The Civilian Clothing Kit
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 Examples of the
that came to the knee, a pullover shirt, and a sleeved coat of some type. Civilian kit
Added to this was a set of kneesocks, leather buckle shoes or boots, a
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 kneesocks (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 or cotton sack at our side or on our back (a
haversack, snapsack, or knapsack, respectively), and the musket men 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, a
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, and waistcoat, when possible. 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
|Acton's Parade Uniform