no discussion or reading aloud in class.
    Teachers would give guessing assignments and spend hours in class hearing the students’ guesses about what scene was the turning point of the play. They should have been teaching them how one easily finds the turning point by giving them the definition and explaining that it is always in the third act of the five act Shakespearean tragedy when the main character’s tragic flaw causes him to act in some way that sets everything into motion to inevitable tragedy. Then you get them to see what the main characteer’s tragic flaw is and let them see/read the scene where his tragic flaw causes him to do something that ultimately sets tragedy into motion.
    Teaching in the minds of many young teachers is simply making students guess and defend their guesses. Their guesses are often just plain wrong because they haven’t been given the actual definition, like starting with Sophocles’ theory, of tragic structue. In other words, “it’s all Greek to them.” So they fumble along and guess and guess and the teacher never gives them an answer, since the teacher doesn’t know the answer eaither having been subjected to only “isms” in their college classes.

  3. Jaroslav Hašek says:

    I attended the bicentennial re-enactment of the Battle of Lexington in 1975 when I was 13 years old. What a thrill that was, made a lasting impression on me… often think of that day on the many April 19th’s since… in far flung places like Japan & Philippines while in the Marine Corps, or in Puri, India backpacking after my service time.
    Also on this topic, my favorite patriot, Samuel Whittemore, readers my find interesting… what a tough old guy he was!
    Thanks, Colonel…. as always.

  4. Serge says:

    Diana Croissant,
    They sure do find time to teach about the Holocaust, though. Every single year starting at the age of around 10 until 18, the average US student will have entire months out of one or more classes dedicated to learning about some aspect of the holocaust. I recall not too long ago going through the system, that one year for for an entire semester our english class focused solely on “Holocaust literature”(and then watching the movie adaptations of these tales), following this came History class were we covered, you guessed it: the Holocaust. That amounted to close to half of the day(as these are core subjects) dedicated to the holocaust. I used to make jokes about incorporating the holocaust in algebra/calculus class. Who benefits from this quasi-religious indoctrination, and the general dumbing-down of the american people?

  5. Fred says:

    This time out the militia being trained are the antifa shock troops who are unopposed by the police powers of cities from Seattle, Minneapolis, Portland, NYC and other bastions of blue control. Thousands are released from prison by state governors, NY, OR, WA, etc, while anyone who attempts to defend their business or property are immediately charged with any possible legal infraction. I think what we’ll see next is a lot more folks doing like that 17yo in Kenosha – not the clean up graffiti during the day and render first aid to those injured parts, but the shoot the antifa part.
    (see his lawyer’s statement: https://www.scribd.com/document/474027394/Pierce-Bainbridge-Statement-on-Kyle-Rittenhouse-8-28-20

  6. scott s. says:

    I don’t know how best to present military history to primary or secondary education students. Looking back, I think all I learned was Lexington/Concord, Bunker Hill, Valley Forge, Trenton, and Yorktown. No real way to put it together in a meaningful way.
    As far as the founders, I think they failed to anticipate the possibility of mass conscription armies raised by the power of the state (and “l’etat c’est moi”) as an alternative to a standing army.

  7. turcopolier says:

    What they did not anticipate was the vast amount of money made available to the federal government by the income tax and deficit spending.

  8. turcopolier says:

    Or perhaps he is a harbinger of the militia response.

  9. Bill H says:

    I have been to most of the places mentioned above; Delaware River crossing, Concord Bridge, Gettysburg… Most memorable was Valley Forge; just typing the name gives me goosebumps. I stood there and dared not speak above a whisper.

  10. Babak makkinejad says:

    Courses in Shoah, in my opinion, are akin to Religious Instruction studies in Muslim countries: they are advancing the Cause of Zionist Protestanism in the WASP culture continent.
    One thing that I have noticed is the fascination of WASPs with Hindu and Buddhist spiritual doctrines and practices, theosophy, false mysticisms, and generally all sorts of pagan esoteria.
    I did not notice that among Catholics; e.g. Krishnamurthy had no traction South of Rio Grande.

