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