The Revolutionary War ended long before photography was a refined process, but the gap between the two historic events was still enough to allow some of America's true patriots—in the literal sense of the word—to sit for a photo. The Revolution was over by 1783, and the earliest surviving photo dates back to 1826, a 43-year difference. Since the average life span of a man at that time was around 40 years, it's safe to say these guys barely made it to the era of photography.
Except the photographer didn't get around to doing it until the middle of the Civil War in 1864—some 83 years after Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown.
1. Samuel Downing
Downing was 102 when Hillard interviewed him. He served under General Benedict Arnold at the Battle of Oriskany, saying Arnold was a fighting general, one who treated his soldiers well, and as brave a man as ever lived.
He lamented the fact that generals in the Civil War weren't as gentlemanly as they were in his time.
2. Rev. Daniel Waldo
Waldo was a Connecticut colonist drafted at age 16 in 1778 and captured by the English in 1779. Confined in a New York prison, he was later released in exchange for captured British soldiers.
Waldo went on to serve as the Chaplain of the House of Representatives. He was appointed to the role in 1856–at the age of 94. He also lived to be more than 100 years old.
3. Lemuel Cook
At 105, Cook was the oldest surviving veteran of the war. He joined the Continental Army in 1775, only convincing the recruiter because he volunteered to serve for the duration of the war. Cook was in the Army at Brandywine and at Yorktown, under the command of Washington, Lafayette, and Rochambeau. He remembered Washington ordered his men not to laugh at the British after the surrender, because surrender was bad enough.
4. Alexander Milliner
Milliner was a Quebec native who not only served as drummer boy at the Battles of White Plains, Brandywine, Monmouth, and Yorktown, he was also on the crew of the USS Constitution back when the ship was the latest technology in naval warfare. He remembered that General Washington once patted him on the head and referred to Milliner as "his boy".
Related: 10 Revealing Revolutionary War Books
5. William Hutchings
A native of Maine who enlisted at age 15, Hutchings served in coastal defense batteries along the Maine coast. He was taken prisoner at the Siege of Castine, the only action he saw in the entire war. The British released him because of his young age. He died in 1866, at the home he lived in for some 80 years.
6. Adam Link
Link was from Hagerstown, Maryland and enlisted in the Pennsylvania militia on three separate occasions. At 16, he was part of a unit whose job was to defend the Western Frontier—back when that frontier was still in Pennsylvania. The hard-drinking, hard-working farmer lived to the ripe old age of 104, dying shortly after his photo with Hillard.
More from We Are The Mighty
- That time Germany scuttled its own navy in sneaky scheme
- These are the only father-son pairs to receive Medals of Honor
- That time a now-famous cadet fought in battle and went back for sophomore year
- Drones vs. Delta: Who do you think won the first round?
- Saving Private Ryan is coming back to the screen for the 75th anniversary of D-Day
This article originally appeared on We Are The Mighty.
Featured photo of Daniel Waldo: Find A Grave