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(Editor's note: The following account of the exploits of Benjamin Knower was written by Ann Knower Vantine for Emily Weld Randall Gregory in the 1890s, while Miss Vantine visited Virginia Beach, Va. Miss Vantine was a granddaughter of Revolutionary War patriot Benjamin Knower through her mother, Ann Knower Vantine; Mrs. Gregory was also a granddaughter through her father John Randall and Benjamin's daughter, Mary Knower Randall. It should be noted that as Benjamin Knower died in 1806, he did not in fact rise to meet the challenge of 1812. The privateering exploits described actually did occur during the Revolutionary War. Our scribe also omits to mention Benjamin's late second marriage and the birth of a daughter a few days before his death.)

Extract from "Record of Randall Descent" by Ann Knower Vantine

                 ... Benjamin Knower was an ardent patriot and outspoken rebel against the British government and the king of Great Britain. He gave up his business, left his home and enlisted in the cause of liberty, and to help free his country from the yoke of England. He was one of the Boston Tea Party who threw the tea overboard in Boston Harbor. He was also in the battles of Bunker Hill and Lexington. The road the British had to travel when they went out to Charlestown to destroy the American stores was through a heavy piece of timber. Mr. Knower was one of the party who went out from Boston ahead of the British and stood behind the trees ready to fire at them as they marched along. They would jump from behind the trees, fire, and retire again. By the time the smoke would clear, there would be no one in sight. After the British had marched along and were out of sight, the Americans came out to see what harm they had done, and as Mr. Knower, my grandfather expressed it, the road was pretty well strewn with red-coats. Some were dead, some dying, others wounded. As they were looking around, they saw an officer lying in the corner of a rail fence. He was dying. They asked if they could do anything for him. He begged them to take him to some house to die. There was a big cabin in the field nearby so they took some rails of the fence and made a litter and carried it to the house and laid him in a bed. He then took a small sack containing gold from his pocket and handed it to them. They refused to take it -- told him they were not fighting for money, but for freedom. He then requested them to take his money, his gold watch & ring to Lord Hume in Boston & ask him to send them to his mother in England, which they did. The brother of General Warren who was killed at Bunker Hill was one of the party who attacked the British. Mr. Knower remained in the army until peace was proclaimed & his country was free. When the War of 1812 was declared his patriotism & hatred of the British was as intense as ever & he was ready to fight, so he rigged out a vessel to go privateering. He joined the company and went out with them. The government issued them letters of marque. They did not return until the close of the war. They were quite successful, having taken several British vessels & made money enough to satisfy them with the result of their enterprise -- when he returned from his voyage his health was much impaired. So he never engaged in business again tho' he lived several years after. He went out to take a walk, when he returned he was going up the steps and dropped dead. This was the end of a patriot who loved freedom, his country and the government he helped to establish & instilled the same principles into his children.

 

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