“The Minute Man” by Daniel Chester French
“The Minute Man” by Daniel Chester French depicts a minuteman stepping away from his plow to join the Battle of Concord’s patriot forces. The young man has an overcoat thrown over his plow and has a flintlock long gun in his hand.
The farmer-turned-soldier is shown stepping away from his private life toward the battle for freedom. The sleeves of his coat and shirt are rolled up. A powder horn sits on his back. His eyes are focused on the battle ahead.
Minutemen were a part of the official militia of the Province of Massachusetts Bay. The name minutemen came from the idea that they would be ready to fight with a minute’s notice.
The two companies of minutemen were made up of young volunteers who were paid one shilling, eightpence for their time drilling three times a week.
In the general militia, the officers were appointed by the governor as a political favor. In minutemen companies, their peers elected minutemen officers. In 1775, Concord, Massachusetts, had 104 minutemen.
The Minute Man sculpture by Daniel Chester French, located in Minute Man National Historical Park in Concord, Massachusetts, was created between 1871 and 1874.
French conducted his research for a sculpture intended to be made of stone. The medium was switched to bronze, and it was cast from ten Civil War-era cannons appropriated by Congress.
The statue was unveiled in 1875 during the centennial celebration of the Battle of Concord, in a ceremony attended by Ulysses S. Grant and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Art critics and the public positively received the statue.
The statue has been a suffragette symbol, a symbol of the United States National Guard and Air National Guard. It has been used on coins such as the Lexington–Concord Sesquicentennial half-dollar and the Massachusetts state quarter.
Ames Foundry, Chicopee, Massachusetts – Foundry mark on The Minute Man by Daniel Chester French, Concord, Massachusetts
Minutemen in the Battles of Lexington and Concord
In 1775, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress designated Concord as the site to stockpile patriot cannons, gunpowder, and ammunition. In response, the British sent spies to Concord to survey the preparations.
Based on the reports from spies, a preemptive strike on Concord was ordered. At daybreak on April 19, 1775, six companies of grenadiers and light infantry met a group of 70 militiamen on the Lexington Common.
The militiamen were alerted to the British advance by Paul Revere and others who traveled from Boston.
The Battle of Lexington lasted less than 30 minutes, eight militiamen were killed, and nine were wounded, and the patriots were dispersed, and the troops moved on to the town of Concord.
The British troops gained control of the town and proceeded to search for and destroy the stockpiled supplies. The cannon and musket balls were all rendered unusable.
While the British searched the town, the minutemen moved to the Old North Bridge and were reinforced by militiamen from other towns.
At the bridge, 400 minutemen from the surrounding areas and militiamen repelled the British advance and forced them to retreat.
Many of the minutemen from the Battle of Concord went home after the British retreated from the bridge. But, minutemen from other towns continued the skirmish with the British troops during their march back to Boston.
The British army’s 18-mile retreat from Concord to Charlestown in the Battles of Lexington and Concord showing the major points of conflict
Daniel Chester French
Daniel Chester French (1850 – 1931) was an American sculptor best known for his design of the monumental statue of Abraham Lincoln (1920) in the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC.
In 1893, French was a founding member of the National Sculpture Society, and he was appointed a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1913.
He was a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. He was a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor and was awarded a medal of honor from the Paris Exposition of 1900.
He was a founding member of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, including as chairman from 1912 to 1915.
The Minute Man by Daniel Chester French
- Title: The Minute Man
- Artist: Daniel Chester French
- Year: 1874
- Medium: Bronze, from ten Civil War-era cannons
- Dimensions: Height 7 feet (2.1 m)
- Type: Public Art, Famous Sculptures
- Location: Minute Man National Historical Park, Concord, Massachusetts
Daniel Chester French
- Name: Daniel Chester French
- Born: 1850, Exeter, New Hampshire, U.S.
- Died: 1931 (aged 81), Stockbridge, Massachusetts, U.S.
- Nationality: American
- Notable work
History of the Minuteman
The Minute Men
The Life and Art of Daniel Chester French
Demonstration of a minuteman’s gear
“The shot heard round the world.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Photo Credit: Daniel Chester French, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons; Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 4.0 <creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons; National Park Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons; Jay Sullivan; sculptor w: Daniel Chester French, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons