Dawes Island

As many British leaders, General Thomas Gage, Royal Governor and Commander In Chief of His Majesty’s Forces in the New World was under the impression that the American colonists were good Englishmen who had been indoctrinated by a group of radical, patriot leaders. He was convinced that if the rebel leaders were suppressed, resistance to the British authority would simply cease to exist. Thus, in an effort to reestablish “order,” Gage planned to arrest patriots John Hancock and Samuel Adams, and disarm the colonists in Concord. However, in this he systematically underestimated the caliber and organizational level of the American leadership.

On April 18, 1775, General stationed soldiers, who had been instructed to intercept patriot messengers, throughout the colony. Their presence alone raised the alarm that the British were up to something. Rumors of Gage’s plans for Concord had spread, and that night, Paul Revere and William Dawes rode on horseback to each village and town to warn citizens of the incoming British troops. William Dawes, not Paul Revere, rode through Cambridge past the Old Burying Ground en route to Concord. It is likely that Dawes was chosen for the mission because of his occupation. As a respected tanner and patriot, he periodically traveled through British checkpoints and knew many of the British guards. Thus, his ride would not raise suspicion.

Royal forces first landed in the East Cambridge swamps at Lechmere Point and marched toward Concord. The following day, two separate British units marched through the town in broad daylight; they were met with no resistance.

Dawes Island is a memorial commemorating the historic midnight ride of William Dawes and Paul Revere on the eve of the first battle of the Revolution. Their famous ride was a success, warning Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and the provincials of the incoming British advance.

Dawes Island Today

Dawes Island Dawes Island

Interactive Map Back to Interactive Map