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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Saturday, July 05, 2014

Luther Little’s Low Point

Luther Little (1756-1842) was an American naval officer during the War for Independence. He was a lieutenant on the Protector, a Massachusetts ship that was captured by the Royal Navy in 1781.

Little escaped captivity, however, because he’d been assigned to command a vessel the Protector had captured previously on its voyage into a friendly port.

On a later voyage, however, Capt. Little’s ship was wrecked in a storm and he broke his leg. But eventually he made it back to his home town of Marshfield.

In 1841 Little dictated a memoir of his life to a relative, and in the 1910s the Journal of American History published that manuscript. This is the incident he started with:
At the age of ten years, 1766, I recollect going to swim in the North River, a stream that runs between Scituate and Marshfield, accompanied by several boys in the neighbourhood. While we were thus amusing ourselves the tide rose and took off my clothes. Aided by the boys, I chose the least conspicuous path home, two miles and a half; got into a chamber window, and instead of the fig leaves chosen by Adam and Eve for a similar purpose, I took to my bed and feigned myself sick. I lay there quietly until my mother came up, who, hearing my story, gave me herb-tea, &c, and by this means I escaped a good whipping.

The following sketch of my life will show that I have been exposed to danger, and eminently so, both by sea and land, but never have I felt any depression of spirits so sensibly as at the loss of this suit of clothes.


Steve MC said...

Very interesting to hear of Capt. Little. A nearby town used to have the last of the three-masted schooners in their harbor, and one of them held his namesake.


J. L. Bell said...

Thanks for that link. The Luther LIttle schooner was launched just about the same time Capt. Little’s memoir began to be published, and I wonder if the two events were related.