Saturday, April 20, 2024

The oldest known colonial combatant - Samuel Whittemore Jr.



Capt. Samuel Whittemore, a seventy-eight year old American farmer, became a legend on April 19, 1775 when he was shot in the face by British soldiers, bayoneted at least six times, and clubbed in the head with the butts of their muskets. Armed with a musket and horse pistol, Whittemore had crouched behind a wall near his home as the British retreated to Boston through Menotomy.[1] As a flank-guard approached, he shot two soldiers dead and possibly killed one more. Inevitably, the soldiers discovered the old farmer and inflicted their wrath upon him, leaving him for dead.


Certainly we all would have nodded our heads in sympathy and forgiven Whittemore had he simply succumbed to his terrible injuries. However, in an epic demonstration of New England stubbornness, Whittemore refused to die. Instead, a doctor patched him up and he lived another eighteen years—though perhaps not in much comfort as the British musket ball had torn away part of his face.[2] He died in 1793 at age ninety-six.


H/t to PS


  1. Youtube channel "The Fat Electrician" has a pretty good if not overly-animated piece on Ol' Sam.

  2. Replies
    1. This. I hope I have that much fight left in me at that age.

  3. Project Appleseed includes Sam in our stories of April 19, 1775. We love Sam. I am 67. I always add that I want to be Sam Whittemore, when I grow up.

  4. Sam was the oldest surviving combatant. Josiah Hayes was 79 but was a fatality.


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