Today's Minutemen

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Today’s recreated Minuteman company is a relatively informal organization made up of individuals and families who are interested in 18th century life in New England. Founded in 1967, we have a long and proud history. As can be seen from our schedule, our members participate in events that support our community.  There are no specific attendance requirements.  People of any age are welcome, although members must be 16 years of age and have parental consent to carry a musket.  Musicians who are interested in period fife and drum music are always in great demand and are encouraged to look into our hobby!

The Westford Colonial Minutemen have joined in a cooperative effort with other groups such as the Dunstable Minutemen to form the 6th Middlesex County Regiment of Militia.  This group recreates the local regiment which existed in northern Middlesex county – and to which Westford contributed at least two companies -- during our period of interest.  By doing so we can effectively increase the number of members at events, and expand the number of available events.  Voluntary annual dues of  $15, which are primarily used to defray the cost of group liability insurance, are managed through this larger organization.

The only real requirement of the group is to acquire the proper period clothing and accouterments. We have many friendly and knowledgeable members who are willing to help you become acquainted with 18th century clothing and can provide or direct you toward appropriate patterns.  Alternatively, we can suggest a number of establishments who can provide clothing for you.

If you would be interested in learning more about the group, would like to find out how to become involved, or would simply like to learn more about our history, please feel free to contact:

Lt. Col. Dan Lacroix

A History of the “Modern” Westford Minutemen

Following is an excerpt from the fine 1975 article, "Westford Pre-Revolution Period" by Murray O. Thompson of the Westford Minutemen, as printed in The Minute Men, 1775-1975.

At the Centennial observance of the Battle of Concord, Westford was represented by 85 men. Then, one hundred ninety two years after the Battle at Concord, in response to a request by members of the Westford Historical Society, looking forward for educational purposes to the 200th Anniversary of the April 19th battle, and its reenactment the Westford, Massachusetts, Board of Selectmen issued a proclamation calling for ". . . the mustering of a new company of militia to be known as the Westford Minute Men and that they be empowered to design and wear a uniform to be depictive of that worn by the original Westford Minute Men, and that they be empowered to bear arms of the type used during the Colonial Period, for ceremonial use, and that this company be formed as a representative body of modern day Westford citizenry . . ." This proclamation was issued March 7, 1967, and was followed in May 1967 with an order by Major General Ambrose, Adjutant General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, authorizing the Westford Minute Men to drill and parade with firearms.

The new company of Westford Minute Men became the sixth company to join the Council of Minute Men and made its first public appearance during the Liberty Pole exercises in Bedford, Mass. on Saturday, April 15, 1967 as one of nine Minute Men Companies to participate. The following day the Westford Minute Men appeared again as one of nine Minute Men companies to take part in the reenactment of the Battle of Concord at the North Bridge, the first reenactment since 1925. The Minute Men were led into the battle by Lt. Col. John Robinson of Westford (played by Captain George Shepherd of the Westford Minute Men) and by Major John Buttrick of Concord (whose present day counterpart was Lt. Ernest Moore, a Concord Minute Man.)

As a part of this reenactment the Westford Minute Men followed as closely as possible the trail taken by Col. Robinson and the original Westford Minute men. This involved a march of about 11 miles from Westford Center down Boston Road and Carlisle Road to the junction of Routes 27 and 225, and then on West Street and Lowell Road to Barrett's Mill Road through to the Buttrick Farm and the North Bridge. This route has since been designated the Col. John Robinson Historical Trail.

A recapitulation of all of the events in which the Westford Minute Men participated would be too repetitive. Mention, however, should be made of a few, such as the Armed Forces Day Parade in Ayer and Ft. Devens. This parade was in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of Ft. Devens. The Minute Men also participated in numerous other parades and ceremonies, such as the Dorchester Parade, Acton Crown Resistance Day, Hingham Parade and reenactments of battles at White Plains, New York, Danbury Conn., Bunker Hill, etc.

