Saturday, June 8, 2024

Samuel Whittemore--Revolutionary War Hero

image by alancrosthwaite, deposit photos
by Martha Hutchens

Samuel Whittemore is best known for his exploits during the Battle of Lexington and Concord. (Spoiler: he killed three British soldiers, was shot, stabbed and beaten and . . . well, you’ll have to keep reading to find out more.)

However, Whittmore served in the military several times before this.

Wittemore was born in 1696, and he spent most of his life farming. However, he fought for Great Britain during two conflicts. He fought the French in King George’s War, which lasted from 1744 until 1788. Later, he fought for Great Britain in the French and Indian War—at age 64.

After his second war, he became active in American (colonial) politics. He first served on a committee that was elected to write a response to the dissolution of the Stamp Act. He and his fellow committee members suggested that they should remain vigilant toward any further trouble that might come from British parliament. They also suggested that the colonial representative body should have a gallery so that any citizen might be able watch what happened in his government.
image by createfirst, deposit photos

In 1768, the governor of Massachusetts dissolved the colonial governing body. Britain sent troops to secure the peace in Boston, though they did not arrive until later. Whittemore was elected to serve in the convention called to discuss these events.

In December 1772, he was elected to serve in the Cambridge Committee of Correspondence. The first Committee of Correspondence was formed in Boston in order to stand for the rights of the people of Boston. Cambridge’s committee was formed within a month of the first one. Samuel Whittemore was 72 years old.

About a year later, the Cambridge Committee issued a forceful letter in response to the Tea Act. Samuel Whittemore signed this letter, along with other committee members.

image by Morphart, deposit photos

A few weeks later, several committees met together and voted to use their influence to prevent the sale of tea from the East India Tea Company. It is unclear if Whittemore attended this joint meeting, though the Cambridge committee was there. The Boston Tea Party was three weeks later.

Now we get to the Battle of Lexington and Concord.

In February of 1775, the British government declared Massachusetts to be in a state of rebellion. In April, British troops stationed in the area were given orders to capture or destroy Colonial military supplies supposedly stored in Concord. In fact, the supplies had already been moved by this time.

image by patirmonio, deposit photos

Paul Revere (and others) carried the message that troops were coming on the night of April 18, 1775. It is entirely possible that one of these riders warned Samuel Whittemore. But that is not known. At this time, he was 78 years old.

image by jiawangkun, deposit photos

Early on April 19, the first shot of the Revolutionary War was fired—The Shot Heard Round the World. No one knows who fired it, but at the end of the initial engagement, 8 colonial fighters were dead. The 700 British troops fell back toward Boston. Militiamen fired on them from the trees for their entire march back to Boston. They would march past Samuel Whittemore’s farm.

Whittemore saw them coming and gathered his weapons, two dueling pistols and a musket. He hid behind the stone wall that ran along his field. When the British arrived, he shot three, expending all of his ammunition. He was then shot in the face, stabbed with bayonets at least six times, clubbed, and left for dead.

Whittemore’s family took him to a local doctor, who saw no hope for his survival. However, Whittemore recovered and lived to see America’s freedom. He died in 1793, at 98 years old.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting today. It was amazing to me that Whittemore survived his injuries.