When the “shot heard ’round the world” started the American Revolution at the Battle of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, one brave Massachusetts farmer, Samuel Whittemore, ran to the sound of the guns and killed three British soldiers. 

When Whittemore tried to raise his sword, the British troops shot him in the face, bayonetted him six times, and clubbed him with rifle butts, leaving him for dead. Whittemore, then at a ripe old age of 78, not only survived but lived for another 18 years, dying at 96.

Samuel Whittemore, the Revolution's Oldest Lion
Monument dedicated to Samuel Whittemore where he fought the British during the Battle of Lexington and Concord. The monument erroneously has his age at 80 at the time of the battle.

An Experienced Soldier Who Fought for the British in Two Wars

Samuel Whittemore was born on July 27, 1696, in Charlestown, Massachusetts. After the death of his first wife, he married Mrs. Esther Prentice, fathering three sons and five daughters. Whittemore owned a farm in Menotomy, which still stands today in Arlington.

He was first mentioned in local newspapers in 1738 when he spoke “in a loud voice” stating that recently elected Selectman John Vassall was “unfit for said trust and was no more fit… than the horse that he, Samuel, rode on.”

In the days before the American Revolution, the British colonists fought often with the French, who owned Canada, and their Indian allies. Whittemore, nearly 50 years old, enlisted as a private in the Third Massachusetts Regiment.

He took part in what was known as King George’s War from 1744-1748 and was involved in the capture of Louisburg in 1745. A pair of dueling pistols and an ornate sword captured from a French officer were his prizes.

Later, during the French and Indian War, he became a captain of the Dragoons at the age of 64. He once again took part in the capture of Louisburg and a later operation against Chief Pontiac. 

The Political Career of Samuel Whittemore

As King George and the British Parliament imposed more and more taxes and laws against the colonies, Whittemore was called to represent his fellow citizens. After the repeal of the hated Stamp Act in 1766, he served as a committeeman for the Town of Cambridge. He was elected as a delegate to the Massachusetts Committee of Convention in 1768 and served on the Cambridge Committee of Correspondence.