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many boys and unarmed men, were paraded in two ranks, a few rods north of the meetinghouse.
How often in that building had they, with renewed professions of their faith, looked up to God as the stay of their fathers and the protector of their privileges! How often on that green, hard by the burial place of their forefathers, had they pledged themselves to each other to combat manfully for their birthright inheritance of liberty! There they now stood side by side, under the provincial banner, with arms in their hands, silent and fearless, willing to shed their blood for their rights, scrupulous not to begin civil
The ground on which they trod was the altar of freedom, and they were to furnish the victims.
The British van, hearing the drum and the alarm guns, halted to load ; the remaining companies came up; and, at half an hour before sunrise, the advance party hurried forward at double quick time, almost upon a run, closely followed by the grenadiers. Pitcairn rode in front, and when within five or six rods of the minutemen, cried out: “Disperse, ye villains ! ye rebels, disperse! lay down your arms! why don't you lay down arms and disperse ?”
The main part of the countrymen stood motionless in the ranks, witnesses against aggression; too few to resist, too brave to fly. At this, Pitcairn discharged a pistol, and with a loud voice cried, “ Fire !” The order was followed first by a few guns, which did no execution, and then by a close and deadly discharge of musketry.
In the disparity of numbers, Parker ordered his men to disperse. Then, and not till then, did a few of them, on their own impulse, return the British fire. These random shots of fugitives or dying men did no harm, except that Pitcairn's horse was perhaps grazed, and a private of the Tenth Light Infantry was touched slightly in the leg.
Jonas Parker, the strongest and best wrestler in Lexington, had promised never to run from British troops; and he kept his vow. A wound brought him to his knees. Having discharged his gun, ,
he was preparing to load it again, when he was stabbed by a bayonet, and lay on the post which he took at the morning drum beat. So fell Isaac Muzzey, and so died the aged Robert Munroe, who, in 1758, had been an ensign at Louisburg. Jonathan Harrington, junior, was struck in front of his own house on the north of the common. His wife was at the window as he fell. With blood gushing from his breast, he rose in her sight, tottered, fell again, then crawled on hands and knees toward his dwelling; she ran to meet him, but only reached him as he expired on their threshold. Caleb Harrington, who had gone into the meetinghouse for powder, was
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shot as he came out. Samuel Hadley and John Brown were pursued, and killed, after they left the green. Asahel Porter of Woburn, who had been taken prisoner by the British on the march, endeavoring to escape, was shot within a few rods of the common. Seven men of Lexington were killed, nine wounded,
-a quarter part of all who stood in arms upon the green.
Day came in all the beauty of an early spring. The trees were budding; the grass growing rankly a full month before its time; the bluebird and the robin gladdening the genial season, and calling forth the beams of the sun which on that morning shone with the warmth of summer; but distress and horror gathered over the inhabitants of the peaceful town. There on the green lay in death the gray-haired and the young, the grassy field was red “ with the innocent blood of their brethren slain," crying unto God for vengeance from the ground.
These are the village heroes, who were than of noble birth, proving by their spirit that they were of a race divine. They gave their lives in testimony to the rights of mankind, bequeathing to their country an assurance of success in the mighty struggle which they began.
- GEORGE BANCROFT.
Slowly the mist o'er the meadow was creeping,
Bright on the dewy buds glistened the sun, When from his couch, while his children were sleeping, Rose the bold rebel and shouldered his
Over the silent dale,
Hushed was his parting sigh,
While from his noble eye Flashed the last sparkle of liberty's fire. On the smooth green, where the fresh leaf is springing,
Calmly the first-born of glory have met. Hark! the death volley around them is ringing ! Look! with their lifeblood the young grass is wet!
Faint is the feeble breath
Murmuring low in death, 66 Tell to our sons how their fathers have died.”
Nerveless the iron hand,
Raised for its native land,
From their far hamlets the yeomanry come;
Circles the beat of the mustering drum.
Fast on the soldier's path
Darken the waves of wrath; Long have they gathered, and loud shall they fall;
Red glares the musket's flash,
Sharp rings the rifle's crash,
Gayly the plume of the horseman was dancing,
Never to shadow his cold brow again;
Pale is the lip of scorn,
Voiceless the trumpet horn,
Many a belted breast
Low on the turf shall rest, Ere the dark hunters the herd have passed by. Snow-girdled crags where the hoarse wind is ravirg,
Rocks where the weary floods murmur and wail, Wilds where the fern by the furrow is waving, Reeled with the echoes that rode on the gale ;
Far as the tempest thrills
Over the darkened hills,
Roused by the tyrant band,
Woke all the mighty land,