The Old North Bridge
Old North Bridge From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
across the Concord River in Concord, Massachusetts, is a historical site in the Battle of Concord, the first battle day in the Revolutionary War.
The bridge is located off Monument Street in Concord. It spans the Concord River 0.5 miles northeast from the start of the Concord River at the confluence of the Assabet River and the Sudbury River at Egg Rock.
//  Battle Main article: Battle of Concord In 1775, five companies of Minutemen and five of non-Minuteman militia occupied this hill with groups of other men streaming in, totaling about 400 against the British light infantry companies from the 4th, 10th, and 43rd Regiments of Foot under Captain Walter Laurie, a force totaling about 90-95 men. This was the first battle of the American War of Independece
 History Daniel Chester French's statue, Minute Man, adjacent to the North Bridge. This statue is on the western bank of the Concord River and looks toward the bridge. The original North Bridge was dismantled in 1793 by the town of Concord because its use as a bridge had become impractical; a new bridge was erected a few hundred yards away. The bridge was rebuilt multiple times in 1875, 1889, and 1909. The current replica was built in 1956 and was based on drawings of the bridge built in the 1760s. The bridge was restored in 2005.
In 1836, when there was no bridge at the site, the residents of Concord erected a memorial obelisk on the east side of the river, the side closest to the town center. On Independence Day, July 4, 1837, the memorial was dedicated, an event for which Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote his "Concord Hymn". The first, and best known, of the four stanzas of this poem is:
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.
This stanza is inscribed at the base of the statue Minute Man by Daniel Chester French. The statue, which stands on a 7-foot-tall granite pedestal, was cast in the Ames Foundry in Chicopee, Massachusetts and was made from seven American Civil War cannons donated for the project by Congress. The statue, and the 1875 replica of the bridge, were dedicated at a centennial recognition of the original battle on April 19, 1875.
American poet James Russell Lowell wrote in his poem "Lines" (1849) of the graves of two of the three British soldiers who died at the bridge:
Two graves are here: to mark the place,
At head and foot, an unhewn stone,
O'er which the herald lichens trace
The blazon of Oblivion.
But in 1910 residents of Concord placed a plaque to mark the graves using other lines from Lowell's poem:
Grave of British Soldiers
They came three thousand miles and died,
to keep the past upon its throne:
Unheard, beyond the ocean tide,
their English Mother made her moan.
April 19, 1775
The grave is at a rock wall near the bridge at its the eastern end.
The site is now part of the Minute Man National Historic Park of the National Park Service, an extremely popular tourist destination.
To the northwest of the bridge is Punkatasset Hill, where the colonial militias watched the British forces at the bridge. A mansion was built there in 1911 by Stedman Buttrick, a great great grandson of Major John Buttrick who led the colonial forces to the bridge when they were fired upon by the British. The mansion and what remains of its once extensive flower garden is now owned by the National Park Service, which uses the building for a visitor center and administrative offices.
The Old Manse, Emerson's ancestral home and later residence of writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, is immediately adjacent to the North Bridge. Just 0.7 miles downstream from the bridge is a portion of the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, an outstanding New England birdwatching location with a trail.
 Other The North Bridge was the inspiration for one of the leading private investment firms located in Massachusetts, North Bridge Venture Partners.
The bridge was also the inspiration for a bridge in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, specifically the bridge leading from the hub in front of Cinderella Castle to the area celebrating American independence called Liberty Square.
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.
The term has also been applied to various later United States civilian based military forces to recall the success and patriotism of the originals.//  History 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. 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.
A minuteman statue depicted on the Massachusetts state quarter. 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.
The militia typically assembled as an entire unit in each town two to four times a year for training during peacetime, but as the inevitability of war became apparent, the militia trained three to four times a week.
In this organization, it was common for officers to make decisions through consultation and consensus with their men as opposed to giving orders to be followed without question.
