Lexington reenactment brings home American patriotism
By Samantha-Rae Tuthill | April 18, 2016, 18:29 EST
LEXINGTON – Hundreds of people packed together on Lexington Green in the early morning hours Monday to commemorate the 241st anniversary of the Battle of Lexington.
The confrontation between Massachusetts militia volunteers, known as Minutemen, and the troops of Great Britain is marked as the beginning of the American Revolutionary War.
“This is the real Patriot’s Day,” said a reenactor named Jeff, who portrayed John Muzzy of the Lexington Minutemen. “This is as it happened, the people here are as they would have appeared 241 years ago. We all take great pride in what we’re doing here.”
Reenactors have been recreating the battle on the Green for over 40 years. Carrying gear and dressed in historically accurate ways, the volunteers on both sides face off as they did on the morning of April 19, 1775. Their hour-long reenactment is followed by a march to Concord, where a second and much larger confrontation took place later that day.
After the Lexington event on Monday, some reenactors mingled with the crowd to answer questions and educate people on the details of a day that led to the birth of the American nation.
One, Michael Graves, represented a grenadier officer with His Majesty’s Tenth Regiment of Foot – the Redcoats who faced the American patriots who gathered in Lexington and Concord.
Graves became a reenactor in 2005 and has participated in Patriot’s Day events for 10 years. He said he got into it through his son, a tailor who handmade his uniform. Though many of his pieces of equipment are detailed replicas, his sword and musket are authentic Revolutionary War-era items.
“To know who we are, we have to remember where we came from,” Graves explained concerning the significance of the day’s events.
One of the most controversial elements of Lexington skirmish is that historians still don’t know which side fired the first shot. After long-brewing tensions between colonists and their British overseers, the Redcoats marched to Lexington to capture John Adams and John Hancock, among the leaders of rebellious colonists. They sought to confiscate stockpiled arms and supplies in Concord. Both moves aimed at heading off a rebellion before it started.
At Lexington, they were met by armed Minutemen, and during the confrontation a shot rang out, at which point the fight ensued, leaving eight Minutemen dead and 10 wounded. In Concord, two Minutemen died and three Redcoats perished. The British retreated to Boston, harassed all along what has become known as Battle Road by colonists concealed by woods and brush. By the end of the day, 49 American patriots had died and 73 Redcoats had been killed, 174 had been wounded and more than two dozen troops were missing.
Rebel leaders quickly publicized the events as a victory for the patriots, printing a broadside under the headline, “The Bloody Butchery of the British.”
The day’s events are still proudly recalled by Lexington residents like Julie Parker as part of their town’s heritage.
“It’s great to live in an area with so much history,” Parker said, adding that she enjoys taking her children to the reenactment on the Green, to help get them more excited about important historical events.
Another local history enthusiast, Suzanne Carson, who moved to the area from the Midwest, agreed that being able to have the interactive experience of the events in 1775 helps create better connections to America’s past.
“We don’t have stuff like this in Ohio,” she said. “You can read books, but it’s nothing like coming here.”