Interestingly enough for a man who is now famous throughout Massachusetts for his unbreakable determination to violently kill British people at all costs, Samuel Whittemore was born in England, and faithfully served the British Crown for nearly five decades of professional military service. Born in 1695, just 75 years after the first Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, the stone-cold hardass who would be made a state hero of Massachusetts was first unleashed on colonial America in the 1740s while serving as a Captain in His Majesty's Dragoons – a badass unit of elite British cavalrymen much-feared across the globe for their ability to impale people on lance-points and then pump their already-dead bodies full of gigantic pistol ammunition that more closely resembled baseballs than the sort of rounds you see packed into Beretta magazines these days. Fighting the French in Canada during the War of Austrian Succession (a conflict that was known here in the colonies as King George's War because seriously WTF did colonial Americans care about Austrian succession), Whittemore was part of the British contingent that assaulted the frozen shores of Nova Scotia and beat the shit out of the French at their stronghold of Louisbourg in 1745. The 50 year-old cavalry officer went into battle galloping at the head of a company of rifle-toting horsemen, and emerged from the shouldering flames of a thoroughly ass-humped Louisbourg holding a bitchin' ornate longsword he had wrenched from the lifeless hands of a French officer who had, in Whittemore's words, "died suddenly". The French would eventually manage to snake Louisbourg back from the Brits, so thirteen years later, during the Seven Years' War (a conflict that was known here in the colonies as the French and Indian War because WTF we were fighting the French and the Indians, and also because it lasted nine years instead of seven), Whittemore had to return to his old stomping grounds of Louisburg and ruthlessly beat it into submission once again. Serving under the able command fellow badass British commander James Wolfe, a man who earned his reputation by commanding a line of riflemen who held their lines against a frothing-at-the-mouth horde of psychotic, sword-swinging William Wallace motherfuckers in Scotland (this is a story I intend to tell at a later date), Whittemore once again pummeled the French retarded and stole all of their shit he could get his hands on. He served valiantly during the Second Siege of Louisbourg, pounding the poor city into rubble a second time in an epic bloodbath would mark the beginning of the end for France's Atlantic colonies – Quebec would fall shortly thereafter, and the French would be chased out of Canada forever. So you can thank Whittemore for that, if you are inclined to do so.
Beating Frenchmen down with a cavalry saber at the age of 64 is pretty cool and all, but Whittemore still wasn't done doing awesome shit in the name of King George the Third and His Loyal Colonies. Four years after busting up the French for the second time in two decades he led troops against Chief Pontiac in the bloody Indian Wars that raged across the Great Lakes region. Never one to back down from an up-close-and-personal fistfight, it was during a particularly nasty bout of hand-to-hand combat he came into possession of another totally sweet war trophy – an awesome pair of matched dueling pistols he had taken from the body of a warrior he'd just finished bayoneting or sabering or whatever.
After serving in three American wars before America was even a country, Whittemore decided the colonies were pretty damn radical, so he settled down in Massachusetts, married two different women (though not at the same time), had eight kids, and built a house out of the carcasses of bears he'd killed and mutilated with his own two hands. Or something like that.
Now, all of this shit is pretty god damned impressive, but interestingly none of it is actually what Samuel Whittemore is best known for. No, his distinction as a national hero instead comes from a fateful day in mid-April 1775, when the British colonies in the New World decided they weren't going to take any more of King George's bullshit and decided to get their American Revolution on. And you can be pretty damn sure that if there were asses to be kicked, Whittemore was going to be one of the men doing the kicking.
So one day a bunch of colonial malcontents got together, formed a battle line, and opened fire on a bunch of redcoats that were pissing them off with their silly Stamp Acts and whatnot. The Brits managed to beat back this militia force at the Battles of Lexington and Concord, but when they heard that a larger force of angry, rifle-toting colonials was headed their way, the English officers decided to march back to their headquarters and regroup. Along the way, they were hassled relentlessly by American militiamen with rifles and angry insults, though no group harassed them more ferociously than Captain Sam Whittemore. When the Redcoats went marching back through his hometown of Menotomy, this guy decided that he wasn't going to let his advanced age stop him from doing some crazy shit and taking on an entire British army himself. The 80 year old Whittemore grabbed his rifle and ran outside:
Whittemore, by himself, with no backup, positioned himself behind a stone wall, waited in ambush, and then single-handedly engaged the entire British 47th Regiment of Foot with nothing more than his musket and the pure liquid anger coursing through his veins. His ambush had been successful – by this time this guy popped up like a decrepitly old rifle-toting jack-in-the-box, the British troops were pretty much on top of him. He fired off his musket at point-blank range, busting the nearest guy so hard it nearly blew his red coat into the next dimension.
Now, when you're using a firearm that takes 20 seconds to reload, it's kind of hard to go all Leonard Funk on a platoon of enemy infantry, but damn it if Whittemore wasn't going to try. With a company of Brits bearing down in him, he quick-drew his twin flintlock pistols and popped a couple of locks on them (caps hadn't been invented yet, though I think the analogy still works pretty fucking well), busting another two Limeys a matching set of new assholes. Then he unsheathed the ornate French sword, and this 80-year-old madman stood his ground in hand-to-hand against a couple dozen trained soldiers, each of which was probably a quarter of his age.
As you can see from the picture, it didn't work out so well. Whittemore was shot through the face by a 69-caliber bullet, knocked down, and bayonetted 13 times by motherfuckers. I'd like to imagine he wounded a couple more Englishmen who slipped or choked on his blood, though history only seems to credit him with three kills on three shots fired. The Brits, convinced that this man was sufficiently beat to shit, left him for dead kept on their death march back to base, harassed the entire way by Whittemore's fellow militiamen.
Amazingly, however, Samuel Whittemore didn't die. When his friends rushed out from their homes to check on his body, they found the half-dead, ultra-bloody octogenarian still trying to reload his weapon and seek vengeance. The dude actually survived the entire war, finally dying in 1793 at the age of 98 from extreme old age and awesomeness. A 2005 act of the Massachusetts legislature declared him an official state hero, and today he has one of the most badass historical markers of all time:
Revolutionary War Archives
America's Oldest, Bravest Soldier
MA Bill No. 1839
The Complete List
About the Author