Did you know that African slaves’ knowledge of the power of smallpox vaccine helped to save many of Washington’s soldiers at Valley Forge? Or that a woman’s name appears on the first printing of the Declaration of Independence to bear the names of all the signatories? If not, you may want to pickup a copy of Strange, Amazing, and Funny Events that Happened during the Revolutionary War, by Jack Darrell Crowder. Mr Crowder’s book is filled with accounts, often including the words of the protagonists, of little known, bizarre, or extraordinary occurrences during the founding of our country. Here’s one describing the arrest of six British soldiers by an old woman picking dandelions.
Old Woman Bags British Soldiers
West Cambridge has the honor of making the first capture of provisions and British prisoners of the American Revolution. On April 19, 1775 about 700 British troops under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith were sent to Lexington and Concord, in order to capture and destroy rebel supplies that had been stored by the militia. British General Gage believed that reinforcements might be required to assist Colonel Smith. He ordered several regiments under the command of Earl Percy to leave Boston and march toward Colonel Smith.
Following in the rear of Percy’s troops was a group of supply wagons that were having trouble crossing the Brighton Bridge. Word reached the rebels further ahead at Cooper’s Tavern about the supply wagons and the rebels began making plans to capture them.
David Lampson, a free black man, told the following story to Colonel Thomas Russell who told it to Samuel Abbot Smith who wrote about it in his book, “Meanwhile an express was sent post-haste from Old Cambridge to Menotomy, bearing the information that these supplies were on the way. Several of our men met at once in Cooper’s tavern, which stood on the present site of Whittemore ‘s hotel, to form some plan for capturing them. They were of the exempts, or alarm list as it was called, all old men, for every young man was that day nearer the post of danger. There were Jason Belknap and Joe Belknap, James Budge, Israel Mead and Ammi Cutter, David Lampson, and others, in all twelve. Some of them had been soldiers in the French war, and age had not impaired their courage. They chose for their leader David Lampson, a mulatto, who had served in the war, a man of undoubted bravery and determination. ”
The twelve men took a position behind a wall of earth and stones and waited for the groups of wagons. “The convoy soon made its appearance. As it came between them and the meeting house of the First Parish, Lampson ordered his men to rise and aim directly at the horses, and called out to them to surrender. No reply was made, but the drivers whipped up their teams. Lampson ‘s men then fired, killing several of the horses, and, according to some accounts, killing two of the men and wounding others. ”
Once the firing began, the drivers jumped from their wagons and ran to the bank of Spy Pond. They threw their guns into the pond and then continued to run along the banks of the pond. They followed along the bank and met an old woman named Mother Batherick.
“They surrendered themselves to mother Batherick who was digging dandelions. She led them to the house of Capt. Ephraim Frost, where there was a party of our men, saying to her prisoners, as she gave them up. ‘If you ever live to get back, you tell King George that an old woman took six of his grenadiers prisoner.'”
Other books on the American Revolution by Jack Crowder: