In light of this event, the Nerds decided to address a recent inquiry regarding male noncombatants . . . did they even exist? Were there just some men who missed out on the fighting or were part of the civilian evacuation?
To answer this question, we first narrowed our search parameters to Lexington records and accounts only. We then defined "men" and "males" as any individual who would have been required by law to turn out when a militia company assembled for an alarm. Thus, we excluded "elderly" men (over 60), children (under 12) and young teenagers (12-14) from our analysis.
After review, we were able to identify seven Lexington men that qualified for service in the militia yet saw little or no combat on April 19th. Of those seven, four could have been classified as "evacuees". The remaining three did not see combat due to special or unusual circumstances.
The first was John Raymond, who was employed by William Munroe as a general laborer. Following the Battle of Lexington, Raymond kept watch over the family tavern while Anna Munroe and her children fled the property. Early 19th Century accounts have argued Raymond was "a lame man", a "simple man" or "a cripple". However, historian J.L. Bell has suggested that Raymond was actually an active member of Parker's Company and only suffered from a temporary disability.
Raymond was shot and killed by British soldiers under Percy's command the afternoon of April 19th.
James Reed also missed the afternoon fight because he was guarding captured British prisoners hidden in his house. "I also saw a British soldier march up the road, near said meeting-house, and Joshua Reed of Woburn met him, and demanded him to surrender. He then took his arms and equipments from him, and I took charge of him, and took him to my house . . . I also testify, that E. Welsh brought to my house, soon after I returned home with my prisoner, two more of said British troops ; and two more were immediately brought, and I suppose, by John Munroe and Thomas R. Willard of Lexington; and I am confident, that one more was brought, but by whom, I don't now recollect. All the above prisoners were taken at Lexington immediately after the main body had left the common, and were conveyed to my house early in the morning; and I took charge of them. In the afternoon five or six more of said British troops, that were taken prisoners in the afternoon, when on the retreat from Concord, were brought to my house and put under my care. Towards evening, it was thought best to remove them from my house."
At least four men missed the fighting because they were caring for their wives, mothers or daughters. Four Lexington women had given birth over the previous month and were still bedridden. Another three were all over eight months pregnant.
Another was Elijah Sanderson. The Lexington militiaman served as a mounted scout in the early morning and watched the Battle of Lexington from back of the common. After the battle, Sanderson went home to retrieve his arms and accouterments. Unfortunately, his brother got there first and took them. As a result, Sanderson was forced to watch the afternoon fighting in Lexington from a nearby hilltop.
According to his 1824 deposition "I went home after my gun,—found it was gone. My brother had it. I returned to the meeting-house, and saw to the dead. I saw blood where the column of the British had stood when Solomon Brown fired at them. This was several rods from where any of our militia stood; and I then supposed, as well as the rest of us, that that was the blood of the British. I assisted in carrying some of the dead into the meeting-house. Some days before the battle, I was conversing with Jonas Parker, who was killed, and heard him express his determination never to run from before the British troops. In the afternoon I saw the reinforcement come up under Lord Percy. I then had no musket, and retired to Estabrook's Hill, Whence I saw the reinforcement meet the troops retreating from Concord. When they met, they halted some time. After this, they set fire to Deacon boring's barn; then to his house; then to widow Mulliken's house; then to the shop of Nathaniel Mulliken, a watch and clock maker; and to the house and shop of Joshua Bond. All these were near the place where the reinforcements took refreshments. They hove fire into several other buildings. It was extinguished after their retreat. During the day, the women and children had been so scattered and dispersed, that most of them were out of the way when the reinforcements arrived."
Moses Reed and his father-in-law Jacob Whittemore carried Sarah Reed and her newborn child out of the family home on a mattress. Likewise, teenager Joseph Estabrook and his father "assisted in carrying his mother with a young infant (Solomon) in her arms, in an arm chair, about a mile back from the scene of danger."
Limited historical documentation suggests that three of the four men never participated in the fighting and instead remained with their wives and families.
The fourth, Joseph Estabrook, is the variable. A purported letter from Estabrook in the early 1820s asserted he was present at the Battle of Lexington and had bullets pierce the skirts of his coat as he retreated off the Green. Unfortunately, this letter is somewhat suspect as Estabrook's birth records suggest he was at most fifteen years old at the time of the skirmish and would have been too young to serve with the militia.