J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Saturday, April 16, 2016

“I wished to ask him more about the Concord Fight”

On 5 July 1850 Josiah Adams called on Amos Baker of Lincoln, a veteran of the fight at Concord’s North Bridge over seventy-five years before. Adams hoped to interview Baker about his experiences.

Adams, a native of Acton, was preparing a pamphlet that championed his own town’s minute company against implications by Concord historian Lemuel Shattuck that it had not marched foremost among the provincial companies at the bridge.

Adams later described his visit to Baker this way:
He was asleep on his bed, and I was unwilling to disturb him. In about half an hour, he awoke and walked very slow and feebly across the room to a chair. I understood he had failed very much in a few days. I told him I wished to ask him more about the Concord Fight, but he seemed so feeble, and so distressed with the idea, that I judged it improper to trouble him further.

It was my purpose to inquire if he heard anything about the hatchet [the killing of a wounded British soldier], either at the time or afterwards; if he knew that both the soldiers who lay side by side were dead;—whether he saw them when he pursued over the bridge, or when he returned;—whether the Concord Minute Companies had bayonets—whether Major [John] Buttrick was present when he saw the bodies of [Isaac] Davis and [Joseph] Hosmer, and whether he or Col. [James] Barrett pursued in the afternoon—whether there was any firing, on the retreat, between the bridge and the village, and some other matters to which his attention did not seem to have been called; but his state was such that it did not appear probable that certain reliance could be placed on his answers.

Mr. Baker died July 16.
Fortunately, the previous April three other men had helped Baker create and sign an affidavit about his memories of the battle.

TOMORROW: Amos Baker’s account.

(That’s actually Josiah Adams’s gravestone up there, courtesy of Find-a-Grave, not Amos Baker’s. The researcher lived only four years longer than the old veteran.)

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