End of the Line

End of the Line

In Lincoln, Massachusetts, by the side of the road, there is a marker called the Paul Revere Capture Site. A circular stone wall marks the spot where Paul Revere was arrested by a British patrol. For Revere, it was the end of the line, but not the end of that night’s story.

Revere and William Dawes were on the road from Lexington, where they had just warned Samuel Adams and John Hancock of the coming British. Now it was after midnight, and they were on their way to warn the citizens of Concord, alarming households all along the way, when they were overtaken by Dr. Samuel Prescott of Concord. He was returning late from courting a Lexington woman. Sympathetic to the cause, Dr. Prescott joined them on their mission.

As the three came around a bend in the road, they were surprised by a British patrol. The patriots scattered. Dawes reversed direction and escaped. Prescott jumped a stone wall and, to elude capture, used a side path he knew of. He fled to Concord, where he alarmed the town to the approaching storm of trouble. Revere headed for the woods but was intercepted by the British patrol.

Surrounded by six British redcoats, he was interrogated and searched for arms. An officer “clapped his pistol to my head, called me by name, and told me he was going to ask me some questions, and if I did not give him true answers, he would blow my brains out.”*

Apprehended, Revere was lead back toward Lexington. A major told his sergeant that if Revere attempted to escape, he should “blow his brains out.”* About a mile from Lexington Common, the captors were alarmed to the sounds of the Lexington militia firing muskets. Revere was ordered to dismount and to suggest an alternative road for them to take to Cambridge The British then rode off, taking his horse, but leaving his brains intact.

Free again, Revere continued his nighttime adventure—running through Lexington’s Old Burying Ground to rejoin John Hancock and Samuel Adams at the Clark House and hasten their escape to the town of Woburn.

* From Revere’s personal account, a letter to Jeremy Belknap.