The 235th anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord is quickly approaching, so the unveiling of this collection is very timely. Below is the introduction to Rag Linen’s Battle of Lexington and Concord collection.
“The New England militia were elaborately organized and actively led. On the morning of April 19, 1775, they stood against Thomas Gage’s Regular Infantry in fixed positions and close formations at least six times. Twice the Regulars were broken. In the afternoon, the American leaders changed their tactics. Now facing a larger enemy and artillery, they forged a moving ‘circle of fire’ around the British force and maintained it for many hours — an extraordinary feat of combat leadership with citizen soldiers.
“After the fighting was over, many of these same men, including Paul Revere and Thomas Gage, fought the second battle of Lexington and Concord. This was a contest for what their generation was the first to call popular opinion, and even more decisive than the battle itself. Yankee leaders were victorious in spreading their version of events through the colonies. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Thomas Paine all testified that the news of Lexington was, in Adam’s phrase, their revolutionary Rubicon,” according to Paul Revere’s Ride by David Hackett Fischer (1994).
Rag Linen’s Battle of Lexington and Concord collection provides evidence of the rush, by both sides, to influence public opinion via the rapid dissemination of letters, newspapers and commentary. The collection features an exciting mix of primary source material from the days, weeks and months following April 19, 1775.
The first item, the Postscript to the Pennsylvania Journal dated April 27, 1775, is the only one of its kind known to exist in either institutional or private hands. It includes extracts from three letters, two of which may be whole, and one that was penned on the same day as the battle. Also featured is a London newspaper printing Gen. Gage’s official battle account. American newspaper printers, after reading Gage’s report, took their turn correcting and commenting on his version of events. As part of the counterpoint, the Connecticut Journal on August 23, 1775, prints: “To reason on the facts, which are now indisputable, is to talk which will better suit some future opportunity. The public have but to ponder on the melancholy truths thus attested by government. The sword of civil war is drawn and if there is truth in Heaven, THE KING’S TROOPS UNSHEATHED IT.” Click here to view the collection.