Story Songs and Paul Revere

Dr. Fischer's fine book Paul Revere's Ride has fascinating details about the English army's side of the story, and in my initial enthusiasm I wanted to tell those as well as Revere's story. But as the verse count grew I thought about the poor listeners and settled on the condensed version. For those interested the unabridged version is below, with eight bonus verses (all in the first half of the song).

Paul Revere's Ride (unabridged)

General Gage sits home in Boston, Margaret by his side
Your colonists have vexed me sore since first you were my bride
The more I’m lenient and respect the law and treat them well
The more they act licentious and affront me and rebel
But now my orders say to strike and sparing no details
Put down the mob just like the ones in Ireland and in Wales
Seize the leaders and disarm the populace they say
You’ve always kept my secrets and I know you will today
Colonel Smith, my plan depends on secrecy and speed
We can't let word leak out again, this time we must succeed
In Portsmouth we'd have had their powder easily last year
If not for warnings from that cursed rider Paul Revere
We’ll seal Boston Neck tonight and close the harbor too
Patrols will scour the roads in case a rider should get through
You'll march direct to Lexington, arrest those two by night
Then seize the Concord powder and return by early light
All in a day, all in a day
In the colony of Massachusetts Bay
Today this is an English land, tomorrow who can say
What changes may begin all in a day
Paul Revere was sitting over at the Cromwell's Head
My friends, all this activity means nothing good, he said
The officers all talking and the longboats all deployed
We must find out the plan or see our liberty destroyed
Gage may think he’s master since he faces no army
But I know town militias who I think would disagree
They’re all prepared to muster quickly and to raise alarms
With signal guns and bells to warn their neighbor towns and farms
A message—Dr. Warren bids you quickly to his side
Revere’s away to Warren's house as fast as he can stride
A friend I have says Warren, close to Gage as close can be
Who knows his plan and risking all has now sent word to me
800 men across the Back Bay rowed by Navy crew
It's Sam and John they’re after and the Concord cannons too
If you can make for Lexington take this dispatch with speed
Dawes bears the same across the Neck, I pray you both succeed
Have faith says Paul, and also trust our Charlestown allies
They’ll spread alarms if lanterns in the Old North Church they spy
That Tory rector's locked it tight but Newman has a key
He'll send the signal while I cross the harbor secretly
At 10 PM small groups of men with muskets and red coats
Walk silently across the sleeping town to meet their boats
Light infantry, those agile men, and burly Grenadiers
800 of the King’s Own Foot and Royal Fusiliers
Adjutant MacKenzie, prompt as always, was aghast
Just 20 boats for all these men? Two trips will not be fast
They row a mile against the tide, then wade with muskets high
And when the last man came ashore the midnight hour was nigh
MacKenzie in the dark could find but half his company
As sergeants called, men jostled back and forth confusedly
And finally when assembled they must jockey yet some more
To line up by seniority with 10th Foot in the fore
They set off through the Cambridge Marshes, mud at every pace
And ford a stream with April snowmelt soaking to the waist
Now finally wet and cold they reach the road to Lexington
It’s 2 AM, their march 10 miles out can now begin
At 10:30 friends row Paul Revere across the bay
But the mighty warship Somerset lies anchored in their way
All boats and men from Boston bound for Charlestown to seize
A rowboat in the open would be surely caught with ease
But a shadow from the rising moon the little boat did hide
Bright sky above, bright sea below, they slipped through on the tide
Ashore it's Colonel Conant, yes your lanterns we could see
Your horse awaits but ride with care, patrols are out says he
The night is mild, the horse is fine, his heart is full with ease
What’s this? Two men in shadow, with cockades, beneath the trees
He wheels and spurs full fast away, the horsemen close give chase
But having no such splendid mare they soon fall off the pace
He gallops hard for Mystic then, far from his chosen route
But passing through wakes Isaac Hall to muster his men out
And now it's house by house—a knock, a shout to those within
As faint behind, the warning bells and signal guns begin
Now at last to Lexington, the home of Reverend Clarke
Dismounting from the breathless horse he calls out in the dark
They’re all asleep, the Sergeant snaps, I'll have you not to shout
You'll have noise enough soon says Revere—the Regulars are out!
He pounded on the heavy door till windows upward flew
Come in Revere, John Hancock calls, we're not afraid of you
But hearing what he says the household wakes in much distress
And Dawes arrives with his dispatch the danger to impress
Refreshed in Buckman Tavern with militia men they speak
800 to arrest just two? That can't be all they seek
The Concord stores must be their aim, someone must warn that town
Again they mount their weary horses, now for Concord bound
On the road they meet young Dr. Prescott, smartly dressed
Out courting fair Miss Mulliken, now headed home to rest
But hearing what's afoot agrees to join them door by door
My neighbors know me and will heed your warning all the more
They warn each house along the road beneath a moonlit sky
Til at the edge of Lexington two mounted men they spy
They are but two then calls Revere, we'll have them lads, come on!
But suddenly the two are four with swords and pistols drawn
Turn off, turn off their leader cries or you're dead men I swear
And herds them off at pistol point like rabbits in a snare
But Prescott knows this pasture and they burst away again
He jumps a low stone wall and rides to warn the Concord men
As Dawes escapes as well ten angry men surround Revere
But facing pistols and abuse he speaks up without fear
I have alarmed the countryside and Gage's plan I know
Your men will face five hundred if to Lexington they go
They tensely talk then leave and ride back east taking Revere
When in the darkness gunshots and a tolling bell they hear
They gallop then with news the land is rising up to fight
And Paul walks free to Lexington, his work done for the night
Then in the towns Revere passed through the leaders that he warned
Send couriers on routes arranged their neighbors to inform
In Cambridge, Natick, Salem, Bedford, Reading, Lynn, and Stow
Men wake and dress, say terse farewells, and off to Concord go
So here's a toast to all the men who rose to fight that day
To govern for themselves and from England break away
And here's a toast to Paul Revere that craftsman brave of heart
He was a son of liberty and boldly played his part
Copyright © 2014, Rick Mohr