Just before the American Revolutionary War, on October 26, 1774, after observing the British military buildup, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress found the colony's militia resources short, and that "including the sick and absent, it amounted to about 17,000 men, far short of the number wanted, that the council recommended an immediate application to the New England governments to make up the deficiency," resolving to organize the militia better:
They recommended to the militia to form themselves into companies of minute-men, who should be equipped and prepared to march at the shortest notice. These minute-men were to comprise one-quarter of the whole militia, to be enlisted under the direction of the field-officers, and divide into companies, consisting of at least 50 men each. The privates were to choose their captains and subalterns, and these officers were to form the companies into battalions, and chose the field-officers to command the same. Hence the minute-men became a body distinct from the rest of the militia, and, by being more devoted to military exercises, they acquired skill in the use of arms. More attention than formerly was likewise bestowed on the training and drilling of militia.
The need for efficient minuteman companies was illustrated by the Powder Alarm of 1774. Militia companies were called out to resist British troops, who were sent to capture ammunition stores. By the time the militia was ready, the British regulars had already captured the arms at Cambridge and Charlestown and returned to Boston.
 The Pequot War The first offensive military attack by militias failed when Massachusetts sent Donald Endicott with four companies on an unsuccessful campaign against the Pequot Indians. According to one man's account the expedition only killed one Indian and burned some wigwams. Weeks elapsed between the incidents that caused the march and the arrival of Endicott’s men in the area. Once they got there, they didn’t know which Indians to fight and why. This feeble response encouraged the Indians, and attacks on the settlers in the Connecticut valley increased. In the following year Massachusetts again put a force on the field in collaboration with Plymouth and Connecticut. By the time Plymouth had gotten their force packed and ready to march the campaign had ended. Massachusetts Bay sent 150 militiamen, Plymouth sent 50 and Connecticut sent 90.
 New England confederation In May 1643, a joint council was formed. They published the articles of the New England confederation. The real power of the confederation was that all four of the colonies promised to contribute soldiers to an alert force that would fight anywhere in the colonies.
In September 7, 1643 the towns were given more tactical control. A new rule allowed any general to call up his militia at any time. On August 12, 1645, 30% of all militia were made into short-notice groups (minutemen). Command and control decentralized to the extent that individual company commanders could put their troops into a defensive battle if necessary. A portion of the militia was well trained and well equipped, and set aside as a ready force.
In May 1653, the Council of Massachusetts said that an eighth of the militia should be ready to march within one day to anywhere in the colony. Eighty militiamen marched on the Narragansett tribe in Massachusetts, though no fighting took place. Since the colonies were expanding, the Narragansetts got desperate and began raiding the colonists again. The militia chased the Indians, caught their chief, and got him to sign an agreement to end fighting.
In 1672, the Massachusetts Council formed a military committee to control the militia in each town. In 1675, the military committee raised an expedition to fight the raiding Wampanoag tribe. A muster call was sent out and four days later, after harsh skirmishes with the Wampanoags, three companies arrived to help the locals. The expedition took heavy losses: two towns were raided, and one 80-man company was killed entirely, including their commander. That winter, a thousand militiamen pushed out the Wampanoags.
In response to the success of the Wampanoags, in the Spring of 1676 an alarm system of riders and signals was formed in which each town was required to participate.
The British and French, each with Indian allies, engaged in various fights beginning in 1689 and dragging on for almost a hundred years. In 1690, Colonel William Phips led 600 men to push back the French. Two years later he became governor of Massachusetts. When the French and Indians raided Massachusetts in 1702, Governor Phips created a bounty which paid 10 shillings each for the scalps of Indians. In 1703, snowshoes were issued to militiamen and bounty hunters to make winter raids on the Indians more effective. The minuteman concept was advanced by the snow shoe men.
