Paul Revere's Ride
Book Discussion Guide
Chapters 16 and 17

Chapters 16 and 17 of our Paul Revere's Ride Book Discussion Guide cover the end of the first day of the American Revolution as the British army finally makes it back to Boston, the beginnings of the American Siege of Boston and the raising of the first troops of the Continental Army, along with a brief description of the successes and accomplishments of all the major players from both sides after the war.

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 16, the bedraggled British army finally makes it back to Boston, only to be surrounded and cut off by the ever-growing militia army around the city. The city is cut off from the outside world, reducing the inhabitants to eating salted rations. The Massachusetts patriot leaders meet and begin to raise an army and plan the siege of the city. Word of the battle is spread across the colonies and a propaganda war begins to fill the newspapers of America and England about who was to blame.

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Chapter 17 gives a brief description of the lives of most of the major players of the Battles of Lexington and Concord after the war, including Paul Revere, General Gage, Lord Percy, Rachel Revere, John Hancock and many others. Some lesser known figures are mentioned as well. Paul Revere went on to build one of the largest manufacturing businesses in New England, a copper plating business. He manufactured copper sheets that graced the dome of the new Massachusetts State Capitol, the bottom of the USS Constitution and the steam engines of Robert Fulton's first steam ship. He also became New England's largest manufacturer of church bells!

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This page has Chapters 16 and 17 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.

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Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer

Chapter 16 - Aftermath


  • The retreating British troops finally arrive back in Charlestown, where they take up defensible positions on Bunker Hill, causing American General William Heath to call off the pursuit.
  • Top British officers begin to lay the blame for the defeat on one another as the town of Boston is cut off by the surrounding militia army.
  • General Gage persuades Boston's selectmen to gather all the guns in the city to prevent more bloodshed, in return for allowing anyone left in the town to leave.
  • The American militia leaders, including Paul Revere, gather in Cambridge to plan their next actions.
  • The Massachusetts Committee of Safety raises an army and set siege to the city of Boston, while disease begins to ravage the patriot army.
  • News of the battle spreads up and down the seaboard within a few days.
  • Both sides begin a propaganda war to influence hearts and minds about what happened through newspapers and depositions collected from eyewitnesses.

Discussion Questions

  • What does it say to you that the first thing General Gage did once the town of Boston was surrounded and cut off by the militia army was to gather all the guns in the town?
  • The Battles of Lexington and Concord pushed many Americans who were still hoping for reconciliation with Britain to become ardent patriots. What might people like this have been thinking when they heard the news that British soldiers had attacked American towns?
  • How important was the battle for public opinion after the Battles of Lexington and Concord? Why was this an important battle as well, maybe even more important than the actual battles fought with guns and bullets?

Things That Caught Our Eye

  • It took three hours to ferry all the wounded British soldiers across the Charles River to Boston. Quite a price they paid.
  • It's such a tragedy that so many Americans died from sickness and disease after surviving the outbreak of fighting.
  • Another interesting fact - when news of the battle reached a party of hunters in the wilderness of Kentucky, they named their campsite after Lexington, Massachusetts, the origin of the name of Lexington, Kentucky.


  • "In the morning, the Regulars awoke to find themselves besieged by a vast militia army, which had marched from distant parts of New England."
  • "Many years later Joanna Mansfield of Lynn still vividly remembered the terrible image of the American dead piled high on the sled, their legs projecting stiffly over the side as they passed through her village."
  • "My dear by Doctor Church I send a hundred and twenty-five pounds & beg you will take the best care of yourself & not attempt coming into this towne again." - Rachel Revere to Paul Revere
  • "This second battle of Lexington and Concord was waged not with bayonets but broadsides, not with muskets but depositions, newspapers and sermons."

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Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer

Chapter 17 - Epilogue


The accomplishments and achievements of notable people on both sides of the Battles of Lexington and Concord after the war are mentioned, such as...

  • Paul Revere, who became a successful metallurgist and built one of the largest manufacturing business in New England.
  • British Major John Pitcairn, who died from wounds received at the Battle of Bunker Hill.
  • Lord Percy, who went on to inherit the title of Duke of Northumberland and become one of the richest men in England.
  • Admiral Samuel Graves, who would be fired from the British navy for burning the town of Falmouth, Maine to the ground.
  • Dr. Joseph Warren, who would be killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill.
  • ...and General Gage, who continued to serve through another disastrous year in Boston with the Battle of Bunker Hill and was eventually recalled to England.

Discussion Questions

  • An enormous number of British officers and enlisted men died in the first few months of the war in Massachusetts. How would you feel having your life put in danger in a vicious war by superiors who had their own interests and priorities in mind, which may not be your own?
  • How do you suppose the outbreak of the war affected the people involved in the long run?
  • How do you suppose listening to the stories of those who were present at the Battles of Concord and Lexington affected their children and grandchildren who heard the stories many years later?

Things That Caught Our Eye

  • Had you ever heard of "caltrops?" "...small iron devices shaped like a child's jack, with needle-sharp spines that could cripple a man or horse."
  • The HMS Somerset eventually sunk on the shoals of Cape Cod. Sometimes you can still see the timbers of the ship today as the sands shift.
  • Herman Melville, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Theodore Parker, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Nathaniel Hawthorne were all grandsons of soldiers who fought at Lexington and Concord.


  • "Altogether, seventy-four British officers had marched to Lexington and Concord. Of that number, at least thirty-three were killed or severely wounded between April and June in the fighting around Boston."
  • "The last survivor of the Lexington company was the boy fifer Jonathan Harrington, who died in 1854 at the age of ninety-six. More American troops marched in his funeral than had fought at Lexington and Concord."
  • "On the 19th day of every April, at the same hour when the messenger of alarm arrived in 1775, the town's great bell is made to ring again in the night. The people of the town awaken suddenly in their beds, and listen, and remember."

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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

Revolutionary War and Beyond Home

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