The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 17, 2009

 

Redcoats beware! Minuteman Forsberg is on his way to Concord

 

Charlie Forsberg displays his Minuteman uniform and accoutrements as he prepares for his 39th march to Concord on Patriots Day. (Photo by Jane Hamilton)

Charlie Forsberg moved to his home on Autumn Lane in 1969 and joined the Carlisle Minutemen in 1970. He is the longest serving member of the Carlisle Colonial Minutemen Company, which was formed in 1967 in preparation for the celebration of the Bicentennial on April 19,1975. Forsberg was approached by Bob Thomson, one of the founders of the Company and a friend who had been the best man at Charlie and Joanne Forsberg’s wedding in June of 1966. Thomson urged him to join the Minutemen and take part, on each Patriots Day, in the reenactment of the events of the morning of April 19, 1775, an historic day in the history of Carlisle and America.

Marching for 39 years

This year it will be Charlie Forsberg’s 39th year to have marched to Concord on Patriots Day. He is a member of the Company of Carlisle Minutemen, now led by Captain Scott Evans, who will assemble on the Town Common at 6:45 a.m. on Monday, April 20, for the five-and-a-half mile walk to Concord. After the ringing of the bells, flag-raising, firing of the muskets and the ceremony at the Revolutionary War monument, the Minutemen, followed by the townspeople who have gathered for the ceremony, will set off for Concord.

They will take the route that the original 16 Minutemen took on April 19, 1775, marching down School Street, up Bellows Hill Road, onto Estabrook Road and through the Estabrook Woods to the Old North Bridge in Concord, to fight the British at the start of the Revolutionary War. At 9:30 a.m., the Carlisle Minutemen will join other area Minutemen groups on the hillside at Minuteman National Historical Park for the march over the bridge and the parade down Monument Street into Concord Center and down Main Street, concluding around 11:30 a.m. at the Hunt Gym on Stow Street.

I stopped by the Forsberg household the other day to catch up on the preparations that Charlie was making for the various Minutemen activities in the days ahead. He had his uniform, boots, and musket assembled in the living room in front of the fireplace. On the dining room table were the accoutrements – the cartridge box, knife, powder horn, and the tri-cornered hat with a pine sprig attached. The pine sprig sprouting from the hat is how one is able to identify a Carlisle Minuteman. As for firing the muskets, that will be done at the flag-raising on the Town Common, at the Revolutionary War monument next to the First Religious Society and at the cellar hole. Due to safety concerns of the park service, Minutemen can no longer shoot off their muskets in the park or when crossing the bridge, as they had in the past.

When Forsberg joined the Minutemen in 1970, prior to the Bicentennial, there were approximately 20 Minutemen, young and old alike, plus a Fife & Drum Corps made up of about 15 young men and women. There were numerous functions besides the reenactment on Patriots Day in which the Carlisle Minutemen took part. These included the Battle of Bunker Hill, the Battle of White Plains (NY), a parade in Tiverton (RI), Crown Resistance Day in Acton, Patriots Day parades in Lexington and Concord, and the Thunder Bridge Colonial Muster in October at Foss Farm.

Minutemen (left to right) Bill Hamilton, Parkman Howe, Fred Seward, David Gordon and Charlie Forsberg prepare to fire off a salute after Captain Evans gives a brief history of the cellar hole in Estabrook Woods. (File photo by Mike Quayle)

A banquet at the Colonial Inn

For many years the Carlisle Minutemen, dressed in uniform, attended an annual meeting and banquet, along with their wives, at the Colonial Inn in Concord or at the Bull Run in Shirley. On summer weekends back in the ’70s, the Minutemen and their families attended a gathering at the Buttrick Mansion in Minuteman National Park. Attired in colonial dress, they played colonial games and posed for pictures with tourists. In recent years, there has been no banquet and fewer monthly meetings and ceremonial events. “We could use more active members to participate in the ceremonial events,” Forsberg was quick to add.

In 2008, there were usually 15 to 18 Carlisle Minutemen taking part in Company activities. This year, as usual, they participated in the Bedford Pole Capping on April 11. Tomorrow, on Saturday, April 18, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., they will take part in Battle Road events in Lincoln and Lexington. Then on Sunday, April 19, at 6 a.m., they will be at the North Bridge Ceremony in Concord. During the year, the Minutemen also take part in Memorial Day Services, as well as the parade and activities on Old Home Day.

Looking ahead to Patriots Day on Monday, Forsberg remembers a crowd of 500 townspeople marching from Carlisle to Concord for the Bicentennial in 1975. That was the year that the Carlisle Minutemen were part of the honor guard for President Gerald Ford, who had landed by helicopter at Fenn School to take part in the ceremony at the North Bridge.

Joining the march at Kibby Place

In recent years, however, there have been 50 to 100 taking part, depending on the weather. “Families with small children often join us at Kibby Place, as the group heads into the woods,” Forsberg explains. For the Forsberg family, which includes Charlie’s wife, Joanne, several sons, their wives, and four small grandchildren, joining the march from Kibby Place makes the march much easier for the grandchildren, who are eager to follow their Minuteman grandfather into the woods.

“Once I got a uniform, a musket and the accoutrements, I was ready to participate and I have thoroughly enjoyed it,” admits Forsberg. And so did his sons, Bob and Scott, who played the drums back in those early years, he tells me. “It’s been a good run,” continues Forsberg. “The local holidays are fun, but this is the special one.”

For information on how to join the Carlisle Minutemen, you may e-mail Scott Evans at sevans299@gmail.com. ∆


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