The Revolutionary War is a big theme of Boston National Historical Park but what many visitors are not aware of is that there are other parks outside of the city that have historic significance. One of these is Minute Man National Historical Park. It is located in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, where the famous “shot heard ’round the world” took place. This is where the fight between Colonists and British troops began on April 19, 1775.
At Boston National Historical Park we try to inform volunteers about related historic parks so that they can give the best guidance to visitors about our Park’s history and the surrounding Revolutionary War based parks. Every couple of months my supervisor plans these volunteer outings to nearby National Parks or Sites so that new volunteers and seasoned volunteers can meet each other. Some seasoned volunteers may not even know each other because of the three different visitor centers and shifts available in our park.
After meeting at Boston National Historical Park, my supervisor and I drove everyone to Lexington and Concord to visit Minute Man National Historical Park. Our first stop was the Minute Man Visitor Center where they have a multimedia presentation about Paul Revere’s ride and the battles in Lexington. Stopping at a visitor center first also allows for souvenir shopping, bathrooms, and water/snack breaks.
Minute Man NHP is spread out and really only accessible via a car, shuttle, or very determined walking. To make sure everyone could see the different historic sites, we decided to drive everywhere. The next stop along the road was the Hartwell Tavern, located along the route where Paul Revere and William Dawes were captured by British Troops while on their ride to warn colonists that the “regulars” were coming. Dramatically, one rider was able to escape capture; Dr. Samuel Prescott. He fled and hid in the Hartwell Tavern, warning the Hartwell family of the British troops. This message was relayed around town and the Minute Men were prepared to fight their first battle when the “regulars” arrived in Lexington, surprising the British.
After learning about Paul Revere’s ride, and some lunch, we followed history to the North Bridge Visitor Center. This is where the famous “shot heard ’round the world” took place. It is highly contested by historians as to which side took the first shot, but it all took place across a bridge in Concord.
Our last stop was going back to the visitor center for another bathroom, water, and snack break before heading back to Boston National Historical Park. Along the way we met up with the Volunteer Coordinator of Minute Man, Roger Fuller, who was dressed as a British grenadier soldier.
He talked to us about the role of the British at Lexington and Concord, as well as what a grenadier solider does versus a “regular” soldier. The grenadiers were considered higher rank, they were taller and stronger than the other soldiers. The “regulars,” the same that Paul Revere was warning everyone about, wore a cocked hat and the grenadiers wore tall, bear fur hats.
At the end of day as we headed back to Boston, the longtime volunteers and the new volunteers were able to chat about ideas for future volunteer outings and meetings. They enjoyed getting to know each other and visiting another Revolutionary War park. With these outings we hope to connect volunteers around the park and create a more solidified VIP program.