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THE CONCORD 
MINUTE MAN 

...By... 

GEORGE TOLMAN 



» J » •■ » ,' ■ • > ■ • • 



THE 



CONCORD MINUTE MEN 



READ BEFORE THE 



CONCORD ANTIQUARIAN SOCIETY 

March 4, 1901 



By GEORGE TOLMAN 

Secretary of the Society 



Published by the Society 



r' 



CONCORD ANTIQUARIAN SOCIETY 



Established September, 1886 



Executive Committee for 1900-01 

President. 



THE HON. JOHN S. KEYES . 

SAMUEL HOAR, Esq 

THE REV. LOREN B. MACDONALD 

THOMAS TODU 

GEORGE TOLMAN .... 
CHARLES H. WALCOTT, Esq. 
EDWARD W. EMERSON, M.D. 



:- Vice- Presidents. 

Treasurer. 
Secretary. 



House on Lexington Road 



'-ar-e 



A d 



t-c^-r 



'^V.. 



THE CONCORD MINUTE MEN. 



March, igoi. 

IT will perhaps be remembered that at the January 
meeting of this Society, I mentioned that the 
original muster roll of Capt. Charles Miles' Concord 
Company of Minute Men, that was engaged at the 
North Bridge on the 19th of April, 1775, was about 
to be sold at the auction of the Dr. Charles E. Clark 
collection in Boston, and that I purjaosed to make 
as high a bid for it as I thought the Society would 
stand. It is perhaps unnecessary now to remark that 
I did not get it, although my representative went 
higher for it than I, with the natural conservatism of 
old age, should have ventured, and the precious docu- 
ment was at last knocked down to a New York 
publishing house for $275. Of course they expect 
to make money on it, and the ultimate destination 
of this roll, which ought never to have left the Town 
of Concord, will be the private library of some mil- 
lionaire collector, or the cabinet of some historical 
society that can afford to make a permanent invest- 
ment of its funds in historical documents of this 
sort. Of one thing, however, we may be reasonably 
confident, and that is the future safety of this im- 
portant and interesting paper. It can never be lost 
or destroyed, or left disregarded to turn up at some 
time in the distant future, in a second-hand book 



^(i2558' 



ahpp at .the price of a shilling, for its value has 
/how: been-, permanently fixed at above a minimum 
of $275, and not only will its present possessors 
take every care for its preservation, but also, if it 
ever comes upon the market again, numbers of 
anxious collectors will be ready to compete, at still 
higher figures, for the privilege of taking equal care 
of it forever. If the Concord Antiquarian Society, 
or its representative at the sale, had wanted to buy 
the document as a speculation — to sell it again 
at an advanced figure — it might have afforded to 
raise the bluff still higher, but of course this idea 
is quite out of the question, for it would have been 
a point of honor, if the paper could possibly have 
been brought back to Concord, that it should have 
remained here forever. 

But it was only about twenty-five years ago, at 
or near the time of the centennial celebration of 
Concord Fight, that Dr. Clark offered to sell this 
same document for twenty-five dollars to Concord. 
I remember the incident quite distinctly, and also 
that the Doctor showed me the paper, — as also 
some other Concord papers (to be spoken of later) 
that had come into his possession. I had no funds 
to buy it with, but the matter was referred to some 
of the principal public-spirited men of the town (I 
have the impression that it was to the Trustees of 
the Public Library, but I am not confident on that 
point), and they concluded that it was not worth 
while to invest, and not dignified to buy on specu- 
lation, so the purchase was not made. 

Dr. Clark was at that time just beginning his 
collection of American portraits, prints, autographs, 



etc., especially of those connected with the period 
of the Revolution, — or rather, he was just beginning 
to be known as a collector, for, as he told me, he 
had been from his boyhood addicted to picking up 
such things as he could find them, an easier thing 
to do then, and earlier, than it is now — and in the 
following years he got together a mass of such 
material, hardly equalled by any collection in the 
country, so large, indeed, that the catalogue com- 
prised over 2,000 numbers, and it took three days 
to dispose of them by auction. I think from watch- 
ing a part of the sale that, considered merely as a 
money-making business, it would hardly have been 
possible for him to have invested in any recognized 
mercantile business the same money he put into 
this collection, in the same amounts and at the 
same times, and to have realized so great a profit 
from his investment. 

