[LEXINGTON AND CONCORD - MINUTEMAN MUSTER ROLL]. [HARTWELL, Sargeant David]. Manuscript muster roll for Captain Charles Miles's company of minutemen, [Concord, Mass.], 17 January 1775 - 6 May 1775.
5 pages, 2o, in neat ink on a bifolium and a separate leaf, on paper with English royal arms watermark, the separate leaf cut down slightly, shaving a few letters, a few discreet marginal repairs, affixed to the bottom of p. 5 is a small slip with additional records. Provenance: David Hartwell; the Hartwell family (papers reportedly dispersed ca 1863); Charles E. Clark, Boston; a New York private collection, ca 1930; the present owner.
"THEN THE BATTEL BEGUNE": THE MEN WHO FIRED "THE SHOT HEARD ROUND THE WORLD" AT CONCORD
A unique and highly important record of the first of the town of Concord's two militia regiments, commanded by Captain Charles Miles, a unit which played a prominent role in the momentous confrontation on 19 April 1775 at Concord's North Bridge. As D. Michael Ryan has written, "when Concord organized its minute companies (1775), the first volunteers consisted mainly of men from the South Quarter who selected one of their own to command - Charles Miles." Miles asked the town to supply arms for those volunteers without them. The present detailed record, in a single very readable hand (almost certainly that of Sargeant David Hartwell), records the names of those minutemen present at each mustering (some 20 separate occasions), from the company's inception. The first entry reads: "Concord January the 17th then we chose our officers and settled the Company of minute men under the command of Cap Charles Miles." Below are listed the names of 11 officers including Miles, "Daniel Brown drummer" and "Samuel Darby fifer," followed by 45 names (one neatly erased, one lined out). The next entry states "January 20th 1775 this was the first time that the minute men meet"; the names of volunteers who failed to report are carefully recorded. On 30 January, "we past [sic] muster and their [sic] was Eight men dismissed." On 3 February, though, three additional patriots enlisted.
On the fateful day of 19 April, when the American forces learned of the approaching British force, Miles mustered his company (one of five companies of minutemen at the scene) at the Wright Tavern. On ground above North Bridge, the American officers, including Miles, conferred, agreeing initially to march into town, but when the British regulars entered Concord, the Americans withdrew across the North Bridge. It was there that the volatile confrontation first erupted in musketry. It is a certainty that Miles and his minutemen were in the thick of this historic engagement, and in the subsequent harrying of the British on their return to Charlestown. In that running fight, Miles was wounded, and mistakenly reported killed.
Documents regarding the historic Lexington & Concord alarms are now very rare. Auction records note only two: a call to arms, 19 April, by Col. Isaac Merrill (Christie's, 7 December 1990, lot 224, $12,000), and a letter of John Hancock, written from Lexington the night before the British marched (Christie's 20 May 1994, lot 38, $60,000).