A Will to Fight: 1775

Hannah Moody, guest writer

I ran my hands up and down the smooth barrel of the freshly cleaned rifle. Slipping it onto my back, I took one more look around at the peaceful milieu in the old farmhouse. The moonlight shone through the cloudy windows and rested upon the wooden hearth. I took a deep breath as I moved stealthily toward the front door. A creak in the old wooden floor stopped me dead in my tracks. Heart pounding, I reached the door and gently closed it behind me. There was no turning back now.
The night air was chilly, but not unbearable. I pulled my cloak tighter around me, making sure my hair was still neatly tucked into my cap. Our house was about a mile from the outskirts of Lexington so I had walked this route countless times before, but this time was different. War is on the horizon, and it will begin right in the center of town.
From a distance, I could see the small crowd of militiamen gathering on the Lexington Green. Each with a musket slung over his back just like mine. Quietly, I approached the group of about a hundred and fifty men and took my spot slightly behind the circle.
“This is it men,” Captain John Parker bellowed. “The redcoats can sense fear in you from a mile away.”
A rush of excitement passed through me. I had been dreaming of this moment for months now. With all the talk of launching a rebellion against the British, my patriotic blood pumped harder through my veins and I was eager and determined to do my part in the fighting.
“Quick. I want two rows facing the road and stand up straight with your heads up high.”
I shifted my eyes toward the ground as I made my way to the second row. Two distinctive rows began to form.
“What’s your name, Lad?” asked the middle-aged man standing next to me. I mustered up the deepest vocal sound I could produce.
“Myles, um Myles Kincaid.”
“Don’t remember seeing you around here before.”
“Oh, um that’s odd. Everyone looks different in the dark I suppose.” The plump man chuckled to himself and mumbled something about his eyesight. I immediately put my head back down and focused my eyes on my tattered shoes.
Twenty minutes passed. All that could be heard were the whispers of the increasingly impatient men. One mumbled something about the cowardice of the opposing forces.
“Must be too scared to face us,” scoffed another.
After an hour, the road was still empty. The men now took to complaining.
“They could’ve at least told us they weren’t coming,” joked the gentleman next to me. All this time I stood in silence. Not even daring to move a muscle.
“Okay men, listen up. Fall out out of your ranks and take a break, but as soon as the cry goes up at the first sight of a redcoat, I expect these rows to form in less than a minute.” Giving a nod to the Captain, I quickly filed past him toward the edge of the square. The surrounding buildings were all quiet, but it was easy to tell that no one was sleeping. All were waiting for the first shots of the revolution to be fired. Unfortunately, the waiting continued. I had no pocket watch to keep track of the time, but I felt every minute go by in its entirety. Two in the morning, three, four and still no redcoats. I could hear the heated discussion coming from the men gathered in the tavern. The muffled cry of “No Taxation Without Representation” escaped the closed doors; the chant of the Sons of Liberty (United). I could recognize it anywhere. Those were the men who made our freedom seem within reach. With my back up against a tree, I almost allowed myself to doze off. If only I had the courage to throw myself into the discussion taking place in the tavern. The thundering of horse hooves on the dirt road jolted me awake.
“The redcoats are coming! Hurry they’re not far behind!” A rider on horseback shouted the news that we all had been waiting to hear for almost five hours now. In a frenzy, men from all corners of the green hurried to form ranks again. We finally managed to make two even rows facing the road.
“Stand your ground. Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war let it begin here!” Those words of captain Parker echoed in my ears (United).
Soon, the sound of uniform marching feet came within earshot. My heart pounded with every step I heard and I glanced around me to see if anyone else was as scared as I. Never in my nineteen years of life have I seen so many eyes clouded with fear.
A shout came from down the row, “Give me liberty or give me death!” These famous words of Patrick Henry presented a source of inspiration. Today we fight for liberty.
We all stood rigidly at attention as the black silhouettes marched nearer and nearer. It was difficult to make out the size of the approaching army in the dark of the early morning. But by the moonlight, I could tell that their numbers were far greater than ours.
A stalky figure, presumably the British commander, appeared and rode ahead of his men on horseback. My eyes followed his every move as I leaned slightly to the right to see past the shoulder blocking the view in front of me. The precession of the seemingly endless Lobster Backs finally came to halt just within view in the pale moonlight.
