Monthly Archives: March 2016

Samuel Whittemore, American #Revolutionary War Hero


minuteman image

Colonial Minuteman

This is the story of an American #war hero.

On April 19, 1775, the American Revolutionary War broke out between the British army and the American colonists.  Early that morning the first shots were fired in the town of Lexington, Massachusetts, as 1,800 redcoats marched through the town toward Concord.  After failing to find any rebel ammunition in Concord, the British decided to march back to Boston and regroup.  They weren’t too worried about the American fighters, calling them inept cowards.  They had not yet met Samuel Whittemore!

Samuel Whittemore was 80 years-old (some say 78) on that fateful day.  He was working in his fields in the town of Menotomy, near Boston, when he noticed the redcoats approaching.  Whittemore, an experienced soldier who had fought for the British during the French and Indian War, had joined the American rebels.  He was ready to fight for independence.

After grabbing his musket, two dueling pistols, and a saber, Whittemore crouched behind a stone wall.  When the redcoats marched directly in front of him, he shot and killed a soldier with his musket.  Then he shot and killed one more and mortally wounded another with his pistols.  When he pulled out his saber and charged, a British soldier shot him in the face and beat him to the ground with the butt of his musket.  Other soldiers quickly moved in and stabbed Captain Whittemore thirteen times with their bayonets, leaving him for dead.

Whittemore’s friends were amazed when they found the old man still alive!  In fact, he was trying to reload his musket even though part of his face had been blown away.  Using a door as a stretcher, they rushed him to Cooper Tavern where Doctor Nathaniel Tufts declared him near death and sent him home to die.  But 80-year-old Samuel Whittemore was not ready to die.  He lived another 18 years, long enough to see the Americans win the Revolutionary War, and long enough to see George Washington serve as the country’s first president.

whittemore tombstone image

Samuel Whittemore’s gravestone in Arlington, Massachusetts

Samuel Whittemore lived to be 98 years-old, badly scarred, but proud to have served in the American Revolution.  In 2005 the Massachusetts legislature declared him an official state hero.  He is buried in Menotomy, now called #Arlington, Massachusetts.

If you would like to learn more about Captain Samuel Whittemore, I recommend these two children’s books:

Let It Begin Here!: Lexington & Concord: First Battles of the American Revolution by Dennis Brindell Fradin    (Walker & Company)

Let It Begin Here!: April 19, 1775: The Day the American Revolution Began by Don Brown   (Roaring Brook Press)

#Lewis and Clark Expedition Meets the Grizzly Bear



In the spring of 1804 the Lewis and Clark Expedition, known as the Corps of Discovery, left St. Louis in a keelboat and two large canoes.  As they slowly made their way up the Missouri River they were warned by Native American tribes to watch out for “monsters” roaming near the great waterfalls of the Missouri.  The Indians claimed that the bears were not easy to kill.  In fact, they never attempted a bear hunt without at least six hunters in the hunting party.

The men of the Corps were not too worried.  They figured their guns were so far superior to arrows that they had little to worry about.  Nevertheless, they grew more and more curious about the mysterious bears as they traveled into the Montana area.

On May 14, 1805, about a year into the expedition, six men spotted a monstrous grizzly bear near the river’s edge. By that time they had already seen a few bears, but this beast was gigantic!  Bear burgers for dinner, anyone?


Grizzly bear

They loaded their guns and sneaked up on the bear.  Four of them shot at once.  All four hit their target with two balls piercing the bear’s lungs.  Well, this only made the grizzly bear angry.  Crazy angry!  It reared up with a bloodcurdling roar and charged.  The other two men fired their guns.  One ball broke the bear’s shoulder, but the grizzly kept coming, intent on ripping to shreds the first man it reached.

The men decided the time had come to forget about dinner.  They ran for their lives.  Two jumped into a canoe and paddled away.  The other four hid in the willows and reloaded.  Ready, fire!

Aha!  The bear turned.  Now he knew where the men were hiding.  He charged again with a fearsome roar.  The two closest men threw their guns to the ground and bolted to a 20-foot perpendicular bank.  Feeling the bear breathing down their necks, they jumped from the cliff into the river below and swam like they had never swum before.  The enraged bear leaped into the water after them, making quite a splash.  The bear had almost reached the terrified swimmers when a shot rang out from the willows.  It hit the grizzly in the head, killing it.

Captain Meriwether Lewis

Captain Meriwether Lewis

It had taken eight musket balls to bring down that “monster” grizzly bear.   After many such close encounters, #Meriwether Lewis, one of the captains of the Corps of Discovery, wrote in his journal,

“I find that the curiosity of our party is pretty well satisfied with respect to this animal …”






For more Info: Click on picture

For more Info:
Click on picture

The grizzly bear account is one of the stories you will find in my book #Where Did Sacagawea Join the Corps of Discovery? And Other Questions about the Lewis and Clark Expedition (Lerner Publishing Group, 2011).  This book is part of Lerner’s “Six Questions of American History Series” and tells the story of the Lewis & Clark Expedition from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean and back again.  It is geared to 4th – 7th grade readers, but adults enjoy it as well.





Attribution: Bear By NPS photo (Public Domain), via Wikimedia Commons; Meriwether Lewis by Charles Willson Peale (Public Domain), via Wikimedia Commons





Welcome to My Blog

Linda Gondosch, Children's Author

Linda Gondosch, Children’s Author

Hello!  My name is Linda Gondosch and I’m a former teacher and the author of eleven fiction and nonfiction books for children.  I’ve spent years reading wonderful books of nonfiction as well as researching my own books.  In this blog, I will share some of the often overlooked stories of American history that I have discovered along the way.  I think you’ll find them to be fun, factual, and maybe even fascinating.  I will suggest children’s books for further reading so you and your children can learn more about a particular person or event in history,  I’ll also add a little about my own journey as a writer.

Parents and teachers, I hope you share these stories and suggested books with your children.  The more children learn about U.S. history, the more they will understand and appreciate the people and events that shaped America.  Enjoy!


Attribution: header — “Oregon Trail (Campfire)” by Albert Bierstadt (PD-US)