April Morning was an interesting book concerning a young man, Adam Cooper, andthe trials and tribulations of his taking part in the Battle of Lexington. Thestory takes place mostly in Adam’s home town of Lexington, Massachusetts, butalso partially on the surrounding roads and countryside. The novel opens with aglimpse into the daily life of the Cooper family.
As Adam comments on the harshperfectionist opprobrium of his father, I find myself drawn to his side of theissue. Adam confuses his father’s constant animadversion with the feeling thathis father hates him. These feelings of hate are somewhat annulled by Granny,Adam’s grandmother and confidant. She tells him that, since she has knownMoses Cooper longer than anyone, she knows that he really loves Adam.
This isfurther exerted when Adam overhears a conversation between his parents. All thiswas happening with the rumblings of war nearby. The British taxes and tariffswere intensifying and by then most New England towns had their own localgovernments called Committees. These Committees were supported by localcommunity leaders who also organized a town militia. When word reached Lexingtonthat a British army landed, the local militia was mustered through much urgingby Moses Cooper and Jonas Parker, the Captain of the Militia. They pushed for amarshaling of the soldiers for completely different reasons, however.
Mosesstood firm by the principles of freedom and common human decency. Jonas Parkersimply felt that because he was chosen to be Captain of the Militia, it was hisright, duty, and obligation to be out for the blood of any redcoat crossing intoLexington, Massachusetts. In any case, the British came to Lexington. The townrepresentatives went to parlay with them.
Jonas Parker, Moses Cooper, theReverend, and Simon Casper, a confrontational battle advocate, were there infront of three mounted British officers. All they could do was watch helplesslyas the redcoats, a thousand strong, surrounded their seventy-man militia insilence. The Reverend, being the peaceful man that he was, tried to speakdiplomatically to the British officers. They unfeelingly gunned down Adam’sfather along with most of the defenders in plain sight of everyone.
Adam was oneof the lucky few that made it out alive. He ran away from the British soldiers,finally hiding in a smokehouse and dealing with the loss of his father. Eventually Levi, Adam’s brother, came looking for him. Adam helped to con-soleLevi in their father’s death, and they soon parted. Levi went home to tell hismother and grandmother while Adam went to hide in some woods outside town.
Hewas pursued shortly but outran the redcoats. It was in these woods that Adam metSolomon Chandler. Solomon had soldiered with the British in the French War, butnow fought for American independence. Adam and Solomon walked together to ameeting place called Ashley’s Pasture. Along the way, they picked up otherswho were also journeying to the meeting.
By the time they arrived in Ashley’sPasture they were twenty-one strong, and there were over thirty waiting. In thenext hour of remaining there, many more showed up until there were at least ahundred of them. Finally, they gathered around Solomon and discussed their planof action. They were to lie in wait next to a stone wall lining the road and asthe British passed, rise up and fire over the wall.
When the revolutionaries hadfired, they were supposed to run away from the road and regroup. At their secondgrouping, they decided to break into groups of two’s and three’s, notallowing the British to take advantage of firing into one huge clump of men. Adam paired off with his cousin Joseph Simmons, the town blacksmith and a friendof the Cooper family. After that encounter they again regrouped and decided toproceed along the road and get ahead of the redcoats. They picked a spot wherethe road dipped down a hill, and Adam, Cousin Simmons, and four or five otherscrawled into a windfall at the bottom. The shelter was about seventy paces fromthe road, and Adam’s fowling gun was only lethal at thirty.
He found this agood excuse to rest from his sleepless night and soon fell into torpidity. WhenAdam awoke, it was to the voices of the Reverend and Cousin Simmons. They werediscussing having to break the news of another death to Mrs. Cooper. Adam thencalled out to them and they were gladdened to know he was alive, and dumbfoundedto know that he had fallen asleep. Then, the three of them walked home together,and when they reached Lexington, they split up to go to their respective houses.
As Adam approached his house, his brother Levi came running out to him and saidthat someone had come by with news of Adam’s death. They both sat on theground a moment and sobbed, happy to know each other was alive. Adam thenregained control of himself, knowing he would have to face his mother soon. WhenAdam saw his mother, they embraced warmly. Granny then led them all into thekitchen. Many neighbors were there, most of whom had brought food.
Mrs. Cartwright, one of the most insensitive and repulsive women Adam knew, took Adamupstairs where his father was laid out. She then coldly told Adam to pay hisrespects, and Adam said to her in no uncertain terms to get out. Having paid hisrespects, Adam went back downstairs. All the neighbors had gone, and only Levi,Granny, and Mother remained.
It was agreed upon that Adam needed a bath, andMother sent Levi to get some water. After his bath, more neighbors were therewith more food. Adam, wanting an excuse to get out of the house, was al-mostglad to see Cousin Simmons, among others, struggling to carry a coffindownstairs. Cousin Simmons asked Adam’s help, and he was glad to give it. Theycarried the coffin across the courtyard to the meetinghouse, which was servingas a temporary morgue. The coffin maker apologized for the make shiftiness ofthe coffin, but with as many deaths as there had been, there was not much hecould do.
A reporter from the Boston Advertiser cornered Adam and tried to pinhim down with some questions, but he just pushed past him and out of themeetinghouse. Outside, a man was asking for volunteers to help with the siege onBoston. Adam stood there a moment, listening to him. He began dozing when CousinSimmons grabbed his arm and suggested that they both go home and get a goodnight’s rest.
When Adam got home, Mother forced him to eat for his own good. She then asked him to carry a box of candles to the meetinghouse so Father wouldnot lie in the darkness. On his way out of the house, Ruth Simmons, Adam’schildhood sweetheart, was waiting there for him. Having hugged and thoroughlykissed him, Ruth said that she had worried about him very much. Together, theywalked to the meetinghouse and put the candles there. After they left, Adamwalked Ruth home and then turned home himself.
At home, Adam was in bed whenGranny came to wish him a good night. He told her that he would not be going toBoston to help with the siege, but she said that she knew him well and that hewould leave before long.