General Joseph Martin Chapter
Cumberland Gap, TN
Cumberland Gap Patriot
Most everyone has heard of the poem titled The
Midnight ride of Paul Revere by Henry Longfellow, but have you ever
heard of the poem titled The Midnight Ride of William Dawes by Helen
Moore written in 1896
The Midnight Ride of William Dawes
I am wandering in a bitter shade
Never of me was a hero made
Poets have never sung my praises
Nobody crowned my brow with bays
I answer only, My name is William Dawes
Tis all very well for all children to hear
of the midnight ride of Paul revere
But why should my name be quietly forgot
Who rode as boldly and well, God won't
Why Should I ask? he reason is clear
My name was Dawes, and his Revere
When the lights of the Old North church flickered out
Paul Revere was waiting about
but I was already on my way
The shadows of night fell cold and gray
As I rode with never a break or a Pause
but what's the use my name is Dawes
History bells ring glee of his name
Closed to me are the portals of fame
Had He been Dawes, and I Revere
No one would have heard of Him I fear
No one has heard of me
Because he was Revere and I was Dawes.
William Dawes was born on April 5, 1745 in Massachusetts. On May 3,1768, Dawes married Mehitable May.
In September Dawes helped form the Boston Military Artillery company. The only problem was they had no artillery. On September 16, 1774, Dawes and Samuel Gore stole 2 three pounder cannons from Major Adino Paddock's gun house located in Cambridge MA. These cannons would eventually end up in Concord MA forcing the first major confrontation between British and American troops, causing the American Revolutionary war.
On April 18, 1775, Dawes and Revere were chosen to warn the inhabitants of Massachusetts that the British were coming. Dawes' assignment was to ride from Boston to Lexington MA and warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams that they were going to be arrested for treason.
Dawes arrived at John Hancock's house at sometime after midnight in Lexington MA. After warning both Hancock and Adams of their danger, Dawes decided to ride onto Concord to warn them of teh British approach.
However before Dawes could get out of Lexington, The British arrived in Lexington town around 4am. Dawes rode through a yard being chased by British Soldiers. The British soldiers fired their weapons, but missed their mark. Dawes soon lost the British soldiers who finally gave up on the chase being fearful that Dawes was leading them into an ambush by other patriots. Dawes warning in Lexington had given the Lexington militia sufficient time to muster and prepare for the first forced battle between the British and American troops making it the first battle of the American Revolutionary war.
During the Revolutionary war, Dawes was quarter master of central Massachusetts responsible for supplying troops from the area with clothing, supplies such as food, tents. During the war, Massachusetts soldiers were the most ill equipped soldiers of the Continental army. They lacked adequate clothing for winter, no tents to sleep in, forcing most of the soldiers to sleep on the ground with no cover, and lack of food.
After the Battle of Saratoga in October 1777, Dawes was also given the responsibility of feeding over 5000 British prisoners. There was not enough food to feed the British Prisoners much less the Massachusetts line of the continental army. Some British soldiers actually starved to death in the make shift prison camps around Boston.
After the war, Dawes moved to Marlborough MA. where he died on February 25, 1799. Dawes was buried at Kings chapel burial ground.
Dawes had some great descendents after he died. Rufus Dawes, great grandson of William Dawes became a General of the Union army who was responsible for capturing 200 Confederate prisoners at Gettysburg.
Rufus's son Charles Dawes became the 30th Vice President under Calvin Coolidge and developed the Dawes plan after World war I to help restore the German economy.
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