Lucy Hosmer’s Diary, April 18-19, 1775

April 18 & 19 were days of change for many colonists. One wife, Lucy Hosmer, kept a diary. The following includes excerpts from that Diary.

This was given to me, and, presumably written by, Nord Davis, Jr, Northpoint Teams.

Gary Hunt

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

The wind was blowing briskly over the chimney top, drawing the smoke from his hearth, as father sat thinking, the heat of the fire glazing his eyes. It was the spring of 1775. As the twilight began to fall on his modest home in Acton, Massachusetts, this young man wondered just what tomorrow would bring. His daily chores were done and an extra pile of wood had been stacked inside, handy for Hannah. He expected to be gone for a while. The leak around the chimney would have to wait for another day. There were important things to be done in the morning…

This young father had married his sweetheart, a lady named Hannah Leighton, of Acton. He had learned the gunsmithing trade. His personal future looked pretty good, and why not? He had built his own home, had a nice family, and a steady business repairing firearms. It had been a warm spring that year. According to the records, Hannah was occupied that evening with the children’s colds. Even the youngest of just fifteen months was letting the household know of her suffering and plight. The young man was left with is thoughts — Less than a dozen hours to muster. But, with spring in the air, everything going better than expected, how could he complain? How good it is to be free! We will settle some things tomorrow…

We might expect that any young man, as unusually blessed with a home, family and business, might tend to overlook the problems being created by some of the King’s men. After all, what could one do about such complex and far-reaching problems? Wasn’t his first duty to his family? Yes, but according to the Scriptures, there always comes a point when the affairs of the nation must come ahead of the needs of the family. This was one of those times. Fortunately, this was not a young man who simply looked to the rewards and the pleasures of the day. He was not one to close his eyes in a dream world of security, but one whose eyes, for his family’s sake, were fixed on the years ahead. Something had to be done about the Red Coats who were presuming themselves into the affairs of free men.

The Lord, he knew with certainty, had put him into a vital position to do some good. The Lord had called him to be the leader of men, and, as a gunsmith, his trade was to be needed on the cause of Liberty. Liberty, as he told Hannah, is never given by legislatures. It has always been obtained, and will be held, only by those who are willing to fight, and die, for it. When men cease to be willing to fight for it, it will only be a matter of time before free men are once again slaves of others. Months and months before, this young man — who had everything to both loose and fight for — organized a Company of Minutemen in his home town of Acton, Massachusetts. Acton? Who, today, has ever heard of such a place? Yes, we remember our history lessons about the brave men of Lexington and Concord. We know all about the midnight ride of Paul Revere and his group called the “Committee of Safety.” We can think of many others — but this young man and his Acton Militia, is generally unknown to even our most ardent patriots today. His name was Captain Issac Davis.

As Captain Davis sat watching the sparks crawling along the soot in the back of the fireplace that night, over in Concord a young wife, Mrs. Lucy Barnes Hosmer, was entering her concerns about the next day. In her diary* for Tuesday, April 18, 1775, she wrote:

I really don’t have time to spare from our household chores to write in this Journal–and yet, I must, to calm my nerves and enable me to think clearly about these perilous times. This I must surely do to help my husband, Joseph Hosmer, our four children, and our dear village of Concord. No shots have yet been fired but already we are a wartime community…

…for months now, our household, and those of our neighbors, have given over the major portions of our lives to the task of preparing Concord for war…what I mind more than the hiding of weapons is the need to watch out for Tories and spies amongst our own townspeople… Much of the time I am too busy to be anxious. But at night, after my work is done, I do worry and mainly about Joseph. Some of our neighbors say that all this anger at the Mother Country started here-abouts with the speech he gave last year at the Middlesex Convention when he defended our rights against Mr. Daniel Bliss, the famous Tory lawyer, who mocked our folly in resisting the mighty British empire and urged us all to stand loyally by King George and Old England.

I was proud of my husband that day. Mr. Bliss stood up in front of the Convention, handsome in his fine clothes, with a sarcastic smile on his face. Joseph was near the back of the room wearing a plain butternut suit that I had spun, wove, and dyed for him. At first he spoke slowly as if he was feeling his way with the words, but he wound up with such eloquence that he confounded Mr. Bliss and set our neighbors on fire with new ideas of our rights and freedom. Folks, even lawyer Bliss himself, they say, has been naming my Joseph the most dangerous man in Concord, ever since. And that makes me both proud and frightened. Joseph is thirty-nine years old now and our neighbors say his influence over the young men of the town is strong, and where he leads, they’ll follow.

Yesterday, the Committee of Safety ordered the dispersal of the military supplies here in Concord into the neighboring towns. Last night Joseph and I drove by ox team two wagon loads of ammunition from Acton to hide on Deacon Jonathan Hosmer’s farm there. His twenty-year-old son, Abner, is Joseph’s third cousin and an Acton Minuteman.

