Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Patriot's Day

I woke the children up at 3:55am yesterday and brought them to Lexington, MA for the annual Patriot's Day reenactment of the Battle of Lexington.

Don't rub your eyes.  You did read that correctly.  I woke three sleeping children up at 3:55 AM voluntarily. 

It was definitely worth it.

We arrived (with ladder, as advised by native Lexingtonians to help little people see clearly) and got a prime spot by Buckman Tavern.

We were not the first people there.  In fact, we did not even make up the first row of people.  We were in the second row and only because there was a ladder-sized hole in that second row next to some sleeping people no one else wanted to disturb.  

We didn't mind disturbing anyone.

This will become obvious when you see the next photo:

Not only did I not mind disturbing sleeping people, but I also didn't mind disturbing my own children with my flash camera.

It ends up that flash cameras and the dark 4:30am don't mix.

I allowed the children to get me back:

It was REALLY dark outside.  It's strange to be in a massive crowd of people in the early morning but it was also very exciting.  

It's truly amazing how many people wake up at this early hour to watch a pretend battle.  We were like a club of crazy people.

The sleeping party next to us arrived at 3:00am to secure their front row seats next to the Tavern:

The Buckman Tavern is the hub of action.  It is where, during the reenactment, the horseman arrives to alert the Lexington Minutemen of the forthcoming British soldiers, and it is where a great deal of the action takes place.

We didn't really know this when we chose our ladder-sized spot.  We just lucked out.  Within 15 minutes of our 4:20 arrival, the crowd behind us was about 20 rows deep.  Most people had brought ladders or crates to stand on - and I'm not referring to dinky ladders like the one we brought.  I'm talking HUGE, industrial-sized ladders.  It was quite impressive.

While the crowds gathered and watched the sun begin to rise, the period-dressed reenactors walked around and answered questions.

I took photos, admired the light and answered the question, "when is this going to start?" about 6,000 times.

The children were very excited and happy to be there, but no one enjoys a long wait.

To entertain them, I pointed out all the places where people were sitting.  See that brick house in the below photo?

These people were sitting on it's roof:

I know!  Crazy, right?  But at least they didn't have to get up as early as we did.  You may have to put up with busy traffic 364 days a year, but one the 365th day, you get free, front-row seats to The Battle of Lexington!  I wonder if real estate agents put that on the prospectus.

At last the battle began:

The man on the horse arrived to alert the Militia that the British were right behind.  (This is not Paul Revere, who was captured along the way and will make an appearance at this battle later, but a 16 year old {played by a 50 year old} dispatched to do final leg of the journey in Paul's place)  I'm sorry for the poor photo quality.  My telephoto lens doesn't like movement.

The Lexington Minutemen rushed out of the Tavern and lined up on the square:

At this point, the Minutemen Captain realized Sam Adams and John Hancock had left an important trunk, full of papers, in the Tavern and that these documents had to be removed immediately or else risk being seen by the Redcoats.

Here is what the running of the trunk looked like:

I imagined that this was a job that they allow a first-year reenactor to do.... they make you run with the trunk for a few years before they give you a gun and let you be in the battle.

Only minutes later, the British soldiers arrived... many of them running:

And there's Paul Revere! ... the gentleman in the brown coat.  We learned that he would be freed later after The Battle of Concord when the British decided to high-tail it out of suburbia.

The Redcoats told the Militia to stand aside and let them pass.  The Militia refused.  No one knows (historically) who shot the first bullet and we couldn't tell either.

but the action starts pretty quickly and it gets out of hand even faster.

At this moment, it became abundantly clear why we had really lucked out with our seats.  As the battle was taking place on the village green, some remaining Militiamen (or surly bar patrons, we couldn't tell which) began shooting at the British from the windows of Buckman Tavern.

A group of British soldiers - including one particularly dramatic older man - ran over to handle the situation.  "Go Back (or Get Back)!" he yelled over and over again while shooting off his rifle.  He really got into character, and I mean that as a good thing.

These are, after all, just business men who live in Lexington and I like that they take their jobs seiously.

The scene back on the village green was a grim one.

The British regrouped to head off to Concord and the supposed stash of firearms.  The dead and wounded Minutemen waited in the field for their wives to rush out:

It was a fabulous time...

and it was 6:15am.  

We packed up our ladder and headed back to our car.

We went to the aptly named Paul Revere Diner for breakfast before heading back to our house and officially starting our day.

Had the children learned anything new about American History?  I think so.

I caught Henry outside playing Militia a few hours later....

Georgia played the role of ....

Was there a British soldier with a plastic bat?  Now I can't remember.

Perhaps only Henry learned something.  I will have to take Georgia back next year.


David said...

Great line: The British hightail it out of suburbia

Martha said...

ha! thank you! I liked that line, too!

Karin said...

Thank you for your sweet comment on my blog. :) I came over to see your write-up of the battle of Lexington. Seriously GROANED that you got up at 3:30AM. Ack! I would love to see the re-enactment but I'm not sure I would be willing to get up that early. :) Loved your pictures!! I'll have to show them to my kids. They were still rather confused about the story.

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