Video: Patriots Day: Parker’s Revenge recalls the emotions of battle

Ian B. Murphy

They were scared, and they were bloodied. Capt. John Parker’s company had seen the horrors of war firsthand on the morning of April 19, 1775. Eight of their ranks had been killed, and several more injured by the British volley on the Battle Green.

But they were angry too, and courageous. Parker summoned that courage, reformed his militia, and led the company to the very edge of Lexington. They found a boulder-laden hill covered in shrubs, and they waited.

When the battle-weary British column, now returning to Boston, approached Parker’s position his company let off a stinging musket volley that unhorsed a British major and wreaked havoc on the regulars.

The site of the skirmish is known as Parker’s Revenge, and this year the Lexington Minutemen will march to the site from the Battle Green and commemorate the battle Saturday before Patriots Day.

For Lexington’s militia, Parker’s Revenge marks an important facet of the daylong battle.

“This was a very emotional thing for the men from Lexington,” said William Poole, a member of today’s Lexington Minute Men who serves at the 2nd Lieutenant of Muskets. “This is where they exacted their revenge.”

For the British, Parker’s Revenge was only a small piece of a very long day. They had marched from Boston to Lexington, and once they swept aside the minutemen on the Battle Green, they continued on to Concord to commandeer weapons and supplies stockpiled there.

Instead of the stockpiles they found heavy resistance from Concord’s militia, and left the town empty-handed. The British force of 700 began its march back to Boston, and was constantly harassed by the 1,600 militia that Paul Revere and William Dawes had alerted.

“The minute companies in particular, these militia, they [were] highly organized military units,” said Paul O’Shaughnessy, Lt. Colonel of 10th Regiment of Foot. “[Parker’s men] were both pretty angry and quite effective.”

Poole, O’Shaughnessy, and the other reenactors hope to portray those emotions as closely as possible not only to recreate the scene, but to pay tribute to the men who lived, and died, during the real thing.

“We feel very close to [the battle],” said Poole. “We feel very close to the history, and the people who lived that history. We want to express as much respect for them as we can.”

“We do it for our own sense of accomplishment, but everyone is very cognizant that they are walking over the same ground and in the same place as somebody who did this in reality over two centuries ago,” O’Shaughnessy said.

This year’s ceremonies will also serve as a sort of dry run, as next year is the 50th anniversary of Minute Man National Historical Park, when the battle may be recreated on a much larger scale. There will be battle recreations at Hartwell Tavern, and this year, at Tower Park at 4 p.m. on Saturday. The Minute Men will leave from the Battle Green on their march at 9 a.m.

“If we can expand the event for the day, it would fit nicely to have an expanded event next year both for its own merits but also to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the national park,” O’Shaughnessy said. “If the towns want to get behind this, the sky’s the limit.”