Samuel Whittemore might just be the toughest old guy in the history of the world.
Born in England in 1694, Whittemore went to North America in 1745 as a captain in the British army, where he fought in King George's War (1744-48) at the age of 50 and the French and Indian War (1754-63) at the age of 64.
Then on April 19, 1775, at the age of 80, he engaged British forces returning from the Battles of Lexington and Concord at the onset of the Revolutionary War.
Whittemore was in his fields when he spotted an approaching British relief brigade under Earl Percy, sent to assist the retreat. Whittemore loaded his musket and ambushed the British from behind a nearby stone wall, killing one soldier. He then drew his dueling pistols and killed a grenadier and mortally wounded a second. By the time Whittemore had fired his third shot, a British detachment reached his position; Whittemore drew his sword and attacked. He was shot in the face, bayoneted thirteen times, and left for dead in a pool of blood. He was found alive, trying to load his musket to fight again. He was taken to Dr. Cotton Tufts of Medford, who perceived no hope for his survival. However, Whittemore lived another 18 years until dying of natural causes at the age of 98.
In 2005, Whittemore was proclaimed the official state hero of Massachusetts. Not bad considering this is a state that produced such wartime heroes as Paul Revere, Israel Putnam, John Hancock, Robert Shaw and John Kennedy.
All great men, but if I were sent to war, I’d choose Samuel Whittemore to stand on my side above them all.