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Saving the Battlefields Where America Was Forged

A Project of the Civil War Trust |  civilwar.org

Archaeology Pinpoints Site

of Parker’s Revenge near Lexington
Hallowed Ground Magazine, Winter 2015 Issue

More than 240 years after the “shot heard ’round the world,” a critical element of the battles of Lexington and Concord came into sharper focus than ever before this past autumn, thanks to the first-ever archaeological study of the engagement known as Parker’s Revenge.

Meg Watters

Dr. Meg Watters, the project's chief archaeologist. (Jack Warren)

After taking casualties on the Lexington Green in the early morning, Capt. John Parker rallied his Lexington Militia on a wooded hillside to harass the British retreat back to Boston following the action at Concord. A 44-acre area has long been acknowledged as the site of this action, but the exact positions of the colonial forces had remained unidentified.

But now, following an archaeological survey utilizing both traditional and high-tech methods, researchers have located a tight cluster of battlefield-related artifacts, indicating the location of Parker’s militia when they opened fire. Recovered to date have been 10 musket balls — some dropped accidentally, others fired and flattened by impact with a tree, rock or person — and a delicate copper waistcoat button. All of these artifacts, the only ones discovered by the project, were recovered within 80 yards of each other — approximately the effective firing range of period musket.

“What we have found to date is very significant,” said Dr. Meg Watters, the project’s archaeologist. “Due to the location and spatial patterning of the musket balls recovered, we now know the exact place where individuals were standing during the battle, allowing us to begin to paint a much clearer picture about what happened that day.”

The project has been spearheaded by Friends of Minute Man National Park, and received the first-ever grant from the Rediscovering the Revolution Battlefield Archaeology Program, a joint national initiative of Campaign 1776 and the American Revolution Institute of the Society of the Cincinnati.

Musket Ball

Musket Ball. (Jack Warren)

“It is extremely gratifying to be able to use modern technology to reveal this history and heroism,” said Friends of Minute Man president Bob Morris.  “You don’t have to be a professional historian to be moved by being able to stand in the exact spot where this battle took place, look down the road and imagine the militia anticipating the British column's advance.”

Additional excavations and metallic surveys continued through the autumn, after which the focus shifted to battlefield rehabilitation and landscape restoration, as well as interpretation. Watters presented of her findings at the Society of the Cincinnati on December 9, 2015. Visit www.societyofthecincinnati.org for more details.

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