Patriots’ Day, a special Massachusetts State holiday, honors the meaning and memory of the first battle of the American Revolution, fought April 19, 1775. The day is officially observed on the 3rd Monday in April, the same day as the Boston Marathon.
Celebrations, parades, reenactments, however, unfold throughout the entire weekend as well as other times throughout April. The most powerful reenactments include Paul Revere’s midnight ride from Boston through the countryside, the battles on Lexington Green, and Old North Bridge in Concord.
Keep in mind that these are essentially local events, carried out each year from a commitment to keep history alive along with paying tribute to those who fought for liberty nearly 250 years ago. You may be surprised how many local attend and how few tourists you’ll see.
If you’re visiting the Boston area during this time, don’t miss attending at least one of these incredible reenactments. There’s nothing else like them anywhere in the world because it’s where the American Revolution began!
What kind of Patriot’s Day reenactments will you see?
You’ll see 2 major types:
- Battles, skirmishes and the events that let up to them, such as Paul Revere’s ride, the engagement between local militia and British Regulars on Lexington Green, and the dramatic battle at North Bridge when Colonists first fired at British soldiers.
- Depictions of 18th century life, using actual historical buildings such as Paul Revere’s house and Hartwell Tavern in Minuteman National Historical Park.
Plus, a number of demonstrations show you aspects of the Colonial period. For instance, hundreds of Colonial and British reenactors stage the”Bloody Angle Tactical Demonstration at Hartwell Tavern” along a half-mile stretch of Battle Road in Lincoln.
You’ll also get to see the different types of muskets and other weapons in use at that time, learn about their accuracy at 100 feet (“inaccurate” would be a better description), and get a sense of what an actual battle might have been like. The day-long demonstrations and reenactments at Hartwell Tavern on the Saturday before Patriots’ Day are particularly interesting.
The reenactors, which include men, women, and children, stay in character of the person they are playing. They also expose lots of information about their daily lives, Colonial America, and their feelings about the British and their taxes.
Who are the Patriots’ Day reenactors?
Numerous reenactor groups, with names like “First Foot Guards,” “His Majesty’s Tenth Regiment of Foot,” “Colonel Bailey’s Second Massachusetts Regiment,” “Lincoln Minutemen,” and “Concord Independent Battery” participate.
Many of the groups are local, while some are from other New England states and even farther away. In general, members share a strong interest in Colonial and Revolutionary War history, and a commitment to preserving history through authentic portrayal.
Although some groups have been active a long time, many came about in the 1960s, when New England towns revived their long-dormant local militias and minute companies to prepare for the country’s Bicentennial celebrations in 1976. They began by staging mock battles, and then became fascinated by the history.