The Culpeper Minutemen was a militia group formed in 1775 in the district around Culpeper, Virginia. Like minutemen in other British colonies, the men drilled in military tactics and trained to respond to emergencies “at a minute’s notice.”
The Culpeper Minutemen were organized on 17 July 1775 in the district created by the Third Virginia Convention consisting of the counties of Orange, Fauquier and Culpeper. Recruitment began in September 1775 with four companies of 50 men from Fauquier and Culpeper counties each and two companies of 50 men from Orange county. The District Committee of Safety determined that the militia was to meet under a large oak tree in “Clayton’s old field” on the Catalpa estate near today’s Yowell Meadow Park in Culpeper, Virginia.
The Culpeper minutemen fought for the patriot side in the first year of the American Revolution, and are remembered for their company flag: a white banner featuring a rattlesnake, sporting the phrases “Liberty or Death” and “Don’t Tread on Me”. At the time, Culpeper was considered frontier territory, In October 1775, the minutemen were sent to Hampton in response to British ships attempting to land. The riflemen were able to effectively shoot the men manning the ships cannons, and the fleet eventually sailed away.
In 1860, the Culpeper Minutemen were formed under the same oak tree where the 1775 Minutemen had organized. They also carried the same rattlesnake flag. The unit was mustered into the Company B, 13th Infantry Confederate and fought in several battles.
According to the Museum of Culpeper History, the Minutemen were again organized for the Spanish-American War, but were never activated for duty. The Culpeper Minutemen were again organized for World War I, and joined the 116th Infantry.