Captain John Parker – Lexington

Captain John Parker. Age 46 on the morning of April, 19th, 1775. He’d been a soldier in the French and Indian War. He was the father of seven. Puritan. Farmer. Head of the Lexington Militia.** Dying of tuberculosis.

The leaders of the militia were not appointed, they were elected. Parker wasn’t the smartest or the richest man in town. But he was well respected.

On that fateful morning, after getting word that the Regulars were out, Parker gathered his forces on the Lexington Common. The men he commanded that morning were friends, family, neighbors. Some of the younger men, John had known since they were born. It was not lightly that he ordered these men, “Don’t fire unless fired upon. But if they mean to have a war, let it start here.”

They stood on the Green that morning, not to start trouble, not to start a war. Over the last few months, General Gage had sent troops out into the countryside several times to confiscate arms and powder. The Colonials had made a show of standing, not to fight, but to let the Redcoats know they were there. On a recent occasion, Colonials had stood fast and the Redcoats had been turned away empty handed. No shots were fired.

Parker may have expected a similar effect. Though he knew that the Regulars were headed to Concord, he was not about to let them come into Lexington without resistance. There is also speculation that the Lexington boys were there to stand between the Redcoats and Sam Adams and John Hancock, who were staying just up the road from the Green.

When faced with a force over ten times the size of his band of brothers, Parker ordered his men to disburse. When they turned to leave, a shot rang out. In the following volleys from the Redcoats, seven of his friends were killed, seventeen more wounded. His cousin, Jonas, lay dead as well. The last thing Parker heard as he got his boys to safety was a victory cheer from the Redcoats.

Huzzah, huzzah, huzzah!

Parker would not forget. The same Redcoats that left his men dead and injured on the Green would have to come back through Lexington later in the day.

Parker would have his revenge.

** Lexington didn’t have a militia, it had a training band.