Watching and listening for the Shot Heard ‘Round the World

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You don’t need a time machine to see the Battle of Lexington and Concord.

You can see a reenactment of the first battle of the Revolutionary War on Patriots’ Day (April 21) on the Lexington Green.

Even though this is an annual event, the reenactors still must practice. The battle starts with a shouting match in which the Redcoats try to get the Minutmen to lay down their arms, but they refuse. The Redcoats fix their bayonets and then the first shot is fired, followed by many more. (In the rehearsal, the guns weren’t actually shooting, they were just making clicking noises. But during the actual reenactment the guns fire realistic blanks.)

Eventually, the Patriots are chased off the field — followed by much “Huzzah!”-ing.

The event starts at 6 a.m. Patriots’ Day but you should get there much earlier (more like 3 a.m.), especially if you have kids. Bring supplies such as food, sleeping bags, chairs, blankets, pillows – and remember to dress warmly. After the battle, area churches serve pancake breakfasts. (For a complete list of the many Patriots’ Day events in the area, follow the link at the bottom of the page.)

The Cunniff Kids News staff went to the rehearsal April 6 on a frigid, spitting day. Here are some of the people we met:

(All stories reported and written by Cunniff Kids news staff reporters Charlotte V., Daniel D., Ryan O., Katherine L., Tia P., Renee S., Ryan L., and Katelynn O., and CKN correspondents Sean L., Kiera O., Danielle P., and Shane S.)

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Michael Bonislowski is from Lexington, and he is a professor at Salem State College. He plays the part of a Colonial militiaman. This is his fourth year.

He wears a navy coat with a white shirt and grey vest underneath. His pants went to his knees and white long stockings, and he had black shoes with golden buckles. He carries a musket.

He shared many facts about Revolutionary War times:

* Each town had its own militia company and would get together and fight in its own town.

* The law was that once a boy turned 15 years old he would have to join the militia, he had to buy a musket, tomahawk, and knife and would have to be a member until he was 60 years old.

* Muskets were not very good guns, because for every four times you fire it wouldn’t work at least one of those times, and in bad weather it worked less.

* In the battle at Lexington, eight men were killed. There were 77 militia men in the battle, but there were 750 British soldiers.

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Tom Coots plays Captain John Parker of the Colonial militia in the reenactment on Lexington Green. The real battle happened here April 19, 1775. The British Army wins the battle, but the captain of the militia doesn’t get shot.

Coots became interested in American history when he was in the third grade. He was visiting Lexington and saw the reenactment and thought it was cool. He answered and advertisement for people to participate in the reenactment.

He started out as a British Redcoat. Now his son also does the reenactment with his father.

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Ed Hubbard from Natick plays a British Redcoat in the 5th Foot Regiment. His uniform has pea green cuffs and the Roman numeral “V’’ on the buttons, both to show which regiment he is in.

Most of the Redcoats were from either England or Ireland. Hubbard’s father is English and his mother is Irish.

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Susan Lester of Newton plays the role of a British loyalist whose husband is a surgeon for the British soldiers. She wears a white bonnet, red cape, white blouse, and a long blue dress. She carries a basket with yarn and scissors.

She has two sons that are privates in the British Army. Her daughter was there, too, dressed in a similar outfit.

Her husband, Lloyd, was also at the rehearsal, dressed in tailor-made period clothes. But because there was no surgeon at the battle, he does not participate in the rehearsal.

“My kids are interested in history and it’s a great way to do things together,’’ he said.

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Tom Balcom plays a British private. He is a grenadier, so he wears lots of red and gold, white, and, green.

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Joe Mallen is also on the British side, playing a part in the 5th Regiment foot. He does this reenactment because he likes it and thinks it is very fun to do.

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Mike plays the part of an American farmer in the reenactment. In real life, he lives in Lexington, too.

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Corporal Samuel Sanderson of Captain Parker’s militia is played by Paul Duval. He lives down the street from the Green and thought it looked like fun. He was assigned a character, as many people are when they join.

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There are many events marking the start of the Revolutionary War held throughout the region. For a complete list and description of activities, go to http://www.battleroad.org/.

Also on the site http://www.battleroad.org/ is a description of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, links to all of the area’s reenactor groups, and pictures and video of past events.

–April 11, 2008–

 

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Watching and listening for the Shot Heard ‘Round the World