John Parker was born in Lexington, Massachusetts, on July 13, 1729. Parker played a prominent role in the first battle of the War for Independence, as leader of the volunteer American militia known as the Minutemen.
On the night of April 18, 1775, Parker received warning of the approach of the king’s soldiers under Major John Pitcairn. Parker assembled about seventy volunteers to face the British. In the ensuing skirmish on Lexington Green on April 19, eight Americans were killed and ten were wounded.
The Minutemen followed the British forces to Concord, sniping at them as they retreated. According to legend, the colonists adopted “Yankee Doodle” as their theme song.
Captain John Parker’s words, spoken as the British Redcoats approached the town, are engraved on the Line of the Minute Men Memorial.
John Parker had served as a soldier in the French and Indian War, participating in the fighting at Louisbourg and Quebec. In peacetime, he made his living as a farmer and a mechanic and held various small-town offices.
Little is known of Captain Parker’s activities in the months following the opening battles of the Revolution. He did not participate in the Battle of Bunker Hill, possibly due to the illness that led to his death on September 17, 1775.
- For more photographs, search on Capt. Parker, Minutemen, or Lexington in Detroit Publishing Company.
- To learn more about the Revolutionary War era, see To Form a More Perfect Union: An Introduction to the Congressional Documents, a special presentation from the collection Documents from the Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789.
- Primary Documents in American History: The American Revolution and the New Nation is a rich source of materials for this era.
- Visit the Web site for Minute Man National Historic Park, which winds along the original battlegrounds.