Paul Revere's Ride
Book Discussion Guide
Chapters 8 and 9

Welcome to Chapters 8 and 9 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 provides an in depth look at the man Paul Revere, but it is also gives a wonderful introduction to the mindset and customs of New Englanders at the outbreak of the American Revolution. This book will give you deep understanding into the motivations and beliefs that caused the colonists to rise up against their British tormentors.

Chapter 8 of Paul Revere's Ride tells about his infamous capture on the night of April 18, 1775. After warning John Hancock and Samuel Adams that the British were coming for them, Revere left Lexington with William Dawes and Samuel Prescott to warn the village of Concord as well. Not long after they were on the road, they were captured by a British patrol. Dawes and Prescott escaped, but Revere was interrogated at gunpoint. He boldly told his captors of all his activities during the night and warned them that 500 militiamen would soon be there to stop them.

Chapter 9 is all about the various riders who spread the alarm across the Massachusetts countryside. Contrary to the image that many people hold of the evening of April 18, 1775, there actually dozens of riders who carried the alarm. Paul Revere was without a doubt the key player, but other designated messengers spread out from every place he visited and in turn more messengers left from the places they visited. The preparations and intricate planning were truly amazing.

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If you would like to learn more about Paul Revere, go to our Paul Revere Facts page or find out the true events of his famous midnight ride.

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Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer

Chapter 8 - The Capture


  • Paul Revere and William Dawes leave Lexington on their way to Concord, joined by Dr. Samuel Prescott. They warn every home along the way.
  • Revere, Dawes and Prescott run into a British patrol that takes them captive.
  • Prescott and Revere try to escape. Prescott gets away, but Revere is surrounded by ten British regulars. Dawes gets away in the confusion only to fall off his horse and walk back to Lexington.
  • Paul Revere is interrogated by the Regulars. He fearlessly tells them of everything he did that night. He warned them that 500 militiamen would be there to fight them soon.
  • The soldiers take their prisoners back toward Lexington when they hear shots coming from the town. The soldiers begin to realize that the country is rising up against them and take off to warn their commanders, leaving their prisoners behind.Revere and the other prisoners walk back to Lexington.
  • Paul Revere thinks of another mission and heads north.

Discussion Questions

  • Paul Revere told the soldiers boldly and fearlessly of everything he had done that night and the danger they were in due to the gathering colonists. What was it that made him so bold?
  • Hackett's description of the first shots being fired in Lexington and the soldiers' reaction is quite vivid. They suddenly began to realize that Revere's warnings were true and that the countryside was rising up against them. Their alarm and panic was evident when they abandoned their prisoners and took off to warn their commanders. What do you suppose you would have felt and done in this situation if you were one of those soldiers? How do you think Revere and the other prisoners were feeling at the same time?
  • We read about the events of April 18 and 19 today, 230 years after they happened, and feel the tension, excitement and gravity of what was happening. Do you think the people involved that night realized just how important those events would turn out to be and how we would be discussing them two centuries later?

Things That Caught Our Eye

  • Isn't it interesting how thorough the established timeline is for the events of April 18 and 19? It was such a pivotal event that extensive depositions were taken by both sides. Numerous people set about to interview and document everyone involved. It was one of those moments, like 9/11, that was so pivotal that we know what happened practically minute by minute.
  • The soldiers' reaction when Paul Revere told them his name shows how important a figure he really was. All the officers new him by name and thought they had bagged one of the ringleaders.
  • If Paul Revere had been armed when he was captured he likely would have been executed on the spot or taken back to Boston as a prisoner of war.


"The armed British officers herded them at pistol-point toward a pasture north of the Great Road... The officers "swore if we did not turn into that pasture they would blow our brains out."

"Revere surged ahead of his captors. But just as he reached the trees, six more horsemen suddenly appeared. Now ten British regulars surrounded him. They pointed their pistols at his heart, seized his bridle, tore his reins from his grasp and held him firmly in their grasp."

