Why Can’t Old Media Get History Right Part 2: Boston Herald Muffs Rev War

Last week I posted a deconstruction of the muffed WWII history as penned by NPR commentator Cokie Roberts. Today I have another example of muddled history in the Old Media. This one is misconstrued Revolutionary War history as published by the Boston Herald. Hard to believe that the Boston Herald, a paper that sits in the cradle of the Revolutionary War, can get Revolutionary War history wrong but such is the degraded state of the Old Media.

In Lexington, Massachusetts on April 19, 2010, reenactors of the Rev War celebrated the 235th anniversary of the Battle of Lexington. The Boston Herald reported on the event later that morning and made a mash of its allusions to history.

Re-enactors took to Lexington Green today to recreate the opening moments of the Revolutionary War in front of a crowd of thousands, who gathered for the early-morning ritual.

…The battle that produced the “shot heard ’round the world” was the result of a confrontation between Lexington militia men and British “red coats” on Lexington Green, which escalated into a daylong fight involving 3,500 militia men and 1,500 red coats.

Notice that the Herald called the battle at Lexington between Patriot militiamen and the British Red Coats as the one that, “produced the ‘shot heard ’round the world.'” As any first year history student knows, however, the battle that is identified as the one that produced the “shot heard ’round the world” was the Battle at Concord, not the Battle of Lexington.

The phrase comes from the famous poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson who wrote the lines for the 1836 unveiling of the Obelisk erected in Concord, Massachusetts commemorating the Battle of Lexington and Concord.

The poem begins:

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

That “rude bridge” is the North Bridge near Concord where the Red Coats arrived after the clash at Lexington. Even the Associated Press got this history correct.

There is also an interesting decision made by the Boston Herald with its treatment of this reenactment. A slide show of images is included with the story and not one of them shows the American Patriots forces. In fact, out of the nine photos posted only two show a Patriot soldier and in both it is the same reenactor portraying a “wounded” soldier. All the photos but two show Red Coat soldiers. The two that don’t shows the crowd watching the event and the other is the “wounded” Patriot soldier. Why no photos of the American forces here? Your guess is as good as mine.

In any case, what we have here is another Old Media outlet that can’t seem to get U.S. history correct.

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