If you had a good history teacher at any time during your formative years, you know about the famous ride of Paul Revere. What would be the sign of a really good teacher is that you also know about William Dawes. He too spread the message among the colonials living between Boston and Concord, that the British were coming. William Dawes actually started his long ride before Revere ordered the signal lights be placed in the bell tower of Christ Church.
Early in the evening of April 18, 1775, it wasn’t clear yet to the colonials whether or not the British would be marching to Concord by first crossing the Charles River by ferry, or by taking the longer route up river where they could ford the river. Instead of waiting to know which route the British would take, it was felt that it would be better to make sure the warning got out as quickly as possible. That’s why Dawes left before Paul Revere had the lanterns hoisted in Boston.
The reason the British were planning their surprise incursion to Concord was two fold. On the way to Concord, they were hoped to capture colonial insurgents Sam Adams and John Hancock who were thought to be in Lexington. The British also suspected a large cache of arms were in Concord.
Before the exact route was determined, Dawes took off by horseback took the longer route the British would take and once Paul Revere learned the exact route, he took the shorter route, being ferried in a small rowboat across the mouth of the Charles River. And then together with Dr. Samuel Prescott, the two rode to Lexington and then planned on then going to Concord.
Revere and Prescott arrived in Lexington just before midnight and Dawes arrived less than an hour later. Having warned Adams and Hancock in Lexington, Revere, Dawes and Prescott rode on to Concord warning colonials along the way. The 3 men took turns stopping to relay the message farmers. While Dawes was stopped at one house to give his warning, Revere and Prescott rode ahead and ran into a British patrol. They were stopped, but Prescott escaped and went on. As Dawes caught up with the men he spotted the patrol and rode around them and on to Concord as did Prescott. Revere’s horse was confiscated by the British and he walked back to Lexington to join Adams and Hancock as they prepared to depart.
The following day, April 19, about 70 British troops marched into Lexington. Thanks to the warning of Paul Revere and Charles Dawes, 38 colonial militia from around the area had been warned and were ready, armed with muskets and squirrel guns on Lexington Commons. Eight colonial militia were killed during this confrontation before the militia could disperse when the firing started. After this brief encounter a smaller group of British regulars went on to Concord. Those that remained in Lexington began rounding up the militia and looking for Adams and Hancock.
When the British arrived in Concord, they were faced with an entirely different confrontation than they arrived in Lexington. Instead of a few militia facing them, they saw 500 militia. Gun fire erupted briefly at the North Bridge resulting in a number of casualties. The British regulars, greatly outnumbered, began a withdrawal. As the British troops retraced their steps back to Lexington, the Massachusetts militia dogged them with periodic engagements and caused many casualties among the British.
On this day in Marietta Ohio, in 1865, Charles Gates Dawes was born to Rufus and Mary Beman Gates Dawes becoming the great-great-grandson of William Dawes. As an adult, Charles Dawes would later win the Nobel Peace Prize for working on reparations of Germany after World War I. Charles would later become an ambassador to Great Britain, after he first served as Vice President of the United States under Calvin Coolidge. Charles Dawes also had a younger brother names Beaman Dawes, the man who liked to collect trees from around the country and plant them on his property just south of Newark, Ohio. His little farm in Licking County would later become the world famous Dawes Arboretum.