On the cold winter night of December 16th 1773, the Sons of Liberty, disguised as Indians, silently crept onto British ships docked in Boston Harbor. Three ships were boarded: the Dartmouth, Eleanor, and Beaver. It is there that these men began throwing crates upon crates of tea (an estimated 342 crates) into the harbor. This action, more commonly known as the Boston Tea Party was the first such violent act by colonials and this enraged the British. The British passed harsher laws, banned town meetings, took away the power of local officials, and finally closed Boston Harbor, which prevented goods from going in and out of the city.1 This single act of colonial resentment towards royal authority paved the way for the inevitable, The Revolutionary War. With turmoil unfolding, members of the First Continental Congress met and urged that each colony organize a volunteer army to protect the towns and colonies should war break out. This volunteer army were known as the Minutemen.
Minutemen and state militias were organizing all across the colonies. Minutemen were known as a rapidly deployed force that could assemble in minutes. Minutemen were all hand picked militia members. Typically 25 years of age or younger, they were chosen for their enthusiasm, reliability, and physical strength.2 Although Minutemen had been around since the mid 1600s, their product of many years of training and institutionalization created a quick reaction force that helped pave the way for the creation of the Continental Army. State militias were quite different yet had extensive numbers compared to the Minutemen. As previously stated, Minutemen were hand selected from state militias. State militias were made up of common folk. Farmers, blacksmiths, artisans, young men and old. Typically settlers from each town between the ages of 16 and 60 were required to join their respective local militia. It was not uncommon for members of a local militia to be relatives. While the militiamen were forming, the British began mobilizing fleets of British soldiers to confront those who defied the crown in the colonies.
On the night of April 18th, 1775, Paul Revere and other riders were dispatched to warn many towns that the “British were coming”. The British disembarked their ships and headed from Boston to Concord, along the way they were met by colonial militia in the town of Lexington. It was there, on Lexington’s green, they came upon seventy or so minutemen. Outnumbered by the redcoats, militia captain Jonas Parker ordered his men neither to
surrender nor to attack, but to disband—taking their weapons with them.3 Just one day after Paul Revere's ride, the Battle of Lexington and was fought, marking the first military engagement that the colonial militia directly fought against the British. From here the British continued their advance towards Concord where they met far greater numbers of militia members. The most reliable estimate of American strength at Concord...