Let’s talk about some less remembered players over the next few weeks and see if we can find their motivations for risking ‘Life, Fortunes, and their Sacred Honor.’
That was where I left you last week. Less remembered players, patriots, of whom we have many. Why they are not better I remembered do not understand, they should be immortalized in bronze across America. Of all our heroes remembered, shouldn’t the common citizens who risked everything and created a new country be remember best?
Born in England in 1695 a loyal subject of the Crown, Samuel Whittemore joined the King’s Army at an early age and rose the rank of Captain in His Majesty’s Royal Regiment of Dragoons. A hard charging and decorated unit, the Dragoons were well known for their fighting ability. It was in this way Sam first came to America, serving the crown in the War for Austrian Succession during the 1740s. Known here as King George’s War, the King’s Dragoons participated in the battle of Fort Louisbourg, and then joined General Wolf in the successful attack on Quebec.
At an older, for the time, age of his mid fifties Sam decided to stay in New England when the war was over. Settling down in Menotomy just outside Boston, Sam built a farm and raised a family. He had been a loyal subject of the crown for over half a century.
In 1758, during the French and Indian war, colonial troops were called up to once again attack Fort Louisbourg, and Sam again joined the fighting. But after a few decades of life in the colonies Sam joined the Colonial Army, a loyal colonist fighting for the crown. Again Fort Louisbourg fell, and again Sam returned home.
A quiet life was not be had for long with a new war in a new place. In 1763 Chief Pontiac’s war in the northwest territories needed troops, and again Sam left home to fight. This time Sam fought leading a unit of Colonial Riflemen. Sam was not fighting as a loyal subject of the crown, he was fighting as a Colonial. When the war ended Sam again returned home to a quiet life of farming. A second wife, a good warm home, with three sons and five daughters.
It would remain so until the morning of April 19th 1775 when Sam would become famous. As General Smith’s column fought it’s way back to Boston during the battle of Lexington and Concord, Captain Samuel Whittemore took a saber, two pistols, and a musket outside and placed himself behind a stone wall facing the road to Lexington. No longer a member of His Majesty’s Royal Regiment of Dragoons, not as a loyal member of the King’s Colonial Army, but alone. Captain Samuel Whittemore took a position against the very army he once served. As a free man.
Before the day was over Sam would kill three of the King’s troops, fight off a dozen more with his saber, and be left for dead, at the age of 80 years. There are many interesting, funny, and exceptional details I have left out of the story, but for good purpose.
The part of Samuel Whittemore’s story I find most extraordinary is how he changed, and I want you to see it also. I like to think of Sam as our “Immigrant Patriot”. I have stated several times that we were unique in the world of the 18th century as we were raised in the spirit of Liberty, but Sam was not. A loyal subject to the crown, Sam came to his belief in Liberty late in life, by living in the colonies as a free man. Yes there were other famous Patriots who came to the colonies as adults, Thomas Paine comes to mind, but they came here searching for Liberty. Sam did not, he stumbled into it, and knew a good thing when he saw it.