Since the Society's last meeting, perhaps on 
account of the sale of this very document, I have 
had inquiries from three different persons, in widely 
separated places, as to the Concord Minute Men, of 
whom there is no list in the Massachusetts Revo- 
lutionary archives at the State House, though there 
are rolls of all the minute men who turned out 
from other towns on the 19th of April, 1775. 
Obiter dicta, these rolls are docketed and indexed 
" Lexington Alarm " lists, when in point of fact 
Lexington was only an incident in the affair of that 
date. Concord was the objective point of General 
Gage's raid into the country, and Lexington, as well 
as Cambridge and Menotomy, happened to be on 
the road that led thither. Nobody in the whole 



Province was alarmed about Lexington, — everybody 
was anxious for Concord and the precious war 
material there deposited, the very heart and vitals 
of the incipient rebellion. The minute men of Essex 
and Worcester and Middlesex, when they turned 
out that morning, turned out for the defense of 
Concord, not of Lexington ; they all knew where 
Concord was and the road that led to it, but out- 
side of our own county, it is doubtful if one 
minute man in a dozen had ever heard of Lexing- 
ton, or at any rate could tell whether it was north, 
south, east, or west of Concord. (I always think it 
my duty to protest the claims of Lexington, even 
though the official archives of the Commonwealth 
appear as her indorser.) The reason that the list 
of Concord Minute Men does not appear in the so- 
called " Lexington Alarm " lists, however, is not as 
might perhaps appear to a superficial observer, 
because Concord was not alarmed about the safety 
of Lexington. It was because, some years after the 
event, an appropriation of money was made to pay 
the men who had rushed to the defense of Concord 
for their military service and travel, and the Captains 
from all over the Province sent in their properly 
attested muster rolls, most, if not all, of which have 
been preserved to this day. Concord paid her own 
soldiers, and though I know of no other enlistment 
roll than this one of which I have been speaking, 
the names of nearly all of them appear in the 
Town's records, scattered along through several 
pages, as they were paid by the Town Treasurer 
from time to time, but not so arranged as to make 
it certain what particular company any individual 
soldier belonged to. 



One of my correspondents appears to be a little 
confused by the following paragraph, which he quotes 
from Shattuck's " History of Concord," page iio: — 

" There were at this time in this vicinity, under 
rather imperfect organization, a regiment of militia 
and a reg't of minute men. The ofificers of the 
militia were James Barrett, Col.; Nathan Barrett and 
Geo. Minott of Concord Captains," [and others from 
other towns whom it is not necessary to name here]. 
" The officers of the minute men were Abijah Pierce 
of Lincoln, Col. ; Thos. Nixon of Framingham, Lt. 
Col. ; John Buttrick and Jacob Miller, Majors ; Thos. 
Hurd of Ea. Sudbury, Adj't; David Brown and Chas. 
Miles of Concord, Isaac Davis of Acton, Wm. Smith 
of Lincoln, Jonathan Wilson of Bedford, John Nixon 
of Sudbury, Captains. The officers of the minute 
men had no commissions ; their authority was de- 
rived solely from the suffrages of their companions. 
Nor were any of the companies formed in regular 
order " \_i.e., as the line was formed on the hill by 
Lieut. Joseph Hosmer, acting as Adjutant]. 

Our common use of the word " militia " to 
designate a certain organized, disciplined, and uni- 
formed foi'ce, such as is called in most of the States 
the " National Guard," is responsible for this con- 
fusion. The " militia," then as now, was the entire 
body of citizens of military age (with certain excep- 
tions, such as clergymen and paupers, for instance). 
This body of militia was mustered and paraded one 
or more times in the year, under officers whose com- 
missions ran in the name of the King, and were 
signed by the royal Governor. They were then, as 
now, a part of the authorized forces of the govern- 



8 



ment, liable to be called out en masse, or by means 
of a draft, at the call of the constituted authorities. 
Many of us remember how in the late Civil War, a 
draft was made from the militia of the United 
States, to fill up the depleted army. The same 
process of drafting from the militia had been fol- 
lowed in the various Indian wars of the Colony, and 
later, in the Province wars of the eighteenth century. 
The custom of mustering the militia annually or 
semi-annually continued until about half a century 
ago, until it became an object of popular ridicule 
and degenerated simply to burlesque, when it was 
very properly discontinued. I remember in my boy- 
hood that the walls of my grandfather's shop were 
papered with citations, calling him and his workmen 
and apprentices to military duty. He was merely a 
militia man, and his citations called upon him as 
"being duly enrolled" . . . " to appear armed and 
equipped," while Clark Munroe, who worked for him, 
being a member of the Light Infantry, a " chartered 
company," was cited as "duly enlisted" . . . " to 
appear armed, equipped and uniformed." 

