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Manning the town militia

  • The 1794 Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania. Library of Congress

For the Monitor
Published: 5/17/2019 1:16:59 PM
Modified: 5/17/2019 1:16:46 PM

During the Colonial American period, the government thought there was a need for protection against Native Americans and the French. The law in Massachusetts actually required all able men between the ages of 16 and 60 to keep a firearm and volunteer in the citizen army known as the militia. The militia would fight alongside the British soldiers engaging the threats resulting from the French and Indian War in the mid-1700s.

It was in the year 1774 that the Massachusetts Provincial Congress called upon all militia officers to resign, ending their duty to the royal government in anticipation of coming events. In addition to this call to sever military relationships with the British, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress also requested that the towns maintain some of their militiamen in order to form special companies called Minutemen. Though the militia was a paid position under the royal government, the Minutemen were strictly a volunteer organization.

The Minutemen were well known for their role in combating the British in our quest to win independence with much folklore and factual history. As the Revolutionary War years were left in the past, there was a need for further protection and the military was maintained by the United States.

Such was the case in 1794 when thousands of farmers in western Pennsylvania engaged in armed opposition of the federal law calling for an excise tax on distilled spirits.

This insurrection is known as the Whiskey Rebellion and was addressed by General Washington himself when he ordered General Lee to march into Pennsylvania with 15,000 soldiers to quell the uprising. In addition to the Whiskey Rebellion, there were ongoing battles between the Native Americans and the soldiers in the west.

With this uprising in Pennsylvania and the uprising in the West, General Washington was concerned about the protection of our young nation. His memories drifted back to the Revolution and the strong support that the Continental Army received from the volunteer Minutemen. It was with this thought in mind that General Washington and the federal government sought unpaid soldiers right here in Concord. They were recruited in 1794. Though the need was never called for, they did, in fact, exist here in our little city, in the shadow of their fathers that fought in Lexington and Concord, Mass., two decades prior.

The recruitment, training and supplying of the Concord Minutemen was similar to the same standards used during the American Revolution. Each volunteer was required to maintain a firearm in good condition and to act in defense of the United States. As time progressed the Concord Minutemen were lost to the years with many descendants not knowing that they did indeed exist here.

The Concord Minutemen as soldiers would not neglect their work on the farm, while at their plow they remained ever vigilant of threats to our community and remained dedicated and ready to engage the enemy in a minute’s notice.

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