The Acton Minutemen were a group of men, mostly farmers, from the town
of Acton, in the colony of Massachusetts, who formed a company for the
purpose of defending the town and the colony against attack.  They were
trained and drilled in the use of their weapons, namely the musket and
bayonet.  They were able to muster (or gather) in just a few minutes' time
after the signal was given throughout the town.  Their ability to ready
themselves so quickly gave rise to the term "Minutemen".  All of the
surrounding towns to Acton also had militia or Minute companies, and
each was ready to defend their own town or join together to defend the
greater colony.
In the weeks and months leading up to April of 1775, tensions were growing between the colonists and the British forces that
were stationed in the colonies to enforce the King's rule. In the middle of the night, on April 19th, 1775, a column of over 800
British regulars (redcoats) left Boston, headed for Concord. They were to destroy a secret store of weapons and munitions that
they had heard were hidden at a farm there. Thanks to Paul Revere, Samuel Prescott, and others, the word spread quickly
through the countryside that the redcoats were on the move.  Each town mustered their Militia and Minuteman companies and
headed off toward Concord at a march.

Acton's Minute company, under the leadership of Captain Isaac Davis, mustered at Davis's house, (which still stands on
Hayward Rd. today) and departed from there with their fifer, young Luther Blanchard, playing  
"The White Cockade", to march
the seven miles to the fields overlooking the North Bridge in Concord.  At the town line crossing into Concord, Isaac Davis
stopped and gave any man who did not wish to proceed, the chance to turn around and return to his home - no one did.  At the
Barrett farm in Concord, which lay directly in the path that Acton was marching on, an advance scouting party of British soldiers
were searching for stored weapons and munitions - the reason for the entire British advance from Boston. Alerted by perhaps
Colonel Barrett himself, who had ridden back to his farm from the North Bridge,  Acton's Minutemen skirted around them by
going off the road, once again playing
"The White Cockade", through a section of woods and fields, and rejoining the road
again about a half-mile ahead, thus avoiding an early confrontation. The Minutemen continued the rest of the march to the
bridge. (Today's Acton Minutemen still march the same 7-mile route to the Old North Bridge on Patriot's Day, commemorating
the courageous acts of those original Acton patriots.)

In Lexington, the main column of British forces met their first resistance; a small group of armed men. To this day, no one is
sure who fired first, but in the ensuing brief but deadly battle, 8 townspeople were killed on Lexington green.  The British
marched on.  By the time the redcoats got to Concord, however, the Minute companies from many of the surrounding
communities had begun to arrive and were waiting for them  in numbers.  The point of confrontation was at the North Bridge,
and when the order was given for the colonists to attack, The Acton Minutemen, led by Captain Isaac Davis, were first in line to
advance.  History tells us that Acton's company was the only one present that was entirely outfitted with bayonets, perhaps
because Isaac Davis himself was a blacksmith and a gunsmith.  When asked if he was afraid to advance, Davis replied, "I am
not, and I haven't a man who is"!  They advanced on the British, engaging them at the bridge itself. In the ensuing 3 minute
battle, Davis was shot in the heart and died instantly.  Thus Isaac Davis became the first commissioned officer to die in the
Revolutionary War. By his side, young Abner Hosmer was also mortally wounded. Later in the day, James Hayward would also
fall dead in a sudden duel with a Regular, whereby each one shot and killed the other.

The British were turned back at the bridge, in large part due to Acton's stand. As the British forces retreated back into Concord
Center, and then all the way back into Charlestown and Boston, they were pursued by colonial forces and armed civilians. The
Redcoats took heavy losses, and eventually had to hole up within the confines of Boston, around which the colonial forces set
up a siege line, setting the stage for a protracted war.  April 19th, 1775 was the day it truly all began, and the turning point at the
old North Bridge was the first time the British had been forced to retreat in the face of colonial opposition.

Actonians like to say that "the battle of Lexington was fought in Concord by the men of Acton".  The date April 19th will forever
be remembered as the day America began her struggle for freedom, and the Acton Minutemen will always be remembered for
their bravery and courage in the face of death. Use the link below to see the names of all these brave men.
Alan and his troops
at Battle Road
Holding off the Brits at
Tower Park in Lexington
Steve and Rich become the
first casualties of the battle
Acton had other companies of militia, commanded by other officers, but only the company under Isaac Davis was referred to
as a "Minute Company." Many descendants of these men still live in Acton and the surrounding area, and the names of these
brave souls live on in the names of streets and neighborhoods in Acton and surrounding towns. As you drive around the area,
look to see if any of the road signs display the name of one of these great men, and ask yourself, "What brave act would allow
my name to be remembered for hundreds of years?" These men knew the danger of making that fateful march, and they did it
anyway. Here are their names:
For a complete history of the Acton companies, read "History of the Acton Minutemen and Militia Companies (1754-1925)"
by Charles R. Husbands
(a member of the Acton Minutemen and the Acton Historical Society)
available from the Higginson Book Company in Salem, MA (
higginsonbooks.com)

A second edition,
"History of the Acton Minutemen and Militia Companies - Vol. II (1926 -1975)" is also available from
the Higginson Book Company in Salem, MA (
higginsonbooks.com)

And for a vivid and detailed account of the background of the Minute man concept, and the battle of April 19th, 1775, read
"The
Minutemen" by General John R. Galvin, US Army

Also, for a complete bibliography of publications and information on the Concord and Lexington fight, follow this link to the WPI
Military Science page. It is very comprehensive.

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