The History of the Culpeper
Minute Men Battalion
At the Virginia convention held May 1775, in Richmond, the Colony of Virginia was divided into 16 districts and each district instructed to raise and discipline a battalion of men "to march at a minute's notice."
Culpeper, Fauquier and Orange counties, forming one district, raised a cadre of 350 men, 150 men from Culpeper, 100 from Orange and 100 from Fauquier, 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 Committee of Safety commissioned Lawrence Taliafero, of Orange, to be the Colonel; Edward Stevens, of Culpeper, to be the Lieutenant Colonel; and Thomas Marshall of Fauquier to be the Major of this Battalion. They also commissioned ten Captains for the Companies which were to make up the Battalion, among them were: John Jamieson, then Clerk of Culpeper County and a member of the Committee of Safety; Philip Clayton; James Slaughter; George Slaughter; and Capt. McClanahan, A Baptist minister, who regularly preached to his troops. (It was the custom then to put all the Baptists in one Company, for they were among the most strenous supporters of liberty, The Methodists went into another, according to the wishes of the Committee of Safety which recommended that the different religious denominations each organize companies of their own kind.)
They adopted uniforms consisting of hunting shirts of strong, brown lines, dyed with an extract of the leaves of trees (probably the broad of oak leaves). On the breast of each shirt was worked in large white letters the words: "LIBERTY OR DEATH." (A wag of the times said that this was too severe for him, but that he would enlist if they could change the motto to "Liberty or be Crippled."
Their flag had a rattlesnake with 13 rattles, coiled in the center, read to strike. Underneath it were the words: "DON'T TREAD ON ME." On either side were the words: "LIBERTY OR DEATH." And at the top "THE CULPEPER MINUTE MEN." The Minute Men took part in the Battle of Great Bridge, the first Revolutionary battle on Virginia soil.
No sooner were they formed than the companies of Culpeper Minute Men were absorbed into regiments of the Continental Line, and by Act of Assembly in October 1776, they were dissolved and merged into the militia.
Several original Culpeper Minute Men were sufferers at Valley Forge.
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 Confederate 13th Infantry and fought in several battles.