But, perhaps, there is no more famous a myth-maker as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who turned Paul Revere into a national hero in the days leading to the Civil War. Despite what his poem claimed, Paul Revere did not wait on the banks of Charlestown to see the signal from the Old North Church ("one if by land, two if by sea"); he actually helped set them up as a back-up signal, in case he didn't reach his destination. He did not row himself to the opposite shore, but was rowed over by friends. He did not go to "every Middlesex village and farm," but only a select few. His main goal was to reach the Hancock-Clarke House in Lexington, just off the battle green.
Perhaps most importantly, Paul Revere did not ride alone. He was one of dozens of riders that day, including William Dawes and Samuel Prescott. Longfellow was aware of all the available data on the historic ride and purposely chose to ignore it to create a composite character that would inspire his generation.
This is perhaps of no great importance, but, generally speaking, fact is better in history than fiction.
Longfellow left just enough wiggle room to suggest that, for the sake of a poem, perhaps fiction can be useful in history.