The Minutemen of Virginia


At the Virginia convention held May, 1775, in Richmond, the colony was divided into 16 districts and each district instructed to raise a battalion of men "to march at a minute's notice". Culpeper, Fauquier, and Orange, forming one district, raised a cadre of 350 men called the Culpeper Minute Men. Organized July 17, 1775, under a large oak tree in "Clayton's old field" (later known as Catalpa Farm), the Minute Men took part in the Battle of Great Bridge, the first Revolutionary battle on Virginia soil. The Culpeper Minute Men flag is inscribed with the words, "Liberty or Death" and "Don't Tread on Me".

In 1860 the Culpeper Minute Men were reorganized under the rattlesnake flag. The company's staff was organized under the same oak tree where the Minute Men of 1775 were formed. When war came the men were mustered in under Co. B, 13th Infantry. Other Culpeper companies organized for Confederate service were the Little Fork Rangers and Brandy Rifles.

A great deal of action took place in the county during the war, and several battles - notably Cedar Mountain and Brandy Station - and engagements were fought on Culpeper soil. Both armies marched through, fought, and camped in the county repeatedly during the four-year struggle. During the winter of 1863-64, Grant's Army of 100,000 men camped within its borders.

The Culpeper Minute Men were again mustered into service for the Spanish-American War but did not see active duty. In World War I the Minute Men company lost its identity as it was absorbed in the 116th Infantry, 29th Division.

Ranger companies were called by various names: mounted volunteers, mounted gunmen, mounted riflemen, spies and minutemen. Although the names varied, these militia units were similar and performed the same function. These militiamen furnished their own equipment and subsistence. Their mission was to range the frontier, protecting settlers from Indian raids and lawlessness.

Our Peter O'Neal was a Frontier Ranger.