Describes the person who actually fired the shot which started the American Revolution
|Word Count 1520|
The Battles of Lexington and Concord were actually the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War. They were fought on April 19, 1775, in Middlesex County, Province of Massachusetts Bay, within the towns of Lexington & Concord. The battles marked the outbreak of open armed conflict between the Kingdom of Great Britain and its thirteen colonies. http://www.fightingpatriot.com/
Lexington, Massachusetts April 19, 1775
Sunlight beamed through a crack in the barn wall and Paul Jandeaux’s vision was blurry when he awoke. Hands tied behind him, his shoulders ached. Moving his legs he found that his ankles were also bound. There were voices below.
“Find Blythe in Concord and bring him here. The troops will handle this.”
A horse whinnied outside followed by galloping hooves moving away. Jandeaux knew the British should be in Lexington by now. He was here to stop the battle; he had to free himself right away. Laying over on one side, Jandeaux bent his knees and felt inside his riding boot. His hand felt the hilt of the small dagger and he sighed with relief. Retrieving the weapon, Paul Jandeaux, aristocrat and colonial spy, quickly worked the knife around to free his hands and then sat up.
Jandeaux rubbed his shoulders and arms to restore the blood flow and reached down to cut his ankle bonds, but a noise from below stopped him. He touched the side of his head; smeared makeup and bloody hair came off on his hand. Jandeaux’s spy disguise had failed, but his head was clearing now and he realized he was in the barn loft. His pocket watch showed almost 7:30 AM. Paul's mind wandered. Sam Adams whispered intently. "We are going to separate the Colonies from the Crown. It may not happen this year or the next or in five years, but we must have a plan based on sound information. You are a smart man, Jandeaux. You seem reasonable and hard to provoke. We need such a man. You could be that man!"
That was 5 years ago; Paul Jandeaux was in Lexington; he had orders to stop a confrontation; the rebel forces were not ready.
There was a squeal of hinges as someone opened the barn door and came inside. One of the horses below coughed and stomped his feet. Paul Jandeaux grabbed the cut rawhide bonds and put his arms behind his back; the knife in his hand ready to strike. Whoever had entered the building started climbing the ladder. Jandeaux could see him through a gap in the rafters as he climbed to the loft. Closing his eyes he bowed his head again.
The man walked over and spoke to him as though he were awake. “Finally, we meet again, Monsieur Jandeaux. You eluded me in New York, but now I have you. And when you awaken, I will introduce you to Colonel Smith.”
Jandeaux didn’t move. The voice was familiar and then he knew, Fredrick Coller, General Gage’s counter spy. The man moved away and Paul opened his eyes and watched the British agent walk back toward the ladder and rifle through his saddle bag. Coller pulled out a leather document case, undid the strap and started reading through the papers inside. They were in code; Coller was so engrossed; he didn’t notice Paul silently slice through his ankle restraints.
Jandeaux jumped to a kneeling position; the dagger flashed through the air catching Coller in the back just behind his right arm; he stood bolt upright, dropped the packet reaching for the dagger. For a brief second, he turned his head then tumbled from the loft to the floor below.
Jandeaux moved quickly to the edge and saw Coller’s body crumpled below in a heap. No time to lose; he picked up his bag, but his head swam as he descended the ladder. Shaking it off, Paul recovered his dagger, placed it back in his boot and he peered outside the barn. In the bright morning light, he saw a water trough near the door.
Cleaning the rest of the make-up and removing the false grey hair, the younger face of Paul Jeandeaux looked back from the water against the clear blue sky of morning. He now risked exposure to the British authorities. His life as a successful businessman and Boston aristocrat was over. After this, his family name will contain the title of traitor to the Crown.
Lexington Green was a mile away as he mounted a horse and raced to find the militia leader, John Parker. The sound of drums, militia drums, echoed over the countryside. A line of colonial militia came into view at the northern end of the open space called Lexington Green. The staccato drum beat wafted across the field as the British Troops moved into formation at the opposite end. It was nearly eight o’clock; the sun was well above the tree line.
Major Pitcairn’s Marines were a hundred yards from the Lexington Militia. Pitcairn spoke to his officers. “Gentlemen, Gage’s orders are specific. We will arrest and detain.”
“But, Sir.” Lieutenant Sutherland complained.
“Lieutenant, I mean to capture the rebel leaders and destroy the stores at Concord. We will warn these colonials off and proceed on our main mission. Your company will lead the advance. Are you capable of doing that, Lieutenant?”
Paul Jandeaux reached the line of the militia and dismounted, leaving his horse tied to a tree and ran toward the group of Lexington citizens turned militia. Major Pitcairn was riding up and down the British line barking orders, then drawing his saber he moved in front of the formation. Maybe, Paul thought, there was still time to disarm the situation.The colonial troops both stood or knelt on one knee; some were aiming their muskets in the general direction of the British Lines. Others stood about not knowing what to do.
John Parker was rallying his troops into position. “You, there, Collins move to your left and form up on Sneed. Colley start a second line. When I order you to shoot, the first line will fire and then be replaced by the second. The first line reloads as the second line fires. Be careful with your aim. Understood?”
Captain Parker walked out to the middle of the formation and turned toward the British Troops. The British Major advanced to a position halfway between the battle lines. He stopped and waved his saber in the air. “Disperse! Disperse, ye Rebels, or face the wrath of the Crown.”
“Captain Parker!” Jandeaux shouted, struggling to get the papers out of his bag. He was about twenty yards from Captain Parker. Suddenly there was movement to his right and he noticed a man stumbling toward the Major. It was Fredrick Coller, very much alive and about to expose him to the British.
Paul thought of what would happen if he returned to Boston in chains. The disgrace would be swift; his years of work for naught. His directive, to stay undiscovered at all costs was compromised. Coller knew all; he had seen the coded messages, Paul’s disguise.
Before, Jandeaux could think about the real situation unfolding here on Lexington Green, he grabbed a loaded musket from one of the nearby Colonial Militiamen, quickly cocked the hammer, praying that the soldier knew how to properly load his weapon. Paul was a crack shot with a muzzle loaded rifle.
He shouldered the rifle, aimed just in front of the stumbling figure and pulled the trigger.
In a split second, the hammer ignited the gunpowder jammed behind the lead musket ball in the breach of the weapon. A second later, the round projectile had closed the distance between him and his target, catching the British Agent in the left side of his chest and knocking him to the ground.
What happened next was history. Major Pitcairn gave the order to fire and the first line of Redcoats loosed a volley which should have devastated the Colonial Troops. Smoke and noise thundered across the Green as the whole British front line fired in unison. Now, remembering that the first line had loaded only powder; Major Pitcairn ordered the second line forward and they quickly aimed and fired their weapons.
The second volley of musket balls screamed across the Commons cutting downing fully one-third of the seventy-seven men arrayed opposite the British Line. Survivors fired their first volley standing among the several brave colonists who fell wounded, others stood amidst the dead and returned sporadic shots clipping several redcoats, but their efforts were mostly ineffectual.
Captain Parker’s hoarse voice barked the command to retreat behind the stone wall to the west. The remaining defenders of Lexington Village melted into the woods behind the Green. They lived to fight many skirmishes that day from Barrett’s Farm in Concord all the way to Charles Town.
One of the wounded, Paul Jandeaux, made his way off the battle field with the help of young man barely out of his teens. Two days later, he sneaked back into Boston and resumed his role as a successful British Merchant and Colonial Spy.