“Here we stand with our arms in hand, but with no belligerence in our hearts” (p. 87).
The Reverend addresses his townsmen in Lexington as they await the British soldiers, who are marching from Boston to wipe out the revolutionary fervor in the countryside. The men are not in favor of war or fighting. They just want to assert their rights in negotiation.
“I must admit that one of the things I felt I simply could not face was the possibility of being left out of whatever would happen” (p. 88).
Adam Cooper is only fifteen years old, a year younger than the age young men are allowed admittance to Committee meetings of the militiamen, the Revolutionary home guard that drilled in each New England village and town to be ready in case of war. Adam pushes his way into the muster on this fateful day the Revolution begins.
“Why no one on our side had even thought of firing a gun, because when you came right down to it, we didn’t like guns and did not believe in them” (p. 98).
Adam Cooper is in shock after the British march on Lexington Common and shoot his father without provocation. The colonists had no intention of using their guns.
“. . . a gun is a commoner, an equalizer, believe me” (p. 106).
Solomon Chandler, an old veteran who fought alongside the British in the French-Indian War, takes young Adam under his wing, and tells him they must stand up to the British now.
“Well, here we are, neighbors, and who ever would have thought it would come to fighting on a fine Middlesex morning like this one?” (p. 126).
Solomon Chandler is from a neighboring village in the county, Lincoln, and joins with the Lexington men to march towards Concord, Massachusetts, to stop the British troops.
“‘Nobody fights in God’s cause,’ the Reverend replied harshly, ‘Isn’t it enough to kill in freedom’s name? No one kills in God’s cause. He can only ask God’s forgiveness’” (p. 128).
Solomon Chandler tries to tell Adam to harden himself to killing, but the Reverend reminds the men ambushing the British on the Lexington road that this is not a holy act.
“I put a lot more trust in my two legs than in the gun, because the most important thing I had learned about war was that you could run away and survive to talk about it” (p. 131).
Adam ran away from the shooting on Lexington Common when his father was killed. It was the only way he could survive, and he learns that this is not necessarily cowardice.
“I was part of a motley group of farmers who were off to trap a British army and destroy it. It made no sense whatever . . .” (p. 145).
After the Yankees ambush the British along the road as they march, they decide to band as a group to hold the army between Lexington and Menotomy.
“ . . . the whole world appeared to be crumbling around us; and none of us had been prepared for it or had anticipated it” (p. 148).
The British set fire to Adam’s hometown of Lexington, and the settlers are in shock to see their homes going up in flame with their loved ones in them.
“We had won the battle, but there is less joy in winning the battle than the history books tell you” (p. 155).
Adam and the other men return home to bury their dead after successfully routing the British and making them flee to Boston.