Remembering a True Patriot

I'm sure that just about everyone has at one time or another heard of "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" by Longfellow. Revere and his cries that "the British are coming!" are, after all, is part of American folklore.

But unless you saw Assume the Position With Mr. Wahl, you've probably never heard of Israel Bissell - the postman who really called the colonies to arms at the start of the Revolution.

So, on the anniversary of this forgotten patriot's sojourn, and with Wednesday marking the 150th anniversary of Mr. Bissell's passing, I offer this humble rebuttal that I recently found online.

Israel Bissell’s Ride
by Gerard Chapman

Listen, my children and you shall hear
Of Israel Bissell of yesteryear:
A poet-less patriot whose fame, I fear
was eclipsed by that of Paul Revere.

He lacks the renown that accrued to Revere
for no rhymester wrote ballad to blazon his fame;
But Bissell accomplished and isn’t it queer?
a feat that suggested Revere’s to be tame.

And yet is unknown to all but the few
who, intrigued by the hist’ry of exceptional deeds,
Wish now to pay homage to Bissell long due
to him who filled one of the colonies’ needs.

‘Twas the nineteenth of April in ‘seventy-five
the day that Paul’s ride was brought to a pause
(That war-warning which was made to survive
by Longfellow’s preference for him over Dawes.)

That Bissell went south to carry the post
To patriot folk in Jersey and Penn.
And despite that his route was much longer than most
(it passed over hill, through valley and glen.)

He carried the news of Britain’s attack
and the Middlesex farmer’s resolute stand,
And asked that the faraway colonists back
their Boston compatriots’ stout-hearted band.

Down through Connecticut, down through New York
he spread the alarm far and wide
Across the wide Hudson he passed like a cork:
he rode through New Jersey, and on the far side

Attained Pennsylvania at last
His trip cost two horses that under him died;
Never before had man gone so fast
the distance that Bissell made on his long ride.

He reduced the trip time from six to four days
to take to the men on the Delaware’s shore
The Patriots’ call for a blaze
of resistance to Britain and war!
So men from New York, Philadephia too
joined men from New Jersey in telling the King
That henceforth the Colonists wanted their due
in matters of government, and everything

That affected the lives of men who required
the unfettered right to control their own fate.
When such was denied them these men were inspired
to proclaim to all mankind a newly-formed state.

We all know the fruit of the joining of forces:
How King George and Great Britain were defeated in war;
To Israel Bissell and his galloping horses
we now render tribute that was due him before.

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