Remembering Both Sides
of the Revolution.
By Mark Tully, 55th Foot
After taking part in Battleroad 2000, the 225th anniversary of the battles of Lexington and Concord, we stayed in the area a few days to play tourist. One of the things we “discovered” was the tombstone shown above. This stone was tucked off in the corner of a historic cemetery a block or two from Lexington Green. As children we all learned about the eight brave patriots who were shot down early on the morning of April 19, 1775, but how many of us know of the British soldier who died there? I certainly didn’t, so upon discovering this marker we started asking around.
As was to be expected, not too many people were even aware of the British soldier’s grave marker—even though it had been decked out with flags for the weekend (see above). Even the official Lexington Historical Society brochure on the Old Burying Ground made no mention of the grave. We did, however, find a woman at the Buckman Tavern who seemed to know the story.*
Apparently, the British private was shot in the first exchange off gunfire on the green. It is said that he was shoot in the belly which, even today, can be a difficult wound to repair. In the period a “gut shot” often meant a slow, painful death, as it apparently did in this case, for the soldier, left by his comrades as they marched on toward Concord, lingered for three days before expiring in Buckman Tavern. We were told the locals held no animosity toward this soldier and did their best to make him comfortable, despite the fact that eighteen Lexington citizens lay dead or wounded at the hand of the British.
This story serves to illustrate the fact that in all armed conflicts tragic deaths occur on both sides. The appellation of “good guy” or “bad guy” is totally subjective as the combatants of each army passionately believes that they are the “good guys.” Every casualty, no matter what nationality, religion or political belief left behind family, friends and messmates who mourn his or her loss.
I imagine there are solitary graves like this one all over the nation, some of them probably unmarked, obliterated or long forgotten. As we go about recreating the life, times and sometimes even the death of our forefathers it’s important to remember the incredible hardship the soldiers of both sides endured in the name of what they felt was the true, just and worthy cause.