Lucy Hosmer was quite correct. Abner Hosmer was not only an Acton Minutemen, but Captain Davis’s right-hand man! Just before dawn on April 19, 1775, Captain Davis quietly mustered his men. All equipment was checked out. Abner Hosmer was there and his training was to meter out the cadence on his drum — 120 beats to the minute. Carrying a drum, he would go into battle unarmed. James Haywood was there. The fifer, Luther Blanchard, got there just as the red morning sun stabbed its welcome light through the naked trees surrounding the Davis homestead. This was the day that this Company had been training for, and the Acton Minutemen were ready. Captain Davis had not only trained his men well, but as you will learn here for the first time, instilled in them an unusual spirit of dedication to God and Country.

“All present and accounted for, Sir!” a sergeant quietly called out, and the small band of men moved out for their six mile march to Concord. Every second, on the second, came the beat of Abner’s drum. The fifer was silent. It was in Concord that the King’s men were searching, house to house, for arms — but now you know where they were — in Deacon Hosmer’s barn in Acton, and driven there by a courageous woman named Lucy, just the night before! Yes, yes, there was the serious matter concerning taxation, and other grievances against the Parliament, but at the level of the Acton and Concord Minutemen, the issue was the confiscation of firearms. Today they would be called assault weapons.

Well, you know much of the rest of the story. Some three hundred patriots converged on Concord from the surrounding towns and villages to confront the Red Coats. It was about 10 o’clock AM and the village of Concord was nearly deserted. The women and children had left to be safe with friends. All the Minutemen were assembled on the north side of town near the North Bridge where six companies of British soldiers were posted to attack.

Lucy Hosmer wrote:

The reverend William Emerson, who is always impetuous (even Phebe, his wife, says so) proposed: “Let’s go after them and fight ’em right now!” But Colonel Barrett ignored this from The Cloth and ordered our men to withdraw to a position on the heights above the North Bridge where they would be near enough to see what was going on there.

I have inserted this information from Lucy to show you that during the early days of America, not only the Old North Church in Boston was involved in the cause of Liberty, but so were the ministers throughout the colonies, who were more directly involved. Pastor Emerson was there, and Deacon Hosmer was hiding arms, and AHD his son right out in front. Those were the Good Old Days… The Red Coats, over-confident as agents of admiralty government, have a fatale tendency to be, sent in some men to the abandoned Concord and began to steal whatever they could find from the abandoned homes. Lucy Hosmer then gives us an insight into what happened that many of us had not known before, and a lesson that all of us can use today–

…Then they set the village Liberty Pole on fire just to mock us. That fire got out of control and spread to the roof of the Court House which surely would have been destroyed if it hadn’t been for old Martha Moulton, who keeps house for Dr. Minot. She saw the Court House beginning to burn and rushed up to some British Officers, who were standing nearly on the green, and implored them to put out the fire. At first they laughed at her and mocked her pleas. But, she kept on pleading loudly and gave them no peace until they put out the fire.

Here is the interesting part! The patriots over by the North Bridge could not see what was going on in town, but they did see the billowing smoke which continued as the Red Coats were giving the widow a hard time. Imagine, the only one who dared to confront the Red Coats was this frail old lady. That pattern is being seen again and again today in America. However, as recorded in Lucy’s journal, it was the smoke of the burning Liberty Pole and the Court House roof that actually triggered the minutemen into action.

Understand, the Red Coats were on the Concord side of the North Bridge, and to take Concord to save the town, it was necessary for the Minutemen to cross the bridge in the face of British fire. Since the immediate military mission was to save Concord, the honor of leading troops fell to the Concord Company. Instead, according to historical fact, the Concord Captain asked to be excused on the grounds that some of his men were not prepared, and others were afraid. Confusion and doubt were beginning to spread among the men. At that moment the steel voice of Captain Issac Davis came thundering over the confusion. It was the only direct statement by Davis that has been recorded in history, but it was the right on, at exactly the right moment in American history  — “I haven’t a man who is afraid to go!” he said.

He then marched the Acton Company to the head of the column of Minutemen. Lucy tells us what happened, next:

They marched in double file toward the North Bridge to the fife strains of “The White Cockade” with Captain Issac Davis’s company in front of the lines. As they advanced they could see three British companies crowding together at the far end of the bridge. Two or three of the Red Coats were observed trying to pull up the planks! But they soon gave up and ran back to their companions. Our men marched nearer and nearer to the bridge to the beat of Abner Hosmer’s drum. The British fired warning shots into the air. Our men were marching foreward. Suddenly, the Red Coats fired a volley and Abner Hosmer and his Captain, Issac Davis, fell dead… Joseph said that the battle of the North Bridge did not take more than two or three minutes, but I’ll wager that those brief moments will not be forgotten by any of our people.

This first organized attack against the Red Coats, and King George’s admiralty regulations was led by an Acton, Massachusetts man whose name, Issac Davis, is all but forgotten today.

