Having so many ancestors and kin involved with the Battle of Lexington Green, I’ve always wanted to attend the famous re-enactment. And so, in April 2000 we attended the 225th anniversary of the event, and the customary ceremony on the town green.
We arrived in town the afternoon of the 18th, and went to the town common to see what happening. There were ceremonies and speeches, and re-enactors milling around in costume. After we asked a few questions, someone pointed out an actor recreating the role of Ebenezer Munroe. He explained that each actor in the Battle re-enactment had to research their part, including genealogies, and would be representing the role of their chosen patriot on the green. Each step was carefully choreographed, including who fired, where to stand, where to fall, etc.
We stayed to see the grand re-creation of Paul Revere’s arrival in town just before midnight. It was very meticulously accurate according to history, and I was happy. It was also very cold, and we had only a few hours to sleep before the battle began at dawn! We rushed to our motel, napped a few hours and then rushed back in the dark to find a good spot for the Battle scene.
We had excellent spots staked out along the rope, right next to the TV cameras. The front row was important since our daughter was still small, and she needed an uninterrupted view. April mornings are also very cold in New England before the sun comes up, so we were prepared with lots of clothes and blankets. It was an excellent reminder of how cold those patriots must have felt that morning, because depositions taken from witnesses of that Battle said there was snow on the ground. We all cheered as Paul Revere and friends carried the trunk full of traitorous documents from John Hancock into the woods to hide. Just in time…
The ominous sounds of British Regulars marching in formation came from down Massachusetts Avenue. You could feel the excitement in the crowd, but also the look of terror in the faces of the men on the town green. They were just a bunch of yeomen up against the most formidable army of the known world in 1775. The Regulars warned them to back down. The Lexington men dropped their guns, turned their backs to walk away and….
Bang! The shot heard ‘round the world! Babies cried, the men on the field shouted and the Battle was on! I felt tears running down my cheeks as my husband photographed the re-enactment. I had told him which actors were portraying my ancestor’s family members, and he got some great shots of them falling in action. I was a sobbing mess... I had no idea that seeing great uncles and distant cousins being bayoneted and shot would create such emotion!
Well, I thoroughly embarrassed my pre-teen daughter, but we all had a great time. We followed the scene carefully, wanting to sneak after the British as they continued marching in lines towards Concord, and wanting to run out to cradle the fallen. Women and children acting as wives and family members tenderly carried away the dead and wounded. After using a few Kleenex and wiping my glasses I was ready to jump in the car and race off to the Concord Bridge.
We hope to attend another re-enactment soon. I can’t believe it’s been ten years since we attended the Battle on Patriot’s Day! People ask me if I feel proud to have had relatives at the battle. I’ve thought about it, and I think we all had relatives and ancestors at similar battles- in the Civil War, the Revolution, and in Europe our ancestors faced Napoleon, the invading hordes of Huns, Vikings, and worse. I think they didn’t feel pride, they felt fear.
For more information on the Battle Reenactment at Lexington please see www.lexingtonhistory.org, sponsored by the Lexington Historical Society. This website has schedules, information, research links and everything you might need to learn about the Battle at Lexington or to visit on Patriot’s Day.
Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo