This is a photo of the frostbite representing Captain man Parker sculpted by Henry Hudson Kitson and erected in 1900. This statue in Lexington, Massachusetts is frequently called “The Lexington Minuteman.” / Wikimedia Commons

The ax has additionally been applied to various later civilian paramilitary forces trying come recall the success and also patriotism of the originals.

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Curated/Reviewed by Matthew A. McIntoshPublic Historianhunterriverpei.com

Introduction

Minutemen were civilian homesteaders who separately organized to form militia service providers self-trained in weaponry, tactics, and also military strategies from the American colonial partisan militia throughout the American Revolutionary War. Castle were recognized for being prepared at a minute’s notice, hence the name.<1> Minutemen detailed a highly mobile, rapidly deployed pressure that allowed the swarms to respond automatically to battle threats.

The minutemen were amongst the very first to hit in the American Revolution. Their groups constituted around a quarter of the entire militia.

The hatchet has likewise been used to various later on United says civilian-based paramilitary forces to recall the success and also patriotism the the originals.

Background


The Minute male statue shown on the Massachusetts state quarter / Wikimedia Commons

In the British nest of Massachusetts Bay, every able-bodied men between the ages of 16 and 60 were forced to participate in their neighborhood militia.<2> As early as 1645 in the Massachusetts bay Colony, some guys were selected native the general ranks that town-based “training bands” come be all set for quick deployment. Males so selected to be designated as minutemen. They were usually drawn from inhabitants of each town, and also so it was an extremely common because that them to be fighting together relatives and also friends.

Some towns in Massachusetts had actually a long history of designating a portion of your militia as minutemen, v “minute companies” constituting one-of-a-kind units in ~ the militia device whose members underwent added training and held themselves prepared to turn out swiftly for emergencies, “at a minute’s notice” and also hence their name. Other towns, such as Lexington, preferred to save their entire militia in a solitary unit.

Members the the minutemen, by contrast, were no more than 30 year old, and were liked for their enthusiasm, politics reliability, and also strength. They to be the very first armed militia to arrive at or await a battle. Officers were elected by well-known vote, together in the remainder of the militia, and also each unit drafted a official written agreement to be signed upon enlistment.

The militia commonly assembled as whole unit in every town two to 4 times a year for training during peacetime but, together the inevitability of war became apparent, the militia trained three to four times a week.

In this organization, that was common for policemans to make decisions v consultation and consensus through their men, together opposed to giving orders come be adhered to without question.

The Massachusetts Provincial Congress found that the colony’s militia sources were brief just prior to the American Revolutionary War, ~ above October 26, 1774, after ~ observing the British military buildup. They found that, “including the sick and also absent, it amounted to about 17,000 men, far short of the number wanted, the the council recommended an instant application come the brand-new England governments to make up the deficiency,”, solving to to organize the militia better:<3>

The Massachusetts Provincial congress recommended to the militia to form themselves into companies the minute-men, who must be equipped and prepared come march at the shortest notice. This minute-men to be to make up one-quarter that the entirety militia, to be enlisted under the direction the the field-officers, and divide right into companies, consists of at the very least 50 males each. The privates were to select their captains and subalterns, and also these police officers were to kind the companies into battalions, and chose the field-officers come command the same. Hence the minute-men came to be a body distinctive from the remainder of the militia, and, by gift more dedicated to military exercises, they got skill in the usage of arms. More attention than formerly was an in similar way bestowed ~ above the training and drilling the militia.<3>

The need for effective minuteman suppliers was shown by the flour Alarm of 1774. Militia suppliers were dubbed out to resist British troops, who were sent out to capture ammunition stores. By the moment the militia to be ready, the brother regulars had already captured the arms at Cambridge and Charlestown and had went back to Boston.

Pequot War

In respectable 1636, the very first offensive military attack by militias failed once Massachusetts dispatched man Endecott with 4 companies top top an not successful campaign versus the Pequot Indians. Follow to one man’s account, the expedition succeeded only in killing one Indian and burning some wigwams.

Weeks elapsed between the events that led to the march and also the come of Endecott’s men in the area. When they got there, they go not know which indians to struggle or why. This feeble response served come encourage the Indians, and attacks increased on the settlers in the Connecticut Valley.

