Paul Revere

Paul Revere’s Ride B Paul Revere

Written by:  David Hackett Fischer

Published by: Oxford University Press

Copyright:  © 1994

American grade schoolers are taught, are told, that Paul Revere, in the cold, wee hours of 19 April 1775, galloped fiercely through the countryside west of Boston, taking the back roads connecting the small hamlets of Lexington and Concord, yelling at the top of his lungs, “The British are coming”; a story that has passed down through the generations since the Revolutionary War. Dramatic in the telling, yes, correct, not so much. The truth of what happened that night is no less dramatic, extraordinarily dramatic in fact, considering that the American rebels went up against the greatest army and navy on the planet during the latter half of the 18th century, and triumphed.

Warning the Boston countryside of the imminent arrival of British Regulars was not a spontaneous reaction, by the patriot Paul Revere, but a well planned counteraction, with the main details worked out well in advance of the Redcoats march towards Lexington and Concord. Alerted by a Boston stable boy, who revealed that the British officers, in the late afternoon of 18 April 1775, were preparing their horses for a march; the pre-arranged lamp signal, one if by land, two if by sea,  was lit in the tall steeple of Christ Church, tipping-off the rebels that the British were going to take the shorter water route to Concord. This set off a cascading series of events that put into motion upwards to sixty patriots charging through the Boston countryside, alerting and assembling the Minuteman army, warning John Hancock and John Adams of their imminent arrest and hiding rebel assets.

The years preceding the Declaration of Independence on 4 July 1776 saw a significant percentage of self-government seeking colonists locked in a high stakes match of wills with King George III and the British, specifically, the Massachusetts headquartered, Lieutenant-General Thomas Gage, chief of British forces in America and as such the most powerful man in the colonies: General Gage, likely understanding the game being played, resisted brandishing the sword to the very end, when events spiraled out of his control forever in the spring of 1775.

The independence minded colonists, the Whigs, mainly operating from the greater Boston area, resisting the British rule at every turn, prodding them to be the first to use excessive violence against the colonists, to draw enough blood and take sufficient lives that it would light the fuse of war.  The Boston Massacre of 5 March 1970 almost lit that fuse, but the Whigs were not ready for war, they lacked organization, men, materials and most important of all, a plurality of support from the population.  John Hancock, Sam Adams and Paul Revere tamped down the populace’s anger after this event, dampened the fuse of war to await a more felicitous time and place: Concord and Lexington, 19 April 1775.

David Hackett Fischer, currently University Professor and Earl Warren Professor of History at Brandeis University, has written a meticulously researched account of the days leading up to the battles of Concord and Lexington, and the subsequent battle for the hearts and minds of the colonists and British alike; delving into American and British military depositions, pension applications, claims of damages, Thomas Gage, Paul Revere, and other participants’ personal papers, American and British government documents, newspapers, terrain studies, Boston association members, local histories, histories of histories, family trees, weather, tides, phases of the moon; a seemingly inexhaustible list of sources that the author combines into an enjoyable, detailed narrative, in places a bit slow, but always interesting, of the early spring days of 1775 that laid the foundation for the United States of America.

Explorations: 2

E Lexington

Lexington (CV-2) burning and listing during the Battle of the Coral Sea. Commissioned 1927, scuttled 8 May 1942. Carried 2971 crew and 78 aircraft.

 

The Battle of the Coral Sea, Pacific Theater, WWII 4-8 May 1942. This was the first major naval battle between Allied forces and the Imperial Japanese Navy, involving aircraft carriers. The battle was also a first where the two navy’s ships never saw or fired on one another directly.  The battle was carried out almost exclusively by aircraft fighters and bombers launched from the carriers.

The allies entered the battle with 2 fleet carriers, 9 cruisers, 13 destroyers, 128 aircraft, and various support ships, while the Japanese had 2 fleet carriers, 1 light carrier, 9 cruisers, 15 destroyers, 127 aircraft along with various support ships. Ship losses were, greater, by tonnage, on the allied side which included the Lexington aircraft carrier, 1 destroyer, and several smaller ships totaling 42,497 tons.  The Imperial Navy lost 1 light carrier, 1 destroyer and several smaller ships equal to 19,000 tons.  The Allies lost 543 men while the Japanese lost 1029.

The Battle of the Coral Sea was to have profound and positive consequences for the Allies in one month, at Battle of Midway; by keeping 2 of the Imperial Navy’s carriers out of action in this upcoming naval battle.

Additional information for the Battle of the Coral Sea:

  1. Battle of the Coral Sea, by Charles River Editors, CreateSpace Publishing, © 2016.
  2. The Coral Sea 1942, by Mark Stille and John White, Osprey Publishing, © 2009.
  3. The Battle of the Coral Sea, by Office of Naval Intelligence, CreateSpace Publishing, © 2009.
%d bloggers like this: