Paul Revere's Ride
Book Discussion Guide
Chapters 6 and 7
Welcome to Chapters 6 and 7 of our Paul Revere's Ride Book Discussion Guide. Our American History Book Club is a great way to increase your knowledge of the Founding Fathers, their beliefs and hopes for America. Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer is full of information about Paul Revere and the patriotic movement in Boston at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. Read with us and you will learn not only about Paul Revere, but also about the customs and beliefs that made the New England colonists such a formidable force.
Chapter 6 of Paul Revere's Ride immortalizes the first part of Paul Revere's
midnight ride. On April, the soldiers begin to make final preparations
for their march. Prying Boston eyes notice the activity and begin to
take action. Paul Revere confers with Robert Newman, sexton of the Old North Church
about a plan to put lanterns in the steeple to alert the countryside
which route the British are taking. Dr. Warren receives a message from
his spy in General Gage's inmost circle about the mission's objectives. Paul Revere
crosses Boston Harbor in the dead of night and takes off toward
Lexington on a borrowed horse, only to be chased by British patrols,
eventually arriving and delivering his message of warning to patriot
leaders John Hancock and Samuel Adams.
Chapter 7 describes the first hours of the march of the British
soldiers on the evening of April 18th. It shows how ill prepared they
were and the disorder and confusion in their ranks. As they march across
the countryside, hoping to remain undetected, numerous colonists see
and hear them and begin to wake up their neighbors and militia.
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Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer
Chapter 6 - The Warning
- On the afternoon of April 18th the soldiers begin to prepare for
their march. The local Bostoners observe their preparations and word of
imminent attack gets to Paul Revere and Dr. Joseph Warren.
- Dr. Warren receives the exact plan for the march from his informer, thought to be General Gage's wife, Margaret Kemble Gage. The mission is to capture Samuel Adams and John Hancock and destroy the munitions at Concord.
- Dr. Warren summons Paul Revere and urges him to ride to Lexington to warn Hancock and Adams immediately. He sends William Dawes by another route.
- Paul Revere meets with Robert Newman, John Pulling and Thomas Bernard and instructs them to put two lanterns in the Old North Church steeple on the north side facing Charlestown.
- Paul Revere makes a dangerous water crossing to Charlestown after receiving the signal from Old North Church.Paul Revere takes off on his mission to Lexington on a borrowed horse named "Black Beauty," belonging to Deacon John Larkin.
- Revere is chased by two British patrols but escapes to the north, a
long detour out of his way. Fortunately this keeps him clear from the
rest of the patrols.
- Paul Revere arrives in Lexington and wakes up Adams and Hancock in the middle of the night. William Dawes arrives shortly after.Revere, Dawes, Hancock, Adams and other local leaders discuss the
night's events and send Revere and Dawes on to warn Concord of the
- Margaret Kemble Gage was in a hard position. She
was a native New Englander and felt sympathy toward the patriots' cause.
On the other hand, she also loved her husband and "hoped her husband
would never be the instrument of sacrificing the lives of her
countrymen." What would you have done in Mrs. Gage's position? Would you
have spied on your own husband and reported on his activities? Where
would your loyalties ultimately lie and why?
- Paul Revere remembered crossing the Bay vividly,
even many years later. He was able to describe in detail the looming
ship, the moon, the water, etc. Have you ever had a moment in your life
that was so riveting that you can remember every detail? What was it?
This is how strongly this water crossing affected Paul Revere.
- Paul Revere and William Dawes had
to ride across the countryside with an urgent message that could mean
defeat or victory for their cause. They knew there were soldiers
patrolling the area, whose mission was to capture them and stop them.
What must have been going through their minds as they considered the
possibilities? Would you have done the same thing they did?
Things That Caught Our Eye
- Who knew that Robert Newman was such an ingenious
guy? The British soldiers staying in his mother's boarding house had
stayed up late playing cards. He couldn't easily get out of the house
without them knowing. Instead, he pretends to go to bed early and climbs
down the house from his upstairs bedroom so he can wait for Paul Revere's
instructions! He already had the lanterns prepared and hidden in the
church. Later he and Pulling had to escape through a church window to
avoid detection by the British. Way to go Robert!
- This chapter has some interesting pictures, including one of the lanterns used to send word of the British plans, the Old North Church, Paul Revere's saddle bags and a spur made by Revere himself.
- Paul Revere and the other riders that night said,
"The Regulars are coming out!" and not "The British are coming!" as most
people today believe. Obviously the New Englanders were
British. This was a civil war between people of the same blood. It's
interesting how simple facts like that can be lost to our modern day
- "Catching his breath, the boy told Paul Revere what
he knew... Earlier that day, several officers had gone there to work on
their riding tack. As they tugged at their bridles and saddlery, they
talked in low tones among themselves. From time to time, a voice rose
high enough for the eavesdropping groom to hear a snatch of conversation
- "something about hell to pay tomorrow!"
- "Doctor Warren's confidential source was someone very near the heart
of the British command, and so much at risk that he - or she - could be
approached only in a moment of dire necessity. As evidence of British
preparations began to mount, Warren decided that such a time had come...
The informer reported that the plan was 'to seize Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who were known to be at Lexington, and to burn the stores at Concord.'"
- "The two officers gave chase. One tried to cut off Paul Revere
by riding cross-country, and galloped straight into an open claypit,
miring his horse in the wet and heavy ground. The other kept to the
road, but was soon left far behind by the long stride of Deacon Larkin's
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Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer
Chapter 7 - The March
- The soldiers are awakened in the middle of the night. Only a few of the top officers knew what the intended mission was.
- The soldiers gather at the meeting place on Boston's Back Bay.
Confusion is apparent as no one seems to be in charge. The navy that is
supposed to ferry them across the river doesn't bring enough boats to
hold everyone so they have to make more than one trip, causing a two
- The troops are landed at Lechmere Point in the middle of a marsh! By
the time they get out they are soaking wet and covered with mud.
- The soldiers are forced to wait for the navy to bring them food supplies. The delays last for four hours.
- The soldiers march through Cambridge and Menotomy across the countryside hoping to remain unseen in the dark.
- Numerous colonists hear or see them and begin to arouse their neighbors and call up their militiamen.
- The soldiers take prisoner anyone they come across on the road and
Lt. Col. Francis Smith sends a messenger back to Boston to tell General
Gage surprise has been lost and reinforcements might be necessary.
- Many individual citizens played a role in defeating the British army
on April 19th, including Widow Rand, Benjamin Locke and the Phips
family, who all took on the responsibility of informing neighbors and
militia that the fight was on. These people are normally overlooked in
history and the attention goes to the military leaders and the "big
names." Can you think of a time when the "small person" had a big
impact, even if they were never celebrated?
- Judging by the clothes of the British soldiers, what were the priorities of the British army?
- As the night wore on and more and more colonists were aroused,
Colonel Smith began to get alarmed. He sent many of his troops ahead to
hold the bridges at Concord lest they fall into enemy hands. He captured
and held anyone they came across on the road. He sent a messenger back
to Boston saying they might need reinforcements. If you were in Colonel
Smith's position, your mission was in danger of falling apart and your
men's lives were in danger, what would you have done?
Things That Caught Our Eye
- The soldiers were wakened silently in the night by their sergeants
so as not to make a commotion and arouse alarm? Ha! The colonists were
already waiting for them!
- The British uniforms were indeed awful things to wear. You'd think
the commanders would be concerned with functionality, but they were more
concerned with appearances. No wonder they lost the war.
- The list of individuals who saw or heard the British troops that
evening and began to warn their friends and neighbors is quite
interesting. When we think of battles and wars we think of the soldiers
and generals leading the army. We don't normally think of the average
person who is stuck in the middle of the fighting and how they can
affect the outcome, such as Widow Rand who had stayed up late to protect
the hog she had killed the day before from thieves. After seeing the
troops she ran off to warn her neighbor Samuel Tufts who didn't believe a
word she said until she took him to the road and showed him the tracks.
Tufts then went to warn the neighbors.
- Elbridge Gerry was one of the Whig leaders that escaped out the back
door of the Black Horse Tavern in Menotomy. He would later be a
Governor of Massachusetts, member of the US House of Representatives and
Vice President of the United States under President James Madison.
Imagine - the future Vice President was hiding in the cornstalks!
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