Do you see this gentleman? His name is Samuel Whittemore.
He was born in 1696 in Charlestown, Massachusetts. He was already pushing 50 when he joined Colonel Jeremiah Moulton’s Third Massachusetts Regiment and fought in King George’s War (1744–1748).
It’s not clear whether he fought in the French and Indian War (1754–1763), but evidence suggests that he did. He would have been 67 years old when he participated in an expedition against Chief Pontiac in 1763. In between wars, he was a peaceful farmer near the present-day town of Arlington, Massachusetts.
Most people’s glory days are long behind them when they become septuagenarian. But not Samuel Whittemore. Far from it.
April 19, 1775. Samuel, still hale and hearty even at the ripe old age of 78, was out working in his fields on a beautiful spring day. He looked up and spotted a column of British soldiers returning to Boston after the battles of Lexington and Concord. Samuel had no doubt heard the shots in the distance that morning—American militiamen sniping at the British from behind trees and rocks and stone walls as they marched.
Now, despite having fought for the British Crown for most of his life, Samuel Whittemore was a staunch proponent of American independence. He didn’t want his grandchildren to be subject to the whims and unjust laws of a distant king.
So it’s no surprise what he did next.
Samuel threw down his hoe, ran to his house, and grabbed his trusty musket. He flung himself down behind a stone wall and, judging the timing just right, reared up and fired, ambushing the British Grenadiers of the 47th Regiment of Foot single-handedly. He killed a redcoat with his first shot. The perilous old Samuel jumped up, drew his dueling pistols, and laid waste, killing a second redcoat and mortally wounding a third. By that time, the British were upon him. Samuel tossed his pistols in the dirt and drew his sword.
When the dust settled, Samuel Whittemore had been shot in the face, bayoneted 19 times, and left for dead in a pool of his own blood. Nearby minutemen found him a short while later…not only still alive, but trying to reload.
He was immediately packed off to a doctor, who gravely pronounced that he had no chance of survival. Samuel Mutha-Humpin’ Whittemore, 100% grade-A prime American badass, not only recovered, but lived another 18 years. He died on February 2, 1793, at the age of 96. Just a month later, George Washington was sworn in for his second term as the President of the United States of America, a country that Samuel Whittemore had almost died to help create. Samuel holds the distinction of being the oldest man known to have participated in the American Revolutionary War.
They just don’t make ’em like that anymore, people.