Stand Your Ground
Lexington, Massachusetts, April 19, 1775
In the early hours of April 19, 1775, Captain John Parker was alerted to mobilize the Lexington Company of the Middlesex, County Brigade, Massachusetts Militia in anticipation of a British 700 man-force which was marching to Concord to capture provincial arms. By 2 a.m. Parker had mustered his company on the Lexington Green. The Lexington Company of militia was typical of the period. The youngest militiaman was 18, the oldest 63; eight fathers and sons served together. Most were farmers, while some were veterans of the French and Indian War. Just after sunrise Parker and his 77 militiamen stood in defiance of the British advance guard. "Stand your ground," Parker ordered. "Don't fire unless fired upon. But if they want to have a war let it begin here." Major John Pitcairn, commander of the British advance guard, ordered the militiamen to lay down their arms. Realizing that his company was outnumbered, Parker ordered his men to disperse. As the militiamen began to break ranks, a British officer fired his pistol. Without orders, the British troops opened fire. Although greatly outnumbered, the militiamen returned the fire. The battle went on for several minutes all around the Green. When it was over eight Americans lay dead and nine were wounded. The British quickly resumed their march. Later that morning, Captain Parker reorganized his unit and marched to Concord. The Lexington Company would later fight in the Battle of Bunker Hill and form a company for service in the Continental Army. However, few of its members on that fateful April morning realized that the Battle of Lexington would lead to the Revolutionary War and American Independence. The Lexington Company and the Middlesex County Brigade are perpetuated by the 181st and 182d Infantry Regiments, Massachusetts Army National Guard.
A National Guard Heritage Painting by Don Troiani