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

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

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Minutemen were civilian homesteaders who independently organized to form militia service providers self-trained in weaponry, tactics, and also military strategies from the American colonial partisan militia during the American Revolutionary War. They were recognized for being ready at a minute’s notice, for this reason the name.<1> Minutemen noted a very mobile, rapidly deployed pressure that enabled the colonies to respond automatically to war threats.

The minutemen were among the an initial to hit in the American Revolution. Their teams constituted around a 4 minutes 1 of the whole militia.

The term has additionally been applied to various later on United claims civilian-based paramilitary forces to remind the success and patriotism of the originals.


The Minute guy statue illustrated on the Massachusetts state quarter / Wikimedia Commons

In the British nest of Massachusetts Bay, every able-bodied men between the periods of 16 and 60 were forced to get involved in their neighborhood militia.<2> As early on as 1645 in the Massachusetts only Colony, some men were selected from the general ranks the town-based “training bands” come be ready for fast deployment. Guys so selected to be designated as minutemen. They were usually attracted from inhabitants of every town, and so it was really common for them to be fighting alongside relatives and friends.

Some towns in Massachusetts had a long background of designating a part of your militia together minutemen, through “minute companies” constituting one-of-a-kind units in ~ the militia system whose members underwent added training and held themselves ready to turn out quickly for emergencies, “at a minute’s notice” and hence their name. Various other towns, such as Lexington, desired to store their entire militia in a solitary unit.

Members that the minutemen, by contrast, to be no more than 30 year old, and also were favored for their enthusiasm, political reliability, and strength. They to be the an initial armed militia to come at or await a battle. Policemans were chosen by well-known vote, as in the rest of the militia, and also each unit drafted a official written commitment to be signed ~ above enlistment.

The militia commonly assembled as an entire unit in each town 2 to 4 times a year for training throughout peacetime but, together the inevitability that war ended up being apparent, the militia trained 3 to 4 times a week.

In this organization, the was common for policemans to do decisions v consultation and also consensus with their men, as opposed to providing orders to be complied with without question.

The Massachusetts Provincial Congress discovered that the colony’s militia resources were quick just prior to the American Revolutionary War, on 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 brief of the number wanted, the the council encourage an immediate application to the brand-new England governments to make up the deficiency,”, addressing to theorem the militia better:<3>

The Massachusetts Provincial congress recommended to the militia to type themselves right into companies that minute-men, who should be equipped and also prepared come march in ~ the shortest notice. These minute-men to be to comprise one-quarter of the totality militia, to it is in enlisted under the direction the the field-officers, and divide into companies, consisting of at the very least 50 guys each. The privates to be to pick their captains and also subalterns, and these policemans were to type the companies right into battalions, and also chose the field-officers to command the same. Hence the minute-men ended up being a body distinctive from the rest of the militia, and, by being more committed to military exercises, they got skill in the usage of arms. More attention than formerly was likewise bestowed on the training and also drilling of militia.<3>

The require for reliable minuteman suppliers was portrayed by the powder Alarm of 1774. Militia service providers were called out to stand up to British troops, that were sent out to capture ammunition stores. By the moment the militia was ready, the brothers regulars had currently captured the arms at Cambridge and also Charlestown and also had returned to Boston.

Pequot War

In respectable 1636, the an initial offensive military attack by militias failed when Massachusetts dispatched man Endecott with four companies ~ above an not successful campaign versus the Pequot Indians. Follow to one man’s account, the exploration succeeded only in killing one Indian and burning some wigwams.

Weeks elapsed between the incidents that caused the march and also the come of Endecott’s males in the area. Once they obtained there, they did not know which indians to fight or why. This feeble solution served to encourage the Indians, and also attacks increased on the inhabitants in the Connecticut Valley.

In the following year, Massachusetts again put a force on the ar in collaboration with Plymouth and Connecticut. By the time that Plymouth had acquired their force packed and also ready to march, the project had ended. Massachusetts Bay sent out 150 militiamen, Plymouth sent out 50, and also Connecticut sent 90.

New England Confederation

In might 1643, a joint council to be formed.<4> They published the short articles of the brand-new England confederation. The actual power of the confederation was the all four of the nests promised to add soldiers to an alert force that would certainly fight everywhere in the colonies.

