Wadsworth chronicled it later:
Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,–
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm.”
(click the link to see the rest of the poem)
There were, actually TWO men giving the warning (and later, a third), although William Dawes got screwed and wasn’t mentioned in Wadsworth’s poem. Both took to horse and rode to Lexington via different routes to warn the colonists along the way as well as the residents of Lexington that the British Regulars, under orders of General Gage were to march on Concord that evening and confiscate the powder and shot cached there as well as any weapons they could find. (without weapons, the colonists could not effectively fight back!)
Revere risked arrest by crossing the river (in a rowboat) at a time when it was against the rules to do so. He did so anyway risking arrest and imprisonment and waited for the signal from the North Church. One lantern if the British were to travel via land two Lanterns if they were going to travel by sea….
Across the river, Revere (and Dawes) saw two lanterns, and took to horse to warn the colonists. They warned everyone along the way, and Dawes met him in Lexington where they warned Adams and Hancock.. They continued in their travels (accompanied by Samuel Prescott) in an attempt to alert the folks at Concord, but ran into a British Patrol. Prescott got away, Dawes and Revere were detained. Prescott continued to Concord to warn the colonists there.
All in all, the warning carried by Dawes and Revere (and then Prescott) may well have made the difference between there being a successful American Revolution and the leaders of the Revolution being arrested and the colonists weapons and powder and shot with which to fight being confiscated.
Paul Revere, William Dawes (and Sam Prescott) were heroes who realistically saved the Revolution.
Revere got credited by Wadsworth. The others got an honorable mention in the history books. Their warning led to a victory at Lexington and then at the Colonist were prepared for the British.
Then, as now, timely intelligence on the enemy is vital for planning.
Remember those men, and the others you will read about tomorrow. Without them, we might not have the republic we have today.