Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Research Wednesday: The Last Surviving Revolutionary War Soldiers Tell All

For today's Research Wednesday post I'm highlighting a wonderful find I came across on line.

In 1864, while civil war raged across the United States, a Congregational minister named Elias Hillard set out on a mission to find six men. There was urgency in his quest. All six of these men were near 100 years old. Some of them had passed the century mark. They were the last surviving soldiers of the American Revolutionary War.

Eighty-three years after British General Cornwallis surrendered to the Americans at Yorktown, ending the War of Independence, photos of the last six surviving veterans were taken, their histories and memories recorded, their names, faces, and stories preserved.

Here is a brief overview of each man's story, with his photo.

Teenagers, frontiersmen, drummer boys, prisoners, guards, farmers, runaway apprentices, and soldiers. Here are their stories given in detail at AmericanRevolution.org:

THE LAST MEN OF THE REVOLUTION
A Photograph of each from Life
TOGETHER WITH VIEWS OF THEIR HOMES PRINTED IN COLORS.
Accompanied by brief Biographical Sketches of the Men
REV. E. B. HILLARD
Published by N. A. & R. A. MOORE
ENTERED ACCORDING To ACT OF CONGRESS IN THE YEAR 1864, BY N. A, & R. A. MOORE,
IN THE CLERK'S OFFICE OF THE DISTRICT COURT OF CONNECTICUT.
H. S. GRIFFITHS, PRINTER, HARTFORD, CONN.

For capturing a sense of the language and speech patterns of these old soldiers, and a glimpse into the mindset of men who were young during the late 18th century (not to mention the mindset, attitudes, and outlook of the interviewer, a man of the mid-1800s) this collection is worth a look.

But to a history lover like me, just getting to see their faces was enough to make it worth checking out.

5 comments:

  1. Fascinating!!!! Unreal, to have all this and photos too!

    Although I dislike that my country was the enemy. SO glad we're past that!

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    1. I think most of us are past it. ;)

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  2. Oh! What a treasure! I feel giddy and speechless at the same time. There's NOTHING like original source documents to guard against revisionist history.

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    1. Giddy and speechless. That about sums up how I felt when I first saw this. I've read most of them, still reading the last, but one thing that touched me is how some of them spoke of Benedict Arnold.

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    2. Yes! I never thought of him that way. He was just "the traitor" to me, but this adds a completely new dimension to his character--and to Washington's, having to do what was just, but hating to do it.

      And don't you love that the interviewer wrote in such a way that you can still "hear" their dialects? I found myself peering into their faces and trying to find the 17-yr-old they had once been.

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