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Last Survivors Of The Revolution
In the misty memories of six centenarians recorded in 1864, the great war lives again
April 1958 | Volume 9, Issue 3
Too young at the time of his enlistment for service in the ranks, he was enlisted as drummer boy; and in this capacity he served four years, in Washington’s Life Guard. He was a great favorite, he says, with the Commander-in-Chief. … His recollection of Washington is distinct and vivid: “He was a good man, a beautiful man. He was always pleasant; never changed countenance, but wore the same in defeat and retreat as in victory.” Lady Washington, too, he recollects, on her visits to the camp. “She was a short, thick woman; very pleasant and kind. She used to visit the hospitals, was kind-hearted, and had a motherly care.”
“One day,” he continued, “the General sent for me to come up to headquarters, and told me to play. So I took the drum, overhauled her, braced her up, and played a tune. The General put his hand in his pocket and gave me three dollars; then one and another gave me more—so I made out well; in all, I got fifteen dollars. I was glad of it: my mother wanted some tea, and I got the poor old woman some.” His mother accompanied the army as washerwoman, to be near her boy.
He relates the following anecdote of General Washington: “We were going along one day, slow march, and came to where the boys were jerking stones. ‘Halt!’ came the command. ‘Now, boys,’ said the General, ‘I will show you how to jerk a stone.’ He beat ‘em all. He smiled, but didn’t laugh out.”
Mr. Milliner was at the battles of White Plains, Brandywine, Saratoga, Monmouth, Yorktown, and some others. The first of these he describes as “a nasty battle.” At Monmouth, he received a flesh wound in his thigh. “One of the officers came along, and, looking at me, said, ‘What’s the matter with you, boy?’ ‘Nothing,’ I answered. ‘Poor fellow,’ exclaimed he, ‘you are bleeding to death.’ I looked down; the blood was gushing out of me. …”
Of Burgoyne’s surrender he says, “The British soldiers looked down-hearted. When the order came to ‘ground arms,’ one of them exclaimed, with an oath, ‘You are not going to have my gun!’ and threw it violently on the ground, and smashed it. Arnold was a smart man; they didn’t sarve him quite straight.”
He was at the encampment at Valley Forge. “Lady Washington visited the army. She used thorns instead of pins on her clothes. The poor soldiers had bloody feet.” At Yorktown he shook hands with Cornwallis. He describes him as “a fine looking man; very mild. The day after the surrender, the Life Guard came up. Cornwallis sat on an old bench. ‘Halt!’ he ordered; then looked at us—viewed us.”
In all, Mr. Milliner served six years and a half in the army. Besides his service in the army, Mr. Milliner has served his country five years and a half in the navy. Three years of this service was on board the old frigate Constitution , he being in the action of February 20, 1814, in which she engaged the two British ships, the Cyane and the Levant , capturing them both. While following the sea he was captured by the French and carried into Guadaloupe. As a prisoner there, he suffered hard treatment. Of the bread which he says he has eaten in seven kingdoms, he pronounces that in the French prison decidedly the worst. …
At the time his photograph was taken he could still handle his drum, playing for the artist, with excellent time and flourishes which showed him to have been a master of the art. … His sight is as good yet as when young. He reads his Bible every day without the aid of glasses. His memory is clear respecting events which occurred eighty or ninety years ago. …
In the present conflict with treason, Mr. Milliner’s sympathies, as with all his surviving Revolutionary comrades, are enlisted most strongly on the side of the Union; he declaring that it is “too bad that this country, so hardly got, should be destroyed by its own people.”
Syracuse, N.Y., was the home of Rev. Daniel Waldo. … Most painful was my disappointment on reaching his house to find that death was dealing with the old man. … His age was one hundred and one.
Daniel Waldo was born in Windham, (Scotland Parish), Conn., on the 10th of September, 1762. … In 1778, being then sixteen years old, he enlisted for eight months in the service of the State; and during the term of this enlistment, in March, 1779, was taken prisoner by the tories at Horseneck. One of the guards, on leaving his beat one stormy night, failed to give him warning, and thus the tories surprised him. One of them snapped a musket at him, but it only flashed in the pan; whereupon Mr. Waldo surrendered. This terminated his immediate connection with the war. Upon his release by exchange, he returned to his home, in Windham.
At the age of about twenty, becoming hopefully a Christian, he resolved to devote himself to the ministry … and for more than seventy years he was a minister in the Congregational Church. … In 1805, Mrs. Waldo became insane, and died seven years ago. “I lived,” said the old man, in speaking of it, “fifty years with a crazy wife.”
On the 22d of December, 1856, Mr. Waldo was chosen chaplain of the House of Representatives. He spent most of his time in reading, which he greatly loved—not wishing, as he used to say, to hear “the quarrels in the House.”
William Hutchings was born in York, York county, Maine (then Massachusetts), in 1764. He is, therefore, in his one hundred and first year.