Teacher's Guide - Ensign Jeremy Lister

Ensign Jeremy Lister
His Majesty's 10th Regiment of Foot
Battalion Company
  • Was 22 years old on the day of the expedition, having been in the army for five years on April 19, 1775
  • Account was taken from his diary which was written in 1782 when he was serving as a Captain in the 10th Regiment of Foot.
  • Volunteered to be a part of the expedition - his company remained in Boston that day, though he was detached with his regiment's light infantry company
  • Was detached to the North Bridge as part of that detachment and was promoted to second in command of that company as it's commander, Laurence Parsons, took charge of the expedition out to Barrett's Farm
  • Was wounded near the brook by Meriam's Corner, receiving a shot through the elbow

Ensign Lister was born into a family of means and as such enjoyed the privileges of wealth as a youngster. He was given his commission by his father as a Christmas present in 1770, which today may seem almost insulting, was in the 18th century a very happy occasion. His father was essentially the giving him all of the necessary means to have a career at the age of 17. The commission purchase was possible through the good will and affection of Jeremy's older cousin, with whom he was quite close, General Sir William Fawcett, GCB, then adjutant-general of the British Army (essentially one of the top commanders in the entire army).

Lister was still an ensign in 1775, though one who was well connected by 1775 standards. Lt. Col. Smith, commander of the 10th Regiment, shows concern for the young man when he wishes him not to come on the expedition out of fear for his well-being. Lt. Col. Valentine Jones of the 52nd Regiment wrote a letter on behalf of Jeremy shortly after he received his wounds to assure his father he was recovering but could not write with his own hand. It is highly unlikely that any other ensign serving Boston at that time would have the attention and affection of two high ranking field commanders, which speaks to his well connected status.

This background on Ensign Lister, and the 1782 date of the writing of this journal stands to reason that he was not writing this letter to shed blame for his participation in those events, as he does share some shortcomings of himself (in particular how he shared the news of Lt. Sutherland's "impending death" while poor Mrs. Sutherland stood behind him unseen by Lister). In addition, he does not necessarily seek to lay blame on senior officers as many of his contemporaries like Barker and Sutherland do. He certainly makes note of where he would have done things differently, but does not do so in such a way that would make it seem as if others are at fault.

The portion of Lister's diary concerning April 19 was published in 1931 under the title "The Concord Fight". That portion of the diary is available online at this link:

http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?seq=1&view=image&size=100&id=mdp.39015057164967&page=root&orient=0

The remainder of the diary remains unpublished, but it, along with much of Lister's correspondence from the American Revolution is available to view and photocopy at the West Yorkshire Archives in England:

http://catalogue.wyjs.org.uk/TreeBrowse.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&field=RefNo&key=CC00001%2F7%2F8

A photocopy of what is believed to be Lister's full diary can also be found in the Special Collections Department of the Concord Free Public Library in Concord, MA. You can visit their website here for information on visitng the Special Collections Department:

http://www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/scoll.html