Celebrating Independence Day with Sam!
COBA7® presents Blog # 355 via community-investor.com Copyright 5 July 2015
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When I first read the following story, I counted it worthy of sharing with family members and friends throughout the manufactured housing industry. I hope you enjoy and appreciate this historical moment in our nation’s history as much as I did and do…GFA
Celebrating Independence Day with Sam
The following true story, from the Revolutionary War days of our nation’s history, is titled ‘A Minuteman Who Refused to Fade Away’ and is told in the recently-released book, The Warrior’s Soul, by Jerry Boykin & Stu Weber. It’s my opinion, the biography of this little known patriot should be required reading for every American citizen.
The authors begin by telling of “…the most famous patriot soldier you’ve likely never heard of. This tough old buzzard should have stopped, even died, a dozen times. And he almost did. He was a living legend in his own day, so I suppose you could say in his old age he’d tried to just fade away on his farm surrounded by scores of grateful descendants. But it wasn’t to be. When his country was in trouble, his warrior soul couldn’t resist responding – even when he was in his 80s!” p.7
Samuel Whittemore was “Born around 1695,…served as a captain of the King’s Dragoons. He was already 50 when he fought the French at the Fortress of Louisburg in Nova Scotia in 1745. There he acquired his favorite was trophy, a saber he’d taken from a French officer. When asked about it, Sam, without elaboration, simply explained the Frenchman had ‘died suddenly’.
When the hostilities ended, he bought a farm at Menotomy, built a house with his own hands, and settled his family there. When war kicked up again with the French, Sam volunteered, and at age 64 he was sent to help recapture Louisburg. The following year he was part of General Wolfe’s expedition that took Quebec from the French.
Later, nearing 70, he fought in the frontier Indian wars. He came home this time astride a much finer horse than he’d left with, and he now owned a brace of pistols, whose previous owner had also, in Sam’s words, ‘died suddenly’.
For Sam, back in Menotomy, life was good. Having traveled far and wide, survived multiple combat deployments, and fought against enemies of varying stripes and tactics, in his senior years he was now loving life and basking in the admiration of his wife, his children, and his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
But in the Spring of 1775, Sam could see storm clouds gathering. And he was deeply concerned about threats to his freedom, both foreign and domestic. Freedom was what Sam had always fought for, and he found living in freedom to be a glorious way of life. Freedom’s song hummed in his soul. He openly stated he wanted his descendants to live in a free land where they could govern and be governed by their own laws and not have their lives dictated by a king on the other side of the earth.
April 19, 1775 – arguably the most important day in American history – was a fine Spring day. The air was clear, and the smell of freshly turned soil filled the nostrils of 80 year old Samuel Whittemore as he breathed deeply of freedom.
You know what happened that glorious day. A corps of hundreds of British regulars – the world’s finest professional soldiers at the time – had been given secret orders to march out from Boston and capture colonial militia supplies at Concord, eighteen miles up the road (It was an early attempt at gun control on American soil) But the Minutemen wouldn’t give up their guns. The colonials got word of the British operation and made their own plans. As the Redcoats advance element headed out, they made contact with Captain John Parker’s Minutemen at Lexington, armed and ready.
The veteran Parker had prepared his grim-faced company with these famous words from his warrior soul: “If they mean to have a war, let it begin here!” By early morning, eight freedom-loving Americans lay dead on the green. Six of the eight were three fathers and their three sons. So it is in every freedom-loving generation: the ones who ‘get it’ pass it on.
Leaving Lexington…the British companies moved on toward Concord (where) they fought hard. The Redcoats, overwhelmed in this deadly clash, fell back. Their road back to Boston would take them through Sam Whittemore’s hometown of Menotomy. And Sam had decided they were gong to get a bellyful.
He had methodically loaded his trusted musket and his already famous set of dueling pistols. He stuffed his well-traveled pack with more powder and ball, strapped on his previously captured French saber, told his family what he was up to, then ordered them to remain inside until he returned.
Then he walked to a position he’d selected near a tavern, behind a rock wall at a strategic intersection the British would have to pass on their return to Boston. Records suggest a number of other militiamen tried to talk Sam out of the vulnerable position, but Sam wasn’t out that day to avoid a fight. He intended to pick one. The greatest moment in Sam Whittemore’s life was about to unfold.
As the British pushed ahead, the fighting in Menotomy was particularly fierce, from house to house and cellar to cellar. Death came to many, some were even reportedly shot by the British after being taken prisoner.
While the shooting got closer, Sam held his fire. Minuteman on both sides of him were firing their muskets, then they’d sprint away to reload. But not Sam. Waiting for the right moment, when the enemy was almost on top of him, he stood up and fired his musket, dropping on British regular in midstep. Sam then jumped out from behind the wall and fired off both his fine pistols, killing one Redcoat immediately, and mortally wounding another.
That kind of opposition draws a lot of attention. Fire draws fire. With no time to reload his weapons, Sam drew his saber and ‘flailed away at the cursing, enraged Redcoats who now surrounded him.” Think of it: most of those British soldiers would have been less than half his age.
One of the regulars shot Sam point blank in the face, tearing away half his cheek. The .69 caliber ball knocked him to the ground. Dazed, he rose, still trying to fight, but was again knocked down by a musket butt, and bayoneted 13 times by the vengeful Redcoats.
The aftermath has been described this way:
When the last Britisher had left the scene and were far enough away for them to come out in safely, the villagers who had seen Whittemore’s last stand, walked slowly toward the body. To their astonishment, he was still alive and conscious – and still full of fight! Ignoring his wounds, he was feebly trying to load his musket for a parting shot at the retreating regiment.
Using a door as a makeshift stretcher, the townsmen carried Whittemore into the nearby tavern, where a doctor ‘stripped away Sam’s torn, bloody clothing, and was aghast at his many gaping bayonet wounds, the other numerous bruises and lacerations, and his horrible facial injury.’ The doctor remarked it was useless to dress so many wounds, since Whittemore could not possibly survive for very long. But Whittemore’s neighbors persuaded the reluctant doctor to do his best. When the bandaging was finally finished, old Sam was tenderly carried back to his home to die surrounded by his grieving family.
That old warrior thought differently. Sam survived – and went on to live another 18 years.
When later asked if he regretted his losses that day – injuries that left him lame and disfigured – Sam responded, “I would take the same chance again.’
Sam Whittemore eventually died of natural causes at age 98. He was survived by 185 direct descendants – and he was especially proud to know every single one of them was living as a free American.” Pp. 8-13
POSTSCRIPT. Every free American reading Sam’s story should have tears in his or her eyes – I certainly do. Tears of pride and gratitude for the patriots, then and now, who have blessed all of us with their service and sacrifice these past 240 years! ‘Happy Independence Day to You and Yours!’ GFA