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June 4, 2011
Listen my children...By Greyhawk
(Apologies to Longfellow.)
Perhaps that's a book the former Governor of Alaska has been reading. Here's her version of the story, as told in Boston this week:
He warned the British that they weren't gonna be taking away our arms, by ringing those bells and by making sure that as he's riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were gonna be secure and we were gonna be free... and we were gonna be armed.
Here's a video version from CNN, as hosted by New York magazine (in their "Daily Intel" section). Their transcript includes the "uhs" and "ums" that most people not reading from a teleprompter include in any conversation, and leaves off all the g's on the end of words whether Palin (like most Americans) did or not. The better to sneer at us, I suppose.
But, not surprisingly, Über-patriot Sarah Palin knows more than the average American. In fact, she may have more expertise on the subject than anybody else. For example, yesterday she revealed some heretofore unknown facts about Paul Revere's midnight ride...
Which, to the chagrin of the sneering set, actually turned out to be heretofore little-known facts, discoverable via spending a few minutes on an internet search. (You can actually learn a lot on teh internets - after you get past the first few pages of search results from the Huffington Post and Daily Kos et al.)
As others have pointed out (see three links embedded in the poem above), it's unfortunate that those who fancy themselves the gatekeepers of American news - on TeeVee and elsewhere - aren't familiar with the content of Paul Revere's writing. I wasn't myself before this very morning, but now that I am I wonder what our nation's various professional teleprompter readers would make of his grammar and style:
We sett of together for Concord, and were overtaken by a Young Gentleman named Prescot who belonged to Concord, and was going home when we got about half way from Lexington to Concord, the Other two Stopped at a House to awake the Man. I kept along, when I had got about 200 Yards a head of them, I saw two officers under a Tree as before. I imeaditly called to my company to come up, saying here was two of them, (for I had told them, what Mr. Devens told me and of my being Stopped) in an Instant I saw four
...in an instant I saw four of them, who rode up to me, with thier pistols in their hands, said G-d d-n you stop. If you go an Inch further, you are a dead Man, immeaditly Mr. Prescot came up we attempted to git thro them, but they kept before us, and swore if we did not turn in to that pasture, they would blow our brains out...Many thanks to the Massachusetts Historical Society for making such an American treasure readily available to the world. Here's more from their "fair copy" - we rejoin Revere's narration just after the British officer who'd captured him lies about their purpose in being out, claiming that "they were only awaiting for some Deserters they expected down the Road."
I told him I knew better, I knew what they were after; that I had alarmed the country all the way up, that their Boats, were catch'd a ground, and I should have 500 men their soon; one of them said they had 1500 coming; he seemed supprised and rode off, into the road, and informed them who took me, they came down immeaditly on a full gallop, one of them (whom I since learned was Major Mitchel of the 5th Regiment Clap'd his Pistol to my head, and said he was going to ask me some questions, if I did not tell the truth, he would blow my brains out. I told him I esteemed my self a Man of truth, that he had stopped me on the high way, & made me a prisoner, I knew not by what right; I would tell him the truth; I was not afraid...
There's also a later first-hand account of the night's events - Letter from Paul Revere to Jeremy Belknap, circa 1798 - available at the same site.
David Hackett Fischer's book is from 1996, and draws on multiple sources to provide us a clear picture of the man: "If we can see him in Copley's painting, we can also hear him speak in the eccentric way he spelled his words..."
His spelling tells us that Paul Revere talked with a harsh, nasal New Englad twang. His strong Yankee accent derived from a family of East Anglian dialects that came to Boston in the 17th century and can still be faintly heard today.
Such common Bostonians "favored biblical cadences" and "homely expressions," he writes. "But in another way, the provincial ring of Paul Revere's Yankee speech could mislead us. Just as in the surface and subtle depths of Copley's painting, there was more to this man than met the ear."
Perhaps the British officers who'd captured him that night - sent in advance of the main body of "Regulars" in order to close the roads to men like Revere and thus maintain a much-needed element of surprise for the mission (to capture or destroy stores of rebel weapons, powder, and foodstuff) found his low Bostonian nasal twang annoying, too. Whether that grated on their ears or not, they certainly didn't appreciate his telling them that they'd already failed.
More from Fischer:
"He warned the British officers that if they remained in the vicinity of Lexington Green, they also would be in extreme danger," Fischer concludes, "and he hinted that the expedition coming after them could start a war unless it was warned of the trouble that awaited them at Lexington center."
Neither the British soldiers nor Paul Revere were on a mission to start the American Revolution that moonlit night. But Revere's mission to warn was already a success, and his captor's a failure. He lost nothing in telling them so - in warning them not to press on. The Sons of Liberty had no "sneak attack" planned, the Minutemen were assembled and waiting in the open on the Green. And here we approach the moment described at the outset of this post, as Jonathan Loring, another captured rebel who'd been sent from Lexington (following Revere's warning) to keep tabs on the British soldiers took a que from Revere as the party approached his town.
At last the officers began to feel the full import of what Paul Revere had been telling them. His words of warning took on stronger meaning when punctuated by gunfire. The sound of a single shot had suggested to them that surprise was lost. The crash of a volley appeared evidence that the country was rising against them. As they came closer to the Common they began to hear Lexington's town bell clanging rapidly. The captive Loring, picking up Revere's spirit, turned to the officers and said, "The bell's a'ringing! The town's alarmed, and you're all dead men!"
The British troops stole Revere's horse and chased off the others', then set their captives free on foot while they rode off, presumably to rejoin their main body still approaching Lexington.
I, Sylvanus Wood, of Woburn, in the county of Middlesex, and commonwealth of Massachusetts, aged seventy-four years, do testify and say, that on the morning of the 19th of April, 1775, I was an inhabitant of Woburn, living with Deacon Obadiah Kendall; that about an hour before the break of day on said morning, I heard the Lexington bell ring, and fearing there was difficulty there, I immediately arose, took my gun, and, with Robert Douglass, went in haste to Lexington, which was about three miles distant. When I arrived there, I inquired of Captain Parker, the commander of the Lexington company, what was the news. Parker told me he did not know what to believe, for a man had come up about half an hour before, and informed him that the British troops were not on the road. But while we were talking, a messenger came up and told the captain that the British troops were within half a mile...
The rest, as they say, is history. Ours, whether you're familiar with it or not.
So thank you Sarah Palin! - and in a roundabout way, all you folks who hate her so much, too. (I was happily ignoring her bus tour, but without you overly obsessed morons I never would have learned any of this.) I'm not sure who I'll vote for in the 2012 elections, but I've certainly found something worth reading for this July Fourth.
Posted by Greyhawk / June 4, 2011 4:05 PM | Permalink
Whether they'll admit it or not, Americans now know a little-known fact about Paul Revere: he warned the British, too. In fairness to the British1 (considering they didn't respond appropriately to that warning) we should acknowledge that the number of... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
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