Midnight Ride of Paul Revere… Accurate or Not?

“The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” is a well-written poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow telling the tale of Paul Revere’s bravery before the battles of Lexington and Concord. Though a lot of the poem is accurate, parts of it are missing details, or the details have been changed, to make Revere look like more of a hero. At the beginning of the poem, Longfellow talks about how Paul Revere was standing on the opposite shore of the old North Church, ready to ride.

However, what he failed to mention was that Revere was not the only rider; there were dozens of others! Also, Paul Revere was not actually waiting on the shores across the Church, but in bed. Dr. Joseph Warren had to wake him up before Revere could go. Revere himself did not even see the lanterns hung up! Once Revere actually started to take off, he was rowed across the river by two friends before he borrowed someone else’s horse and began his journey towards Lexington and onwards.

After warning many houses and villages of the British (which the poem correctly states), Revere goes to Lexington to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that the British are trying to capture them (not mentioned in poem). From there, Revere continued with William Dawes towards Concord, where they also meet Samuel Prescott, who continues the ride with them (both men were not mentioned in the poem). At this point, the author has changed some of the details completely. In reality, a British Patrol stops all three men, and Revere is captured.

Unlike the poem, he does not actually go on to Concord, but Dawes and Prescott do. Revere escaped later on in the night, but never saw the beginning of the battle of Lexington. However, there were some accurate parts of “Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” as well. The colonists did use the motto “one if by land, two if by sea”. Though the lantern signals had been the back up plan, not the original one, the old North Church tower was where the lanterns were hung. Most of the times for when things happened were also accurate, as well as the fact that the British did come by sea.

Paul Revere did get to Lexington as the poem mentioned, just not in time for the first part of the battle. As you can see, the poem “Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” over-exaggerates the details on Paul Revere. Americans sometimes believe that Paul Revere was the only midnight rider because of the inaccurate details of this poem. Nevertheless, we must think about the author. His goal was not only to create a piece of history, but also to create an American hero… Which he successfully accomplished.