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Encyclopedia > Minutemen (militia)
Lexington Minuteman representing John Parker
Lexington Minuteman representing John Parker

Minutemen is a name given to members of the militia of the American Colonies, who would be ready for battle in a minute's notice. Photo of Concord Minuteman statue, taken September 1993 by Stan Shebs and licensed under GFDL, 250px across File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Captain John Parker to the company assembled on Lexington Green. ... Lexington Minuteman representing militia minuteman John Parker A militia is a group of citizens organized to provide paramilitary service. ... Betsy Ross purportedly sewed the first American flag with 13 stars and 13 stripes representing each of the 13 states. ...


The term minutemen has also been applied to various later United States' military units to recall the success and patriotism of the originals. See Minutemen. Minutemen can refer to: The Minutemen, a generic term for militia in the American Revolutionary War. ...

Contents


History

As early as 1645 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, some men were selected from the general ranks of town-based "training bands" to be ready for rapid deployment. // Events January 10 - Archbishop Laud executed on Tower Hill, London. ... The Massachusetts Bay Colony (sometimes called the Massachusetts Bay Company, for the institution that founded it) was an English settlement on the east coast of North America in the 17th century, in New England, centered around the present-day cities of Salem and Boston. ...


The militia in the Province of Massachusetts had a long history of extended conflict. (See King Philip's War, French and Indian Wars, and Battle of Lexington and Concord.) Every generation of New Englander had known fighting, every town had a militia, and every man between 16 and 60 years of age was asked to join. Most of these men were farmers. Many were descendants of the few original settlers of each town, and so it was very common to be fighting alongside cousins and in-laws. Lexington Minuteman representing militia minuteman John Parker A militia is a group of citizens organized to provide paramilitary service. ... The Province of Massachusetts Bay was a crown colony organized October 7, 1691 in North America by the monarch of England. ... Attack King Philips War was a general Indian uprising in 1675–1676 to resist continued expansion of the English colonies throughout the New England region. ... The French and Indian Wars is a name used in the United States for a series of conflicts in North America that represented the actions there that accompanied the European dynastic wars. ... The Battle of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775 was the first battle of the American Revolutionary War and was described as the shot heard round the world in Emersons Concord Hymn. ... The states of New England are Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. ...


Some towns in Massachusetts had a long history of designating a portion of their militia as Minutemen, but others preferred to keep their entire militia in a single unit. After The Powder Alarm in the fall of 1774, Patriot leaders in the newly formed Massachusetts Provincial Congress recommended that all militias contain minute companies -- special units within the militia system whose members underwent additional training and to hold themselves ready to turn out quickly ("at a minute's notice") for emergencies. Some towns followed this recommendation and altered their unit structures but some took no action. Powder House on the seal of the City of Somerville. ... 1774 was a common year starting on Saturday (see link for calendar). ... Patriots (also known as Partisans, or Rebels) were British North American colonists who rebelled against the Crown during the American Revolution and established the independent states that became the United States of America. ... Official language(s) English Capital Boston Largest city Boston Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 44th 10,555 mi²; 27,360 km² 183 mi; 295 km 113 mi; 182 km 13. ...


The Minutemen were usually 25 years of age or younger, and they were chosen for their enthusiasm, reliability, and strength. They were the first armed militia to arrive or await a battle. Officers were elected by popular vote, and each unit drafted a formal written covenant to be signed upon enlistment. They typically assembled four times per year for training during peacetime. It was common, sometimes even in the middle of battle, for officers to make decisions through consultation with their men as opposed to giving orders to be followed without question. Covenant, in its most general sense, is a word for a solemn promise or similar undertaking. ...