One history book carries this account of those fateful few minutes of history that began the cause of American Liberty:

“As they marched toward the Red Coats, the shrill and stirring music of Luther Blanchard’s fife pierced the morning air. Weapons were loaded and primed. Hammers were cocked as they got into range of the British rifles. Bang! A puff of smoke appeared followed closely by the report of a British rifle. Two more followed in quick succession. Fifer Blanchard was hit and the fife was heard no more. A strange silence hung about three feet off the ground for about thirty seconds, and then came the first volley from the British. Captain Issac Davis and the drummer Abner Hosmer, were killed instantly. The war, hardly begun, was over for them.”

For a few moments, the death of Captain Davis and drummer Hosmer stunned the Acton Company. This was now the real thing! Over it all came the thundering voice of Major Buttrick, the Commanding Officer of the Concord Company, “Fire, fellow soldiers, for God’s sake, Fire!”

So, fire they did. The battle near Concord’s North Bridge was the one which set the stage for the greatest land of Liberty mankind has ever known. The battle began when King George’s forces attempted to disarm the American colonists.


* Text from Lucy Hosmer’s diary has been provided through the courtesy of Mary Hosmer Lupton of the Albemarle Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, Charlottesville, Virginia.

8 Comments

  1. Robert Stilson says:

    An amazing testament to the actions of courageous men. In comparison, we have, indeed, become a nation of cowards.

  2. Sheila Yeager says:

    Jonathan Hosmer is my husband’s fifth great-grandfather. thanks Gary Hunt for publishing Lucy Hosmer’s diary of April 18 and 19, 1775, thus revealing Jonathan’s part in hiding the munitions from the British. The loss of his son, Abner, must have indeed been devastating.

  3. ghunt Hunt says:

    Sheila, I obtained that diary information from Nord Davis, Jr. (now deceased), many years ago. It is, indeed, inspiring. Please give my regards to the descendant of such worthy people.

    • Sheila says:

      Gary, I have continued to do my own reading about the events leading up to the Concord Fight. Lucy Hosmer’s diary is invaluable in my mind because only one of about a dozen books I own mentions enough information about the Concord Fight to back the details she gives.
      Was Nord Davis a descendant of Isaac Davis?

      Speaking of descendants, your last name is the same as Submit HUNT who married Deacon Jonathan and Martha Conant Hosmer’s first son, Jonathan on January 31, 1780 in Concord, Middlesex, MA. We wondered if you posted the diary because Deacon Jonathan was your great…grandfather as well.

  4. ghunt Hunt says:

    Sheila,
    I have a book that provides detailed accounts of what happened that day, primarily at Lexington. I got it from Gutenberg Press and have not attempted to clean it up.
    http://www.outpost-of-freedom.com/library/Fiction_And_Truth_About_The_Battle_On_Lexington_Common.pdf
    Another that has those events at the near end of the book:
    http://www.outpost-of-freedom.com/library/The_Military_Journals_of_Two_Private_Soldiers_1758-1775.pdf
    And, finally, as seen by a British Ensign.
    http://www.outpost-of-freedom.com/library/Eyewitness_Accounts_of_the_American_Revolution.pdf
    My Hunts I can trace back to 1732 in New Jersey. From there to Pennsylvania and New York. I do have maternal ancestors from Woburn — that played a role in the events of April 19 (Wyman).
    Nord was not a descendent of Issac Davis.

  5. Sheila says:

    Thanks, Gary. I’ll take a look at the links.

    • Jonathan Friedman says:

      Sheila,
      My mother was a Hosmer and I had the priviledge to grow up within a mile of Concord’s famous bridge. The events of this past week in Boston should make all Patriots so proud, I certainly am. The resiliency, spirit and resolve would have made our ancestors proud too. Town militias were formed to help neighboring communities defend against Indian raids, by the time the British needed to be put in their place, the defenders of freedom had become a fine tuned force. It comes as no surprise to me that when threatened again with the loss of freedom, the communities celebrating Patriots Day pulled together to bring the threat to a close.

      A few years ago I found Lucy’s diary. I sent a copy to Michael Ryan (an historian) who writes online for the Concord Magazine and asked for his opinion. His opinion was that the historical facts are quite accurate, but that Lucy did not write this on April 18,19,1775. Based on language used in the diary which was not language of the day in 1775, his sense was that this may have come out of a college assignment and was presented in the form of a diary.

      When my grandmother died (Mar ’70) the Boston papers headlined “Mrs Concord Laid to Rest”, and you can be sure that we benefited from the expectation that we learn the history of Concord. I agree with the factual representations as presented in diary form.

      PS: My grandmother’s sister married a Conant. My grandfather was related to the Buttrick clan.
      Have you spent much time in Concord? Have you been to Sleepy Hollow?

      • Sheila Yeager says:

        Jonathan,
        As you can tell by the date, I had not revisited this site for over two years. To answer the two questions at the end: I live in the western US and have never been back East.
        Thanks for your insight into the “college assignment”. Sounds reasonable but still very interesting.

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