Patriots’ Day is a special day in New England commemorating the beginning of the American fight for independence. The Revolution against the British began in Massachusetts at Lexington and Concord on the early morning of April 19, 1775. For many years the event was celebrated in Massachusetts and Maine, a colony of Massachusetts at that time, on the traditional date. Since 1969 it has been observed on the third Monday in April.
One hundred and five Minute Men from Andover answered the Lexington alarm, although they arrived as the British were retreating. Joined by 230 foot soldiers from this town they pursued the enemy to Cambridge. Throughout the war Andover sent 700 men to the battlefield. Many of them were recognized for their contribution.
Peter Martin and John Lovejoy were among a select number of Revolutionary soldiers chosen to serve in the elite Commander-in-Chief’s Guard. The men were hand-picked by General George Washington to fill a two-year commitment. Although a good deal is recorded about their military experience, little is known of their personal lives. One of them met a tragic fate while a member of the group. The strict requirements demanded of “the flower of the American Army” speak highly of the Andover men’s character.
The Guard, also known as Washington’s Life Guard, was formed in the spring of 1776 in Cambridge. Its purpose was to protect the commander-in-chief and the official papers of the Continental Army. The unit, consisting of approximately 180 infantry and cavalry, accompanied Washington in all battles. Because it was an honor to belong to the Guard an effort was made to include soldiers from each of the 13 original colonies.
The General directed the formation of a corps of “sober, intelligent and reliable men.” The Guard was initially created by selecting four qualified men from each regiment of the Continental Army present at the siege of Boston. From that group the necessary number of men was picked.