Summary of Parker’s Revenge
Parker’s Revenge took place on April 19, 1775, as British forces marched back to Boston following the Battle of Lexington and the Battle of Concord. Earlier in the day, the British had routed the Lexington Militia, under the command of Captain John Parker. However, Parker gathered his men, reorganized them, and waited for the British to return. Parker and his men took positions on small hills on the west side of Lexington, along the road. Some of the men who were with Parker had already fought against the British earlier in the day, and they were all looking for revenge on the British. From Concord to the outskirts of Lexington, Massachusetts militia harassed and fired on the British column. When the British marched into view of Parker and his men, they opened fire. The British commander, Colonel Francis Smith was wounded and Lieutenant John Pitcairn took the command. The British continued their march and when they reached Fiske’s Hill, more militia attacked. Pitcairn was thrown from his horse and injured. At that point, just outside of Lexington, the British were in disarray and some of them started to run back to Boston. The officers restored order and the soldiers fill into their ranks. Around the same time, British reinforcements arrived led by General Hugh Percy. The British continued their march through Lexington and on to Boston, along the Battle Road. However, thousands of militia were waiting for them just outside of Boston, in a town called Menotomy.
This illustration by Charles Stanley Reinhart depicts the Massachusetts militia ambushing the British on the march back to Boston. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.
5 Key Facts About Parker’s Revenge
- Date Started: The fighting started on Wednesday, April 19, 1775.
- Date Ended: The fighting ended on April 19, 1775.
- Location: The battle was fought near the border of Lincoln and Lexington, Massachusetts.
- Who Won: Lexington militia won Parker’s Revenge.
- American Revolutionary War Campaign: The battle was part of the Boston Campaign.
Key Events in Parker’s Revenge
British March to Concord
- On the evening of April 18, 1775, British troops left Boston to advance on Concord with the objective of confiscating a cache of colonial arms and ammunition.
- The British troops were under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith. The advance guard was under the command of Major James Pitcairn.
Warren Sends the Midnight Riders
- American spies learned of the British plan and notified Joseph Warren, the head of the Committee of Safety.
- Warren sent Paul Revere and William Dawes on horseback to warn the people between Boston and Concord about the British march.
- Revere and Dawes both made it to Lexington, and they were joined by a third rider, Dr. Samuel Prescott.
- Revere warned Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who were at the home of Jonas Clarke.
- Prescott rode to Concord and raised the alarm.
Battle of Lexington
- Lexington militia assembled on Lexington Common, under the command of Captain John Paker.
- Around 5:00 a.m., Pitcairn ordered his men to move into the town and surround the militia.
- Pitcairn ordered the militia to disperse and leave their weapons.
- Parker ordered his men to leave but took their weapons with them, which caused confusion.
- As the Americans started to disperse, a shot rang out.
- Almost immediately, the British fired on the militia, even though Pitcairn had not given the order to fire.
- Some of the militia fired back, and the British made a bayonet charge and routed them.
- Lieutenant Colonel Smith heard the shots and rode into Lexington where he restored order.
- The fighting lasted for about 10 minutes.
- After order was restored, the British continued their march to Concord.
This illustration depicts American militiamen marching to fight during the American Revolutionary War. Image Source: Library of Congress.
Battle of Concord
- British forces marched to Concord to look for the hidden weapons, ammunition, and military stores.
- Massachusetts militia forces gathered on the hills and ridges overlooking the town.
- When the British arrived, they searched the town and some nearby farms and found some cannons, carriages for transporting the cannons, and a few other supplies.
- The British set fire to the carriages and some supplies.
- The smoke rose above the town, and when the militia on the hills saw it they thought the British were burning the town.
- The American officers decided to organize the militia and minutemen and march to save Concord.
- The Americans marched toward Concord but had to cross the North Bridge, which was guarded by British soldiers.
- A fierce skirmish broke out and the Americans forced the British to retreat into Concord.
- The fighting stopped and the British eventually left Concord and started their march back to Boston.
- Thousands of Massachusetts militia were gathered along the road, on both sides. They were on hills and hidden behind walls, rocks, trees, and buildings. They ambushed the British several times along the way.
This engraving by Amos Doolittle from 1775 depicts the engagement at the North Bridge in Concord. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.
Aftermath of Parker’s Revenge
British Return to Lexington
- The British passed through the village of Lincoln into the outskirts of Lexington.
- Parker and his men were gathered on a small hill, waiting for the British to march past.
- When the British came into sight, the militia opened fire.
- At least one British officer was killed.
- The British returned fire.
- About a quarter of a mile down the road was Bull’s Tavern. The British went in and stole food and drink to take with them on their march.
Fighting at Fiske Hill
- As the British made their way toward Fiske Hill, the militia opened fire again.
- Colonel Smith was injured when he was shot in the leg.
- Pitcairn was thrown from his horse. The horse ran off toward the Americans, who captured it and kept Pitcairn’s pistols, which were in the equipment carried by the horse.
Incident at the Fiske House
- At the bottom of Fiske Hill was the home of Benjamin Fiske.
- Fiske and his family had left the house, and British troops went inside and took food and other supplies.
- One British soldier was leaving the house when James Hayward of Acton tried to stop him.
- Both raised their guns and fired.
- The British soldier was instantly killed.
- Hayward was mortally wounded but lived for another eight hours.
British Break Ranks at Concord Hill
- The British made their way up the road that went over Concord Hill, and they were running short on ammunition.
- All around there, there were militia and minutemen. Ensign de Berniere, described it as “There could not be less than 5,000, so they kept the road always lined, and a very hot fire on us without intermission.”
