INTERESTING HISTORY NEWSLETTER
April 27, 2009
During the American Revolutionary War, the British had an
organized fighting force of professional soldiers. While many of the colonists fought in organized units, others
were just individuals fighting for their freedom from British rule or just protecting their own land. One such
individual was a man by the name of Samuel Whittemore. Samuel was not a stranger to fighting. He had been born in
England, moved to North American as a Captain in the British Army and then fought with the colonists against the
Indians. He settled in Menotomy, MA (now Arlington) and over time had come to support American independence and
didn’t want his children to be ruled by a king in a distant country.
On the morning of April 19th, 1775, Sam watched as a column of 700
British soldiers made their way through Menotomy on their way to Lexington. He didn’t know at the time that this
would be the day the American Revolutionary War would begin. Later that day, when word reached Menotomy that
fighting had occurred and the British troops were retreating back towards Boston, Samuel knew it was time to act.
He grabbed his musket, two dueling pistols, and an old saber and found himself a position with a great view of the
road from Lexington.
As the British grew closer, the minutemen and other civilians in
the area began firing at the soldiers, falling back to reload, but not Sam. He waited until they were directly in
front of him before he fired his musket. He drew his pistols and fired again. Three of the British soldier fell but
the others were coming too fast for him to reload. He reached for his saber but it was too late. One of the British
soldiers pointed his loaded musket at Sam;s face and pulled the trigger. The ball hit him in the face and knocked
him to the ground. Still alive he tried to get up but it was hopeless. Other British soldiers plunged their
bayonets into him thirteen times.
As the British continued to fight their way back towards Boston,
the local towns people found poor Sam covered in blood but to their amazement he was still alive and by some
accounts trying to load his musket! He was taken to a doctor but few thought he had much chance of surviving the
multiple wounds. Amazingly enough though, he did survive another 18 years. He finally died February 2, 1793 of
natural causes ……… at the age of 98. Yes, Sam was 80 years old when he made that stand and is the oldest known
combatant in the American Revolutionary War.
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