Captain Isaac Davis and his Acton Massachusetts company of Minutemen marched on the alarm of 19 Apr 1775. “When Davis, characteristically, volunteered to lead the march” down the hill at the North Bridge at Concord to face the British Regulars, Major “Buttrick placed him in the van where his marksmen with their solid line of bayonets could be more effective.”
“A gunsmith by trade, he had taken care that all his men were well armed; every man in the company had a good musket, a bayonet, cartridge box, canteen—this was one of the many provincial companies to be complete in accouterments. The men under Davis were good shots, too. Davis had built a firing range out behind his house, where twice a week from November to April he had led his men in firing and drill. Needless to say, the fighting spirit of Isaac Davis rubbed off on his men. His own weapon, a product of his shop, was perhaps the best musket on the field that day.
“Davis was no hothead, but a man of quiet conviction. His wife, many years later, recalled as a very old woman the man she had known in her youth, on the day of the battle: “My husband said but little that morning. He seemed serious and thoughtful; but never seemed to hesitate as to the course of his duty. As he led the company from the house, he turned himself round, and seemed to have something to communicate. He only said, ‘Take good care of the children,’ and was soon out of sight.”
Davis, age 30, was killed in the first volley, along with “one of his men, Abner Hosmer. Both were killed instantly; two or three others were wounded.” Davis was the first American officer killed in the Revolution.
Davis is the inspiration behind The Minute Man, the statue by Daniel Chester French, unveiled on 19 Apr 1875 at the Old North Bridge. The statue was modeled after Davis using photographs of Davis’ descendants.
Davis is also memorialized through the Isaac Davis Monument on the Acton Town Common. The remains of Davis, Abner Hosmer, and James Hayward (an Acton soldier killed in Lexington later that day) were moved and re-interred beneath the monument.
He was born in West Acton, and married Hannah Brown on 24 Oct 1764. They had four children—two boys and two girls.
In Memory of Capt. Isaac DavisCaptain Isaac Davis headstone, Acton Town Common, Acton, Massachusetts.
who was Slain in battle at
Concord April ye 19th 1775 in
the Defence of ye just rights
and Liberties of his Country
Civil & Religious. He was a loving
Husband a tender Father & a
Kind Neighbour an Ingenious
Craftsman & Serviceable to
Mankind died in ye prime of
life Aged 30 Years 1 m & 25 days.
Is there not an appointed time to man
upon ye earth? Are not his days also like
the days of an hireling?
As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth
away, so he that goeth down to the grave
shall come up no more.
He shall return no more to his house,
neither shall his place know him any
more. Job VII ver 1, 9, 10.
To learn more, read these excellent books:
- The Battle of April 19, 1775, in Lexington, Concord, Lincoln, Arlington, Cambridge, Somerville and Charlestown, Massachusetts, by Frank Warren Coburn, revised 1922.
- The Minute Men—The First Fight: Myths and Realities of the American Revolution, by John R. Galvin, revised 2006.
Isaac Davis’ (1745-19 Apr 1775) sister married Silas Taylor, uncle of Levi Wetherbee II, 3rd cousin 7x removed of MKS in the Wetherbee branch.
 “The Minute Men, The First Fight: Myths and Realities of the American Revolution,” John R. Galvin, Potomoc Books, Inc., 1989.