Paul Revere's Ride
Book Discussion Guide
Chapters 14 and 15

Chapters 14 and 15 of our Paul Revere's Ride Book Discussion Guide cover the Battle of Concord, the British march back to Boston and the convergence of thousands of American militia on the scene. The scene is truly brought to life as you realize how outnumbered the British were and how they were surrounded on every side by angry colonists. All the way back to Boston, the colonists pummeled the remaining soldiers, killing dozens and dozens of them as they fired from behind hills, walls and houses.

We are reading through the book Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer. You can join in the reading at any time by purchasing the book from your favorite book store and following along with our notes, where you will find a synopsis of each chapter, discussion questions, interesting points and prominent quotes from each chapter.

In Chapter 14, Dr. Samuel Prescott awakens the town of Concord in the night, informing them that the British are marching on their city to find weapons they heard were stored there. The militia gathers to defend the town, but when morning and the soldiers approach, they withdraw to the north of the town, hoping for reinforcements. A battle erupts at North Bridge causing the British soldiers to flee back to town. Eventually the whole contingent is running for their lives back to Lexington where they are saved by the reinforcements of Lord Hugh Percy.

Chapter 15 follows the British army as they march back to Boston from Lexington in defeat. The entire way, they are accosted with bullets flying from every direction. American militia are waiting around every corner, surrounding them on all four sides and their numbers continue to grow throughout the day. House to house and hand to hand combat occurs in Menotomy and Cambridge as the British attempt to get back to Boston alive.

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This page has Chapters 14 and 15 of our reading guide. You can also go to the first page and start reading with us from the beginning here - Paul Revere's Ride Book Discussion Guide.

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.

Find other book discussion guides on our American History Book Club page.

Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer

Chapter 14 - The Battle


  • The town of Concord is awakened by the alarm of Dr. Samuel Prescott. The men meet and send scouts toward Lexington.
  • Some younger men march east to meet the British, but return when they see their numbers. Others prepare for their arrival in town.
  • The militia retreats north of the town in order to prevent a battle before their numbers are equal to those of the British.
  • The Redcoats occupy the city and begin searching for weapons. Other companies are sent north to search Barrett's Farm.
  • The militia numbers continue to grow and they march on the troops at the North Bridge.
  • British soldiers begin firing without orders, causing an eruption of firing from both sides. A few dozen are killed or wounded from both sides.
  • The British begin marching back to Boston, while the militia numbers continue to grow, passing a thousand members by around noon, larger than the British force.
  • The American numbers swell to 2,000 and they set up ambushes and attacks as the Regulars march.
  • Upon reaching Lexington, the surviving Regulars are rescued by Lord Percy's brigade of reinforcements.

Discussion Questions

  • Why is that we have such inaccurate views of some historical events, such as the idea that all the minutemen were acting on their own, or that there was a single midnight rider?
  • Isn't it interesting that the people in many of these Massachusetts towns first went to their minister when hearing the alarm? Did this provide them any advantage?
  • What do you think was going through the minds of the British soldiers as more and more were wounded or killed and their order began to disintegrate?

Things That Caught Our Eye

  • It's very interesting how the soldiers generally respected the law. They weren't allowed to loot and destroy private property. They had to treat people with respect and pay for their food. It's something we don't normally think about.
  • The soldiers even stopped their searching to help put out the fire they unintentionally set at the Town House!
  • You can imagine the contempt in Mrs. Barrett's voice when the soldiers demanded she make them breakfast and she replied, "We are commanded to feed our enemy if he hunger!"
  • The Reverend William Emerson mentioned in this chapter is the grandfather of writer Ralph Waldo Emerson.


"Suddenly they caught their first sight of the advancing British force. It was a breathtaking spectacle: a long flowing ribbon of scarlet and white and sparkling steel that stretched a quarter mile along the road, and was moving relentlessly in their direction."

"Let us stand our ground. If we die, let us die here!"

"Whoever dares to look upon them as an irregular mob, will find himself much mistaken. They have men amongst them who know very well what they are about."

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Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer

Chapter 15 - A Circle of Fire


  • Back in Boston, Lord Percy's reinforcements gather in the morning to aid the soldiers who were already in the fight.
  • Lord Percy's brigade comes upon the bedraggled survivors of the earlier battles at Lexington and Concord and begins firing on the militia chasing them.
  • Lord Percy begins to realize they are in a precarious situation with no ammunition reserves and organizes the march back to Boston.
  • Brigadier General William Heath takes command of the militia and their numbers continue to swell throughout the day.
  • The militia numbers grow so large and are so effectually commanded that the British are surrounded and taking fire on all four sides as they try to get back to Boston.
  • House to house combat occurs in Menotomy and Cambridge as the British get more desperate.
  • They finally reach Charlestown, but still have to get across the Charles River to Boston.

Discussion Questions

  • The citizens of Menotomy had prepared for combat as everyone else in Massachusetts had, but the battle came right to their town in reality and was fought house to house. What would you have thought and how would you have responded in this situation even though you knew it could happen?
  • Even as Lord Percy left Boston to join the soldiers that were already under attack with reinforcements, he didn't believe the colonists were any threat. He was soon to find out very differently. Why do you suppose the British had such a distorted view of the strength, resolve and power of the colonists?
  • Several people got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, such as Isaac Smith, the Harvard professor who happened to come outside just when the British regiment was passing by. When asked for directions, Smith told them how to get to Lexington, not even realizing he was helping the enemy in a war situation. Smith was later accused of "aiding the enemy" and harassed to the point that he had to leave the area permanently. What are your thoughts about this?

Things That Caught Our Eye

  • Isn't it interesting that Lord Percy was not at all against the colonists when he first came to New England, but was on their side, having voted against the Stamp Act and opposing many of Parliament's policies toward the colonies!
  • The fact that the militia marched in formation on the British on numerous occasions is certainly a new idea, flying in the face of our traditional idea that all the minutemen were acting on their own and scattered.
  • The Americans had an advantage because fresh troops were constantly arriving from different towns, while the British regiment was under fire the whole way and had no time to rest, some for nearly two days.


"We retired for 15 miles under an incessant fire, which like a moving circle surrounded and followed us wherever we went."

"There was not a stone wall, though before in appearance evacuated, from whence the rebels did not fire upon us."

"The fighting in Menotomy was bitter - house to house, room to room, and hand to hand."

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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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