In the adhering to year, Massachusetts again put a pressure on the field in teamwork with Plymouth and Connecticut. By the moment that Plymouth had gained their pressure packed and ready to march, the project had ended. Massachusetts Bay sent 150 militiamen, Plymouth sent 50, and also Connecticut sent 90.

New England Confederation



In might 1643, a share council to be formed.<4> They released the short articles of the new England confederation. The genuine power that the confederation was the all four of the colonies promised to add soldiers come an alert force that would certainly fight everywhere in the colonies.

On September 7, 1643 the communities were given an ext tactical control. A brand-new rule enabled any basic to contact up his militia at any type of time. On respectable 12, 1645, 30% of every militia to be made right into short-notice teams (minutemen). Command and control to be decentralized come the level that individual company commanders could put your troops right into a defensive battle if necessary. A section of the militia to be well trained and well equipped, and set aside together a ready force.

In might 1653, the board of directors of Massachusetts said that one eighth the the militia should be prepared to march within at some point to everywhere in the colony. Eighty militiamen marched top top the Narragansett tribe in Massachusetts, despite no fighting took place. Because the swarms were expanding, the Narragansetts got desperate and began raiding the colonists again. The militia chased the Indians, recorded their chief, and also got him to sign an agreement to end fighting.

In 1672, the Massachusetts Council developed a military committee to regulate the militia in each town. In 1675, the military committee raised an expedition to struggle the raiding Wampanoag tribe. A muster contact was sent out and four days later, after harsh skirmishes through the Wampanoags, three providers arrived to help the locals. The winter, a thousands militiamen driven out the Wampanoags.

In solution to the success that the Wampanoags, in the spring of 1676 one alarm mechanism of riders and also signals was developed in which each town was required to participate.

The British and also French, each v Indian allies, involved in assorted fights beginning in 1689 and dragging ~ above for virtually a hundred years. In 1690, Colonel william Phips led 600 guys to push back the French. 2 years later he became governor the Massachusetts. As soon as the French and Indians raided Massachusetts in 1702, branch Phips produced a bounty which payment 10 shillings each because that the scalps of Indians. In 1703, snowshoes to be issued come militiamen and bounty hunters to do winter raids top top the Indians more effective. The minuteman principle was advanced by the snow shoe men.

The Minutemen constantly kept in touch v the political instance in Boston and also their own towns. Indigenous 1629 come 1683, the towns had managed themselves yet in 1689, the King appointed governors. By 1772, James Otis and also Samuel Adams used the town Meetings to start a Committee the Correspondence. This instigated a boycott in 1774 of brothers goods. The Minutemen were mindful of this together well.

With a rising number of Minutemen lock faced another problem: a lack of gunpowder to assistance an army for long sufficient to struggle a an extensive campaign against the British. The people of an island controlled by the Dutch, Sint Eustatius, to be supportive that the idea the a huge rebellion climbing up against the brother in the new World. Together a token that support, lock traded gunpowder come the Colonials because that other products needed in Europe. Not only did the Minutemen have actually political awareness of occasions in new England, but additionally of anti-British feeling in various other countries, such as Holland and also France.

American Revolutionary War


This stamp was one of a collection of three issued in 1925. The city on the plaques is through Ralph Waldo Emerson. / Wikimedia Commons

In 1774, basic Thomas Gage, the new Governor that Massachusetts, tried to enforce the Intolerable Acts, which to be designed to remove power indigenous the towns. Samuel Adams pressed because that County Conventions to combine the revolutionary resistance. Gage do the efforts to seat his very own court in Worcester, however the townspeople clogged the court from sitting. Two thousand militiamen marched come intimidate the judges and get them come leave. This was the very first time that the militia was used by the civilization to block the king’s to represent from exhilaration on royal orders and against popular opinion. Gage responded by preparing to march to collect munitions native the provincials. For 50 miles approximately Boston, militiamen were marching in response. By noon the following day, practically 4,000 world were on the typical in Cambridge. The provincials gained the judges come resign and also leave. Gage backed off from make the efforts to seat a court in Worcester.

