Sudbury Companies of Militia and Minute
By Cindy Zomar, Contributing Writer
Sudbury – Even those who do not profess to be history buffs would likely admit that seeing musket-bearing soldiers in colonial garb at the entrance to Longfellow’s Wayside Inn in Sudbury stirs something in the soul. The willingness to fight for freedom from tyranny that personified the New England colonists speaks to our definition of patriotism and reminds all of the original meaning of being a New England Patriots fan, long before football was a national pastime.
Members of the Sudbury Companies of Militia and Minute (short for minutemen, ready to bear arms quickly when needed) regularly greet guests at the Inn as part of their commitment to celebrate our American heritage. Sometimes known as re-enactors, or historical interpreters, the group was formed in 1964 and participates in many local events throughout the year. The current Colonel is Michael Vere, a tax accountant by day.
“My wife told me that I was always working, and I should find a hobby. I found the Sudbury Companies of Militia and Minute (SCMM),” Vere said.
The rest is history, pun intended. Vere now owns several complete reproductions of colonial garb, known as “kits.”
“The word ‘costume’ connotates a decoration, but our clothing is historically accurate, and we would prefer it to be recognized as a ‘kit,’” he explained.
He adds a gorget (pronounced gor-jay), a brass piece named from the French word for throat, worn to protect the throat on the battlefield, hanging on a rope around his neck as a sign of his rank. Vere also enjoys preparing food that would be representative of colonial times.
“One of the best ways to learn history is through the food. Red Flannel Hash, Sea biscuits (hardtack), and Indian pudding mimic real life in colonial times. I’ll prepare a snack for the march to the Old North Bridge featuring dried venison, cheddar cheese, an apple, maybe some gooseberries, and bread,” promised Vere.
Quartermaster Tim Tonner is the colonel’s right-hand man, so to speak, taking care of supplies and acquisitions for the company, and often the point man on upcoming events.
“I went to a muster and was hooked. I have always been interested in the colonial American story, intrigued with The Granary Burial Ground, and I used to illustrate battlefields as a kid,” he admitted.
According to Vere and Tonner, there are many re-enactment companies in the area, each with their own focus and interests.
“Not all the members are necessarily history buffs. Some are in it more for the social aspect, the camaraderie. Some groups focus more on parades and pageantry, while others are really into the actual battle re-enactments. We all want to create historically interesting events, and create a portal to the past,” Vere said.
Tonner spoke of the small marker at the intersection of Lakeside Avenue and Williams Street in Marlborough that celebrates the fact that George Washington dined twice, once in 1775 and again in 1789, at the Williams Tavern located near the shores of Lake Williams. The marker is in disrepair and Tonner envisions having it refurbished or replaced, with a rededication ceremony involving many of the area’s re-enactment companies.
The SCMM have several events in the next few months. On Sunday, April 19 the group will set off from the Town Hall in Sudbury and march to the Old North Bridge, traversing the same route as our forefathers in 1775. The company has been invited to participate in the 400th anniversary celebration of the landing at Plymouth in 1620 on Friday, April 24. (President Donald Trump and all living past presidents have been invited as well.) The Regimental Ball, an evening of contra dancing (much like line dancing) will be held at the Wayside Inn on Friday, June 5. Thursday, July 2 will feature a reading of the Declaration of Independence at the Wayside Inn, commemorating John Adams bringing the document to a vote. On Saturday, Sept. 26, visitors to the Wayside Inn will want to stop at the Colonial Faire, the group’s annual fundraiser, and sample food, listen to the Ancient Order of Fyfe and Drum perform, and wander through the various tents of artisans and vendors. On a weekly basis, the SCMM hosts colonial dance on Tuesday evenings and colonial music on Wednesday evenings at the Inn.
The SCMM is a nonprofit educational entity and provides services for weddings, meetings, schools and local events, and can be contacted through their website, sudburyminutemen.org.