Long before the outbreak of actual hostilities in 
1775, General Gage, acting Governor of the Province, 
had become suspicious of the militia. He had the 
authority to call them out, whenever necessary, for 
the forcible suppression of mob violence, and the 
enforcement of law and order, exactly as the Governor 
of the Commonwealth has today. But in the then 
temper of the people he was inclined, as was Hotspur 
in the matter of the spirits, to ask "will they come 
when I do call for them ? " and was obliged to 
acknowledge to himself that they most certainly 



would not, or if they did, they would range them- 
selves on the side of revolution rather than on that 
of the established legal authorities. So, as far as 
possible, the assembling of the militia was prevented, 
and the annual musterings were discontinued. Even 
" the chartered companies," answering somewhat to 
our " Volunteer Militia " or " National Guard " of 
today, were frowned upon, and as far as possible 
disarmed, though they did manage to save to them- 
selves some pieces of artillery, the property of the 
Province, which afterward did their duty in the pro- 
vincial army. The commissions of the militia offi- 
cers were revoked in some few cases, but for the 
most part had not been recalled. Practically these 
commissions were all that was left of the organiza- 
tion of the militia of the Province, months before the 
19th of April, 1775, and owing to the long discon- 
tinuance of " trainings," it was simply this skeleton 
of a few commissions that formed the " Regiment 
of Militia under rather imperfect organization," and 
commanded by Col. James Barrett, of which Shattuck 
speaks. 

The throttling, by Governor Gage, of the Gen- 
eral Court, the constitutional legislature of the Prov- 
ince, led to the assembling in Concord on the iith 
of October, 1774, of a body of delegates chosen from 
the several towns in the same manner as the Repre- 
sentatives in General Court were chosen, and for 
much the same purposes as were the deliberations 
and actions of that body. This new body of dele- 
gates called itself a Provincial Congress, and held 
three sessions : the first, of five days in October, at 
Concord ; the second, of two weeks in the same 



lO 



month ; and the third, of nearly three weeks in 
November and December, at Cambridge. One of 
the first proceedings of this body was to take into 
consideration the disorganized condition of the 
mihtia, and to take measures to form a new force, 
under its own orders, and independent of the royal 
governor. The committee's report on this matter, 
which was adopted unanimously, sets forth that, 
whereas a formidable body of troops are already 
arrived at the metropolis of the Province, and more 
are on the way, with the express design of sub- 
verting the constitution of the Province ; and 
whereas the Governor has attempted to use his 
troops against the inhabitants of Salem, and has 
fortified Boston against the country, and has unlaw- 
fully seized upon and kept certain arms and am- 
munition provided at the public cost for the use of 
the Province, "at the same time having neglected 
and altogether disregarded the assurances from this 
Congress of the pacific disposition of the inhabitants 
of this Province," ..." notwithstanding that the 
Province has not the most distant design of attack- 
ing, annoying or molesting his Majesty's troops 
aforesaid" — in view of all these things a Committee 
of Safety shall be appointed, who shall, among other 
powers and duties, "have power and they are hereby 
directed whenever they shall judge it necessary for 
the safety and defense of the inhabitants of this 
Province and their property, to alarm, muster and 
cause to be assembled, with the utmost expedition, 
and completely armed, accoutred and supplied with 
provisions sufficient for their support in their march 
to the 23lace of rendezvous, such and so many of 



II 



the militia as they shall judge necessary for the 
ends aforesaid, and at such place or places as they 
shall judge proper, and them to discharge as soon 
as the safety of this Province shall permit." 

Other resolutions provided for the purchase of 
arms, ammunition, provisions and all kinds of mili- 
tary stores, and for their accumulation and care at 
Concord and Worcester. The new force was to be 
"enlisted" to the number of at least one fourth of 
the militia. That is to say, it was to comprise one 
fourth of the men of military age in the Province, 
and was to be raised not by a draft, but by volun- 
tary enlistment. This was practically necessary. 
There were, as the Congress well knew, and as sub- 
sequent events amply proved, very many citizens 
who were opposed to the action of the Congress, and 
to any measures which looked like forcible resist- 
ance to the established government, even though 
they might not entirely approve of the course of 
Governor Gage and the constituted authorities. It 
was to keep these citizens quiet and to stifle their 
objections to measures that were plainly revolu- 
tionary, and that in the very nature of things must 
lead inevitably to open hostilities, that the Congress 
declared that it " will consider all measures tending 
to prevent a reconciliation between Britain and these 
Colonies, as the highest degree of enmity to the 
Province." The committee that drew up this reso- 
lution, and the Congress that adopted it, knew per- 
fectly well that the very measures they were taking 
would tend and were tending to " prevent a recon- 
ciliation between Britain and her Colonies." They 
knew also that in the clash of arms for which they 



12 



were preparing with such feverish haste, it would 
be imperatively necessary that they should have a 
military force on which they could depend, a force 
of men who had taken up arms of their own 
volition, and with full knowledge that such taking 
of arms might, and almost certainly would, lead to 
open rebellion and treason. So, by the process of 
voluntary enlistment in the new force, the Congress 
weeded out the loyalists from the ranks of the 
militia, and assured itself of an army that could be 
relied upon, made up of men who knew the risk 
that they were assuming. 