The colonials in Worcester met and came up through a brand-new militia mobilization plan in your County Convention. The Convention compelled that all militia policemans resign. Officers were then elected by their regiments. In turn, the policemans then appointed 1/3 of your militia regiment together Minutemen. Various other counties followed Worcester’s lead, electing brand-new militia officers and also appointing Minutemen.

The British practiced formations through their weapons, focusing on marching formations ~ above the battlefield. The is a myth the the British and other professional armies of the 1700s did not practice marksmanship with their muskets; the military ammunition of the moment was made for rapid reloading and an ext than a dozen consecutive shots without cleaning. Accuracy that the musket to be sacrificed because that speed and also repetitive loading.<5>

The militia all set with fancy plans to alarm and respond to activities by the king’s forces out the Boston. The regular mustering the the minute companies also built unit cohesion and also familiarity through live firing, which increased the minute companies’ effectiveness. The royal authorities inadvertently offered the new Minuteman mobilization to plan validation by several “show the flag” demonstrations by general Gage v 1774.


U.S. Postage rubber stamp depicting fight at Lexington, modeled native a paint by Henry Sandham / U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Wikimedia Commons

The imperial authorities in Boston had actually seen these increasing numbers that militia appearing and also thought the the militia would certainly not interfere if they sent out a sizable pressure to Concord to seize munitions and also stores over there (which they considered the King’s property, since it to be paid because that to safeguard the nests from the American Indian threat). The British policemans were proven wrong. Shoot erupted at Lexington (there is still a debate as to whether it was a colonist or a british soldier who fired the infamous “shot heard ’round the world”). The militia left the area, and also the British moved on. The brothers then relocated to Concord and also faced a larger variety of militia. The brother were promptly outnumbered at Concord, through the come of the slower relocating militia; they had actually not counted on a lengthy fight, and also so had not brought added ammunition past the standard problem in the soldiers’ cartridge boxes. This then compelled a strategic defeat on Colonel Smith, forcing him earlier to Boston.

A “running fight” started during the retreat. Militiamen knew the local countryside and also were acquainted with “skulking” or “Indian Warfare.” They provided trees and also other obstacles to cover themselves from brothers gunfire and also pursuit by british soldiers, if the militia to be firing and moving. This kept the brothers under thin fire, and caused them come exhaust their limited ammunition. Only the timely arrival of a relief column under mr Percy prevented the annihilation or surrender the the initial road column.

Equipment, Training, and Tactics


Minutemen monument in Hollis, new Hampshire / Wikimedia Commons

Most colonial militia devices were listed neither arms nor uniforms and were forced to equip themselves. Countless simply wore their very own farmers’ or workmen’s apparel and, in part cases, they wore cloth hunting frocks. Most used fowling pieces, though rifles were periodically used whereby available. No fowling piece nor rifles had actually bayonets. Some swarms purchased muskets, cartridge boxes, and also bayonets indigenous England, and maintained armories in ~ the colony.

The Continental military regulars obtained European-style military training later in the American Revolutionary War, but the militias did not gain much the this. Castle were much better when offered as irregulars quite than fighting formal war in the traditional dense lines and columns, functioning mostly as skirmishers and sharpshooters. When supplied in conjunction through continental regulars, the militia would generally fire ragged rarely often rare volleys indigenous a forward skirmish heat or native the flanks of the continental Army, while continent soldiers held the center.

Their endure suited rarely often rare warfare. Many were acquainted with frontier hunting.<6> The Indian Wars, and also especially the recent French and Indian War, had taught the colonials the worth of rarely often, rarely warfare, while many English troops fresh from Europe were less acquainted with this. The long rifle was additionally well suited to this role. The rifling (grooves within the barrel) gave it a much greater range than the smoothbore musket, although it took much much longer to load. Due to the fact that of the lower rate of fire, rifles to be not used by regular infantry, but were wanted for hunting. When performing as skirmishers, the militia might fire and fall earlier behind cover or behind various other troops, prior to the British could get right into range. The wilderness terrain that lay just past many early american towns favored this layout of combat and also was an extremely familiar to the regional minuteman. In time, however, loyalists such as john Butler and Robert Rogers mustered equally qualified irregular pressures (Butler’s Rangers and also the Queen’s Rangers, led by brothers John tombs Simcoe). In addition, plenty of British leaders learned from experience and effectively modified your light infantry tactics and battle dress to suit conditions in phibìc America.

