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Minutemen were members of teams of select men from the American colonial militia during the American Revolutionary War. They provided a highly mobile, rapidly deployed force that allowed the colonies to respond immediately to war threats, hence the name.

The minutemen were among the first people to fight in the American Revolution. Their teams constituted about a quarter of the entire militia. Generally younger and more mobile, they served as part of a network for early response. Minuteman and Sons of Liberty member, Paul Revere was among those who spread the news that the British Regulars (soldiers) were coming out. Revere was captured before completing his mission when the British marched toward the arsenal in Lexington and Concord to collect the weapons stored there.[1]

The term has also been applied to various later United States civilian based military forces to recall the success and patriotism of the originals.



In the British colony of Massachusetts Bay, all able-bodied men between the ages of 16 and 30 were required to participate in their local militia.[2] As early as 1645 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, some men were selected from the general ranks of town-based "training bands" to be ready for rapid deployment. Men so selected were designated as minutemen. They were usually drawn from settlers of each town, and so it was very common for them to be fighting alongside relatives and friends.

Some towns in Massachusetts had a long history of designating a portion of their militia as minutemen, with "minute companies" constituting special units within the militia system whose members underwent additional training and held themselves ready to turn out rapidly ("at a minute's notice") for emergencies, hence their name. Other towns, such as Lexington, preferred to keep their entire militia in a single unit.

Members of the minutemen were no more than 30 years old, and were chosen for their enthusiasm, political reliability, and strength. They were the first armed militia to arrive at or await a battle. Officers, as in the rest of the militia, were elected by popular vote, and each unit drafted a formal written covenant to be signed upon enlistment.

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