Boston merchant John Rowe knew everyone involved in the run-up to the American Revolution, and he quickly learned about the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Fortunately for historians, John Rowe kept a diary for more than 10 years during that tumultuous time.
Rowe is perhaps most famous for owning one of the tea ships, the Eleanor, involved in the Boston Tea Party.
He was born in England in 1715, but emigrated to Boston as a young man and lived the rest of his life there. He was a smuggler and a slave trader. Royal Gov. Thomas Hutchinson accused him of inciting the mob that destroyed his house.
Rowe managed to stay neutral during the Revolution. He died in 1787. Rowes Wharf in Boston was built on the wharf he owned.
Here is his account of what happened at the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775:
19 Aprill Wednesday Last night the Grenadirs of Light Companies belonging to the Severall Regiments in this Town were Ferryd over Charles River & Landed on Phipps Farm in Cambridge from whence they Proceeded on their Way to Concord, where they arrivd Early this day. On their march they had a Skirmish with Some Country People at Lexington — The First Brigade commanded by Lord Percy with Two pieces of Artillery set off from this Town this morning abt Ten of Clock as a Reinforcement which with the Grenadiers & Light Infantry made about Eighteen hundred Men — The People in the Country had Notice of this movement Early in the Night
Alarm Guns were fird thro the Country & Expresly sent off to the Different Towns so that very Early this morning Large Numbers from all Parts of the Country — were Assembled –A Generall Battle Ensued which from what I can Learn was Supported with Great Spirit on both Sides and continued untill the Kings Troops got back to Charlstown which was near Sunset — Numbers — are Killd & Wounded on Both Sides — Capt Linzee & Capt Collins in two Small Armd Vessells were indeed up Charles River to Bring off the Troops to Boston but Lord Percy & Generall Smith thought Proper to Encamp on Bunkers Hill this Night — this Unhappy — affair is a Shocking Introduction to all the Miseries of a Civil Warr,
I dind at home with the Revd Mr Parker Mr Linzee Mrs Rowe & Geo Inman, & spent the Evening at home with Mr Inman Mr Linzie Mrs Rowe Geo Inman & Jack —