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.
That actual story is a bit more exciting than that.
Whittemore walked to a secluded position behind a stone wall on Mystic Street, near the corner of what is now Chestnut Street in Arlington, and calmly settled in. Some of the Minutemen pleaded with Whittemore to join them in their safer positions, but he ignored their admonitions. Soon the 47th Regiment of Foot, followed by the main body of British troops, appeared in view. On both sides of Whittemore, Minutemen were shooting at the approaching Redcoats and then sprinting away to where they could reload in safety.
Waiting until the regiment was almost upon him, Whittemore stood up, aimed his musket carefully and fired, killing a British soldier. He then fired both dueling pistols, hitting both of his targets, killing one man outright and mortally wounding another. Not having time to reload his cumbersome weapons, he grabbed his French saber and flailed away at the cursing, enraged Redcoats who now surrounded him.
One Englishman fired his Brown Bess almost point-blank into Whittemore's face, the heavy bullet tearing half his cheek away and knocking him flat on his back. Undaunted, Whittemore attempted to rise and continue the fight, but received no less than 13 bayonet wounds from the vengeful Redcoats. They also mercilessly clubbed his bleeding head and drove their musket butts into his body as they ran by.
When the last Britisher had left the scene and was far enough away for them to come out in safety, the villagers who had seen Whittemore's last stand walked slowly toward the body. To their astonishment, he was still alive and conscious--and still full of fight! Ignoring his wounds, he was feebly trying to load his musket for a parting shot at the retreating regiment.
When the local doctor saw the horrifying wounds he initially refused to treat them as it would be a waste of time to treat an obviously dying man. Whittemore's family insisted and the doctor eventually agreed. One can only imagine what his healed wounds looked like in a time before reconstructive surgery. Then again, no one who saw him could doubt that Mr. Whittemore had done his duty for his country.
February 3rd is Samuel Whittemore Memorial Day, celebrated by American patriots of advancing age.
Sam Whittemore ignored his creaking joints and went forth to battle the enemy. What's your excuse?