Israel Bissell, born in East Windsor, CT in 1752, was a post rider who alerted colonists of the British attack at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. He rode for four days and six hours covering the 345 miles from Watertown, MA to Philadelphia along the Old Post Road, shouting “To arms, to arms, the war has begun,” and carrying a message from General Joseph Palmer which was copied at each of his stops and redistributed:

Wednesday morning near 10 of the clock – Watertown.
To all the friends of American liberty be it known that this morning before break of day, a brigade, consisting of about 1,000 to 1,200 men landed at Phip’s Farm at Cambridge and marched to Lexington, where they found a company of our colony militia in arms, upon whom they fired without any provocation and killed six men and wounded four others. By an express from Boston, we find another brigade are now upon their march from Boston supposed to be about 1,000. The Bearer, Israel Bissell, is charged to alarm the country quite to Connecticut and all persons are desired to furnish him with fresh horses as they may be needed. I have spoken with several persons who have seen the dead and wounded. Pray let the delegates from this colony to Connecticut see this.
J. Palmer, one of the Committee of Safety.

At the end of Bissell’s first leg, in Worcester, his first horse collapsed and died from having been driven so hard. At each town along the way, church bells were rung and muskets fired to spread the word; when he reached Philadelphia, the pealing of the Liberty Bell caused a crowd of 8,000 to assemble to hear the news. Bissell then returned to Connecticut, where he joined the army alongside his brother, Justis. After the war, he moved to Middlefield, MA. He died in 1823 and is buried in the Maple Street Cemetery in Hinsdale, MA.

Submitted by
Michael Okenquist

Helpful Links:

Israel Bissell Wikipedia page

Israel Bissell’s Ride Reprint

A Tribute To A Fast White Horse?, by Garry Stauber