Capt. John Parker to be dying of intake when he led 70 militiamen versus 700 british regulars throughout the battle of Lexington.

You are watching: Who said don t fire unless fired upon


Capt. John Parker, Detroit posting Co., courtesy Library the Congress

Born July 13, 1729, in Lexington, Mass., he had lived 45 years and didn’t have actually one more left. Yet his military experience made him a natural an option to command the local militia. That had dealt with in the French and also Indian War, then cleared up down together a farmer, mechanic and also town officer. He and also his wife, Lydia Moore Parker, had actually seven children.

His grandson, Theodore Parker, defined him together “a great, high man, v a huge head, and a high, broad brow.”

On April 18, 1775, locals had seen redcoats in the area, including an installed officers. The night, Paul Revere and other to express riders swarmed the countryside, spreading the alarm.

A messenger had actually roused Parker from his sickbed to tell the the brothers regulars had left Boston and also were headed towards Concord.

John Parker left his home in the wee hrs of April 19 and walked two miles come the Lexington Green. There, 30 militiamen — farmers mostly — waited in the dark for the come of british troops. Parker sent two males to enlightenment the British. One went back saying he’d checked out nothing. In ~ the cracked of dawn the other scout came galloping up the road shouting the regulars were just a mile behind him.

Parker ordered the drummer come beat a speak to to arms. He inside wall up his 77 militiamen in two lines on the Lexington green. Then he dubbed the roll, and told them to load their guns with powder and also ball.

The British

Lt. Col. Francis Smith, commander of the exploration to Concord, had his own scouts. Native them the learned the militia might try to oppose his troops on your march come Concord. He ordered a offhanded of irradiate infantry come march ahead under the command the Maj. Man Pitcairn.

As the redcoats came right into view, some heard Parker say, “Stand her ground. Don’t fire unless fired upon, yet if they average to have a war, allow it begin here.” Paul Revere, off to the side, heard him say, “Let the soldiers pass by. Do not molest them there is no they begin first.”

A brothers officer, more than likely Pitcairn, climate yelled, “Throw down your arms! Ye villains, ye rebels!”

Parker ordered his men to disperse, however they didn’t all hear him, perhaps because his disease left him v a raspy voice. Part men had turned your backs when the renowned shot go off. The redcoats fired in ~ the militiamen and then charged with bayonets. Col. Francis Smith climate arrived v the key body and also saw brothers soldiers to run amok. He ordered his drummer come play “Down Arms,” again and also again. Finally the troops went back to their ranks.

John Parker experienced his cousin, Jonas Parker, lying on the ground, bayoneted come death. Seven various other Americans died, eight were wounded. Col. Blacksmith ordered the men to march on to Concord to seize arms and ammunition. The brothers fired a victory volley and also marched the end of Lexington.


Line of the Minutemen Memorial, courtesy Library the Congress

In Concord, 500 militiamen forced the british troops come retreat–back v Lexington.

Parker’s Revenge

Parker rallied his men, as soon as they’d obtained over their shock and also bandaged your wounds. They reformed follow me the road the British would certainly take ~ above their method back come Boston. As soon as the redcoats appeared, Parker’s males fired ~ above them indigenous behind rocks and also trees in an attack called “Parker’s Revenge.” One musket ball hit Lt. Col. Blacksmith in the thigh and also knocked the from his horse.

Archaeologists in 2017 located and also mapped Parker’s Revenge. Lock concluded that the British were ordered to line up close to the bottom of a granite outcrop. Parker’s men fired one volley, then turned and also ran end the hill, planning to intercept the redcoats again. The british troops climate fired a single time and ran after ~ the militiamen, bayonets fixed. (Watch the video clip here.)

Colonial pressures repeated those methods as the brother retreated, inflicting hefty casualties. They eliminated 79 british soldiers and also wounded 174, shedding 49 themselves end the course of the day.


John Parker participated in the Siege that Boston, which started as quickly as the brothers returned. But his tuberculosis developed to the suggest that the couldn’t join in the battle of Bunker Hill. He died on Sept. 17, 1775.

His grandson, abolitionist Theodore Parker, assisted keep his memory alive. Parker inherited his eloquence, inspiring some of the most well-known speeches through Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. In the 19th century, Parker provided two of man Parker’s muskets come the commonwealth of Massachusetts. Lock hung in the Senate room in the Statehouse till a remodeling in 2018.

See more: Is 1 Relatively Prime To Any Number, Coprime Integers

The frosting The Lexington Minuteman, put up in 1900, is claimed to it is in modeled ~ above Capt. Man Parker, though there space no known likenesses the him.