|The uniform is the essential part of the outfit for any Minuteman. The different uniforms separate the various units from one another, at least in today’s units. But the truth is, back in 1774, when the Acton Minutemen were formed, there was no prescribed uniform for them or for any Minute companies or militia units. The farmers and shop-keepers that made up the various militia and Minute companies wore what they had on hand, which was usually a set of breeches that came to the knee, a pullover shirt, and a sleeved coat of some type. |
Added to this was a set of kneesocks (hose), leather buckle shoes or boots, a buckled neck stock or scarf, and a hat. This was the actual “uniform” of the original Minutemen, both from Acton and other communities. The colors did not match amongst any of the men, nor did the styles or fabrics. They were, quite literally, a rabble in arms, compared to the uniformed and sharply attired British regulars of the day. The Acton Minutemen wear this type of mismatched attire when we do reenactments and living history events where authenticity is required. We call this attire our “civilian kit”.
All that being said, the Acton Minutemen of today perform ceremonies and march in parades where
authenticity is set aside in favor of more modern traditions. Quite simply, we feel that when we do certain parades and ceremonies, it is nice to be dressed alike so that people may more easily identify us as the Acton Minutemen. Acton wears weskits (from the word “waist-coat”, a vest common to the 18th century) that are in a vibrant rust color that is easily recognizable. Many Minute companies choose to stay with the more traditional dissimilar attire for each member (such as Stow, Concord, and Sudbury, to name a few),
but others have opted for uniformity of attire (such as Lexington, for example). We call this attire the “parade uniform”. It is especially nice during hot summer parades to not be wearing a sleeved coat!
So Acton really uses two different sets of clothing. If you are just joining our outfit, you can start by setting yourself up with the parade uniform, and over time you can add other items of clothing to set up the civilian look you like best, completing your clothing package.
|The Parade Uniform|
The parade uniform consists of black fall-front knee-breeches. To these, add a white cotton or linen work shirt with a single button at the neck and button or cuffed sleeves, a white neckstock or scarf, a set of cotton or wool hose (and a set of garters or ribbons to hold them in place), the Acton Minutemen rust-colored sleeveless waistcoat, a tricorn hat, and black shoes. That’s the whole basic clothing outfit. All of these items can be ordered online or made locally, and we will help you get started. The shoes need not be authentic,
buckled shoes (although they are preferable) as they can be quite expensive, but they must be black (and they should be comfortable). The waistcoat must be tailored from a bolt of cloth which we will supply, so that the color is correct.
In addition to the clothing items, we each carry a linen knapsack, and the muskets carry a cartridge box and bayonet as well. There are many accessories you can carry, such as a canteen (wooden), a mug or mess kit, an empty powder horn (although we DO NOT carry powder in it), a hatchet, and other items.
The boys’ uniforms loosely mimic the adults’ uniforms as far as black pants, white shirt, waistcoat, and when possible, a frock coat. Beyond that, they are children and can be dressed in whatever attire is appropriate to the period. Again,
comfort is key here, as we march in parades that are sometimes miles long, and in all kinds of weather.
Girls clothing can again be anything you desire, as long as it fits the colonial period. For parades and local ceremonies, no one really worries too much
about the authenticity of children’s (or adults’, for that matter) clothing. But for the real battle reenactments, encampments, and living history events, we try to make the clothing as authentic to the period as we can so that the public can see it up close and interact with us, asking questions and learning what everyday life was like back in the colonial period.
We welcome any women who wish to wear the soldier’s uniform and carry a musket, and we have had a few who have already done it. That being said, the women of our outfit typically dress in 18th century period clothing, in the fashion of camp followers and the wives of soldiers. Again, these clothes can be purchased through regular sutlers and can also be custom-made (often for the same cost or less) by local seamstress and tailoring shops. See our sutler’s page for options. There are many different styles and levels of authenticity that one can achieve. There are no limitations put on the
women’s clothing except that it be authentic to the period. Hats, jackets, petticoats and gowns, as well as shoes and accessories, are all open to interpretation, and the more variety that we have in the outfit, the better the overall effect when the public sees us.
We want to stress that women are welcome to join us in whatever capacity and role they choose, including uniformed positions.
Special Occasion Clothing
Our unit has several seamstresses that have made members’ clothing for some of the special occasion events that are held in the area. Contact us for more info on those services.