It was this force of men to which the name 
of Minute Men was applied. This appears to have 
been at first a popular name for the force, doubt- 
less derived from the terms of the enlistment paper, 
which was as follows : — 

I. We, whose names are hereunto subscribed, 
will to the utmost of our power defend His Majesty 
King George the Third, his person, crown and 
dignity. 

II. We will at the same time, to the utmost 
of our power and abilities, defend all and every of 
our charter rights, liberties and privileges ; and will 
hold ourselves in readiness at a minute s warning, 
with arms and ammunition thus to do. 

III. We will at all times and in all places 
obey our officers chosen by us, and our superior 
officers, in ordering and disciplining us, when and 
where said officers shall think proper. 

These terms of enlistment were drawn up by a 
committee of this Town of Concord, and reported 
to a town meeting, January 9, 1775, on which date 



13 

and at which meeting the town voted to pay each 
"minute man" at a certain rate per diem for ten 
months. This is the first use of the word " minute 
man " that I have been able to find in any officially 
recorded document or recoi'd of proceedings, from 
which fact I am led to infer that the word was 
coined in Concord; a happy inspiration of some one 
of our local patriots, to distinguish this yet-to-be- 
created army of volunteers, and that the apposite- 
ness and significance of the term caused it to spread 
all over the Province, from this great centre and 
vital spot of the organization of the revolutionary 
movement. 

If I am correct in this inference (and I am 
fairly sure that I am), to Concord belongs not only 
the honor of being the spot on which " was made 
the first forcible resistance to British aggression," 
but also of being the birthplace of the very name 
which for 125 years has been the synonym for a 
soldier of liberty. The term " minute man " appears 
for the first time on the records of the Provincial 
Congress, in the minutes of its proceedings of April 
10, 1775, when that body was sitting in Concord, 
but little more than a week before the minute men 
received their " baptism of fire." 

Mr. Shattuck informs us that on Thursday, 
January 12, 1775, a meeting was held to enlist the 
men, under the articles that I have just read, at 
which the Rev. Wm. Emerson preached a sermon 
from Psalms Ixiii: 2, and about sixty enlisted. They 
could n't do anything in those days except with the 
concomitance of more or less preaching, but I con- 
fess I am not theologian enough, nor soldier enough, 



14 

to see the peculiar appositeness to the occasion, of 
the text, " To see thy power and thy glory, so as I 
have seen thee in the sanctuary," and if Shattuck 
were not so thoroughly trustworthy in theological 
matters, albeit sometimes a little bit shaky in his- 
torical statements, I should be inclined to fancy that 
he had cited the wrong chapter and verse. 

However, this date, January 12, 1775, and its 
story of sixty enlistments, brings us back once more 
to our own text, from which I fear we have widely 
divagated, the Muster Roll of Captain Charles Miles' 
Company. Doubtless his Company was the first 
one to be filled up, and includes the larger part of 
the sixty who enlisted on January 12 — a circum- 
stance which makes it doubly to be regretted that 
the original roll of honor of the Revolutionary War 
has passed irrevocably out of our possible possession. 
The document begins : — 

"Concord, January 17th, 1775, then we chose our 
officers and settled the Company of Minute Men 
under the command of Capt. Charles Miles." Then 
follow the names which I will read here ; though in 
general a list of names is uninteresting reading, still 
it is well to remember that these men were the 
pioneers, the very advance guard of that great army 
"which gave liberty to these United States;" They 
were: Captain, Charles Miles; Lieutenants, Jonathan 
Farrar and Francis Wheeler ; Sergeants David Hart- 
well, Amos Hosmer, Silas Walker, Edward Richard- 
son ; Corporals, Simeon Hayward, Nathan Peirce, 
James Cogswell ; Drummer, Daniel Brown ; Fifer, 
Samuel Derby ; Privates, Joseph Cleasby, Simeon 
Burrage, Israel Barrett, Daniel Hoar, Ephraim 



IS 

Brooks, Wm. Burrage, Joseph Stratton, Stephen 
Brooks, Simon Wheeler, Ebenezer Johnson, Stephen 
Stearns, Wm. Brown, Jeremiah Clark, Jacob Ames, 
Benjamin Hosmer, Joel Hosmer, Samuel Wheeler, 
Wareham Wheeler, Oliver Wheeler, Jesse Hosmer, 
Amos Darby, Solomon Rice, Thaddeus Bancroft, 
Amos Melvin, Samuel Melvin, Nathan Dudley, 
Oliver Parlin, John Flag, Samuel Emery, John Cole, 
Daniel Cole, Barnabas Davis, Major Raly, Edward 
Wilkins, Daniel Farrar, Oliver Harris, Samuel Jewel, 
Daniel Wheat, John Corneall, Levi Hosmer. 

