Photographs of Veterans of the American Revolution

The American Revolution is not normally associated with photography, but some elderly veterans of that conflict lived long enough to have their pictures taken by the then cutting edge technology of photography.  Among the veterans pictured above is John Gray, the last surviving veteran of the Revolution.  He was born fittingly enough near Mount Vernon.  His father was killed at the battle of White Plains in 1776.  John joined up at 16 in 1780 and was present at Yorktown when Cornwallis’ army marched by in surrender.  He died on March 29, 1868, age 104.

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those spirits dare,
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Published in: on September 6, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (7)  
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7 Comments

  1. John Gray saw the War for Independence AND the Civil War. He saw the surrender at Yorktown firsthand and who knows what he saw during the Civil War. How awesome is that?! Oh to have talked to that guy before he died and get his sense of the country he fought to bring into existence. Amazing to ponder.

  2. Indeed Rick! During the Civil War in the North a reporter went around and interviewed surviving veterans of the American Revolution about their lives and about the Civil War. It was published in American Heritage back in the late fifties, but I have never been able to find it online. The article was fascinating. The veterans were heartbroken by the Civil War but were sure the Union would ultimately prevail. Of course, only veterans in the North were interviewed.

  3. That does sound like a great read. Have you tried browsing the American Heritage website lately? It appears they may have all the back issues online now. The navigation is really poor and at first it appears they only have the December issues for the 1950’s but playing around with the navigation menu reveals many more. I think I’ll spend a few more minutes browsing. ;)

    http://www.americanheritage.com/content/february-1955

  4. Yay!

    http://www.americanheritage.com/content/last-survivors-revolution

  5. Thank you RL, I hadn’t realized they had put any articles online. I will have to investigate further!

  6. [...] Hattip to commenter RL for finding this American Heritage article. [...]

  7. [...] Hattip to commenter RL for finding this American Heritage article. [...]


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