Popular histories of the Battle of Lexington and Concord in 1775, the first battle of the American Revolutionary War, have often labelled all the irregulars on the American side as Minutemen, most notably Captain John Parker's Lexington Militia, but, at the time of the battle, all of Lexington's militiamen were organized into a single large unit and were still called by the archaic name of "town training band." The Battle of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775 was the first battle of the American Revolutionary War and was described as the shot heard round the world in Emersons Concord Hymn. ... 1775 was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ... Combatants American Revolutionaries, France, Netherlands, Spain, Native Americans Great Britain, German mercenaries, Loyalists, Native Americans Commanders George Washington Comte de Rochambeau Nathanael Greene William Howe Henry Clinton Charles Cornwallis (more commanders) The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the American War of Independence,[1] was a conflict that... Irregular Soldiers, 19th Century Irregulars are soldiers or warriors that are not part of a regular army organization. ... Captain John Parker to the company assembled on Lexington Green. ... Minute Man statue on Lexington Green, by H. H. Kitson. ...


Other colonies, faced with similar problems, had organized similar minute companies. Over time, minutemen became a generic term for any American militia.


Motivation

The New England town meeting style of local decision-making in combination with the colonial legislature meant that, for nearly all functions of government, these men had already experienced generations of self-rule. Even though most of them could not express lofty sentiments about the rights of man and the purposes of government, they knew that the same British Army of professional soldiers who had once fought with them against a common enemy was now in their land to take something important away from them. One Massachusetts man used the phrase "An Englishman's home is his castle" when he explained to his friends why he had barricaded himself behind his front door to fight the British Army as it passed by during the final phase of the Battle of Lexington and Concord. The typical individual American Patriot in Massachusetts fought for a political idea even at this first stage of the war when independence from Great Britain was not yet a common sentiment. The states of New England are Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. ... Town meeting is a form of local government commonly practiced in the U.S. region of New England, but uncommon elsewhere in the United States. ... The British Army is the land armed forces branch of the British Armed Forces. ... Patriots (also known as Partisans, or Rebels) were British North American colonists who rebelled against the Crown during the American Revolution and established the independent states that became the United States of America. ... Official language(s) English Capital Boston Largest city Boston Area  - Total  - Width  - Length  - % water  - Latitude  - Longitude Ranked 44th 10,555 mi²; 27,360 km² 183 mi; 295 km 113 mi; 182 km 13. ...


Equipment, training, and tactics

Most Colonial militia units were provided neither arms nor uniforms, and so had to equip themselves. Many simply wore their own farmers' or workmans' clothes, while others had buckskin hunting outfits. Some added Indian-style touches to intimidate the enemy, even including war-paint. Most used hunting rifles, which did not have bayonets, but were accurate at long range. A rifle is a firearm that uses a spiral groove cut into the barrel to spin a projectile (usually a bullet), thus improving accuracy and range of the projectile. ... The US Marine Corps OKC-3S bayonet A bayonet is a knife- or dagger-shaped weapon designed to fit on or over the muzzle of a rifle or similar weapon. ...


The Continental Army regulars received European-style military training later in the American Revolutionary War, but the militias did not get much of this. Rather than fight formal battles in the traditional dense lines and columns, they were better when used as irregulars, primarily as skirmishers and sharpshooters. Illustration depicting uniforms and weapons used during the 1779 to 1783 period of the American Revolution by showing four soldiers standing in an informal group General George Washington, was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army on June 15, 1775. ... Army (from French armée) can, in some countries, refer to any armed force. ... Combatants American Revolutionaries, France, Netherlands, Spain, Native Americans Great Britain, German mercenaries, Loyalists, Native Americans Commanders George Washington Comte de Rochambeau Nathanael Greene William Howe Henry Clinton Charles Cornwallis (more commanders) The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the American War of Independence,[1] was a conflict that... Lexington Minuteman representing militia minuteman John Parker A militia is a group of citizens organized to provide paramilitary service. ... Irregular soldiers in Beauharnois, Quebec, 19th century Irregular military refers to any non-standard military. ... Skirmishers are infantry soldiers who are stationed ahead or to the sides of a larger body of friendly troops. ... A marksman (also designated marksman) is a profession which is mostly to be found in military context. ...