On September 7, 1643 the towns were given an ext tactical control. A new rule enabled any general to contact up his militia at any type of time. On august 12, 1645, 30% of all militia were made right into short-notice teams (minutemen). Command and also control were decentralized to the degree that individual company commanders might put your troops into a defensive battle if necessary. A section of the militia was well trained and also well equipped, and set aside as a prepared force.

In may 1653, the the supervisory board of Massachusetts stated that one eighth of the militia have to be prepared to march within one day to everywhere in the colony. Eighty militiamen marched ~ above the Narragansett people in Massachusetts, despite no fighting took place. Since the nests were expanding, the Narragansetts got desperate and began raiding the colonists again. The militia chased the Indians, captured their chief, and also got him to authorize an agreement to finish fighting.

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

In response to the success that the Wampanoags, in the feather of 1676 one alarm system of riders and signals was formed in i beg your pardon each city was required to participate.

The British and French, each through Indian allies, involved in various fights beginning in 1689 and dragging on for almost a hundreds years. In 1690, Colonel wilhelm Phips led 600 males to push earlier the French. 2 years later he came to be governor the Massachusetts. Once the French and also Indians raided Massachusetts in 1702, governor Phips produced a bounty which paid 10 shillings each because that the scalps the Indians. In 1703, snowshoes to be issued come militiamen and bounty hunters to do winter raids on the Indians an ext effective. The minuteman ide was advanced by the eye shoe men.

The Minutemen always kept in touch through the political situation in Boston and also their own towns. From 1629 come 1683, the towns had controlled themselves yet in 1689, the King appointed governors. By 1772, James Otis and Samuel Adams supplied the city Meetings to begin a Committee the Correspondence. This instigated a boycott in 1774 of brothers goods. The Minutemen were conscious of this together well.

With a rising number of Minutemen they faced an additional problem: a lack of shooting powder to assistance an military for long enough to hit a prolonged campaign versus the British. The human being of one island managed by the Dutch, Sint Eustatius, to be supportive of the idea of a large rebellion climbing up versus the british in the brand-new World. Together a token of support, they traded gunpowder to the Colonials because that other goods needed in Europe. Not only did the Minutemen have political awareness of events in new England, but additionally of anti-British feeling in various other countries, such together Holland and France.

American Revolutionary War

This stamp was one of a set of 3 issued in 1925. The poem on the plaques is by Ralph Waldo Emerson. / Wikimedia Commons

In 1774, general Thomas Gage, the brand-new Governor that Massachusetts, tried to enforce the Intolerable Acts, which were designed to eliminate power native the towns. Samuel Adams pressed because that County Conventions to strengthen the revolutionary resistance. Gage tried to chair his very own court in Worcester, yet the townspeople clogged the court from sitting. 2 thousand militiamen marched come intimidate the judges and also get them come leave. This was the an initial time the the militia was provided by the civilization to block the king’s to represent from acting on royal orders and against popular opinion. Gage comment by preparing to march to collection munitions indigenous the provincials. Because that 50 miles about Boston, militiamen to be marching in response. By noon the next day, virtually 4,000 human being were ~ above the typical in Cambridge. The provincials gained the judges come resign and leave. Gage backed turn off from make the efforts to chair a court in Worcester.

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

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

The militia prepared with intricate plans to alarm and also respond to motions by the king’s forces out of Boston. The constant mustering that the minute companies additionally built unit cohesion and also familiarity with live firing, which boosted the minute companies’ effectiveness. The imperial authorities inadvertently offered the brand-new Minuteman mobilization to plan validation by several “show the flag” demonstrations by general Gage v 1774.

U.S. Postage rubber stamp depicting battle at Lexington, modeled from a paint by Henry Sandham / U.S. Office of Engraving and Printing, Wikimedia Commons

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

A “running fight” began during the retreat. Militiamen knew the neighborhood countryside and also were familiar with “skulking” or “Indian Warfare.” They used trees and other obstacles to cover us from british gunfire and also pursuit by brothers soldiers, if the militia were firing and moving. This retained the brother under sparse fire, and caused them to exhaust their restricted ammunition. Only the timely come of a relief shaft under mr Percy prevented the annihilation or surrender that the original road column.

