In Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past, by Ray Raphael, one of his issues of inaccurate historical reporting is about Paul Revere. The book is incisive, well-written, and well worth the read.
So it is in this context that I mention Michael Greenberg’s, The Court-Martial of Paul Revere: A Son of Liberty and America’s Forgotten Military Disaster, published in late 2014.
Lieutenant Colonel Revere defended himself against accusations of dereliction and disobedience. At trial he “confessed that he had initially disobeyed an order to deliver a barge to the general in charge, but once he remembered that General Wadsworth was his leader, he delivered the barge.” The disobedience sounds more serious – “On the question of leaving the area without orders to do so, Revere testified that there was such a state of confusion he shouldn’t have been expected to do otherwise.” Revere was found not guilty. From then began a long public relations campaign to restore his reputation – something accomplished by the time of his death in 1818 apparently.
The claim is made that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride,” published in 1861, gave Revere immortality. Something Ray Raphael takes on.
The Boston Globe book section has a post on the court-martial.