The Minutemen always kept in touch with the political situation in Boston and their own towns. From 1629 to 1683, the towns had controlled themselves but in 1689, the King appointed governors. By 1772, James Otis and Samuel Adams used the Town Meetings to start a Committee of Correspondence. This instigated in 1774 a boycott of British goods. The Minutemen were aware of this as well. With a rising number of Minutemen they faced another problem: they didn’t have enough gun powder to support an army for long enough to win freedom. They needed powder badly. The people of an island controlled by the Dutch, Saint Eustatius, decided they had had enough with the British being the major power and having its hand grasping over the entire world. They were quite pleased with the idea of a large rebellion rising up against the British in the New World. As a token of support, they traded gunpowder to the Colonials for other goods needed in Europe. Not only did the Minutemen have political awareness of events in New England, but also of the feelings of other countries such as the Dutch and France. The Colonials knew that other powers in the world were against the British for the amount of power they wielded.
 American Revolutionary War period ~ The Minute Man ~ 1925 issue, 5c * * * By the rude bridge that arched the flood, their Flag to April's breeze unfurled, Here once the embattled Farmers stood and fired the shot heard round the world. - Ralph Waldo Emerson - In 1774, General Thomas Gage, the new Governor of Massachusetts, tried to enforce the Intolerable Acts, which were designed to remove power from the towns. Samuel Adams pressed for County Conventions to strengthen the revolutionary resistance. Gage tried to seat his own court in Worcester, but the townspeople blocked the court from sitting. Two thousand militiamen marched to intimidate the judges and get them to leave. This was the first time the militia was used by the people to block the king's representatives from acting on royal orders and against popular opinion. Gage responded by preparing to march to collect munitions from the provincials. For 50 miles around Boston, militiamen were marching in response. By noon the next day, almost 4000 people were on the common in Cambridge. The provincials got the judges to resign and leave. Gage backed off from trying to seat a court in Worcester.
The colonials in Worcester met and came up with a new militia mobilization plan in their County Convention. The Convention required that all militia officers resign. Officers were then elected by their regiments. In turn, the officers then appointed 1/3 of their militia regiment as Minutemen. Other counties followed Worcester’s lead, electing new militia officers and appointing Minutemen.
Gage conducted several "show the flag" power demonstrations in Massachusetts which showed the local government officials that the "Minuteman" mobilization scheme worked well.
When it came to practicing formations with their weapons, the British mainly only practiced on formations and marching. In addition to having no area to practice live firing because they were crowded into Boston, the British knew that in 18th century warfare the movement of the bodies of men and their formations to maximize the line of fire was the more difficult and therefore, more important part of military drill.
The militia planned extensively with elaborate plans to alarm and respond to movements by the king's forces out of Boston. The frequent mustering of the minute companies also built unit cohesion and familiarity with live firing which increased the minute companies effectiveness. The royal authorities inadvertently gave the new Minuteman mobilization plans validation by several "show the flag" demonstrations by General Gage through 1774.
The royal authorities in Boston had seen these increasing numbers of militia appearing and thought that if they sent a sizable force to Concord to seize munitions and stores there (which they considered the King's property since it was paid for to defend the colonies from the American Indian threat), the militia would not interfere. The events on April 19, 1775 proved them wrong when the mobilization fielded large numbers of minutemen to confront them at Concord that, with the arrival of the slower moving militia, rapidly outnumbered them and forced a strategic defeat on Colonel Smith forcing him back to Boston. The mobilization plan worked so well that only the timely arrival of a relief column under Lord Percy in Lexington prevented the annihilation or surrender of the original road column.
~ Birth of Liberty ~ Minutemen monument in Hollis, New Hampshire  Battles of Lexington and Concord For details about Minutemen at these battles, see the full article Battles of Lexington and Concord.
 Equipment, training, and tactics Most Colonial militia units were provided neither arms nor uniforms and had to equip themselves. Many simply wore their own farmers' or workmans' clothes, while others had buckskin hunting outfits. Some added Indian-style touches to intimidate the enemy, even including war-paint. Most used fowling pieces, hunting muskets, and rifles, which did not have bayonets (rifles, however, were accurate at long range). The colonial governments did, however, try to arm the minutemen with military quality muskets that were locally manufactured (sometimes referred to as Committee of Safety muskets) that used prepared paper cartridges instead of loose balls and powder horns and also used bayonets. Many of the minutemen in the spring of 1775 were actually armed with these, but did not have the level of training with bayonets that the British regulars had.
