Patriots' Day: Mendon's Role in the American Revolution

    "By the rude bridge that arched the flood, their flag to April's breeze unfurled.  Here once the
    embattled farmers stood, and fired the shot heard round the world."

    Ralph Waldo Emerson's words remind us that April 19 is Patriots' Day, a day that calls to mind Paul
    Revere's ride, the Old North Church, and the Battles of Lexington and Concord.  The towns
    surrounding Boston in 1775 had been eagerly preparing to avenge the Acts of Parliament  that had
    closed the port of Boston and shut down Massachusetts state government and placed it under
    British rule.  General Thomas Gage became the new governor.  One of his rules was that no towns
    could conduct town meetings without his permission.  In the spirit of rebellion, the towns brazenly
    defied General Gage.  They replaced the dissolved legislature with the Provincial Congress and
    communicated freely through committees of correspondence.  Town meetings were held in many
    towns in outright defiance.  One of the towns, thirty miles southwest of Boston, had leaders who
    were closely acquainted with the leaders of the Sons of Liberty.  The cries for freedom from tyranny
    that came from Boston were echoed at town meetings in this small, patriotic farming town that
    clamored for independence.  It was the town of Mendon.

    The people of Mendon were active participants in the events leading up to the American Revolution.  
    As early as 1767, residents voted at a town meeting to boycott any products from Britain, including
    tea, that were taxed without their consent.  On March 1, 1773, voters supported and endorsed
    nineteen resolutions from a letter from the Sons of Liberty denouncing the injustices of Great Britain
    for denying them their rights and liberties.  They formed a committee of correspondence by town
    meeting vote in 1774 in order to share ideas with other towns.  They elected Joseph Dorr to
    represent Mendon at a meeting of the Provincial Congress in Concord.  The congress authorized
    towns to increase their stock of weapons, ammunition, and military supplies.  Mendon patriotically
    obliged.

    Mendon's militia, in 1775, was made up of four companies that included one hundred sixty-four
    men.  About a third of them were designated as minutemen, ready to march on a minute's notice.  
    Each soldier was equipped with a firearm, a bayonet, a pouch, a knapsack, and thirty rounds of
    ammunition.  He received military training three times a week.  Training fields were located at
    Colonel Calvin Smith's property (Hood Plaza), a field off Gaskill Street, and a training area at
    Founders' Park.  The soldiers were well-prepared for combat.

    On April 15, 1775, the Provincial Congress became aware that General Gage was preparing to send
    British soldiers to Lexington to arrest ringleaders Samuel Adams and John Hancock, and then move
    on to destroy ammunition supplies allegedly hidden in Concord.  It was voted to secretly relocate the
    ammunition in nine remote towns, one of them being Mendon.  It is not known if the supplies ever
    reached Mendon's ammunition magazine located on a rocky hill overlooking Providence Road.  A
    few days later, in the early morning of April 19, 1775, seven hundred Red Coats marched to
    Lexington and encountered a company of minutemen at the village green.  After some tense
    moments, an unauthorized shot was fired that changed history.  Several minutemen were the first
    soldiers to sacrifice their lives for the sake of liberty.  The British regulars marched on to Concord,
    where they met stronger resistance, and found very little ammunition to destroy.  Their march back to
    Boston was devastating, as patriots from the surrounding towns ambushed them along the way,
    killing seventy-three.  The war for independence had begun.

    In response to the shot heard around the world, Mendon's soldiers mustered at Founders' Park
    across from  Ammidon Tavern and marched on to Boston by way of Middle Post Road. The town
    supported the Revolutionary War with soldiers, finances, clothing, food, and military supplies.  It
    quartered prisoners of war and took in thirty Charlestown residents left homeless after their city was
    burned at the Battle of Bunker Hill.  It was a Post Road stopover for military units, including Nathan
    Hale and his troops who had breakfast at Ammidon Tavern in January 1776.  

    The most famous soldier to be born in Mendon was Alexander Scammell, who was born in 1744
    near the site of Crossroads (The Larches) off Williams  Street (now Milford).  At Valley Forge he was
    named by George Washington to be the Continental Army's adjutant general.  He was mortally
    wounded at Yorktown in 1781.  Mendon's contributions had been significant.

    Patriots' Day is celebrated with the Boston Marathon, a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, and perhaps
    a day off from work.  It also should be remembered that it is the anniversary of one of the most
    important days of our history.  A nation was launched that day.  Mendon has reason to take great
    pride in its role in the American Revolution.  Historian G.B.Williams said, "Through all the years of
    the great contest, all testimony goes to show that no community surpassed this in devotion to liberty,
    influence in the colony, or in patriotic service.  Men of Mendon fought at Bunker Hill, Long Island,
    Valley Forge, Bennington, Saratoga, and Yorktown." We are grateful and proud.

    Richard Grady
    Mendon, MA

                                     Joseph Dorr, Jr and the Mendon Resolves                        Mendon Menu    
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