Many of the techniques and philosophies on preparedness are based upon what we have learned from those who have gone before. The colonials of the United States in particular provide us with a picture of personal protection on the part of average, everyday people fighting for their families and communities against a variety of threats. The Minutemen in particular have captured the American imagination, and the image of one of these defenders holding a rifle against all comers is one of the most famous relating to the American Revolution. Much as these brave men defended their families so long ago, we may have to as well and so it is vital to learn from their example.
Their purpose and origin
The Minutemen had a long history in the American Colonies, though the actual term did not exist until around the late 1740′s. Even as early as 1645, there were plans not only for a defensive militia but also for a special force of men able to act within a very short time. Essentially, they were designed to be the “guaranteed” element, as much as anything in a volunteer militia could be guaranteed. While the rest of the troops could be slowly gathered from surrounding farms and villages, these Minutemen would be able to attack or defend as necessary, acting as a holding force until the rest of the militia arrived to finish the enemy.
During periods of relative peace, the Minutemen drilled constantly with live ammunition when they could afford to build or purchase it. In some cases local towns, villages or even entire colonial governments would elect to give funds for training, weapons, and ammunition and powder, but in other cases they were entirely self-funded by each member. Captains and other officers were selected by vote of the men he would command, oftentimes a respected member of the local community (for example, a local deacon once led some 20-30 young men who he had served at his local church). Their major lack was in high-level organization, since they were meant to remain small independent groups and defend towns, not a standing army. The drilling, combined with their combat experiences in war and their lifestyle of hunting and stalking in the woods around them, made them an effective fighting force despite their relative lack of organization by the time of the Revolutionary War.
The lessons we can apply from their example
1. Training and experience are key to protecting yourself and your community. The Minutemen trained individually and as a group, holding drills for proper formation and transmission of orders in the thick of a fight. They were not random yokels grabbing pistols and a box of ammunition off the shelf, running out into the streets. They took it upon themselves to keep discipline and skills very well honed. Training of all sorts, from practice at the range to get a feel for your weapons to squad-based tactics at specialized training facilities, would be invaluable for proper protection in a survival situation. The right to keep and bear arms stems from the importance of people like the Minutemen, and you should ensure that you train like one when you have the time and money to do so.
2. You should worked with / in your community. Now, this isn’t quite so easy to emulate today. Imagine openly training a group of rifle-armed men in the streets of L.A., New York City, or your own hometown. Complete bedlam, right? Proper application of this principle would be to work within your community to find like-minded people, and to train with them as part of a protective group. At the very least, finding people within your own family to work and train with, even if it is just one other person, could be of immense value in an emergency.
3. You should prepare supplies beforehand, and hide them from likely enemies. We’ll be going into how to form proper caches in the next few days, but the idea of having supplies to cache is the key here. These people lived largely self-sufficient lives anyway, but they made sure to store many materials including powder, shot, ammunition, food, and even cannons in places where thieves, Indians, and (later) the British would not find them. Although you may not need to bury food and ammunition in a wide enough area so that you can protect an entire town, there would be value in looking into the amount of supplies you would need to defend a block, or even a single building for an extended period of time.
5. Be respectable. This may seem like an odd point to make, but when you look at many modern “militia” groups the admonition is very much warranted. Whether it’s literally you against the world or if you have an entire neighborhood at your back, you should be seen as respectable, honorable, responsible authority figures. The Minutemen were in many cases much loved by their communities, which is why they were often given additional funds by the colonial governments. Leaders were chose not only because of training, but also be because they were local figures of respectability and honor, including churchmen, businessmen, landowners and sometimes even local politicians. Why is this important for you? Because it gives you legitimacy when a disaster strikes, which can keep official heat off your back when everything starts falling apart, Furthermore, it can even encourage unaffiliated people to work with you rather than against you. People tend to consider “survivalists” to be fairly shady folks, so ensuring that your group is made up of honorable and upright people goes a long way to making your group be perceived as a local authority rather than the local nuthouse.
The Minutemen were vital component in our nation’s founding, and the lessons we can learn from their methods and conduct need to be revived in our modern era. Be prepared like the Minutemen, and you won’t be taken by surprise. – Prepared For That
Let us know what you think of the idea of learning from the Minutemen. Are there other historical lessons that can be learned? Share in the comments!
- Army Officer Wants You Disarmed: “We Will Pry Your Gun from Your Cold, Dead Fingers” (thesurvivalplaceblog.com)