Abraham Woodhull was a main spy in the Culper Spy Ring. He was recruited by Benjamin Tallmadge and served the Continental Army for many years. He operated under the alias, Samuel Culper and his identity was not learned until the early 20th century. His efforts as a spy were some of the most successful efforts in American History. The Culper Spy Ring is credited for uncovering multiple plots to assassinate or capture George Washington and other Continental Officers. They are also credited with uncovering the treason of Benedict Arnold. [Read more…]
William Dawes Jr (April 6, 1745 – February 25, 1799) was born in Massachusetts Bay Colony and is one of the many riders that rode to alarm the militia leaders of the marching British soldiers. His alarm happened prior to the Battles of Lexington and Concord and allowed the minutemen to muster. Unfortunately, Paul Revere is the one remembered for the ride and Dawes tends to be left out as does the forty other riders. Dawes went on to serve his country in the Boston militia. He was instrumental in acquiring the necessary artillery from the British redcoats and served in other capacities as well. Like many of his fellow New Englanders as the war’s theatre move towards the middle and southern colonies their names show up less frequently.
William Dawes: The Ride
William Dawes was a tanner whose business took him through the narrow gate into Roxbury. The British officers were familiar with him, which is probably why he was chosen to deliver the message. It is uncertain how he managed to get passed the gate. Perhaps, as suggested, he knew the guards or he attached himself to a sentry unit. Whatever the reason, he got through the gate.
Dawes rode south across the Boston Neck to Roxbury. He then slowly rode through Brookline, Brighton, Cambridge, Menotomy, and Lexington. His route was approximately 17 miles longer than Revere and he rode on a slower horse. He completed his mission when he arrived at the Hancock-Clarke Parsonage shortly after Paul Revere.
Dawes and Revere set out from Lexington Greene to alarm the rest of the countryside. On their way they met a man who had been out courting the beautiful Lydia Mulliken, Dr. Samuel Prescott. Upon talking to him they learned that he was a “high Son of Liberty” and recruited him to alarm the city of Lincoln. Shortly after his recruitment the three men were apprehended by a British guard. Paul Revere was captured, but Dawes and Prescott were able to escape.
During Paul Revere’s capture Dawes shouted “Halloo, my boys, I’ve got two of them” which caused the British to chase after Prescott and Revere while Dawes rode off into the other direction. He rode towards an abandoned house and his horse became frightened and threw him off his back. Dawes hit the ground hard, losing his watch and his horse as it galloped into the darkness. Tired and hurt Dawes’ ride was over. He walked back to Lexington, keeping in the shadows and out of sight.
He served faithfully as a quartermaster during the war and resumed a normal life.
Unfortunately William Dawes is often forgotten in the tale of Paul Revere. He is another casualty of the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem which made Paul Revere the lone rider that night. While Dawes did not have the influence of Revere, he did have his bravery and he completed the mission that was given to him by Dr. Joseph Warren. He did not alarm the towns that he rode through and that should be noted. Even-so he should not be forgotten as he too risked his life for the American cause, although it was not “American” for about a year later.
William Dawes Facts: Later Years
William and Mehitable Dawes would have three children: two sons and a daughter. His wife died in 1793 and six years later on Feb 25, 1799 Dawes passed away in Marlborough, Massachusetts. His Great-Great-Great Grandson Charles Gates Dawes would become Vice President of the United States during Calvin Coolidge’s Presidential term.
After his death the poem “Paul Revere’s Ride” was written and it would overstate the role of Paul Revere, effectively cutting out William Dawes, Samuel Prescott, and many others. Paul Revere did play a more significant role than Dawes, but it should be noted that Dawes and Prescott were more successful in achieving their actual missions. In 1995 David Hackett Fischer wrote the book Paul Revere’s Ride which would clear up the misconceptions that the poem caused
William Dawes Facts: Online Resources
The midnight ride of Paul Revere is one of the legendary stories of the American Revolutionary War that occurred on the evening of April 18, 1775 just before the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Paul Revere and William Dawes rode to alarm the minutemen of British movement and to remove the rebel leaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock from Lexington to safety. Much has been written about this ride and much of it is false. Before I get into discussing the actual ride and all of its interesting dynamics I feel the need to debunk three myths. [Read more…]
Dr. Samuel Prescott was a doctor, privateer, militiaman, and alarm ride during the midnight ride of Paul Revere. He was an American Patriot who served his country until his life’s end. Due the well-known poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride”, Prescott’s name is often forgotten as are many other significant men involved in the midnight ride, but his contributions were as significant as Paul Revere, William Dawes, and other riders that rode throughout the night. If it had not been for him, then the Concord militia may have not been alarmed of the British movements throughout the countryside. [Read more…]
Joseph Warren is known for his role in early days of the rebellion and for his death at Bunker Hill. He also served as a key player in the Suffolk Resolves, Committee of Correspondence, The Midnight Ride in which he sent Paul Revere and William Dawes to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams and he led militia with William Heath in the Battles of Lexington and Concord. He was a well-known figure in Boston and well-connected. David Hackett Fischer made a compelling argument in his book, Paul Revere’s Ride that Warren’s secret friendship with Margaret Kemble Gage gave him the intel needed to alarm the countryside of Gage’s plan to disarm Concord. [Read more…]