Sybil Ludington statue by Anna Hyatt Huntington, Carmel, NY by wiki
April 18th was my grandmother's birthday, which was why she often regaled us grandchildren with a retelling of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's famous poem, Paul Revere's Ride :
Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year
While many Americans today
believe Longfellow's version as gospel, the poet took significant liberties in
his retelling of the story, as Revere was one of many dozen riders that night,
some of whom even rode longer distances.
Even Revere's artistic contributions -- his unequalled silversmithing skills -- have been eclipsed, undeservedly, by the ghostly vision of him galloping through the shadows.
At the time of Revere's ride, many of the Patriot leaders, including John Hancock and Samuel Adams, had bounties on their heads, and had left Boston to hide out in the countryside. So it was to warn them of possible impending capture or assassination that both Paul Revere and William Dawes were dispatched from Boston to ride separate routes to Lexington.
One if by land, and two if by sea,
And I on the opposite shore will be
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every MIddlesex village and farm
For the country folk to be up and to arm
The two lanterns in the bell tower were actually not for Revere's benefit, as Longfellow's poem infers. By the time Revere left Boston, he surely knew the path the Brit Regulars would take. In fact, his most important ride had been just two days before, probably in the much less poetic daylight hours, to warn Concord of the imminent movement of the British troops.