The Call of the Minute Men

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year...

Thus Henry Wadsworth Longfellow began a tribute to the Revolutionary War figure, Paul Revere, and the beginning of the War itself. The poem itself is not entirely accurate, as he took “poetic license” with the ride—but, as this scholar persuasively shows, it was not for a petty reason.

Dawes and Prescott also rode the night of April 18th to warn that “the regulars were coming.”

Whom did these three ride to warn? The Minute Men.

And my ancestors and relatives were among them.

They were descended from a man named Daniel Shed who came to America in the 1600s, and whose name appears among the earliest of the settlers in Braintree, or “Brantey,” by the year 1643.

Volume 14 of the Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War has several pages filled with the account of the Sheds’ action in the War.

Zechariah Shed, my great-great-great-great-great-uncle, was a Minute Man that morning of April 19, 1775.

He was a staunch supporter of the Colonists’ rights prior to the Revolution and was one of the ‘Minute Men’ in the famous bttle at Lexington, 19 April 1775. During the retreat of the British back to Boston his property was damaged to the extent of £2.3-0-0. He was not in the battle of Bunker Hill which came on suddenly on Saturday afternoon 17 June 1775, but when Gen. Washington took possession of Dorchester Heights on Mar. 4 1776, he teamed over to the fortifications there a hired wagon loaded of bundled hay, wood, facines, barrels, etc., drawn by a yoke of oxen and a pair of horses.

When Gen. Burgoyne’s soldiers came down as prisoners of war from Saratoga, they were marched past his house and he took part a short time in guarding them as a substitute for a lieutenant while they were encamped on Prospect Hill, Somerville. He had great faith in the promsies of the Continental Congress to pay the currency that passed for money and took it freely in payment for the provisions he furnished the forces guarding the prisoners of Burgoyne, and consequently suffered an almost entire loss when this money became valueless.

Before Uncle Zechariah was a Minute Man, he once was a horse guard of the governor of Massachusetts. Zecheriah Shed appointed to Governor’s Troop of
Horse Guards

Besides his participation in the War for Independence, I have a deeply personal reason that I respect Uncle Zechariah:

Zechariah Shed was noted for his careful, strong and independent principles, and for earnest temperance principles almost unknown at his period. He never used ardent spirits as a drink, and when at the age of sixty his physician Dr. Marshall Spring advised a mild use to relieve his infirmities, he refused to take any, saying he had always lived a sober man and so would continue.

Another great uncle, Samuel Shed, though not a participant in the battle proper, still fought against British aggression on April 19, 1775.

Oliver Shed, a cousin, marched in the Lexington alarm as a private in Capt. John Sawtell’s company, Col. James Prescott’s regiment.

In later years, Oliver Shed and his son Oliver Jr. joined the insurgents in the disturbance known as “Shays’ Rebellion,” and were among the fifty Groton men who surrendered their arms and took the oath of allegiance to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on March 21, 1787.

A second cousin, Jonathan Shed, born in 1728, was a man of “powerful physique and energentic character.” Active in the public affairs of his town, Tewksbury, MA, he “was prominent in the militia, being commissioned second-lieutenant of Capt. Joseph Kidder’s company of Col. John Tyng’s regiment on 10 Mar. 1762.” (Massachusetts Archives, vol. 99, p. 36)

Jonathan retired from this office at the age of forty-five, shortly before the Revolution; but patriotic ardor led him to volunteer as a private in Capt. Jonathan Brown’s Tewksbury company which marched on the Lexington alarm of 19 Apr. 1775 and helped to pursue the British troops from Lexington back to Boston. (Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the Revolution, Vol. 14, p. 80)

According to tradition, Jonathan Shed was wounded during this running fight which lasted for several hours until the British found refuge in Charlestown under the protection of the guns of their fleet in the Charles River.

