Modern history


art The Lexington Militia: Quantitative Research by Jeremy Stern for this volume

Strength: The muster rolls of the Lexington Company, and lists compiled by Charles Hudson for his history of Lexington identify 141 men of all ranks. Of this number as many as 75 have been identified as present on Lexington Green when the first shot was fired. The total number of male polls in 1771 was 185; in 1775, 208; in 1785, 196; in 1790, 205. The number of males aged 16 and older in the census of 1790 was 251. The total population of the town was enumerated at 755 in 1770 and 941 in 1790.


Age: The youngest militiaman was 16; the oldest, 66. Of those whose ages are known, 16.4% were under the age of 20; 25.5% were 20-29; 36.5% were 30-39; 13.6% were 40-49; and 8.2% were 50 and older. A total of 58.3% were 30 and older. Mean and median ages were in the range of 31.8 to 32.8. The Lexington militia were older than the Concord minutemen, as estimated by Robert Gross. In general, minutemen in many towns appear to have been younger than the militia, and much younger than men on the alarm lists, and not representative of the men who mustered and fought that day.


Prior Military Service: From incomplete records, Charles Hudson estimated that a minimum of 28 to 33 men in Lexington, ca. 1775, who had seen active service in the French and Indian War. Probably the true number was much higher. The age of veterans in Captain Parker’s company ranged from 62-year-old Ensign Robert Munroe to Amos Locke, aged 32.

Wealth: A linkage of various 1775 muster lists with the 1771 tax list shows that nearly all of these men were small landowners, neither rich nor poor. Of 141 men, 78 could not be located on the tax list of 1771, in almost all cases because they were under 21, or had not moved into the town, or could not be conclusively identified. Of 63 militiamen who could be identified, 58 were landowners in the town. Only 5 owned no land. The largest holding was assessed at 19 pounds annual worth, a comfortable but modest estate. Captain Parker was assessed at 11 pounds. Of the ten richest men on the list, eight were privates.

Kinship: The muster lists of the Lexington company included 16 Munroes, 13 Harringtons, 11 Smiths, 8 Reeds, 4 Browns, 4 Hadleys, 4 Muzzys, 4 Hastings, 4 Tidds, 3 Simonds, 3 Wellingtons, 3 Winships, and many pairs. Only 27 men of 141 did not share a name with another member of the company. The great majority belonged to one extended cousinage.

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