Sharp Dressed Men - John Chester and the Wethersfield Militia Company
ZZ Top once told me that ‘every girl crazy bout a sharp dressed man.’
Well, the ladies must have been impressed when John Chester marched the Wethersfield Militia Company into Boston in the wake of Lexington and Concord.
Chester’s Connecticut men were one of the few companies to arrive for the Siege of Boston in coordinated uniforms.
By the Spring of 1775, colonial militia throughout New England had prepared themselves for the imminent outbreak of war.
John Chester, who had served in the Connecticut Assembly for several years, quickly took action when he received word that the ‘shot heard round the world’ had been fired in Concord.
As Captain of the Wethersfield Militia Company, Chester mustered his men. They assembled in town and marched off to Boston.
Chester’s Wethersfield Company must have been quite a site when they arrived to join Artemus Ward’s hastily assembled army.
While most militia generally wore whatever clothing they had on hand, the Wethersfield men were one of the few companies to arrive in matching uniforms. (Though, Benedict Arnold had also purchased uniforms for his men.)
The blue coats with red trim which Chester’s militia wore made enough of a statement to be given several visible tasks.
Their orders included running drills in the most public of places and participating in prisoner exchanges.
Furthermore, they were assigned to guard General Artemas Ward, the de facto Commander-in-Chief until General Washington arrived. This afforded them some better housing than most of the volunteers.
John Chester led his men through the Battle of Bunker Hill, where they all became heroes when the covered the Patriot’s retreat. By the end of the Siege of Boston, John had been promoted to Colonel.
As Colonel, Chester commanded soldiers in the Battles of Brooklyn, White Plains, Trenton and Princeton.
The remainder of his life is hard to confirm, as there was at least one other John Chester in Connecticut at this time. We do know, however, that Colonel Chester resigned from the Continental Army at the end of 1776 and spent several more years in the Connecticut Assembly where he helped create the State Government.
Read about some other Founding from Connecticut here:
Connecticut Militia played a role throughout the Revolutionary War.
Although ‘Call to Arms’ does not specifically address the Wethersfield Militia, it speaks about one of the larger battles in the State’s history.
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