There they are, fifty-two of them in all. You 
will have noticed how many of the fa))iily names are 
still upon our list of inhabitants, — how many of 
them are to be found also in Concord's latest list 
of young heroes and patriots, our boys who turned 
out at their country's call, less than three years ago. 
There are thirty-six family names in this muster 
roll of Captain Miles' Company, and of these, twenty- 
one are names of families that had been settled in 
Concord for more than one hundred years. Other 
old families (Buttrick, Flint, Hunt, Stow, Wood, 
Wright, for instance) are absent from this roll, but 
appear with full representation in the other com- 
panies that were formed about the same time. 

Following the list of names I have just read, 
is a record of the meetings of the Company, twice 
a week until the end of February, giving the names 
of those who were " missing " at each meeting, — 
that is, of those who did not turn out for drill, — 
not many at any particular drill, showing quite 
distinctly the conscientious enthusiasm with which 
these young farmers applied themselves to the busi- 



i6 



ness, unfamiliar to most of them, of learning the 
military exercise, and preparing to fire the cele- 
brated "shot heard round the world" — which par- 
ticular shot, by the way, I notice with great regret, 
the newspaper and magazine writers have lately been 
locating at Lexington. A separate slip of paper, 
attached to the record as above, and in the same 
handwriting, reads : — 

"Concord, April 19, 1775, then the battel 
begune, then we ware caled away to Cambridg — 
and April the 20th then we was caled to arms to 
Concord — and April the 21 then we was caled to 
Arms to Concord — and April the 30 then we was 
cald to Cambridge — and May the 5, 1775, then we 
went on Card and stood twenty four ours — May 
the 6, 1775 then went on Card and stood twenty four 
ours, and found ourselves." 

This standing on guard May 5 and 6 was, of 
course, at the camp at Cambridge, and was doubtless 
the last service performed by the Company ; at all 
events, it finishes the record. From the fact that 
they had to " find " themselves on the last day — that 
is to say, that they were not furnished with rations 
from the camp — I infer that that day's service was 
" over time," as it were ; that they remained on duty 
one day longer than they were absolutely required 
to. Most of the names in Captain Miles' roll appear 
immediately afterward in the muster roll of Captain 
Abishai Brown's Company, which was with the army 
at Cambridge until after the battle of Bunker Hill, 
as appears from the orderly book of Sergeant 
Nathan Stow. The name of " Minute Man " had by 
that time been outgrown ; the men were no longer 



17 

emergency men ; the flimsy and sophistical pretense, 
so long maintained by the Provincial Congress, of 
loyalty to the person and crown of George the 
Third had been once for all abandoned ; the men in 
arms at Cambridge were ofificially recognized and 
spoken of as " the army ; " henceforward there was 
to be no argument but war, no softening of terms 
and phrases, no veiling of rebellion and revolution 
under any equivoque, no peace but such as could be 
conquered. 

It may perhaps be not out of the way to say 
that Captain Miles and his fifty-one men were not 
the only minute men of Concord. Another Com- 
pany was raised by Captain David Brown at the 
same time and on the same terms of enlistment, and 
at a town meeting a few days later, it was reported 
that the number in both companies was just one 
hundred. The names of ninety-nine men appear 
on the town records as having been paid by the 
Town for their service as " minute men," but there 
are seven names in the list I have just read of 
Captain Miles' command that do not show in these 
lists of payments. Possibly there were also some 
men in Captain Brown's Company who did not 
trouble themselves to draw from the Town the few 
shillings to which they were entitled, but it is prob- 
able that the list of names here given is practically 
the muster roll of the company, which comprised : — 
David Brown, Captain ; David Wheeler and Silas 
Man, Lieutenants ; Abishai Brown, Emerson Cogs- 
well and Amos Wood, Sera:eants ; Amos Barrett, 
Stephen Barrett, Reuben Hunt and Stephen Jones, 
Corporals; John Buttrick, Jr., Fifer, and Phineas 



i8 

Alin, Humphrey Barrett, Jr., Elias Barron, Jonas 
Bateman, John Brown, Jr., Jonas Brown, Purchase 
Brown, Abiel Buttrick, Daniel Buttrick, Oliver But- 
trick, Tilly Buttrick, VVillard Buttrick, Wm. Buttrick, 
Daniel Cray, Amos Davis, Abraham Davis, Joseph 
Davis, Jr., Joseph Dudley, Charles Flint, Edward 
Flint, Edward Flint, Jr., Nathan Flint, Ezekiel 
Hagar, Isaac Hoar, David Hubbard, John Laughton, 
David Melvin, Jr., William Mercer, John Minot, Jr., 
Thos. Prescott, Bradbury Robinson, Ebenezer Stow, 
Nathan Stow, Thomas Thurston, Jotham Wheeler, 
Peter Wheeler, Zachary Wheeler, Ammi White, 
John White, Jonas Whitney, Aaron Wright. John 
Buttrick was a Major of Minute Men, and he com- 
pletes, as far as is now possible, the list of Concord's 
soldiers who are entitled to that distinctive name. 