- The Americans increased their fire and some of the British started to run down the road on the other side of Concord Hill.
- Some British troops were captured and taken back to Buckman Tavern.
British Enter Lexington and Reinforcements Arrive
- The British made their way into Lexington.
- Once again, militia units were assembled on Lexington Common, but this time the British moved past them as fast as they could, trying to return to Boston.
- About a half-mile past the Common, British reinforcements under the command of General Percy arrived. By that time, it was mid-afternoon, sometime between 2:00 and 3:00.
- Percy had artillery with him and fired up the road toward the Common where the Americans were. It forced the Americans to scatter and it was likely the first use of cannons in the American Revolutionary War.
- Percy ordered his men to set up a hospital and headquarters as Munroe Tavern and he sent patrols out to clear the area of the Americans.
Looting in Lexington
- While Smith’s troops rested, some of Percy’s men made their way back to the edge of Lexington.
- The British looted some homes and set fire to a few buildings. They also pushed over some stone walls. Many other homes and buildings were damaged by Percy’s men.
- As Percy’s men marched back to Boston, they did the same to other homes along the road.
Heath and Warren Arrive at Lexington
- Around 3:30, two prominent Americans, General William Heath of Roxbury and Joseph Warren of Boston.
- When Heath arrived, he was considered the officer in charge, due to his rank and he worked to reorganize the militia that had been scattered by Percy’s artillery.
Doctor Joseph Warren was an early leader of the Patriot cause in Boston. On April 19, 1775, he joined the fight soon after the British returned to Lexington. Image Source: National Portrait Gallery.
British Leave Lexington
- Percy ordered his men to start the march back to Boston.
- As Percy marched into East Lexington and then out of the town, there were nearly 2,000 Americans following the British column.
- The next town along the way was Menotomy, where more Americans were waiting to ambush the British. It was around 4:30 in the afternoon when the British crossed from Lexington into Menotomy.
Interesting Facts About Parker’s Revenge
The Death of John Raymond
- John Raymond, who was disabled, mixed drinks for the British at the Munroe Tavern.
- When he tried to escape, he was shot and killed by the Redcoats.
The Legend of Pitcairn’s Pistols
- Pitcairn’s horse ran off into the American lines, where it was captured.
- The saddlebags and other equipment were removed, which included two of Pitcairn’s pistols.
- The pistols had silver mountings and Pitcairn’s initials were engraved on them.
- According to historian Frank W. Coburn, the equipment was sold at an auction in Concord, and the pistols were purchased by Captain Nathan Barrett.
- Barrett offered them to George Washington, but Washington declined the gift.
- Next, Barrett offered them to Israel Putnam, who accepted them and carried them with him for the rest of the war.
- They stayed in the Putnam family until 1879 when they were donated to the Lexington Historical Society.
- Today, the pistols are on display at the Hancock-Clarke House in Lexington.
Results of the Parker’s Revenge
- The outcome of Parker’s Revenge was a victory for the Lexington Militia who joined in chasing the British back to Boston.
- Fighting continued as the British continued the march along Battle Road, through Lexington to Boston.
Important Leaders and Casualties
Prominent American Military Leaders
- John Parker
Prominent British Military Leaders
- Francis Smith
- John Pitcairn
- Hugh Percy
- The total estimated casualties at the Battle of Concord were around 465 killed, wounded, or missing.
- The Americans suffered around 95 casualties.
- The British suffered around 370 casualties.
Parker’s Revenge was important because it showed how determined the men in the Lexington Militia were, even after having been crushed by the Redcoats earlier in the day. Parker and his men could have simply gone home and left the fighting to others. In fact, Parker himself was already sick from tuberculosis and would die around five months later. After the British passed through Lexington, Parker and his men joined the other Massachusetts militia units in chasing them back to Boston. Once they arrived, Parker and his men joined in the Siege of Boston.
Timeline of Parker’s Revenge
This list shows the main battles and events that took place before and after Parker’s Revenge, and how it fits into the chronological order of the Boston Campaign.
- April 18–19, 1775 — Midnight Rides of Paul Revere, William Dawes, and Samuel Prescott
- April 19, 1775 — Battle of Lexington
- April 19, 1775 — Battle of Concord
- April 19, 1775 — Parker’s Revenge
- April 19, 1775 — Battle of Menotomy
- April 19, 1775 — Siege of Boston Started
- April 23, 1775 — Artemas Ward was Placed in Command of the Massachusetts Militia Forces
- May 10, 1775 — Capture of Fort Ticonderoga
- May 10, 1775 — Second Continental Congress Started
- May 25, 1775 — British Generals John Burgoyne, Henry Clinton, and William Howe arrived in Boston
- May 27, 1775 — Battle of Chelsea Creek
- June 14, 1775 — Continental Congress Organized the Army of Occupation into the Continental Army
- June 15, 1775 — George Washington was Named Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army
- June 17, 1775 — Battle of Bunker Hill
- July 3, 1775 — George Washington Took Command of the Continental Army
- October 10, 1775 — William Howe Replaced Thomas Gage
- November 9, 1775 — Skirmish at Lechmere Point
- November 17, 1775 — Knox Expedition Left Boston
- January 25, 1776 — Knox Expedition Arrived in Framingham
- March 3, 1776 — American Occupation of Dorchester Heights
- March 7, 1776 — Howe Decided to Evacuate Boston
- March 17, 1776 — Evacuation Day
Video of Parker’s Revenge
This video from the National Park Service discusses the site where Parker’s Revenge took place on April 19, 1775.