If the British went out by Water, we would show two Lanthorns in the North Church Steeple; and if by Land, one, as a Signal
General Gage, commander of the Regular Army troops in Boston, was aware of the military preparations being coordinated by the Provincial Congress. In the middle of April, he determined to send troops to seize the supplies stockpiled in Concord. Paul Revere had been serving as an alarm rider for the Boston Committee of Correspondence for some months and was asked to do so again on the night of the 18th.
Three days earlier, knowing a raid was imminent and aware that he might be captured before he could spread an alarm himself, Revere had arranged a lantern signal that would alert militia to Gage’s raid. Revere rode toward Concord to spread the alarm and got as far as Lincoln before being captured. As the alarm was spread by a network of other riders, it was accompanied by the ringing of church bells and the firing of guns.
About 700 of Gage’s Regular Army troops under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith and Major John Pitcairn left Boston by ten o’clock the night of April 18, 1775, headed for Concord. Even as they stepped ashore in Cambridge at the beginning of their march, they could hear the bells and signal guns that told them their movements were observed.
Eavesdrop on the deliberations of the revolutionaries in 1774 and 1775 in the Records of the Provincial Congress.
Take a Virtual Midnight Ride courtesy of the Paul Revere House.
Watch the video, “Picturing America — Paul Revere,” with expert analysis of John Singleton Copley’s portrait of Revere and Grant Wood’s painting “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.”