This list is even more representative of Concord 
than is that of Captain Miles' company, for forty- 
one of the fifty-two names comprised in it are of 
members of the old Concord families, men whose 
ancestors had lived hez^e for at least three genera- 
tions. 

There were also two companies of the regular 
" militia " in the town, which had charters and com- 
missions under the royal authority, and which had 
all along maintained some degree of organization 
and were now recruited up to their full strength, be- 
fore the organization of the minute men was begun. 
One of these was a " horse company," a relic of the 
old Indian fighting days, and this company, after- 
ward as the Concord Light Infantry, kept up its 
existence under its old charter until about fifty years 
ago, when it was unfortunately disbanded, being at 



19 

the time of its disbandment the oldest chartered 
miHtary company in New England, save and except- 
ing only the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Com- 
pany of Boston. Of these two Concord militia 
companies, Nathan Barrett and George Minott were 
Captains ; Joseph Hosmer, who acted as Adjutant at 
the Bridge, was a Lieutenant in one of them, and 
James Barrett was Colonel of the regiment to which 
they both belonged. 

All these Concord companies, both of minute 
men and militia, were together once, before the 19th 
of April, 1775, viz.: on the 13th of March, and the 
battalion went through with some military exercises ; 
of which, the one that seemed most important to 
be mentioned by the devout historian of Concord 
was the listening to a sermon by the Rev. Mr. 
Emerson from the text, " Behold God himself is with 
us for our Captain, and his Priests with sounding 
trumpets to cry alarm against you," a highly appro- 
priate text for a sermon just at that time : something 
on the lines of Cromwell's order to " trust in God, 
but keep your powder dry," only while Cromwell 
seemed to imply that the latter part of the order 
was of paramount importance, the minister, as per- 
haps bound by his priestly ofifice, appears to rely 
much more upon his assurance of the divine favor 
than upon the practical matter of detail implied in 
the condition of the ammunition. 

This 13th of March was a Sunday. It was on 
the very next Sunday, — the 20th — that two of 
General Game's engfineer ofificers visited Concord in 
disguise, and were entertained by the Hon. Daniel 
Bliss, with the result that, their business being dis- 



20 



covered, the second Sunday was hardly less full of 
excitement than the first. 

When the line of the patriots came to be 
formed on the slope of Punkatasset Hill on the 
morning of the 19th of April, there were present 
companies or parts of companies from Concord and 
from the adjacent towns, her daughters; but what 
with the mixture of regular militia and minute men, 
and the fact that so many of Concord's men were 
absent from the field in the morning, engaged in 
the paramount duty of removing to places of greater 
security the precious stores of war material, the loss 
of which would be a severer blow to the patriot 
cause than would be any merely military defeat, it is 
not to be wondered at that, as Shattuck says, " none 
of the companies were formed in regular order." 

It can never be known with any certainty, who 
of the Concord soldiers were at the bridge when 
the fight took place there. We have no muster 
rolls of the two militia companies, and there are 
many names preserved by tradition as having borne 
arms on that day which are not to be found in the 
lists I have read ; most of these persons were doubt- 
less militiamen, like Thaddeus Blood, who died in 
1844, and is recorded as " the last man in this town 
that was at Concord Fight." 

For many hours before the arrival of the British 
soldiers, every man in the town (practically) had been 
actively engaged in carting away to Stow and Acton 
and Littleton, and even farther, the provisions and 
military stores of which the town had been the 
place of deposit. As the feeble and scattered line 
began to form itself on the further side of the river, 



21 



these men came back from their errand singly or 
in small groups, and sought as nearly as they could 
their proper place in the ranks. Many of them of 
course did not get back at all until after the little 
skirmish at the bridge was over. But even those 
did their duty as much, and doubtless with much 
the same spirit, as did our Captain Charles Miles, 
who, we are told, went into the battle with the same 
feelings with which he went to church. The safety 
of the military stores and supplies was the all-im- 
portant object, which by vote of the Provincial Con- 
gress had been made the especial duty of Colonel 
James Barrett. If this object could have been 
secured without firing a gun. Colonel Barrett and 
his men would have been better pleased, for the 
hastily formed, undisciplined and straggling little 
army was far from being prepared, in any respect 
of personnel or of war material, to lock horns with 
the royal regiments, even if it had known how much 
of military incompetence was concentrated in the 
brain of the British General-in-Chief. It was Gen- 
eral Gage's absolutely colossal faculty of blundering 
that precipitated Concord Fight and the siege of 
Boston. The patriots had been inclined to give 
him some credit as a strategist and as a tactician, 
and would willingly have postponed for a time the 
wager of battle. This was evidently the meaning 
of the often repeated and somewhat supererogatory 
protestations of loyalty to "our gracious sovereign, 
King Georsre the Third." 