The Westford Minute Men were also enthusiastic participants in the Colonial Field and Muster Day on September 24, 1967, one of the first of its kind since Revolutionary War days. This event held in Carlisle, Mass. has since become an annual event known as the Thunderbridge Muster.

The Westford Minute Men have participated in most of these events each year since 1967 along with additional events such as the York Muster in York, Maine, and Liberty and Flag Day in Taunton, Mass., and plans to have some members participate in the Bicentennial reenactment of the Arnold Expedition to Quebec.
Although the Company has been kept busy with these events, it still has found time for other historical and educational activities within its charter such as acting as guides at the Old Chelmsford Garrison House, participating in the musket firing demonstrations and ceremonies at the Minute Men National Historical Park, and giving talks and demonstrations to various groups interested in the story of flags from Revolutionary times on, and other aspects of Colonial life. They also have erected memorial markers at the farm of Jonathan Minot, Captain of one of the three original Westford Minute Men Companies, and on the Westford Common in honor of Col. John Robinson. The marker for Captain Minot is in front of the Mobil Station at the corner of Boston Road and Route 110.
In June, 1974, Westford was honored by becoming one of the first towns to receive approval as a Bicentennial community, following submission of plans to the State Commission and in turn to the Federal Commission. This approval gives Westford the right to fly the pennant on the flag pole as a Bicentennial Community. The Bicentennial pennant flag was presented by Mrs. Carol P. Ludden of the Massachusetts Bicentennial Commission to Alister McDougall, a prominent Westford resident, historian, and member of the Minute Men, who accepted the pennant for the town.

On October 11, 1974 the 200th Anniversary of the First Provincial Congress, Elwin Bagley, Lt. Col. of the Westford Minute Men, attended commemoration of that Congress at Concord.
During 1975, Westford has started the task of restoring the Westford Academy building, originally constructed in 1792, and one of the oldest public secondary school buildings still standing in New England. It is being restored to serve the dual purpose of a museum and the preservation of an historical site.
The original bell for the Westford Academy was cast by Paul Revere. It has since been recast and is on display in the present Academy building.

Being a Minute Man is, and of right should be, more than participating in a parade, or firing a musket, and the question naturally arises: "Why do ,Minute Men Companies Form?" Robert Plourde, Sergeant Major of the Westford Minute Men, has submitted the following thoughtful and thought-provoking comments on this question.

[The commentary below is as true today as when it was written in 1975]

Why Do Minuteman Companies Form?

It has become the mark of our times that many of our National ideals have become seriously eroded. Of great concern is our inability to cope with it. Faced with many and varied problems the general public remains relatively unconcerned and unmoved and our "leaders" seem to lack the wisdom, dedication, and integrity to inspire the public to take those steps needed to improve their lot. Only with the wildest of imaginings could anyone conjure up a more complete opposite to conditions that existed in pre-revolutionary America.
As events moved toward conflict with England, leaders and organizers sprang up everywhere. These were men who risked everything for a matter of principle. Few if any were reimbursed for their efforts and many lost everything. These men came to the forefront quite independently from the revolution. They were there because the temper, sensitivity, wisdom and general concern of the day naturally produced such men. When the call to arms did come, many Massachusetts towns turned out almost every able-bodied man with musket in hand and a willingness to gamble all. As dramatic as the number of dedicated leaders which evolved prior to the Revolution is the relatively small numbers of population from which they arose. The total population was about 2,200,000, and of these less than 40% were freemen capable of being involved in politics. That is fewer people than live in any one of many major cities of today. Yet today with 300 times the population capable of being involved in politics we flounder for lack of leadership and general involvement.

If there is to be a message that we as Minute Men can carry to the general public, that is it. To a degree our companies have formed because of a sensitivity to the qualities of those times and there is a wish to relive them just a little. How gratifying it would be if by our activities we could relay to our audience the feeling that the founding fathers of this nation gave us for more than a country: they gave themselves as models of what true citizens of this country ought to be. British Colonial America was unique in all history and nothing could more befit our Bicentennial efforts that our Minute Men Companies project this idea for the benefit of all.


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