Monday, April 20, 2015

The "shot heard round the world" responding to the Battles of Lexington and Concord: James Clark

Dear Grandparents,
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts celebrates Patriots' Day annually on April 19th, honoring those who fought and gave their lives at the Battles of Lexington and Concord, deemed to be the beginning of the Revolutionary War. Many of us learned as school children Ralph Waldo Emerson's tribute to these patriots written to celebrate Independence Day in Concord, 4 July 1837.
The first stanza is inscribed on this Concord Monument 
The Concord Hymn

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here the once embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe in long since silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set today a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare,
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

After the battles, word of the British attack and the subsequent casualties spread through out the colonies. Israel Bissell, a post rider from Massachusetts, was charged with the effort to carry the news as far south as Philadelphia. He rode through towns, villages and hamlets shouting, "The war has begun." He reached Norwich, Connecticut by 4 pm on April 20th. Soon 4,000 Connecticut men were assembling ready to march to the relief of Boston and Massachusetts. Among them, my sixth great grandfather, James Clark of Lebanon.

Acting as Captain of a company of militia raised from Lebanon, he marched with them to the relief of Boston arriving in time to participate in the Battle of Breed's Hill, once known as the Battle of Bunker Hill. He went on to participzate in the Battles for Harlem Heights and White Plains in New York. 

Long after the war, it was decided to erect a monument to those who fought at the battle. The cornerstone for the monument was laid 17 June 1825 in a ceremony conducted by the Marquis De Lafayette. According to Emma Lee Walton, writing in The Clark Genealogy: Some descendants of Daniel Clark of Windsor; 1639-1913 published in 1913, "When he was 95, a special escort was sent from Boston to Lebanon to bring him. He was a distinguished guest and was kissed on both cheeks by General Lafayette, who said, 'You were made of good stuff '."

James Clark (Moses 3, Daniel 2, Daniel 1) was born 15 September 1730 in Lebanon, the son of Moses and Elizabeth (Huntington) Clarke. He married Ann Gray 20 January 1757 and together they were the parents of five children, Jacob, Malinda, James, Jr., Moses and Anna. After Ann's death in 1767, he married a woman named Keziah and with her had three additional children, Wealthy, Earnest and Augustus. Keziah's children died in childhood, including Augustus who died while his father was away fighting. James died 29 December 1826 in Lebanon and is buried in the Old Cemetery.

I know many others of you were involved in our struggle to win independence from the British. I hope to discover and write your stories also.


P. S. for family members Cecily Cone 11 (Charles 10, Helen Newton 9, Mary Elizabeth Clarke 8, John 7, James Augustus 6, James Jr. 5, James 4, Moses 3, Daniel 2, Daniel 1).