"Battle of Lexington, 19th April, 1775" Engine Panel Painting

In the nineteenth century, volunteer fire companies often commissioned paintings to decorate their hand-pumped fire engines for parades, competitions, and community events. Sometimes framed with elaborate carvings, they adorned the tall air chamber located at the middle or rear of a pumper. The paintings would often feature patriotic, heroic, or allegorical images to associate the volunteer companies with these lofty ideals.
This engine panel painting came from the Lexington Fire Engine Company No. 7 of New York City. The volunteer company was active from December 26, 1849 until September 18, 1865. The painting was signed by artist M. Betsch, and was completed around 1849. The painting is the artist’s interpretation of the skirmish between the American militia and British troops on April 19, 1775 on the Lexington Green. This military engagement is characterized as the first battle of the Revolutionary War. The Lexington Fire Company used this painting to link their company to the patriotic deeds of their predecessors. This painting and its companion piece (object 2005.0233.0301) would have adorned the sides of the company’s engine.
Currently not on view
Object Name
painting, engine panel
date made
ca 1849
Betsch, M.
Physical Description
composite wood (overall material)
oil paint (image material)
overall: 30 in x 17 1/2 in; 76.2 cm x 44.45 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Fire Fighting
Cultures & Communities
Firefighting Collection
Engine Panel Paintings
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Engine Panel Paintings
Firefighting Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.