Notice he does not get top billing
With Betty programmed for the Visitors' Center in Concord, and with banjoes wailing as Mumford and Son promised to wait for us, we headed out of our hotel for Concord, site of the start of the American Revolution and nexus for the transcendentalist movement in literature.
With many places closed at this relatively early time on Sunday morning, we started our visit with Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Buried there in are many of the early American literary luminaries, as well as Daniel Chester French, sculptor of both the Lincoln statue in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC and the Minuteman statue at the old North Bridge. Author Ridge holds the remains of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, Henry Thoreau, and Margaret Sidney.
On April 19, 1775, the British in Boston decided that they needed to move to capture the large stores of armaments and ammunition stored by the colonial militias in Concord. It has been estimated that the colonials had amassed enough armaments to equip 15,000 men, and thus the threat to the British was real. About 700 men marched to Concord. After a short skirmish in Lexington, where there was some firing but none in which
A modern reproduction
colonials were directed to shoot at the British, the British arrived in Concord and began conducting a house to house search. This turned out to be fruitless because the militiamen had moved the armaments after hearing that the British were coming. THe British then headed to the farm of Col. Barrett, acting on a rumor of arms there. A contingent was left behind at the North Bridge. Seeing smoke coming from Concord, the militiamen feared that Concord was being burned, and advanced down a nearby hill to confront the British at the bridge. The ensuing volleys resulted in eh immediate deaths of two British soldiers and two militiamen. The British panicked and ran. Order was later restored, and they started a tactical retreat back toward Boston, joined by other troops swelling their ranks to about 1700. However, the number of militiamen grew to about 4000, and they harassed the British all the way back to Boston, with the result of a total of 73 dead British soldiers and 48 militiamen. The ranks of the militia swelled to about 20,000, and they began the siege of Boston.
The action at the North Bridge was the first in which colonials were
At the North Bridge
directed to fire at what at the time they still felt were fellow British subjects, and is thus often considered the start of the American Revolution. It inspired Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Concord Hymn" and Longfellow's "Paul Revere's Ride" (historically inaccurate since Revere made it only as far as Lexington, not all the way to Concord).
"By the rude bridge that arched the flood
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard 'round the world"
Following our visit to the North Bridge (a modern reproduction of the original), we had lunch at the Colonial Inn (lobster sliders), and then visited the various houses of the famous authors. The Old Manse was built for Emerson's grandfather, a minister, and was occupied at times by both Emerson and Hawthorne. Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House (where she wrote Little Women), Emerson's house, and The Wayside, where Margaret Sidney wrote the Five Little Peppers series are all nearby,
We then headed to the nearby Walden Pond. Thoreau built a small house and lived there for two years, two months, and two days, seeking to live life
without the trappings of life in town, and later wrote about it in Walden; or A Life in the Woods. He could have saved himself some writing by going now, since he could have entirely eliminated the chapter on solitude, although he may have needed to expand the chapter on visitors. The last time I visited it was a serene place, but facing an uncertain future because of proposed development. That is no longer the case. Development was forestalled by making it a state park that is so overrun that they must close the parking lots periodically during the day to allow it to clear out somewhat. Hundreds of people were swimming or lying on a manmade beach. THoroughly disgusting. I don't think I have beenso disappointed since I went to Lourdes.
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