March 20, 2023

Local ceremony to mark Revolutionary War grave

PENOBSCOT – William Hutchings was only 10 when the American Revolution began, but during the British occupation of Castine, he managed to carry information from behind the British lines to rebels waiting in Penobscot.

His services then – and later as an enlisted man – earned Hutchings a veteran’s pension and, before his death in 1866, he was the last surviving Revolutionary War solider in Maine and possibly in New England.

The Maine State Organization of the Daughters of the American Revolution will commemorate Hutchings life on Saturday by placing a marker on his grave. The ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. at the gravesite in the family cemetery located off the Dunbar Road in Penobscot.

“He really was quite an interesting person,” said Donna Hoffman, the Maine state regent for DAR.

Since the nation’s 1976 bicentennial, the DAR has sponsored a program to locate and mark all Revolutionary War veterans’ graves, Hoffman said. Although she had known the location of Hutchings’ grave, Hoffman said she thought his grave already had been marked.

Although Hutchings and his family all had rebel leanings, the young boy apparently traveled into Castine regularly to find work. According to Hoffman, a local history of the town notes that when the British began to build Fort George, young William carried the first log in for use at the southeast bastion.

William’s father Charles, one of the first settlers in the area, built a log cabin on 100 acres near what was known as Haney’s Point, but was forced to flee after he shot a British soldier. Charles took his wife and six of his children, paddled across the Penobscot River in a dugout canoe to Fort Point and walked to Newcastle where he enlisted in the militia. The family remained there for the rest of the war.

Young William stayed behind as a spy.

“As a young man, he was able to go in and out on the peninsula,” Hoffman said. “Apparently, they didn’t think he was any threat to them, but he carried information back to the Americans.”

Although they allowed him free access, the British were somewhat suspicious of him. In later years, William told an interviewer that “the soldiers called me a ‘damned little rebel.”‘

William eventually joined his family in Newcastle and at age 15 enlisted in a Massachusetts regiment and served for six months.

William returned to Penobscot after the war and lived with his wife, Mercy Wardwell and their 16 children.

Rep. James Schatz, D-Blue Hill, will read a proclamation from Gov. John Baldacci declaring the day William Hutchings Day and also a Legislative Sentiment adopted by the state House and Senate. The event will include a brief history of Hutchings life read by Maine State Historian Martha Hamilton. Maine State Chaplain Barbara Maloy will conduct the grave marking ceremony.

Members of the DAR and the Penobscot Historical Society will attend the ceremony dressed in colonial costumes.

The day also will include a box lunch and a chicken barbecue, both for a fee. Advance reservations are required. Between noon and 3 p.m. at the historical society, the town’s postmaster will offer commemorative stamp cancellations for letters and postcards. The local Ramassoc Chapter of DAR also will sell first day postal cachets during the day. Other commemorative items also will be for sale during a craft fair at the school and the historical society will have a display of William Hutchings memorabilia and military uniforms.

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

comments for this post are closed

You may also like