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The Brave Brigadier: William Whipple's Role in the Revolution

A photograph of Brigadier General William Whipple
Brigadier General William Whipple

Of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, at least 24 of them served in the military during the American Revolutionary War. These individuals demonstrated not only their commitment to the cause of American independence but also their willingness to take up arms and risk their lives in the fight against British rule. Their military service ranged from commanding troops, participating in battles, and supporting the war effort in various capacities. These signers understood the gravity of the struggle and were willing to make significant personal sacrifices for the cause of liberty.  One such patriot was William Whipple.


Early Life and Military Beginnings


William Whipple was born on January 14, 1730, in Kittery, Maine, which was then part of Massachusetts Bay Colony. His family had a long history in the New England area, and his father was a captain in the militia. Growing up, Whipple gained an understanding of the maritime trade, an industry that would play a crucial role in his later life.


Pre-Revolutionary War Military Service


Before becoming a signer of the Declaration of Independence, Whipple had a distinguished military career. In 1755, he joined the British military as a captain during the French and Indian War. He demonstrated his bravery and leadership during this conflict and was eventually promoted to the rank of major. Whipple's military experience would prove invaluable during the American Revolutionary War.


Military Service During the American Revolutionary War


With the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, William Whipple's military expertise was in high demand. He was among the first to enlist in the patriot forces and quickly rose through the ranks. His experience from the French and Indian War served him well as he assumed command as a brigadier general in the New Hampshire militia.


Whipple's military service during the American Revolutionary War was marked by dedication and courage. He participated in several key battles that were pivotal to the American cause for independence. One such engagement was the Battle of Saratoga in 1777, a turning point in the war. Whipple's leadership and strategic acumen contributed to the American victory, which ultimately led to France formally entering the war as an ally of the United States.


Another notable aspect of Whipple's military service was his involvement in privateering. He owned and captained a privateer vessel, the "General Mifflin," which was authorized by the Continental Congress to engage in naval warfare against British ships. Privateering played a crucial role in disrupting British supply lines and weakening their naval power in American waters.


Contributions to American Independence


Whipple's military leadership and contributions went beyond the battlefield. He served as a member of the Continental Congress and was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. His military experience and commitment to the cause of liberty made him a valuable asset in the political arena as well.


Legacy and Impact


After the war, William Whipple continued to serve his country, holding various governmental roles, including as a state legislator and as a judge. His unwavering commitment to the principles of freedom and self-determination helped shape the new nation.


Today, William Whipple may not be as widely recognized as some of his contemporaries, but his military service and dedication to the American cause should not be forgotten. His legacy lives on as a reminder of the diverse group of individuals who came together to create a new nation founded on the principles of freedom and self-determination.


As we commemorate the heroes of the American Revolution, let us not overlook the contributions of military leaders like William Whipple, whose sacrifices, leadership, and strategic thinking were instrumental in securing American independence and shaping the United States of America.

Submitted by: Raymond E. Foster


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