Ebenezer Parkman Diary
On September 6, 1774, 4,622 militiamen from 37 town across the Worcester County – half the adult male population of the entire county – lined both sides of Main Street as two dozen court officials walked the gauntlet between them, hats in hand, reciting their recantations thirty times each so all the militiamen could hear. From that day onward, no British authority was ever exerted in Worcester County.
How do we know these numbers? Breck Parkman, one of the militiamen from Westborough, took a tally, and his father Ebenezer Parkman entered them in his diary the following day. Thanks to this invaluable source, housed at the American Antiquarian Society, we know not only the numbers but also the positioning of the 37 companies as they lined the street. This list appears in the September 7 entry. (Note that the number for Worcester appears has been altered, likely from either 240 or 270 to 260. Even so, the total of 4,722 appears to be an addition error.)
The entries in the Parkman diary for September 2 and 3 contain an interesting account of local participation in the “Powder Alarm,” the massive mobilization toward Boston that immediately preceded the Worcester Court closures and convinced General Gage not to send troops to protect the court. The September 5 entry reveals the buildup in Westborough, and the September 6 entry reports that “a grt. Company march wth Staves & Fife” toward Worcester.