“I command you, throw down your arms and disperse!” shouted the British commander lifting his arm in the air as to signal a victory. “You are no match for us. Surrender your weapons immediately!” Nobody moved a muscle. I attempted to shift my weight onto my left leg but to no avail. Out of the corner of my eye I finally detected some movement. Turning my full attention toward the source I watched in disbelief as the general store clerk, Mr. Silvers, slowly laid his rifle on the ground. Following his lead, a number of other men also gave in to the pressure of avoiding the impending fight and slowly began to back away.
My hands gripped the stalk of my rifle even tighter. I could not lay it down. Not after I had come this far. The British commander paced back and forth before his men and opened his mouth to shout a call of surrender once more. But a shot rang out instead. The unexpected noise was deafening. My head jolted to the source of the sound directly behind me as my mind raced to try to make sense of the noise. This was a shot that could be heard around the world. Everyone else around me showed an equal amount of confusion. But before I could fully process the events happening in front of me, men from both sides began firing their weapons. Now that the first shot was fired, war could not be stopped.
I remained unable to move for a few seconds; a few seconds that seemed to pass as minutes. Finally I came to my senses and began to fumble with my rifle. It slid around in my sweaty palms as I struggled to bring it to a comfortable position to fire. I took aim at a red blur directly across from me. My finger lingered on the trigger. I was an excellent shot. Birds and rodents never stood a chance against me, but those were only animals. An internal struggle seemed to rage within me without letting me know what the outcome would be.
While my arms remained locked in the firing position, the Patriot right in front of me crumpled to the ground. I took my eyes off of the enemy to watch his white shirt slowly turn red under his heavy overcoat. My mind was made up. Once again I focused on the red uniform directly across from me. Bam. One shot was all I needed. He too fell victim to the fatal shot to the gut. My eyes strained to pick out my next target. They landed on the bright red coat of another British soldier and again I prepared myself to fire.
But an unseen force knocked me off my feet. My legs gave out and I felt myself fall to the ground to join the company of the dead man next to me. The whole scene around me went silent. Living in slow motion, I strained to look down at my torso. I too was turning my white shirt to red. As I lay there, the world began to spin all around me, not stopping to let me get my bearings. The sound of gunfire had long ago left my consciousness and I started to muddle through the inevitable question. Is this what it is like at the end? Can only God can help me now? No one was there to answer my questions and soon enough, my mind itself began to go dark.
I blinked my eyes open to reveal a tall wooden ceiling above me. Painstakingly, I turned my head slightly to the left. I could make out some figures. There were three on the ground next to me and a few more making their way around the immobile. A stack of barrels in the corner, a large table pushed off to the side, and a large stone fireplace all came into focus. I felt a sense of recognition at sighting these objects, but it took my mind a few moments to place them. I had known this place my whole life; the local tavern.
Feeling comfort in knowing where I was, I began to decipher the mystery of why I was there. But it all came back to me. Maybe there was a God looking out for me after all. I reached down to feel the bandages covering my stomach and I let out a small whimper in response to the sharp pain that shot down the right side of my body. I recognized a few of the other men from the Green.
My wandering eyes finally made contact with another pair, a woman standing in the corner opposite of mine. Hurriedly, she turned her head and scurried over to a small group of men standing at the doorway. Talking quickly, she darted her eyes toward me multiple times and many of the others glanced at me. A sickening feeling crept into my stomach. They were talking about me.
I stretched out my hand towards the top of my head. My hat was gone. My long, thick hair was flowing freely out on to the floor of the tavern. They knew. They all knew. I was ruined.

Barnes, Gregory F., and Richard A Ryerson, editors. The Encyclopedia of The American Revolutionary War. Vol. 2. ABC-CLIO, Inc. 2006. Print.
Brooks, Rebecca Beatrice. “Massachusetts in the American Revolution.” History of Massachusetts, 30 Dec. 2017. n.d. Web. 23 January 2018.
history.com Staff. “Battles of Lexington and Concord.” history.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 24 January 2018.

Works Cited
Brooks, Rebecca B. “British Soldiers in the Revolutionary War.” History of Massachusetts, historyofmassachusetts.org/british-soldiers-revolutionary-war/. n.d. Web. January 25, 2018.
“United States History.” Battle of Lexington and Concord, www.u-s-history.com/pages/ h654.html. n.d. Web. January 24, 2018.