Their experience suited irregular warfare. Most were familiar with frontier hunting. The Indian Wars, and especially the recent French and Indian War, had taught both the men and officers the value of irregular warfare, while many British troops fresh from Europe were less familiar with this. The wilderness terrain that lay just beyond many colonial towns, very familiar to the local minuteman, favored this style of combat. Indian Wars is the name used by historians in the United States to describe a series of conflicts between the United States and Native American peoples (Indians) of North America. ... The French and Indian War is the common American name for the decisive nine-year conflict (1754–1763) in North America between the Kingdom of Great Britain and its North American Colonies against France and its North American Colonies, which was one of the theatres of the Seven Years War. ...


The rifled musket used by most minutemen was also well suited to this role. The "rifling" (grooves inside the barrel) gave it a much greater range than the smoothbore musket, although it took much longer to load. Because of the lower rate of fire, rifles weren't used by regular infantry, but were preferred for hunting. When performing as skirmishers, the minutemen could fire and fall back behind cover or other troops before the British could get into range. The increased range and accuracy of the rifle, along with a lifetime of hunting to develop marksmanship, earned minutemen sharpshooters a deadly reputation. A 35 caliber Remington, with a microgrove rifled barrel with a right hand twist. ... Smoothbore refers to a firearm which does not have a rifled barrel. ... Muskets and bayonets aboard the frigate Grand Turk A musket is a muzzle-loaded, smoothbore long gun, which a user generally fires from the shoulder. ...


Ammunition and supplies were not only in short demand, but were constantly being seized by British patrols. As a precaution, these items were often hidden or left behind by minutemen in fields or wooded areas. Other popular concealment methods were to hide items underneath floorboards in houses and barns. A barn in southern Ontario, Canada A barn in Wisconsin A barn in Poland Barn redirects here, for other uses, see Barn (disambiguation). ...


Legacy

Concord Minuteman
Concord Minuteman

In commemoration of the centenary of the first successful armed resistance to British forces, Daniel Chester French, in his first major commission, produced one of his most well known statues (along with the Lincoln Memorial), the Concord Minuteman. Inscribed on the pediment is the opening stanza of Ralph Waldo Emerson's 1837 Concord Rhinmymn with the immortal words, "Shot heard 'round the world." Traditionally, the statue's likeness is said to be based on Isaac Davis, the Captain of the Acton Militia and first to be killed in Concord during the 1775 battle's of Lexington and Concord. Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Daniel Chester French Signature, Daniel Chester French (April 20, 1850 – October 7, 1931) was an American sculptor. ... The Lincoln Memorial, built 1915 - 1922 Aerial view of the Lincoln Memorial. ... A pediment is a classical architectural element consisting of a triangular section or gable found above the horizontal superstructure (entablature) which lies immediately upon the columns. ... Ralph Waldo Emerson Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was a famous American essayist and one of the United States most influential thinkers and writers. ... The stanza is inscribed at the base of The Minute Man statue by Daniel Chester French The shot heard round the world is a famous phrase in United States history that refers to the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. ...


References

  • Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer ISBN 0195088476
  • The Encyclopedia of Military History, from 3500 B.C. to the Present by R. Erniest Dupuy and Trevor N. Dupuy ISBN 0062700561
  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclop√¶dia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

Encyclopædia Britannica, the 11th edition The Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition (1910–1911) is perhaps the most famous edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. ... The public domain comprises the body of all creative works and other knowledge—writing, artwork, music, science, inventions, and others—in which no person or organization has any proprietary interest. ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
LIBERTY! . Militia, Minutemen & the Continental Army | PBS (219 words)
Minutemen came into being in the wake of the crisis in Boston, in 1774.
The Continental Army was an invention of Congress and the command of George Washington.
By the end of the war, Washington and others in the Continental command were using the militia as support for the regular army, and they were a crucial component in the ultimate victory.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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