Equipment, Training, and also Tactics

Minutemen monument in Hollis, brand-new Hampshire / Wikimedia Commons

Most colonial militia devices were listed neither arms no one uniforms and also were compelled to equip themselves. Numerous simply wore their very own farmers’ or workmen’s apparel and, in some cases, they wore towel hunting frocks. Most used fowling pieces, though rifles were occasionally used wherein available. No fowling piece nor rifles had actually bayonets. Some swarms purchased muskets, cartridge boxes, and also bayonets from England, and maintained armories in ~ the colony.

The Continental army regulars received European-style armed forces training later on in the American Revolutionary War, yet the militias did not gain much the this. Castle were much better when supplied as irregulars quite than fighting formal war in the classic dense lines and also columns, functioning mostly as skirmishers and also sharpshooters. When offered in conjunction v continental regulars, the militia would generally fire ragged irregular volleys from a forward skirmish line or indigenous the flanks that the continental Army, while continent soldiers held the center.

Their suffer suited rarely often rare warfare. Countless were familiar with frontier hunting.<6> The Indian Wars, and especially the current French and Indian War, had taught the colonials the worth of rarely often rare warfare, while countless English troops fresh from Europe to be less familiar with this. The long rifle was additionally well suited to this role. The rifling (grooves within the barrel) gave it a much greater variety than the smoothbore musket, back it take it much much longer to load. Because of the reduced rate the fire, rifles to be not supplied by continuous infantry, yet were wanted for hunting. As soon as performing as skirmishers, the militia can fire and also fall ago behind cover or behind other troops, prior to the British might get right into range. The wilderness terrain that lay just past many early american towns favored this layout of combat and was an extremely familiar come the regional minuteman. In time, however, loyalists together as man Butler and also Robert Rogers mustered equally qualified irregular pressures (Butler’s Rangers and also the Queen’s Rangers, led by brothers John graves Simcoe). In addition, plenty of British commanders learned indigenous experience and also effectively modified your light infantry tactics and battle dress to suit conditions in phibìc America.

Through the remainder the the Revolution, militias moved to adopting the minuteman design for quick mobilization. Through this rapid mustering that forces, the militia verified its worth by augmenting the Continental army on a temporary basis, occasionally bring about instances of numerical superiority. This was checked out at the battles of Hubbardton and also Bennington in the north and at Camden and Cowpens in the south. Cowpens is noteworthy in that Daniel Morgan used the militia’s strengths and weaknesses sent to acquire the double-envelopment of Tarleton’s forces.

Historian M. L. Brown claims that some of these men mastered the challenging handling of a rifle, though couple of became expert. Brown quotes Continental military soldier Benjamin Thompson, who expressed the “common sentiment” at the time, i beg your pardon was the minutemen to be notoriously bad marksmen through rifles: “Instead of gift the ideal marksmen in the world and picking off every regular that was to be seen, the continual firing i m sorry they kept up through the week and also the month has had actually no other effect than to waste their ammunition and convince the King’s troops that they space really no really so formidable.” <7>

There to be a shortage that ammunition and supplies, and what they had were constantly gift seized by brothers patrols. As a precaution, these items were regularly hidden or left behind by minutemen in areas or wooded areas. Other popular concealment approaches were to hide items underneath floorboards in houses and also barns.


The Minute Man by Daniel Chester French, set up in 1875 in Concord, Massachusetts, illustrating a typical minuteman / nationwide Park Service, Wikimedia Commons

The Minuteman model for militia mobilization married v a really professional, tiny standing army was the primary model because that the joined States’ land pressures up until 1916 with the establishment of the national Guard.<8>

In commemoration that the centenary that the very first successful armed resistance come British forces, Daniel Chester French, in his very first major commission, developed one that his best-known statues (along through the Lincoln Memorial), The Minute Man. Inscribed on the base is the opening stanza that Ralph Waldo Emerson’s 1837 Concord Hymn v the words, “Shot heard ’round the world.” The statue’s likeness is not based upon Isaac Davis as is commonly claimed, the captain the the Acton militia and an initial to be eliminated in Concord during the war of Lexington and Concord ~ above April 19, 1775, yet rather French supplied live models in the research of the anatomy and also 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 poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Although historians slam the occupational as being historically inaccurate, Longfellow construed the background and manipulated it because that poetic effect.<10>

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

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

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

One that the factions in Bethesda’s 2015 video game Fallout 4, i m sorry is collection in Massachusetts, is referred to as the “Commonwealth Minutemen”. The impetus for your namesake originates from the need to be all set “at a minute’s notice” come defend any type of settlement in danger.

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

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


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