J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Remembering Moses Parker

As described yesterday, Lt. Col. Moses Parker of Chelmsford died as a prisoner of war on 4 July 1775 from a leg wound he suffered in the Battle of Bunker Hill.

On 21 July the New-England Chronicle published an unusually long death notice, showing how much esteem people had for Parker. It said:

…through the several Commissions to which his Merit entitled him, he had always the Pleasure to find that he possessed the Esteem and Respect of his Soldiers, and the Applause of his Countrymen. In him Fortitude, Prudence, Humanity and Compassion, all conspired to heighten the Lustre of his military Virtues—

He also, at this important Day, when the Parent is stretching the Iron Hand of Power over her Children, and threatening them and their Posterity with Slavery; being possessed of the most sacred Veneration for the inestimable civil and religious Privileges of his native Country, again “unappalled by Danger,” with equal Firmness and Intrepidity, steps forth to meet her restless Enemies, and thus offers himself a Victim to the Shrine of Freedom.

God grant each Individual that now is, or may be, engaged in the American Army, an equal Magnitude of Soul; so shall their Names, unsullied, be transmitted in the latest Catalogue of Fame; and if any Vestiges of Liberty shall remain, their Praises shall be rehearsed through the Earth “till the Sickle of Time shall crop the Creation.”
But that’s not all. The Gilder Lehrman Institute owns a handwritten poem (or perhaps words to a hymn) by Samuel Richardson of Chelmsford lamenting Parker’s loss:
Col. Moses Parker of Chelmsford, In Newengland Who Died in Bostone on June 1775 of the Wound he Receivd. in the Bloody battle on Bunkers-Hill in Charlestown while he was Gloriously Fighting in the cause of Liberty and his Country,

Come all who have skill and Lament
and let your hearts and eys have vent
While you to memory do call
The Valiant Colonel Parkers fall

He bravely did with courage go
To Charlstown fight to meet his foe
And in his place was Valient found
And with great boldness kept his ground

But fighting for his Countrys goods
What Dangers roled like a flood
A Wound Rea[d]er in his thigh
Of which in Boston he Did die

While he was in Captivity
Before he of his Wound did die
We he[ar] was Com-mended high
By his Relations enmy

He was a Valant offiser
In the last Canadian war
And in this present war Did go
To face his Countrys bloody foe

Brave Parker their must bled and Die
To Save his friends from Slavery
Its with great grief we view they fall
When thee to memory we call

His Townsmen Do Lamet his fate
His nearer friends and Living Mate
With Sorow do condole his loss
And need Support to bear their cross

God grant this Loss may be their gain
May they not murmer nor complain
But with Submission kiss rod
And know that it is the hand of God

As they find creature screams Dry
O may their minds arise more high
To God in whome is perfat peace
And Solid joy that cannot cease

God is th joy of those mourn
That do to him through Christ return
And rest by faith upon his grace
Shall find relief in all Distress

His officers and Soldiers all
Who mourn their Valiant Leaders fall
May God inquire with courage Still
And giv Submission to his will

May Gods protection them Surround
And all their bloody foes confound
May they possess the gates of those
That Do our city now inclose

God Sanctify this Loss at all
Who Saw this noble Hero fall
And while his courage they relate
May they his virtue emitate

May oficers that yet Servive
Who by their God are kept alive
By courage and good conduct Shew
Their hearts to Liberty are true

May they be kept from Sinful way
Least they Should fall with foul Disgrace
And Sink beneath the tyrants rod
And feel the Vengeance of God

May they their Soldiers govern well
And in their places all excel
That Honour on their heads m[a]y ly
Both while, they Liv and when they Die

But British troops Digrace must Share
How can their Valour honour bear
Since they their flesh and blood Do fight
To rob them of their proper right

The greater Victories they gain
The more the Doth their honour Stain
Since God oppressors will pull Down
That the oppressor may wear the crown

Tho for a time they may rise high
And Kings and Nations terrify
Yet time will bring their Shamefull fall
Their crimes Shall be exposd to all

They may think they Shall have peace
And by this war their welth increase
Yet wealth thats got unlawfully
Like chaff Shall from the owner fly

Welth that men Do obtain by blood
Tho it increaseth like a flood
It will against the owner cry
And end in endless misery

The Stone Shall cry out of the wall
And timber from their Buildings call
For wrath from God Which Shall Distress
All Such as do the poore oppress
In 1786, there must have been some legal need to document Parker’s death. The Boston Public Library holds two documents from that effort:
Finally, John Trumbull included Parker in his painting of “The Death of Warren.” Parker is the figure seated in the dark area on the far left, clutching his knee.

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