Archaeologists using 21st-century technology are mapping out the exact spots British soldiers and Colonial militiamen were standing as they fired at each other during a pivotal skirmish on the first day of the American Revolution. Parker's Revenge, as the fight is known, occurred on April 19, 1775, after the battles of Lexington and Concord as the redcoats retreated to Boston. Capt. John Parker, commander of the 77-member Lexington militia, had met the 700-strong British column on the green at 5:30am. Eight of his men were killed and 10 wounded. Undaunted, Parker planned his revenge, positioning his remaining men on a rocky hillside on the border of Lexington and Lincoln, now in the Minute Man National Historical Site, and awaiting the return of the British early in the afternoon.
"Parker met a force approximately 10 times his size and took 20% casualties on the green, then made the choice to go after them," says Bob Morris, president of the nonprofit Friends of Minute Man National Park, which is financing the project with the National Park Service. "It's the kind of heroism that cries out to be researched and memorialized." Archaeologists and volunteers have uncovered nine musket balls within 80 yards of each other, showing just how close the armies were, as well as a cast copper waistcoat button. Some of the musket balls were unfired, indicating where someone stood during the fight. Some had been damaged and flattened, indicating they had been fired, and struck a rock or tree, or perhaps even a person. The project is expected to continue into November or December. The artifacts will then be placed on display at the park's visitors center. (Read more American Revolution stories.)