Forming the minutemen militia 242 years ago — Lexington-Concord Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin

Today, the Lexington-Concord Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin remembers when Congress determined the formation of the militia on July 18, 1775.

From the Journals of the Continental Congress:


Tuesday, July 18, 1775.

Met according to adjournment.

The Congress again resumed the consideration of the report of the committee for putting the militia into a proper state for the defense of America, and the same being debated by paragraphs, was agreed to as follows:

Resolved, That it be recommended to the inhabitants of all the United English Colonies in North America, that all able bodied effective men, between sixteen and fifty years of age in each colony, immediately form themselves into regular companies of militia, to consist of one captain, two lieutenants, one ensign, four sergeants, four corporals, one clerk, one drummer, one fifer, and about sixty-eight privates.

That the officers of each company be chosen by the respective companies.

That each soldier be furnished with a good musket, that will carry an ounce ball, with a bayonet, steel ramrod, worm, priming wire and brush fitted thereto, a cutting sword or tomahawk, a cartridge-box, that will contain twenty -three rounds of cartridges, twelve flints and a knapsack.

That the companies be formed into regiments or battalions, officered with a colonel, lieutenant-colonel, two majors, an adjutant, or quarter-master.

That all officers above the rank of a captain, be appointed by the respective provincial assemblies or conventions, or in their recess, by the committees of safety appointed by said assemblies, or conventions.

That all officers be commissioned by the provincial assemblies or conventions, or in their recess by the committees of safety appointed by said assemblies or conventions.

That all the militia take proper care to acquire military skill, and be well prepared for defense by being each man provided with one pound of good gun powder, and four pounds of ball, fitted to his gun.

That one fourth part of the militia in every colony, be selected for minutemen, of such persons as are willing to enter into this necessary service, formed into companies and battalions, and their officers chosen and commissioned as aforesaid, to be ready on the shortest notice, to march to any place where their assistance may be required, for the defense of their own or a neighboring colony; and as these minutemen may eventually be called to action before the whole body of the militia are sufficiently trained, it is recommended that a more particular and diligent attention be paid to their instruction in military discipline.

That such of the minutemen, as desire it, be relieved by new draughts as aforesaid, from the whole body of the militia, once in four months.

As there are some people, who, from religious principles, cannot bear arms in any case, this Congress intend no violence to their consciences, but earnestly recommend it to them, to contribute liberally in this time of universal calamity, to the relief of their distressed brethren in the several colonies, and to do all other services to their oppressed country, which they can consistently with their religious principles.

That it be recommended to the assemblies or conventions in the respective colonies to provide, as soon as possible, sufficient stores of ammunition for their colonies; also that they devise proper means for furnishing with arms, such effective men as are poor and unable to furnish themselves.

That it be recommended to each colony to appoint a committee of safety, to superintend and direct all matters necessary for the security and defense of their respective colonies, in the recess of their assemblies and conventions.

That each colony, at their own expense, make such provision by armed vessels or otherwise, as their respective assemblies, conventions, or committees of safety shall judge expedient and suitable to their circumstances and situations, for the protection of their harbors and navigation on their sea coasts, against; all unlawful invasions, attacks, and depredations, from cutters and ships of war.

That it be recommended to the makers of arms for the use of the militia, that they make good substantial muskets, with barrels three feet and a half in length, that will carry an ounce ball, and fitted with a good bayonet and steel ramrod, and that the making such arms be encouraged in these United Colonies.

Where in any colony a militia is already formed under regulations approved of by the convention of such colony, or by such assemblies as are annually elective, we refer to the discretion of such convention or assembly, either to adopt the foregoing regulations in the whole or in part, or to continue their former, as they, on consideration of all circumstances, shall think best.

Adjourned till tomorrow at eight o’clock.


The Lexington-Concord Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin shows with an artist’s image of an armed minuteman carrying a flag, circa 1876.

Lexington-Concord Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin