Thursday, Apr 26, 2012
One of the key battle sites in Minute Man National Historical Park, which preserves sites of the battle of Lexington and Concord which ignited the American Revolution, is the rocky promontory known as “Parker’s Revenge.”
Over recent years, Parker’s Revenge has received more attention, particularly from the Lexington Minute Men, who now include the site as part of their celebrations during Patriot’s Day weekend. This year, on Saturday, April 14th, the commemoration included a tactical weapons demonstration based upon the most current research about the engagement. As Colonial militia and British regulars fired their muskets, history came alive for a crowd of thousands.
On April 19, 1775, Captain Parker and his company of Lexington militia received the first fire of the British regulars at dawn on their own town common, and suffered a devastating loss. By mid-morning they were once again collected and ready to take revenge. Emotions ran high.
Here’s what happened next, as told by Lexington veteran, Nathan Monroe: “About the middle of the forenoon, Captain Parker, having collected part of his company, marched them towards Concord, I being with them. We met the regulars in the bounds of Lincoln, about noon, retreating towards Boston. We fired on them, and continued so to do until they met their reinforcements in Lexington.”
Jedediah Monroe, wounded on the common that morning, was killed, as were John Raymond and Nathaniel Wyman. Another Lexington man, Francis Brown, was badly wounded. Possibly, two British soldiers were killed.
Although the action at Parker’s Revenge is prominently featured in most books about the events of April 19th, it is difficult to be sure of the precise location of the engagement. The widely accepted site was put forward by authors such as Frank Warren Coburn and General John Galvin, who was NATO's supreme allied commander in Europe from 1987 to 1992 as well as a historian and a dean at Tufts University. In researching his book, The Minute Men: The First Fight: Myths and Realities of the American Revolution, Galvin analyzed the accounts, walked the terrain, and drew on his military experience to identify the most likely spot.
His choice of location is further corroborated by artifacts found at the site in 1895 by local farmer, John Lannon. When removing a boulder from the hill, Lannon uncovered a sword, possibly British, buried at a depth of four feet. He also discovered a flattened musket ball at the site – further evidence that fighting had taken place there.
A new opportunity to explore the Parker’s Revenge site will be available at Minute Man Visitor Center this year. Park visitors can borrow a packet of maps and historic accounts to explore the site first-hand. Visitors will be encouraged to play historian and develop their own theories about this significant action.