But if fighting must be precipitated, we cannot 
doubt that every captain of minute men in the entire 
Province was equally ready to declare, and equally 



22 



justified in declaring, with Captain Isaac Davis of 
Acton, that he " had n't a man that was afraid to 
go." You remember that besides Captain Davis, 
Captain Smith of Lincoln and Captain Wilson of 
Bedford had their companies at the scene of action 
before the invading expedition got here, and that 
Captain Parker had his men out on the Lexington 
Common before that expedition had got out of the 
mud of East Cambridge. 

But to come back again within hailing distance 
of our text; we have seen that the Minute Men 
were to hold themselves in readiness at all times 
" at a minute's warnins^ with arms and ammunition." 
So strictly was this construed, that, on the authority 
of tradition, it is stated that no man, after being 
duly mustered in, allowed himself to be separated 
from his arms for one moment, sleeping or waking. 
At church, at the shop, on the farm or at the 
market, the trusty gun, that had perhaps seen ser- 
vice at Louisbourg thirty years before, or in Nova 
Scotia in 1755, or had been carried by one of 
Colonel John Cuming's men in the Northern ex- 
pedition of 1758, or by one of Colonel Jonathan 
Hoar's soldiers during the closing campaign of the 
French war in 1760, now carefully repaired and put 
in order for another spell of activity, stood always 
ready to its owner's hand. What the new army of 
freedom lacked in the niceties of military drill, it 
made up for in knowing something of marksman- 
ship ; what it wanted in formality, it compensated 
for in constant readiness and watchfulness. 

The men were to be assembled for drill twice 
in each week, for three hours at each time, at /.$■. 



23 

8d., afterward increased to 2s., for each attendance, 
not a high rate of pay, as we look at things today, 
especially as each man found his own gun, the 
"cartouch-box " alone being furnished at public 
expense. Still, compared with what the town was 
then paying for labor on the roads, and with the 
ordinary going rates for mechanics' labor, it is 
probably as much money as the most of them 
would have earned at their regular vocations. A 
few of the men had no firearms, and no funds to 
buy any, and they were provided at the public ex- 
pense ; only fifteen of them in all, for in those days 
every farmer and mechanic owned some sort of a 
gun, and generally knew how to shoot fairly well 
with it. That was a point in which the rebels had 
a decided advantage over the King's troops, among 
whom marksmanship was considered no part of a 
soldier's qualifications. (Even since the American 
Civil War of less than forty years ago, a general 
ofificer of the English army has declared in print, 
in the pages of the United Service Gazette, that 
" all that is necessary for an enlisted man to know 
about shooting is to be able to point his gun 
straight in front of him, and pull the trigger.") 

Among the arms which the Province had caused 
to be deposited at Concord, General Gage's spies 
found here, as by their report to that commander, 
"fourteen pieces of cannon (ten iron and four brass) 
and two coehorns," or small mortars. Forty of the 
Town's soldiers were detailed " to learn the exercise 
of the cannon," and were called the Alarm Company. 
There is no separate list of their names, but I find 
one recorded reference to George Minott as Captain 



24 

of the Alarm Company, so I conclude that this 
company was not really of minute men, but was one 
of the regular militia companies of the town. They 
could not have learned much of the artillery exercise 
in the few weeks of late winter and early spring 
that were ojDen to them, and, so far as I have been 
able to discover, none of the Concord names appear 
on the lists of " matrosses " in the army at Cam- 
bridge after the investment of Boston began. 

It was only two days before the fight at the 
bridge, that the Province Committee of Safety, then 
in session here, directed Colonel James Barrett to 
have two of the cannon mounted for use, and the 
others conveyed further into the country, and on 
the morning of the 19th four of them were hastily 
deported to Stow, and six of them were carried to 
the outer districts of the town and carefully con- 
cealed. It is a tradition that some of them were 
hidden on Colonel Barrett's farm by laying them in 
a furrow of a field that was being ploughed, and 
turning another furrow over on them, and that this 
operation was performed while the detachment of 
British soldiers that had been to search the Colonel's 
place were in plain sight of the field. Three of 
the largest guns, twenty-four pounders, perhaps too 
heavy to be quickly got out of the way, were 
captured by the British in the village and disabled, 
— but not so thoroughly that they could not be 
repaired. 

