Monday, May 8, 2017

A Great American Hero - Samuel Whittemore

  Samuel Whittemore was an American patriot born in England on July 27th, 1695. Sam was nearly eighty years old when the Redcoats and Patriots clashed at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. He came to America in the service of the British Dragoons and fought the French. Sam fought the French at the battle for Fort Louisburg where he captured a French officers sword. A sword he would cherish for the rest of his life. Whenever anyone asked how he came by the sword his standard reply was that the previous owner had "died suddenly".  After the war he settled in Menotomy Massachusetts. Between two wives he fathered eight children. Three sons and five daughters. Menotomy is now Arlington Massachusetts and his house still stands. In 1758, during the French and Indian War he volunteered to fight at the age of 64 and was with Colonial troops when they again attacked Fort Louisburg. He finished the war with British general James Wolfe's forces at Quebec. After this decisive victory that ended the war in 1763 he left his family again to fight the famous Indian chief Pontiac. He returned a few months later in the possession of a nice set of dueling pistols. Again, when anyone asked him how he got them his answer was the same. The previous owner "died suddenly". By the onset of the American Revolution Sam was a dedicated American patriot. He stated that "he wanted his descendants to be able to enact their own laws and not be subject to a distant king". Sam watched the British march past his house on the way to Lexington and Concord. He later heard rumors that there had been fighting between them and the Patriots. Sam took up an exposed position waiting for the Kings soldiers to pass by on their way back to Boston. He had a great view of the road that they would be taking and fellow Minutemen pleaded with him to find a safer spot but he ignored them.  At the North Bridge in Concord a wounded British soldier was dispatched with a hatchet. The British soldiers saw him slumped over a railing as they recrossed the North Bridge. Because of the severity of the wound they assumed that he had been scalped and his ears cut off. A rumor spread through the entire British ranks that the colonists were not taking prisoners and were mutilating and scalping the wounded! When these soldiers ran into Sam Whittemore they weren't in a forgiving mood. Especially since the Colonists had been sniping at them the whole way from Concord to Menotomy. The Minuteman at Menotomy started firing at the British soldiers and fell back to reload. They fired again while Sam waited patiently for a clear shot. When the column was directly in front of him, he fired his musket killing one soldier. Then drew his pistols, firing both at point blank range. A second soldier died and a third was mortally wounded. By this time the British soldiers were on top of him. He didn't have time to reload his musket or pistols. Sam drew his prized French sword and began slashing at the Redcoats. A soldier fired his .69 caliber Brown Bess musket at point blank range. The huge musket ball hit Sam in the cheek and ripped away part of his face. The impact knocked him to the ground. Trying to rise Sam fought bravely to thwart the British bayonet thrusts with his sword. He was overpowered and bashed in the head with a musket butt which knocked him to the ground again. Helpless he was bayoneted thirteen times and left for dead. This Patriot badass was very much alive when his fellow Minutemen found him after the battle. He was trying to reload his musket lying there in the road. The British lost more men in this encounter than at any point of the battles for Lexington and Concord. The Americans killed 40 regular soldiers and wounded 80. Half of the total casualties for the entire day. Sam was not expected to live and his friends carried him home to die as comfortable as possible. There he would be surrounded by his family in his last hours. Unbelievably he survived for another 18 years but horribly scarred. The scars were a badge of honor however and this great American hero lived to the ripe old age of 98.

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