Varnum Events & News

April Speaker: Don Hagist, author of "The Revolution's Last Men: The Soldiers Behind the Photographs"

Monday, April 13, 2015

The American Revolution was fought by thousands of soldiers, as most wars are. But, with few exceptions, it was the leaders and policymakers who were remembered, while the soldiers remained almost anonymous. A quirk of fate changed that for six men who were only teenagers when they served in the war that created their nation. In 1864 an innocuous budget report from the Federal government revealed that only a handful of Revolutionary War veterans were still alive and collecting pensions. When a photographer and a clergyman-activist learned how few of these men remained, the race was on to capture their images and words before the opportunity was lost.

Don HagistNear the end of 1864, an innovative book – Last Men of the Revolution – was published. It contained biographies of the last six Revolutionary War pensioners and, more remarkably, a photograph of each one. The book had great visual appeal, but the biographical content was sorely lacking. For nearly 150 years, these error-ridden biographies were accepted and repeated.

Two years ago, Westholme Publishing asked Don Hagist if he could research the men profiled in the 1864 book and compose a new volume telling their real stories. Mr. Hagist accepted that challenge, and conducted extensive research that revealed a wealth of previously unpublished information about each man, and also a new perspective on the 1864 photographs and the 1864 book. This fascinating new history was published earlier this year: The Revolution's Last Men: the Soldiers Behind the Photographs (Westholme, March 2015).

Mr. Hagist will discuss his book and research at the April Varnum dinner meeting. Please join us on Monday, April 13 for an inside look at history revealed.


RSVP … Social hour begins at 5:30, followed by STEAK FRY at 6:30 p.m. (Fee is $15.) Please RSVP to Sue Hawksley at 401/732-9805 or by email at by Friday, Aoril 10.

This event is only open to Varnum Continental members. If you would like to join the Varnum Continentals ($35/year), please visit this link.


Varnum House Museum (1773), 57 Peirce Street, East Greenwich, RI 02818-3338
Varnum Memorial Armory, 6 Main Street, East Greenwich, RI 02818-3827
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