“Do not fuck with me.”
So long as they don’t accidentally go vegetarian or something, all Americans turn into badass zero-fuck-giving machines once they reach a certain age. The whispers of mortality apparently change the American temperament as they get louder, turning our nation’s elderly into stubborn, fighting-off-bears, beating-up-a-robber-after-getting-shot-in-the-head badasses. This is not a recent quality only seen in the Greatest Generation, it’s engrained in our DNA. Trust us on this, if you think you’re kind of soft and weak currently, you should really do something about your self-esteem. But also, you should know that by the time you hit 80 you’re basically going to be a superhero.
That being said, no matter how badass you get in your old age, you still won’t have anything on Samuel Whittemore, the oldest known colonial combatant in the Revolutionary War. Trust us on this.
Samuel Whittemore: The Most Badass Grumpy Old Person in American History
Yes. Look at that monument. That is real, and that is badass. That is Samuel Whittemore.
Whittemore was born in Massachusetts in 1696 (though some attest he was born in 1695 in England, which we choose not to believe because we have sources saying otherwise, and our “Badass old Americans were around even in the 1700s!” has a little less oomph to it if he was born a Brit), and served in various capacities as a soldier, first in King George’s War in the 1740s as well as, possibly, the French and Indian War, when he would have been in his 60s. Age did not particularly stop Whittemore when it came to killing fools in one of the handful of legally acceptable settings to do so, it would appear.
So Samuel Whittemore was a lifelong soldier who was either born in England (which we refuse to believe) or in America (USA! USA!), though the specifics of his earlier and even later life are sparse. As we stated, he fought in King George’s War, because there were a lot more wars on American soil than you realize, while a member of Colonel Jeremiah Moulton’s Third Massachusetts Regiment. A lot of articles that talk about Whittemore tend to play up the angle of “Whittemore served as a loyal British soldier until he was won over by the American spirit during his time in this country” and while we understand the appeal of that narrative, it also seems to be blatantly false. He served with the Massachusetts militia, meaning that while he did fight for the British, he was an American soldier through and through. He did partake in the capture of Fort Louisburg, a French stronghold, in 1745, and again during the French and Indian War, but that’s because the man was a soldier, and possibly because he had a hatred of all Europeans in general.
Plus, we have to imagine that the whole thing was just fun for Whittemore. Look at that picture, doesn’t that look fun?
However, as you saw in the badass monument towards the top of this article Whittemore is known for what he did after his prime fighting days were over, though one could argue that by the time he was 78 (the monument incorrectly rounds his age up) he had just hit his fighting peak. Either way, on April 19th, 1775, British troops in America were having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. The Battles of Lexington and Concord had taken place, officially starting the Revolutionary War, and the British regulars lost the engagement despite heavily outnumbering their foes. To make matters worse, as the British troops tried returning to Boston they were constantly harassed and sniped at by militiamen.
Returning from a losing engagement only to be occasionally shot at by random snipers would put anyone in a bad mood, and it was with this temperament that troops made the mistake of walking near the farm owned by Samuel Whittemore. A relief brigade under the command of Earl Hugh Percy fell under the ire of a 78 year old farmer, who was probably remarking to himself how back in his day he had to fight war going uphill through a snowstorm. Whittemore had a very strong desire to ensure that his children, and children’s children, and so on (by the time he died, he had 185 direct descendants, including a great-great-great-grandchild) would live free in a self-governed nation. He also clearly hated the British, because his response to seeing Red Coats coming by his land was to load his musket, grab his dueling pistols, and bring forth a little bit of good old fashion American war murder.
Now the troops he decided to attack were British Grenadiers from the 47th Regiment of Foot. That’s important to point out because at the time, grenadiers were specialized soldiers who focused on throwing grenades and performing assault operations. Through a combination of necessity and status, only the largest and strongest soldiers were selected for this duty. So Whittemore basically saw the closest that the British Army had to a unit comprised of Gegor Clegane’s ancestors, looked down at his 78-year-old hands and thought, “Man, when did these things get so…veiny” before adding, “Oh, and I’m totally going to kill those giants.” Shooting from behind a nearby stone wall, he killed one soldier immediately, at which point he pulled out his pistols and fired, killing a second and mortally wounding a third. By this point he had pretty much given away his position, and also pissed off a bunch of super soldiers, so he drew his sword (possibly worried that he didn’t look quite as kickass as he’d like by that point) and attacked the rest of the soldiers head on.
They responded by politely shooting him in the face and bayoneting him multiple times (we’ve seen the count listed as high as 13, but his obituary says it was between six and eight, though “none penetrated so far as to destroy him”) and left him for dead. This occurred a few hundred years before action movies had been invented, so they didn’t realize that “assuming the enemy is dead” almost guarantees that he survived for the sequel, or at least for one final slow motion charge-while-yelling. Because, sure enough, when he was found four hours later, he was still alive. Not only did he survive, he lived another eighteen years, because you do not fuck with Samuel Whittemore.
No, seriously. You’re gonna get got.
Pictured above: the second oldest combatant in the American Revolution
At the age of 78, Whittemore became the oldest combatant in the entire war, and in living to be 96 in the 18th century, proved that he was probably at least part cyborg. So next time your leg falls asleep at work and you find yourself complaining on how much the tingling sucks, remember that you’re built out of American stock, and that when you get old enough not to give a shit, you’re going to transform into a badass. Not quite as badass as Samuel Whittemore, but come on, no one can possibly surpass Whittemore. Don’t get greedy.