Samuel Whittemore (July 27, 1694 - February 3, 1793) was an English-American farmer and soldier. He was eighty years of age when he became the oldest known colonial combatant in the American Revolutionary War (1775-83).
Whittemore was born in England. He went to North America in 1745 as a Captain of Dragoons in the British Army, where he fought in King George's War (1744-48). He was involved in the capture of the French stronghold, Fort Louisburg. After the war, he remained in the colonies, settling in Menotomy, Massachusetts (present-day Arlington). He subsequently fought in the French and Indian War (1754-63) at the age of 64, once again assisting in the capture of Fort Louisburg.
On April 19, 1775, British forces were returning to Boston from the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the opening engagements of the war. On their march, they were continually shot at by colonial militiamen.
Whittemore was in his fields when he spotted an approaching British relief brigade under Earl Percy, sent to assist the retreat. Whittemore loaded his musket and ambushed the British Grenadiers of the 47th Regiment of Foot from behind a nearby stone wall, killing one soldier. He then drew his dueling pistols and killed a grenadier and mortally wounded a second. By the time Whittemore had fired his third shot, a British detachment reached his position; Whittemore drew his sword and attacked. He was shot in the face, bayoneted thirteen times, and left for dead in a pool of blood. He was found alive, trying to load his musket to fight again. He was taken to Dr. Cotton Tufts of Medford, who perceived no hope for his survival. However, Whittemore lived another 18 years until dying of natural causes at the age of 98.
- A monument in Arlington, Massachusetts reads:
- Near this spot, Samuel Whittemore, then 80 years old, killed three British soldiers, April 19, 1775. He was shot, bayoneted, beaten and left for dead, but recovered and lived to be 98 years of age.
- In 2005, Samuel Whittemore was proclaimed the official state hero of Massachusetts and his memory is commemorated on February 3 each year.
- 2005 Massachusetts Senate bill no. 1839, www.mass.gov at the Wayback Machine (archived September 29, 2007)
- Moran, Donald N. "Never Too Old: The Story of Captain Samuel Whittemore". Retrieved 2011-06-20.
- Moran, Donald N. (1997). "Never Too Old: The Story of Captain Samuel Whittemore". RevolutionaryWarArchives.org. Retrieved 04 December 2009.
- Photo of the monument on www.alyssaboehm.com