J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Luther Blanchard, Fifer

Yesterday I wrote about the Acton Minutemen marching toward Concord’s North Bridge, reportedly to the tune later codified as “The White Cockade.” The fifer in that unit was Luther Blanchard, son of Simon and Sarah Blanchard, born 4 June 1756 and therefore eighteen years old.

Luther was also one of the first people wounded during the North Bridge skirmish. In A History of the Fight at Concord (1827), Ezra Ripley wrote:
In a minute or two, the Americans being in quick motion, and within ten or fifteen rods of the bridge, a single gun was fired by a British soldier, which marked its way, passing under Col. [John] Robinson’s arm, slightly wounding the side of Luther Blanchard, a fifer in the Acton company. This gun was instantly followed by a volley, which killed Capt. [Isaac] Davis and Mr. [Abner] Hosmer, both of the same company.
Eight years later, Lemuel Shattuck added in a footnote in A History of the Town of Concord:
Luther Blanchard went to Mrs. [Rebeckah] Barrett’s, who, after examining his wound, mournfully remarked, “A little more and you’d been killed.”

“Yes,” said Blanchard, “and a little more and ’t wouldn’t have touched me;”—and immediately joined the pursuers.
Though Luther Blanchard marched with the Acton company (fifers got paid for musters), he lived in the neighboring town of Littleton, in an area that’s now part of Boxborough. Luther appears on Boxborough’s town seal, and every June it observes Fifer’s Day in his honor; this year’s celebration comes on 15 June.

COMING UP: What happened to Luther Blanchard?

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