When the Yankees Were Rebels
There was much similarity between the rebels at Lexington in 1775, and the rebels at Manassas in 1861. Both were fighting for political liberty, hurrahing for their rights and fighting bravely in the cause of freedom. Despite the New England colonists slaveholding and slave trading proclivities, the American South joined them in their struggle against the British to win independence for each of the 13 colonies—and each becoming free, sovereign States.
Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
When the Yankees Were Rebels:
“At five o’clock on Wednesday morning, a man on horseback, without cape or coat, galloped into Lexington, shouting that the British were coming up the road. Some called him to stop; but he rushed on in that mad way toward Concord. Then it was that the blood boiled in our veins. We remembered the insults and threats which had been heaped upon us so long, and swore that they should be avenged that day. Some ran through the streets, waving their hats over their heads, and hurrahing for their rights.
The women ran from house to house, gathering muskets for the militia, and carrying ammunition in their aprons. No one was idle, and no one was afraid to face all the British troops—yes, and fight them too, if fighting was to be done. At last the drum beat to arms. We seized our muskets and rushed to the green. Captain Parker drew us up, seventy strong, in double rank; telling us to fight bravely in the cause for freedom.
Then were heard their drums beating, and saw the bayonets peeping out from the dust, and glittering in the sun. But what could seventy men do against a thousand? Their leader galloped up like a madman; cursing, shouting, and ordering us to disperse. All at once they poured a volley at us…they fired again; then the dreadful scene began. The enemy marched to the storehouses, broke them open, and began the work of destruction. The flour was emptied into the river; the ball, which we had gathered with so much care, stolen or sunk in wells, and our two cannon battered and abused till they were unfit for use. Next day they began to break up the bridges; and this was more than we could bear.
And soon the hills and lanes were swarming with the boys from Reading and Roxbury, who had heard of their friends being shot…we rushed headlong on the murderers, and drove them and their commander out of the town. O! It was glorious to be in that chase—glorious! Remember boys, how often we were insulted by [General] Gage, and called “rebels,” or “Yankees” by his men! Yes, and cowards, too—cowards! The blood boils at the word! And then our bleeding men behind us!—it was glory, I say lads, to chase the rascals like deer up the road, and make them feel that “rebels” could fight as well as they!”
(Camp-Fires of the Revolution, Henry Clay Watson, Lindsay & Blakiston, 1854, pp. 23-27)