Through the remainder of the Revolution, militias moved to adopting the minuteman version for quick mobilization. With this rapid mustering of forces, the militia confirmed its worth by augmenting the Continental army on a short-term basis, occasionally resulting in instances of numerical superiority. This was seen at the battles of Hubbardton and Bennington in the north and also at Camden and also Cowpens in the south. Cowpens is notable in that Daniel Morgan provided the militia’s strengths and weaknesses skillfully to attain the double-envelopment of Tarleton’s forces.

Historian M. L. Brown says that several of these males mastered the an overwhelming handling the a rifle, though few became expert. Brown estimates Continental military soldier Benjamin Thompson, that expressed the “common sentiment” in ~ the time, i beg your pardon was that minutemen to be notoriously bad marksmen with rifles: “Instead of being the ideal marksmen in the world and picking off every constant that was to it is in seen, the consistent firing i m sorry they retained up by the week and also the month has had actually no other impact than come waste their ammunition and also convince the King’s troops the they room really not really so formidable.” <7>

There was a shortage of ammunition and also supplies, and what they had actually were constantly gift seized by brother patrols. As a precaution, this items were often hidden or left behind by minutemen in fields or wooded areas. Other famous concealment techniques were come hide items underneath floorboards in houses and also barns.

Legacy


The Minute Man by Daniel Chester French, erected in 1875 in Concord, Massachusetts, portraying a usual minuteman / national Park Service, Wikimedia Commons

The Minuteman model for militia mobilization married through a an extremely professional, tiny standing military was the major model for the joined States’ land forces up until 1916 v the facility of the national Guard.<8>

In commemoration of the centenary that the very first successful armed resistance come British forces, Daniel Chester French, in his an initial major commission, developed one the his best-known statues (along v the Lincoln Memorial), The Minute Man. Inscriptions on the pedestal is the opening stanza the Ralph Waldo Emerson’s 1837 Concord Hymn through the words, “Shot heard ’round the world.” The statue’s likeness is not based upon Isaac Davis together is commonly claimed, the captain that the Acton militia and very first to be killed in Concord throughout the war of Lexington and also Concord top top April 19, 1775, but rather French offered live models in the research of the anatomy and facial expression.<9> The Minute Man statue is quiet the symbol of the national Guard, featured prominently on its seals.

Minutemen are shown in “Paul Revere’s Ride”, a city by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Although historians slam the occupational as gift historically inaccurate, Longfellow taken the background and manipulated it because that poetic effect.<10>

The 1925 Lexington-Concord Sesquicentennial half dollar functions a sculptural portrayal.

The athletic teams of the college of Massachusetts-Amherst space nicknamed the Minutemen and also Minutewomen. Until the 2003 rebranding special a modernized Sam the Minuteman, the logo featured the Concord Minute Man frostbite prominently.

The united state Air force named the LGM-30 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile the “Minuteman”, which was designed for fast deployment in the occasion of a atom attack. The “Minuteman III” LGM-30G continues to be in service.

One the the factions in Bethesda’s 2015 video clip game Fallout 4, i beg your pardon is collection in Massachusetts, is called the “Commonwealth Minutemen”. The incentive for their namesake originates from the necessity to be prepared “at a minute’s notice” come defend any settlement in danger.

Sinclair Lewis portrays Minute guys as paramilitary pressures of Buzz Windrip despotic government in his 1935 book It Can’t happen Here. In the publication the fascist-like militia is called “Minnie Mouses” through the populace.

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Appendix

Notes

Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). “Minute Men”. Encyclopædia Britannica. 18 (11th ed.). Cambridge college Press. P.656. Gross, 59 Sparks, Jared: The Life the George Washington, web page 134-135. F. Andrews, 1853.

References

Originally published by Wikipedia, 01.15.2002, under a an innovative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.