The Youngest Lincolnite at the North Bridge

Ever wonder who the youngest provincial “soldier” might have been standing in the ranks of the Lincoln minute or militia companies on April 19, 1775? If you believe the written word of his grandson, Lewis E. Smith, put to paper on 18 April 1904, it was Daniel Brooks, age 10.

April 18, 1904, was the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the town of Lincoln, and for the occasion, Lewis E. Smith wrote down the story that his grandfather often told him. According to Lewis, his grandfather claimed to be age 14 on that historic day. However, Daniel Brooks was in fact born on September 6, 1765, to John and Lucy Smith, one of Concord’s (and Lincoln’s) oldest families. Lewis Smith recalled his grandpa’s tales of marching to Concord, seeing the British soldiers cut down the liberty pole, watching the events, and observing the start of the British retreat. This obviously placed him in the ranks and on the front line.

Daniel later joined the Continental army, lived along the Cambridge-Concord Turnpike where his North Lincoln house was operated as a tavern around 1804, and in 1812 served as captain of the Lincoln militia. Eventually he was promoted to Colonel in the Middlesex militia and was known until his death in 1839 (age 75) by that rank.

Because males had to be age 16 to serve in the militia and thus in the minute companies, Daniel would not have been “officially” in one of Lincoln’s military units. He might possibly have been a musician, but such is not mentioned. And of course no complete muster rolls of the Lincoln militia on April 19th exist. Thus, if Lewis Smith’s account is correct, young Daniel Brooks either snuck out to watch the events or marched along with a relative to be of assistance in any way possible and to be present for the excitement and history which would occur.

Author Bio

Donald L. Hafner is Drum Major of the Lincoln Minute Men. When he is not serving as a fifer in the ranks of the Minute Men, he is a Professor of Political Science at Boston College. His scholarly work has been principally in the fields of arms control and U.S. foreign policy.

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