Modern history


art A Chronology of the British March, April 18-19, 1775

Many contemporary estimates are available for the chronology of the British expedition. With allowances for a range of variation in individual timepieces, they roughly agree. But several historians have rejected them. The first to do so was Frank W. Coburn, who in general revised the estimates of participants, assigning earlier times for the British march to Concord, and later times for the return. Allen French followed Coburn, but sometimes blurred individual events where discrepancies were specially apparent. Arthur Tourtellot was erratic, but tended to split the difference between Coburn’s estimates and those in primary sources. These historians, who shared the general opinion that Smith was “very slow,” could not believe that the British march was as rapid as contemporary estimates indicated.

This inquiry finds that the estimates of eyewitnesses were generally consistent, and the speed of the march was compatible with their descriptions of it. Further, a comparison of solar times with their estimates of the relationship of sunrise and sunset to events of the march confirms the accuracy of participant-observations. Coburn, French, and Tourtellot all followed one another into error on this question.

In the following variant estimates, primary sources are given in roman type; secondary estimates in italics.




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