"Even as the British officers posed the questions, Paul Revere began to control the interrogation. Before the Regulars realized what had happened, the prisoner himself became the inquisitor. Paul Revere proceeded to tell his astonished captors more than they knew about their own mission."

"Paul Revere was angered by those words, and told the Major that 'he did not need a threat to make him speak the truth.' He added contemptuously, 'I call myself a man of truth, and you have stopped me on the highway, and made me a prisoner I knew not by what right. I will tell the truth, for I am not afraid."

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Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer

Chapter 9 - The Alarm


  • Paul Revere heads northwest after being sidetracked by pursuing British horsemen, off the track of his planned route straight to the west.
  • Other riders leave Charlestown, bringing the alarm to the towns on the north coast of the Massachusetts Bay.
  • An intricate plan of alarm is used to awaken the countryside by notifying key leaders throughout the region, carrying the message with gunshots, church bells, beacon fires and even trumpet blasts.
  • Paul Revere uses his deep network of political connections to bring the alarm to key leaders who quickly spread the alarm throughout their jurisdictions.
  • After Paul Revere's capture, Dr. Samuel Prescott carries the alarm on to Concord. Prescott, his brother Abel and others carry the alarm further west, north and south.
  • The alarm reaches the communities immediately south of Boston last since Dawes had not stopped to warn them on his way to Lexington earlier in the evening.
  • By 5 am, most of the communities for 50 miles around were on the march toward Lexington and Concord.

Discussion Questions

  • In this chapter, you can see how important family and social networks were to the quick spread of the alarm from the leaders in Boston. Do such institutional and social networks still exist in modern day America? Have they weakened? Do they hold as much importance and influence today as they did then?
  • Paul Revere personally knew the patriot leaders in nearly every community for miles around Boston. He knew their names, positions and even where they lived. His original plan was to go straight east from Boston to Lexington, warning communities along the way. Instead, because of running into a British patrol, he was forced to change his route and go to the northwest. He was still able to go directly to the key leaders in each town to which he rode. What does all this say about the true role and position of Paul Revere in the leadership and organization of the Massachusetts patriots.
  • How much were you aware of the role that other riders played in spreading the alarm on the evening of April 18th, 1775? Were you aware that there were even any other riders beside Paul Revere? What does this say about our modern educational system?

Things That Caught Our Eye

  • While General Gage's men were still stuck in the swamps near Cambridge just across the river from Boston, colonists more than 30 miles away had already received news of their march - a tribute to their thorough planning and preparations.
  • It's interesting how Paul Revere was connected to so many prominent townspeople and military leaders, even to the point that he knew who to go to in towns he wasn't even planning to ride through that night - a testimony of his role and influence in the patriot movement.
  • Isn't it interesting that Paul Revere went directly to the key leaders in each town he visited, while William Dawes didn't visit any leaders or warn anyone along the way to Lexington, causing the towns that he traveled through, which were some of the first towns visited by a rider that night, not to hear the alarm until 9 o'clock the next morning!


  • "The astonishing speed of this communication did not occur by accident. It was the result of careful preparation, and something else as well. Paul Revere and the other messengers did not spread the message merely by knocking on individual farmhouse doors. They also awakened the institutions of New England."
  • "Several Whig messengers that night were physicians. In that far-distant era when American physicians made house-calls, a country doctor was apt to own the best saddle horse in town, and be a highly experienced rider. He also tended to be a "high-toned son of liberty."
  • "From long association he was acquainted with leaders throughout the province. He knew who they were and where to find them, even in towns that he had not expected to visit. They knew him as well."

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Paul Revere's Ride Book Discussion Guide Chapters

Intro - Chapter 1     Chapters 2 and 3     Chapters 4 and 5     Chapters 6 and 7 Chapters 8 and 9     Chapters 10 and 11     Chapters 12 and 13                  Chapters 14 and 15     Chapters 16 and 17

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