Two more second cousins, John and Thomas Shed, were in the same Minute Man company from Billerica, MA; John a second lieutenant, and Thomas a private under the command of Capt. Solomon Pollard, which marched on the Lexington alarm, and participated in pursuing the British from Lexington back to Boston.

Many other Shed men fought in the War, though not on April 19, 1775. I shall mention one of these simply because his record is so colorful.

Now for my direct ancestor—William Holmes. He was born in New Braintree, December 1, 1755, and died there on September 20, 1831. William was a private in Capt. John Granger’s Company of Minute Men, of Col. Jonathan Gardner’s Regiment, which marched on the alarm of April 19, and served to June 1st.

Great-great-great-great-great-grandpa William also served:

  • during the Siege of Boston, in Capt. Sam Dexter’s company, Col. Learned’s Regiment
  • on a Rhode Island alarm, July 1777, in Capt. Thomas Whipple’s Company, Col. James Converse’s Regiment
  • as Sergeant, Captain Edmund Hodges’ Company, Col. Job Cushing’s regiment, from July 27 through August 29, 1777

He married Judith Goss Walker in 1789, and they share a gravestone.

As an honorable mention: another great-great-great-great-great-grandpa, Elijah Prouty, fought in the War for Independence, albeit not on April 19th.

★ ★ ★

Today, the truth, freedom, and justice that my ancestors and relatives defended must be fought for again. The description of ancient Israel from the book of Ezekiel, chapter 22, fits the twenty-first century America too well.

Behold, the princes of Israel, every one were in thee to their power to shed blood.

Many princes and paupers in America advocated, and still support, abortion. Abortion kills an unborn child. Worse yet, Planned Parenthood (Barrenhood?), the largest organization guilty of the atrocity, has added to its crimes by selling the body parts of the babies. And the bloody organization still receives tax money.

Domestic bloodshed aside, government officials for decades have waged warfare undeclared by Congress, disregarding the Constitution; and their callous policies and methods have taken the lives of many innocent civilians and non-combatants overseas.

In thee have they set light by father and mother.

America holds fathers and mothers in contempt, with the un-defining and the profaning of the sacrament of marriage. We are told a false narrative that a child doesn’t need his father and his mother; that two women, or two men, can be the “parents” of a child (which mocks the reality of human biology); consider how the most perverse and promiscuous may not only claim themselves to be “married,” but also fine, or force Christians out of business, if they refuse to participate in events that celebrate these lies.

In the midst of thee have they dealt by oppression with the stranger;

This brings to mind all the virtuous immigrants I know who worked to come legally, and had to struggle with the onerous, oppressive red tape imposed on the immigration process—the regulations that stifle and constrict them from contributing and participating in the American economy to their fullest.

In thee have they vexed the fatherless and the widow. [...] They have made her many widows in the midst thereof.

America’s state of perpetual warfare has separated many wives from husbands and many fathers from their children. Her perpetual welfare state demoralizes men, and discourages fathers from committing to the mothers of their children, much less the children themselves! In many respects, the State, rather than the parents, raises the children today.

Ezekiel also called out the religious leaders for corrupting truth and breaking God’s law:

Her priests have violated My law, and have profaned Mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane [...] Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain. And her prophets have daubed them with untempered mortar, seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them...

Countries today have their prophets: they are known as political pundits, the consultants, the “scientific experts,” the economists such as Paul Krugman; in general, those who “serve” the government with advice or predictions.

The last three verses of Ezekiel 22 hold a foreboding warning:

29 The people of this land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully.

30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.

31 Therefore have I poured out Mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the LORD.

The evil the Minute Men fought long ago was less oppressive than the evil today.

If Christians in America cannot heed their call, cannot remember how God deals with nations for their sin, God will once again, as with Israel, find none who stood in the gap before Him. And in such a case we shall behold the utter loss of the virtue and freedom which my ancestors won.

The Call of the Minute Men

April 19, 1775, marks an outstanding moment when brave men fought for independence.Continue Reading→