Paul Revere was heavily involved in a variety of activities during the period preceding the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. As an engraver, he made, printed and distributed engravings portraying incidents in which the British were made to look like ridiculous or threatening. Revere was one of the "Indians" involved in the Boston Tea Party.
He also served as a transmitter of communications and information many times, alerting colonial militia leaders and governmental representatives of actions and movements by British troops or of new British restrictions that required action of some sort. On the evening of April 18-19, 1775, Revere rowed a boat across the Charles River, then rode his horse to Concord to warn the colonial militia leaders of approaching British troops. The fighting between the British and the colonials that took place on April 19, 1775 marked the first formal battles between the two sides.
Revere had warned colonial leadership of British plans to march from Boston to Concord a few days before, which gave the colonials time to move most of the armaments that had been stored at Concord before the fighting broke out. Revere's ride, however, spread the word and allowed the militia to gather sufficient forces to succeed in repulsing the British troops, giving the colonists a victory in the first battle of what came to be the Revolutionary War.
The poem, Paul Revere's Ride, could be more important as part of the Civil War then as part of the Revolutionary War. It was published in the January-1861 issue of the The Atlantic magazine on December 20, 1860, just as South Carolina became the first state to secede from the United States. Longfellow meant to appeal to Northerners' sense of urgency and, as a call for action, noted that history favors the courageous.