The existence of the organization of the Minute 
Men, as such, was short, though their enlistment was 
originally for the term of ten months. With the 
shutting up of General Gage's army in Boston and 



25 

the establishment of the siege of that place, their 
work was practically over. Their organization was 
plainly meant to be merely temporary, — to provide 
for a force of men who should remain in their own 
homes, and pursue their regular employments, but 
who should be ready at all times to meet the first 
alarm of danger and face the first shock of battle, 

— and nobly and bravely did they perform that duty, 
not only the Minute Men of Concord, but those of 
every other town in the Province. But for the 
tedious life in an established camp, — for the trying 
duty of keeping watch over a strong and resource- 
ful enemy and preventing his escape from the trap 
into which his own foolishness had led him, — for 
the hard practical conditions of a besieging army 

— there was needed a firmer and more military body, 
with more perfect organization and a more conven- 
tional standard of discipline. So the minute men 
gradually faded away, and even before the battle of 
Bunker Hill, only two months later, we find most 
of the commissions vacant and the companies largely 
broken up. A large part, indeed, much the larger 
part, of the men re-entered the service, but it was 
in newly constructed companies, and in very many 
cases with new officers. In the case of some com- 
panies, this change was almost imperceptible, and in 
all it appears to have been gradual, and it was not 
until the war was well advanced, certainly not until 
after the Northern campaign of 1777, that the 
"minute man" spirit and influence may be said to 
have finally lapsed. 

In the beginning of this paper, I spoke of some 
other Concord documents in Dr. Clark's collection. 



26 



They have nothing to do with the minute men or 
with the American revolution, but they are of some 
interest to us, nevertheless. One of them, the most 
valuable by far, was an original manuscript account 
of the celebrated Lovewell's Fight with the Indians 
at Pequawket in 1725, in the handwriting of Eleazer 
Melvin of Concord, who with six others from this 
place, of whom two were killed and two were 
wounded, had a conspicuous share in that disastrous 
battle. This is the only contemporaneous account 
of the fight, written by one of the participants, that 
has come down to our day. It has never been 
printed, and has been entirely unknown. It was 
doubtless the basis of the Rev. Thos. Symmes' uni- 
versally accepted historical account, for Mr. Symmes 
follows Melvin's manuscript verbatim in several 
pages. This paper also brought a fabulous price at 
the sale, and like the list of Captain Miles' minute 
men, is now forever out of our reach. Another paper 
that was in Dr. Clark's possession twenty-five years 
ago, was a portion of the records of the old District 
of Carlisle ; these leaves turned up later in the 
Woburn Public Library, from which, I think, they 
have since been redeemed. 

All these papers were bought by Dr. Clark for a 
very small sum, from a Lowell junk dealer about 1863. 
At that time paper and paper-stock were enormously 
high ; more than three times as much as before the 
war, and about twelve times as much as now. 
Country attics were rummaged by frugal and thrifty 
housewives, to whom the temptation of ten or twelve 
cents a pound for a lot of musty old letters and 
account books that had cluttered up the garrets for 



27 

years, was irresistible. There was money in these 
old things, and the good, ignorant people never 
stopped to think, indeed, they did not know enough 
to think, that they might even have a higher value 
than for mere paper rags. Here and there was a 
junk man who did know something, or who had 
fallen in with some antiquary who had a liking for 
old documents, — and those junk men got rich. 
But for the most part the stuff was hauled away 
to the nearest paper mill and converted into pulp. 
It fairly brings the tears to one's eyes to think how 
many priceless documents, how much of the raw 
material of history, was irrecoverably disposed of in 
that way — and how little there is now left. 

All these papers of Dr. Clark's came in a lot 
of such stuff cleared out as waste paper from the 
house once occupied by John Hartwell, Clerk of 
Old Carlisle, and by several generations of his de- 
scendants. Captain Miles' muster roll is in the hand- 
writing of David Hartwell, orderly sergeant of the 
company, and son of this John. A Melvin marriage 
in the Hartwell tribe brought Captain Eleazer's 
account of the Lovewell Fight into the Hartwell 
house. This accounts for all these papers, and for 
their preservation down to the time they got into 
the hands of the Lowell junk man, whose acquaint- 
ance I am sorry not to have made thirty-eight years 
ago, as Dr. Clark found him a very valuable and 
profitable addition to his circle of acquaintance. 



MAY 29 190/ 



11^'!^'^'^ °'' CONGRESS 



014 014 590 7 



T. Todd, Printer 
Boston