J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Searching for the Soldiers at Lexington and Concord

Looking ahead to Saturday’s celebration of Col. James Barrett’s 300th birthday in Concord, here’s a new online resource about the Battle of Lexington and Concord: a Soldier Search database of New England militiamen who participated in the fighting on 19 Apr 1775.

As the website explains, the names in this database represent only a minority of the Americans who mustered immediately after hearing news of the shots at Lexington and Concord:

The 4000 minute and militiamen who were engaged in battle that day were just the first of many more to come. By April 21st, nearly 20,000 militiamen were mobilized and marching towards Boston to besiege the British Army, now trapped in the town.

In the following months, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress wrestling with the logistics of such a large and rapid military mobilization, requested that all company commanders who led a company during the Lexington Alarm, to submit a muster roll, a list of names, of the men who served with their respective companies during this event. This was so the men could be paid for their service, mileage, days in camp, etc.

These muster rolls are now kept in the Massachusetts State Archives.
The online database, built on the work of Frank W. Coburn a century ago, lists all the men from the 27 towns whose companies saw combat on 19 Apr 1775, and whose company commanders got around to submitting their names. Here, for example, is Col. Barrett’s entry.

This database was funded by a grant to Minute Man National Historical Park, and is hosted by the Friends of Minute Man National Park.

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