Friday, April 13, 2001
Patriots Day tradition continues
When Captain Scott Evans steps off the Town Green Monday morning April 16 at 7:15 a.m. with his company of Carlisle Minutemen and a ragtag band of townspeople following closely behind, he'll be reenacting the march of the Carlisle farmers who assembled in Carlisle center and marched to the North Bridge in Concord on April 19, 1775 to fight the British in the first real battle of the Revolutionary War.
Patriots Day is a strictly New England tradition. Go to Iowa and announce that Monday is Patriots Day and people will shake their heads and have no idea what you are taking about. But here in Carlisle and the surrounding communities, people know exactly what you are talking about. It is an important day in history for all the towns that were involved in that first April 19 back in 1775.
Since 1985, Evans has been marching with the modern-day Minutemen, a group that was formed in 1967. In recent years he has been accompanied by his son Marshall and daughter Morgan. His brother Stephen and Stephen's children, Emily, Elaina and Timothy of Westford, also join in. As a young man growing up in Carlisle, he remembers joining townspeople assembled at the flagpole on Patriots Day, heading down School Street towards the Estabrook Woods, and hiking the trail into Concord to watch the parade at the Old North Bridge.
During the early seventies, Evans attended the Thunder Bridge Colonial Muster, a fall event sponsored by the Carlisle Minutemen at the Foss Farm conservation land. It was here that he had the opportunity to observe Minutemen companies from throughout New England participating in military demonstrations, cannon and musket competitions, horse shows, fife and drum performances and tomahawk and knife-throwing. It was also a place where he could sample authentic eighteenth century food, offered by local vendors at the affair. In the years leading up to the Bicentennial, the Muster was a popular annual event, but after that celebration interest dwindled and the Muster was discontinued.
In 1975, Evans, then a college student at Boston University, brought his friends out to Carlisle early in the morning of the 19th to take part in the Bicentennial celebration. As he remembers it, he parked at his family's home at the end of Baldwin Road around 3 a.m. and hiked to Concord and the Buttrick Mansion, arriving just before dawn. "It was difficult to see when we first got there, but we found a place among the protesters camped out overnight on the hill overlooking the bridge," he recalls. "We watched the parade from there and later in the morning saw the helicopter carrying President Ford land [at Fenn School]."
By 1982, Scott and Susan Evans had married and moved to the 1795 Green House on Bedford Road across from the Gleason Public Library. It was his next door neighbor, Captain Chris Holly of the Carlisle Minutemen, who recruited Scott. "It was a very small group in 1985; a dozen or less active members, no women and a number of members ready to retire," says Evans. "By 1990 we started looking for more active members. We had a booth at Old Home Day and this was about the time women and children started to join." By 1994 Charlene Hinton, Karen Liessner Joan Abbott and Rebecca Harvey had signed on, confirms Evans. No longer were they content to march by the side of their Minutemen in white caps and long gingham gowns. They wanted to be the real thing Carlisle Minutemen.
According to Scott Evans, the Carlisle Minutemen in 2001 is an informal group of 18 to 20 members that meets officially four times a year and takes part in the annual observances of Bedford Pole Capping, the Meriam's Corner Exercise, Patriots Day, Memorial Day and Old Home Day. This year they will be expanding their list of events to include several new activities.
Starting in late January, the group met for an officer's dinner at the Colonial Inn to plan for the activities in the year ahead. At about the same time, Evans started meeting with the fife and drummers on Sunday afternoons in the Sleeper Room to practice for an hour and a half. Each company has a fife and drum corps. They are used for signaling. When the troops are all strung out, as they are on the Estabrook Trail, it is the drum that signals when to start and when to stop.
As for uniforms, the Carlisle Minutemen have no set uniform. "Everyone was dressed differently back in 1775, so there is no set uniform piece," reports Evans. "We help people assemble uniforms and there is an Internet Middlesex County Volunteers web site that is a link to two dozen places to get period clothing." For fife and drum music, Evans advises members to go to FifeDrum.com where there are lots of resources to download colonial music.
The Carlisle Minutemen are eager to welcome new members. "People join up because of their appreciation of the history of the Revolutionary War," says Evans. "They feel a part of it when they live in this part of the country and they want to participate in it."
So, come join Captain Evans and his company as they head off to the Old North Bridge in Concord on Monday morning, April 16, to fight the British, 21st Century style. And don't forget to wear your boots or rubbers for the muddy trail ahead.
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