What is a Minuteman?

Jul 4th 2022

What is a Minuteman?

On this Independence Day, let's look at an often misunderstood part of the American Revolution.

What is a Minute man?

The Minutemen were colonial militia companies trained in weaponry, tactics, and military strategies, They were an integral part of the Colonial Partisan Militia during the American Revolutionary War. They were known for being ready at a minute's notice, hence the name. They were a highly mobile, rapidly deployed force that allowed the colonies to respond immediately to threats. The minutemen were among the first to fight in the American Revolution. A perfect example is the 80 men of the Lexington Militia who faced down the British Army:

on the Dawn of April 19th 1775, Captain John Parker, a veteran of the French and Indian War and company commander of the Lexington Militia, and 79 militiamen faced down the symbolic might of the British Empire in what is now known as the Battles of Lexington & Concord. Captain Parker was reported to have told his men:
"Stand your ground. Don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here."

During the Battle, where the Militia was savaged by the disciplined Musket Fire of the British Army was forced to fall back. Parker's own cousin was Killed in Action during this fight. This led to a series of harrying attacks against the British Regulars known as "Parker's Revenge". As the British column reached the line between the towns of Lincoln and Lexington, Captain John Parker and his Lexington militia were waiting for them. Parker’s company included men who had fought that morning on Lexington Green. Some wore bandages stiffened from the blood of wounds they had suffered in the morning, and they were ready to avenge their dead comrades. Parker’s men confronted the British on a rocky hillside. Waiting until the British were close, they opened fire. The British were staggered, then charged the hill. Parker's men shot down several Regulars before breaking contact and lost men of their own.

At Parker's Revenge, the militia demonstrated the courage and determination that sustained American soldiers through the eight years of the Revolutionary War. Parker’s men had been defeated that morning on the Lexington Green, but after that first battle, they had reorganized and had waited bravely for the British to renew the battle.

The story of Parker’s Revenge is a microcosm of the Revolutionary War, during which Americans continuously confronted better trained, better equipped enemies. Americans lost more battles than they won, but they refused to accept defeat. As Major General Nathanael Greene wrote at the war’s end:
We fight, get beat, rise and fight again.

Americans ultimately won their independence by refusing to remain beaten.