The Continental Army regulars received European-style military training later in the American Revolutionary War, but the militias did not get much of this. Rather than fight formal battles in the traditional dense lines and columns, they were better when used as irregulars, primarily as skirmishers and sharpshooters. When used in conjunction with continental regulars, the militia would frequently fire ragged irregular volleys from a forward skirmish line or the flanks of the rebel army while the regulars held the center.
Their experience suited irregular warfare. Most were familiar with frontier hunting. The Indian Wars, and especially the recent French and Indian War, had taught both the men and officers the value of irregular warfare, while many British troops fresh from Europe were less familiar with this. The long rifle was also well suited to this role. The rifling (grooves inside the barrel) gave it a much greater range than the smoothbore musket, although it took much longer to load. Because of the lower rate of fire, rifles were not used by regular infantry but were preferred for hunting. When performing as skirmishers, the minutemen could fire and fall back behind cover or other troops before the British could get into range. The wilderness terrain that lay just beyond many colonial towns, very familiar to the local minuteman, favored this style of combat. In time, however, people like Rogers, Butler, and Simcoe, who remained loyal, mustered equally capable irregular forces. In addition, many British commanders learned from experience and effectively modified their light infantry tactics and battle dress to suit conditions in North America.
Through the remainder of the revolution, militias moved to adopting the minuteman model for rapid mobilization. With this rapid mustering of forces, the militia proved its value by serving as augmentees to the continental army on a temporary basis occasionally leading to instances of numerical superiority. This was seen at the Battles of Hubbardston and Bennington in the north and at Camden and Cowpens in the south. Cowpens is notable in that Daniel Morgan used the militias strengths and weaknesses skillfully to attain the double-envelopment of Tarleton's forces.
The historian M. L. Brown states that while a few of these men mastered the difficult handling of a rifle, few became expert. Brown quotes the Continental Army soldier Benjamin Thompson, who expressed the 'common sentiment' at the time which was that minutemen were notorious poor marksmen with rifles:
"Instead of being the best marksmen in the world and picking off every Regular that was to be seen...the continual firing which they kept up by the week and the month has had no other effect than to waste their ammunition and convince the King's troops that they are really not really so formidable."
Ammunition and supplies were in short supply and were constantly being seized by British patrols. As a precaution, these items were often hidden or left behind by minutemen in fields or wooded areas. Other popular concealment methods were to hide items underneath floorboards in houses and barns.
 Legacy The Concord Minute Man of 1775 by Daniel Chester French, erected in 1875 in Concord, Massachusetts, depicting a typical minuteman In commemoration of the centenary of the first successful armed resistance to British forces, Daniel Chester French, in his first major commission, produced one of his best-known statues (along with the Lincoln Memorial), the Concord Minute Man of 1775. Inscribed on the pedestal is the opening stanza of Ralph Waldo Emerson's 1837 Concord Hymn with the immortal words, "Shot heard 'round the world." The statue's likeness is not based on Isaac Davis, the Captain of the Acton Militia and first to be killed in Concord during the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, but rather on the typical minuteman of the day, according to the sculptor, Daniel Chester French.
The athletic teams of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst are nicknamed the Minutemen and Minutewomen.
 Criticism A euphoria over the Minutemen's early victory in the Revolutionary War has bred some historically inaccurate myths. Paul Revere's Ride, a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, is criticized by historians as being historically inaccurate. Likewise, the success at Lexington has been seen to overshadow the long history of failures of the colonial militia. Even Samuel Adams, who was at Lexington on the day of the famous clash, later said: "Would any man in his sense, who wishes war may be carried on with vigor, prefer the temporary and expensive drafts of militia and minutemen were to a permanent and well-appointed army?" General Charles Lee, who had desired to lead militia forces, complained: "As to the minutemen, no account ought to be made of them." George Washington is also well known for a long series of scathing opinion of the failures of the militia forces.
However, the minuteman model for militia mobilization married with a very professional, small standing army was the primary for the United States' land forces up until 1916 with the establishment of the National Guard.
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