What did Captain John Parker say at the Battle of Lexington?

Answered by Robert Dupre

At the Battle of Lexington on April 19, 1775, Captain John Parker played a crucial role in leading the colonial militia against British troops. While there are variations in the recollections of his exact words, it is clear that Parker’s message emphasized the need to stand firm and defend their rights.

According to some accounts, Parker’s order to his men was, “Stand your ground. Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.” This statement reflects his determination to protect the rights of the colonists and his willingness to confront the British forces if necessary.

However, it is worth noting that another famous patriot, Paul Revere, recalled Parker’s words differently. Revere stated that Parker instructed his men to “Let the soldiers pass by. Do not molest them without they begin first.” This variation suggests a slightly more restrained approach, where the militia would not initiate hostilities but would defend themselves if attacked.

The differences in these recollections could be attributed to the chaotic nature of the battle and the passage of time. Eyewitness accounts often vary, and it is not uncommon for different individuals to recall events differently.

Regardless of the exact wording, Parker’s message conveyed a resolute commitment to defending the rights of the colonists. As the British troops approached Lexington Green, Parker and his men stood their ground, ready to defend their homeland against what they saw as an encroachment on their liberties.

Captain John Parker’s leadership and his words at Lexington played a significant role in the early stages of the American Revolution. His commitment to standing up to British forces helped inspire others to join the cause and fight for independence.

It is important to remember that history is often shaped by the recollections and perspectives of those who document it. While the precise words spoken by Parker may remain somewhat uncertain, the essence of his message and the significance of his actions on that fateful day are not diminished. The Battle of Lexington marked a pivotal moment in American history, and Captain John Parker’s role in it should be remembered as a testament to the spirit of resistance and determination that fueled the American Revolution.