OT: War of 1812

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Fri May 28 04:57:56 UTC 2010

A couple of quick responses:

On the witness, the date confirms my suspicion--and this is likely the
testimonial that Swett used in his books (he does identify the surviving
witnesses by name).

The last bit (1794) also appears to confirm that the expression was in
use--I simply did not try to look for it hard enough since I mostly
dealt with top-level GB hits for Bunker Hill (single search pattern; and
was otherwise occupied with something else most of the day). Normally, I
would have done a more exhaustive search and back-up the conclusions
with more evidence.

I'll take a look at some sources in the meantime, while you're gathering
the other evidence. Thanks for the follow-up. One question that I have
is whether the interdating publications would serve to confirm the
memory of geriatric witnesses later or to "refresh" the memories they
might not have otherwise had.


On 5/27/2010 11:36 PM, Garson O'Toole wrote:
> Vic Steinbok
>> Whatever the case, it would be nice to have a few references--even if
>> they are equally unreliable--that predate the two 1825 accounts.
> It is reasonable to be skeptical.
> I have found relevant citations in 1809 and 1810 regarding the "white
> of their eyes" saying at Bunker Hill. I will post them later today or
> tomorrow.
> I also found a 1826 newspaper account that says the witness Philip
> Johnson gave his statement to a Magistrate on 1818 August 6. Johnson's
> statement claimed that he heard General Putnam say 'Men, you know you
> are all good marksmen; you, can take a squirrel from the tallest tree;
> don't fire till you see the whites of their eyes.'
> Here is a 1794 cite about the "Old English way of fighting":
> Cite: 1794 June, The Gentleman's Magazine‎, Particulars of the late
> glorious Naval Victory by P. M.,  Page 494, Printed by John Nichols,
> London.
> Earl Howe plainly convinced the Sans culottes that he could yet shew
> them the Old English way of fighting, "not to fire before he could see
> the whites of their eyes." The crews of the ships that sunk all
> perished; a fine gang for Old Davy indeed!
> http://books.google.com/books?id=GEYDAAAAMAAJ&q=%22whites+of%22#v=snippet&
> Details when I get a chance; or someone else may find something better,
> Garson

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