(Lincoln, Mass.) – National and local preservation leaders gathered today at Minute Man National Historical Park (NHP), the wellspring of the American Revolution, to announce a national fundraising campaign to preserve and study the historic battleground of Parker’s Revenge, a stirring American counterattack against withdrawing British forces on the first day of the Revolutionary War.
According to James Lighthizer, president of the Civil War Trust and its Campaign 1776 initiative, the fundraising campaign has the dual object of helping to acquire one acre of critical battlefield land at Parker’s Revenge while also underwriting archaeological research to further tell the story of Captain Parker and his Lexington militia company.
“When the Friends of Minute Man National Park came to us with this opportunity, we knew we had to help,” said Lighthizer. “We are thrilled to be able to fulfill the essence of our mission — saving hallowed ground — at the site of Parker’s Revenge, and equally eager to assist Friends of Minute Man National Park with their archaeological investigation to better understand this important but often-forgotten struggle along the Battle Road.”
Joining Lighthizer at the news conference held at the NPS visitor center were: Tom Lauer, chairman of Campaign 1776 and a Civil War Trust board member; Jack Warren, executive director of the American Revolution Institute of the Society of the Cincinnati; Robert Morris, president of the Friends of Minute Man National Park; and Nancy Nelson, superintendent of Minute Man NHP. Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian David Hackett Fischer added his voice to the proceedings by explaining the role of Parker’s Revenge in the context of the better known Battles of Lexington and Concord.
The fundraising campaign announced today seeks to raise $300,000 for the purchase of one acre of wooded land that was part of the battleground as well as $25,000 for an archaeology grant to Friends of Minute Man to study of the Parker’s Revenge site.
“The Society of the Cincinnati is delighted to join with Campaign 1776 in support of these important initiatives,” said Warren. “We’re honored to be able to help preserve this battleground and excited to be a part of the archaeological project that will study it. Saving these battlefields and reviving interest in the war that forged our nation is a duty we owe to the brave men who secured our independence and the liberties we enjoy today.”
“The archaeology grant will provide a tremendous boost to the project we began three years ago to investigate and restore the Parker’s Revenge battleground,” said Morris. “Our study is the first serious effort to use the tangible evidence provided by archaeology to understand where and how this historic engagement unfolded. As part of our commitment to robust inquiry, we have assembled an 11-member advisory committee that includes not only top historians of the Revolutionary War, but leading academics, military representatives and civic leaders.”
“Parker’s Revenge includes more than 40 acres of long overgrown farm fields, meadows, woodlots and farmsteads. The significant action on April 19, 1775, took place right next to the park’s Minute Man Visitor Center, where thou-sands of visitors begin their tour of the park,” said Nelson. “The Parker’s Revenge area has escaped intense development over time, and all of us at the park are excited about what this long-needed archaeological project will reveal.”
The new, one-acre acquisition is only 300 yards northwest of the visitor center, adjacent to land preserved by NPS. Campaign 1776 has an agreement in principle to purchase the tract from the Town of Lincoln. The goal is to eventually incorporate the property into the national park.
The archaeology grant is the first awarded through the Rediscovering the Revolution Battlefield Archaeology Pro-gram, created by Campaign 1776 and the Society of the Cincinnati to facilitate important research into the often-undocumented fighting that occurred during the course of the Revolutionary War.
“This grant is the first of many,” said Lauer. “The important archaeological information uncovered by the work funded by this program will help us better understand where and how the fighting took place. Knowing precisely where the fighting occurred is crucial to our mission of preserving hallowed ground.”
The general site of Parker’s Revenge is known, but archeologists will use the latest techniques and tools to uncovering relics and other information to better understand this struggle on a rocky hillside along Battle Road.
The Rediscovering the Revolution Battlefield Archaeology Program will provide funding for survey work, excavation, analysis and/or interpretation of battlefields from the Revolutionary War. This year’s application deadline is Veterans Day, November 11, and awards will be announced no later than Feb. 15, 2016.
The historic engagement known as Parker’s Revenge occurred on the afternoon of the first day of the Revolutionary War, April 19, 1775, after American blood was first shed on Lexington Green and at Concord. Years later, an eye-witness who was on Lexington Green recalled Captain John Parker saying: “Stand your ground! Don’t fire unless fired upon! But, if they want to have a war, let it begin here.” Parker later regrouped his men on a rocky hillside to the west of Lexington Green. There, he would confront the Redcoats on their return march to Boston.
Parker’s ambush — his “revenge” for the blood his men spilled at Lexington Green — bloodied and slowed the Redcoats and wounded a British colonel. Parker’s disciplined, coordinated attack was a key engagement in a series of skirmishes and ambushes that turned an orderly British march into a desperate retreat.
Campaign 1776 is a project of the Civil War Trust, America’s largest and most effective battlefield preservation organization. Its purpose is to protect the battlefields of the Revolutionary War and War of 1812, and to educate the public about the importance of these battlefields in forging the nation we are today. Learn more: www.campaign1776.org.
The American Revolution Institute of the Society of the Cincinnati promotes knowledge and appreciation of the achievement of American independence, fulfilling the aim of the Continental Army officers who founded the Society of the Cincinnati in 1783. The Institute supports advanced scholarship, conducts public programs, advocates preservation and makes resources available to teachers and students to enrich understanding of our War for Independence and the principles of those who secured the liberty of the American people. Learn more: www.societyofthecincinnati.org.
Campaign 1776 was created in 2014 as an initiative of the Civil War Trust; in May 2018 it became the Revolutionary War Trust, a division of the American Battlefield Trust.