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.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, Concord Hymn
“Up, Mr. Page, the regulars are out.” With a nighttime alert from a horseback messenger, Nathaniel Page awoke. Tension had been simmering following the Intolerable Acts, and British forces were prepared to end the rebellion they saw outside of Boston. British forces set out to seize colonial stashes of weapons and ammunition in the Massachusetts countryside.
As a Minuteman of Bedford, Nathaniel had prepared for this moment. He secured his musket, powder, and the standard many sayid he would carry that fateful day. Not large by comparison to other standards, this square cavalry flag was an heirloom. Nathaniel would be the third generation of Pages to carry the flag, and unarguably the most famous. The flag’s crimson damask bore an armor-clad arm, sword raised as if to strike down foes. A scroll on the flag boldly proclaimed “Vince Aut Morire,” Latin for “Conquer or Die.” Nathaniel rallied with his fellow Minutemen, and together they proceeded to nearby Concord, and into the annals of history.
Hastily, they helped their fellow militia companies hide away their rebellious stores. Nathaniel returned to the place he had laid down his flag, only to find it being played with by children. The glint of bayonets and the brilliance of scarlet tunics in the distance pronounced the arrival of the British. The militias withdrew from Concord, beyond the North Bridge. As regulars approached the bridge, the militia met them in battle. Nathaniel, we can presume,l flew his flag in the face of oncoming fire. Overwhelmed by a continually-reinforced militia, the British fell back. The first small Colonial victory of a long revolution had been won.
This flag survives today, tucked in a secure room in the Bedford Free Public Library. Nathaniel’s grandson, Cyrus, presented the flag to the town in 1885. Under lock and key and secure from sunlight, one may visit and gaze upon a relic that has miraculously survived many of the weathers of time.
We bring you this flag as a patch, symbolizing the heroism of those early patriots at Concord. Their flag unfurled in that April breeze can find a new appreciation.