Angry Enough To Live

By Lucas Bernard 

Retreating back to Boston after their embarrassing defeat at Lexington and Concord, British Regulars continued to be harried by local militia. Like a swarm of angry wasps, Minutemen stung and flew away again, disappearing into the countryside. When they passed by Samuel Whittemore’s house, they could be forgiven if they believed they would have a reprieve from Minuteman potshots. Whittemore was an 80-year-old farmer hunched over his fields—what could he do?

Whittemore was no stranger to war. As a young man he fought for the Crown, being part of a contingent that seized a French fortress in King George’s War. Even at his age, as a Patriot, he could not turn down a chance to pour lead into the lobsterbacked bastards trespassing on his property. Whittemore loaded his musket and lit into some grenadiers from behind a stone wall. Killing one, he tossed his musket down and drew a brace of pistols, killing another grenadier and grievously wounding a third. 

The British Regulars finally broke through the surprise of being laid out by a pissed off geriatric farmer and fired at him. A bullet tore into his face, breaking off a piece of his cheek bone. As they charged towards him, Whittemore couldn’t give them the satisfaction of fighting on their terms. With his shots expended, he drew his sword and advanced toward them. The Regulars piled on him, doing their damnedest to turn him into a human pincushion. Some sources say they inflicted six bayonet wounds, others eight. Regardless, many more times than the average person could handle being stuck with a bayonet. As he lay in a pool of his own blood, the Regulars resumed their retreat.

When pursuing militia forces came upon the scene, they found Whittemore struggling to load his musket, endeavoring to kill more redcoats. To comfort their probable bewilderment, he exclaimed “If I can only be the instrument of killing one of my country’s foes, I shall die in peace!” The man knew what he was about.

Although he had finished killing what he found to be an adequate amount of Regulars for that day, he wasn’t quite ready to die. He miraculously recovered from his injuries, presumably through sheer anger and the hope to give more of the King’s men acute lead poisoning. Living another 18 years, he died a free American.

His story stands as an inspiration to us all: rage against the dying of the light and always stand ready to be the instrument of righteous American wrath. 

From the FE Films Archive

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