  11. Mark Logan says:

    Scott S,
    Some believed it a dangerous thing but some advocated a strong federal government. Hamilton, Washington, et al. “The founders” was a diverse group. Compromises were made. On a standing military I wonder if the burning of DC by the Brits in 1812 sealed that deal. We were dealing with Great Powers who still harbored ambitions in the New World.
    I can’t see a clear division between military history and history anymore. There’s a remarkable book, “The Face of Battle” by Keegan that has a find essay which tackles exactly what the heck military history is and military historians are, or should be, as it’s preface. Worth a read but I suspect he wouldn’t advocate pure military history for grade schoolers. Too narrow. History at that level should be probably remain broad.

  12. Babak makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    When & why did the Colonials cease to consider the Crown the Legitimate Authority?
    And were they funded in their weapons purchases by France, Spain, Russia, or Poland?

  13. turcopolier says:

    It happened in the years after the 7 Years War in which the colonials had been quite loyal to the crown, but the Tory ministries in London after that refused to treat the colonials as equals and the king allowed that. From that was the trouble born.

  14. mcohen says:

    This story would make a great movie.wonder who would play the “fast horse”
    Seriously though it could work.

  15. turcopolier says:

    mcohen is an Australian. He/she/it thinks the stand of the farmers in arms against the British Army is funny, but then the Australians as a culture are the descendants of convicts and have never resisted the orders of London.

  16. wtofd says:

    Babak, France provided weapons, men and, crucially, naval support.

  17. Deap says:

    Law of Unintended Consequences: Police often say ages 19-29 are the danger age zones for young men – most violent crime perpetrated by this age group.
    The former universal “draft” did drain off the energies of young men in this age group. The draft was physically rigorous for all and more importantly skills building for all, etc, etc, and not just “shooting other people”.
    Lots of skills were very successfully taught during the draft period of time – culinary, electronics, organizational management, etc. Daily discipline habits instilled, team work celebrated, breaking down racial, class, background and geographic divisions,, commraderie leading to lifetime friendships, and yes how to responsibly handle a gun.
    This glosses over the well documented negatives of the universal military experience and this is not intended to justify making the draft mandatory again – just recognizing it had many positive aspects for men during that danger zone age, which is now getting acted out much more lawlessly as we speak.
    Is the almost feral nature of this age group the result of not draining this energy off with a universal draft? Always there to greater or lesser degree among this age, but disguised in the past because it was acted out elsewhere?
    Take away the basic “military” skills, and sort our how many other skills were obtained during the draft experience that led to later future successes. Or is handing young men guns, in this highly regulated military environment in order to play out war games, also a very necessary part of the male maturation process?
    (She speaks as a female, and only a former military camp follower who onky had to learn how to play bridge with other officer wives, and who also never had to watch a spouse get close to combat.)

  18. turcopolier says:

    Who are you quoting? I was a soldier at 17. I would like to know who insults me so.

  19. turcopolier says:

    wtofed, Babak
    France did not provide anything serious until the MIDDLE of the war.

  20. wtofd says:

    Pat, Babak,
    Yep, they played geopolitics until it suited them, but they did contribute to our victory. Francophobia in our country has always confused me.

  21. turcopolier says:

    It confuses me too. IMO it must be a remnant of out jungian collective memory of the Hundred Year’s War.

  22. john lebrun says:

    Is anyone aware of the Appleseed Project, we teach basic rifle marksmanship, but that’s only the hook we used to get people out. The main thrust of the program is teach the real history of April 19, 1775. Not just the player’s we used to learn about, John Adams, John Hancock, etc, but people like Issac Davis, John Parker, and of course Paul Revere who was more important then normal history give him credit for, namely a man who could deal with all groups of the time.
    Check out RWVA, we have Appleseed events, every week, all over the country.

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